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Judges: Broken People — Faithful God: Gideon

Judges: Broken People — Faithful God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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He was a farmer who really enjoyed his trade. He had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He never had political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for Gideon’s life.

Notes & Transcripts
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Focal Passage:
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Theme: He was a farmer who really enjoyed his trade. He had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He never had political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for Gideon’s life.
Theme: He was a farmer who really enjoyed his trade. He had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He never had political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for Gideon’s life.
Date: 07/23/17 File name: Judges_07.wpd ID Number:
Date: 07/23/17 File name: Judges_07.wpd ID Number:
Gideon was a farmer. He had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He didn’t have political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for his life. The Gideon story in the Old Testament is unique in that it is the story of how God made a hero out of an unlikely person. It’s not just a story of God’s deliverance of Israel; it is a story of how God transforms lives as well.
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Gideon was a farmer. He had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He didn’t have political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for his life. The Gideon story in the Old Testament is unique in that it is the story of how God made a hero out of an unlikely person. It’s not just a story of God’s deliverance of Israel; it is a story of how God transforms lives as well.
God is looking for Gideons today — men and women of faith, who are willing to lay their fear aside and step out in faith with God. We need Gideons in the school rooms and the locker rooms, the living rooms, and the board rooms. We need Gideons in the academic world, the business world, and the entertainment world.
Gideon was one a Judge raised up by God to deliver Israeli from a group of people known as the Midianites and the Amalekites (). The Midianites were a nomadic people who roamed the desert in what is now modern day Saudi Arabia. They would wait until the people of Israel were ready to harvest their crops and they would sweep down upon them stealing their produce and herds and destroying what they couldn’t take with them. The author of Judges compares them to swarms of locust (). This went on for seven years () and it was starting to get a little old, and so the people cried out to God to deliver them. “Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.” (, NIV). God heard them and sends an angel to a young man who will lead His people, first out of military oppression and secondly out of moral oppression. And that person was a man named Gideon.
The story of Gideon reveals three successive portraits of Gideon.
1. pretty much says it all ...
“The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.” (, NIV)
a. Gideon is not exactly a picture of strength and courage here
1) he is hiding down in a winepress threshing wheat
b. normally wheat would be threshed on a high, open flat place where the winds and open air would blow away the chaff
open air would blow away the chaff
1) but Gideon was hiding in a winepress beneath a tree, threshing wheat with a stick, trying to save a little bit of grain that he had hidden from the Midianites
stick, trying to save a little bit of grain that he had hidden from the Midianites
2. this is not a picture of a courageous hero; it is a picture of a defeated, discouraged man, filled with doubts and fears
man, filled with doubts and fears
a. not only was he in the winepress physically, but spiritually and emotionally
1) Gideon appears to be a timid and bitter man
b. while being challenged to deliver Israel, he says to the Angel of the Lord, “Pardon me, but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
me, but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
ILLUS. Max Ander, in his commentary on Judges writes that this Wine Press ought to right be called a Whine Press because that’s what Gideon is doing — whining to the Lord.
right be called a Whine Press because that’s what Gideon is doing — whining to the Lord.
3. two things contributed to Gideon’s cowardice: bitterness and timidity
a. Gideon is living a life of frustration
1) he was bitter with God for not coming through for him or his people
b. in addition to the bitterness, Gideon felt that he had nothing to offer to help improve things
things
1) he didn’t have the skills and power to turn things around he thought
2) he tells the Lord’s angel in :“But Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.”
look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family.”
c. Gideon tells the angel “You’ve got the wrong guy. You need a hardened warrior to do this. I’m just a young, scared farmer.”
do this. I’m just a young, scared farmer.”
4. Question: Are you hiding down in a winepress threshing wheat and afraid to go public with your faith in God – afraid to attempt the tasks that God wants you to do?
with your faith in God – afraid to attempt the tasks that God wants you to do?
5. the second picture of our hero improves somewhat. A coward who had a personal encounter with God becomes…
encounter with God becomes…
1. it was one thing to meet God in the secrecy of your winepress, but quite another thing to stand up for the Lord in public ways
to stand up for the Lord in public ways
a. Gideon’s faith first began to make a difference right at home — where it should
1) he cleaned up the idolatry of his own family — that night the Lord said to him ...
“That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” (, NIV)
2. it’s not enough however to tear down our idols if we do not consecrate the Lord in our heart, minds and souls as Sovereign Lord
heart, minds and souls as Sovereign Lord
“Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” (, NIV)
a. Gideon is faithful, but he is also still fearful
1) Gideon took ten of his servants and did just as the Lord had told him
b. he obeys God, but he tears down the idol and the Asherah pole at night when the family and the rest of the town is asleep
family and the rest of the town is asleep
“So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. 28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! 29 They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”” (, NIV)
c. when we begin tearing down idols—even our own—others will be offended because our faithfulness and obedience exposes the falseness of their positions
our faithfulness and obedience exposes the falseness of their positions
“The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” 31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”” (, NIV)
3. when Gideon encountered the living God, it changed him and it changed his relationship with his family and with his community
relationship with his family and with his community
a. as a result, he began to challenge the idolatry and theology of his family and neighbors and it made them uncomfortable
neighbors and it made them uncomfortable
b. we need modern-day Gideons who will live their lives in such a way that they challenge others to put away their idols and come to God in faith
challenge others to put away their idols and come to God in faith
4. Finally, we see…
1. emboldened by his encounter with the Angel of the Lord, Gideon issues a call to arms all across Israel
all across Israel
“Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.” (, NIV)
a. 32,000 men () respond which is encouraging until you realize that your enemy numbers 135,000 (; )
enemy numbers 135,000 (; )
b. and so Gideon gets into a little discussion with God
1) he says, “Tell you what God, if this is what you really want me to do you have to give me a sign, so here’s what we are going to do. I will put out a sheep’s fleece on the ground tonight. If in the morning the ground is dry and the fleece is wet then I’m your guy.” “And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.” (, NIV)
give me a sign, so here’s what we are going to do. I will put out a sheep’s fleece on the ground tonight. If in the morning the ground is dry and the fleece is wet then I’m your guy.”
“And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.” (, NIV)
2) but Gideon is not convinced. Gideon again prays and says, “I don’t want to get annoying here God, but let’s try it the other way. I’ll leave the fleece out again tonight and in the morning if the ground is wet and the fleece is dry then I’ll know that I need to listen to you.” “That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.” (, NIV)
annoying here God, but let’s try it the other way. I’ll leave the fleece out again tonight and in the morning if the ground is wet and the fleece is dry then I’ll know that I need to listen to you.”
“That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.” (, NIV)
2. at this point, Gideon figures that God must be serious
a. the fleece was all about Gideon’s fear, doubt, and timidity
b. he already knew what God’s will was; he just needed some reassurance
3. having clearly determined the will of God, Gideon is committed and ready to obey
a. this is where the story gets really interesting
1) Gideon is psyched — God has told him that he would lead the Israelite army to a great victory over the Midianites, and then confirmed it through this entire fleece thing
great victory over the Midianites, and then confirmed it through this entire fleece thing
b. when his 32,000-man army assembles God tells Gideon, “That’s too many men.”
“The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.” (, NIV)
c. Gideon is not quite so psyched now, and it’s going to get worse because God tells Gideon, “That’s still too many men.”
Gideon, “That’s still too many men.”
“But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” (, NIV)
1) by the time He is finished thinning out Gideon’s army, he’s down to 300 men!
2) God tells Gideon, “Ah, that’s just right ... With the three hundred men ... I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
4. at this point I’m not sure that Gideon was all that convinced of the validity of the plan and so God told him, “If you don’t believe I can do this, sneak down to the enemy camp and see what they are saying.”
and so God told him, “If you don’t believe I can do this, sneak down to the enemy camp and see what they are saying.”
a. under the cover of darkness Gideon sneaks down to the enemy camp and overhears to soldiers talking ...
overhears to soldiers talking ...
“Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” 14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.” 15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. 17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’ ” 19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. 22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled ... .” (, NIV)
5. well how cool!
A. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SOMEBODY SPECIAL TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL
1. one of the biggest lies of the devil is that God only uses special people
a. and like all lies of the devil this one is based on a half-truth
b. God doesn’t use people because they are special, they are special because God uses them
uses them
2. the steps of Gideon's victory are easy to trace: he had a promise to believe, an altar to build, a vessel to break, a lamp to burn, and a trumpet to blow, and God gave the victory!
build, a vessel to break, a lamp to burn, and a trumpet to blow, and God gave the victory!
a. none of these things were that incredibly difficult, but Gideon did them in obedience and God blessed him
and God blessed him
b. there are so many simple things you can do that God will bless: pray, read the Bible, attend church, share your faith, and do good works
Bible, attend church, share your faith, and do good works
B. JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE QUESTIONS DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE DISOBEDIENT
ILLUS. An Angel appears to Gideon and says “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” (, NIV). Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” That’s not an answer, but then again Gideon probably already knew the answer: God hadn’t moved the Israelites had. God hadn’t abandoned the Israelites the Israelites had abandoned God.
(, NIV). Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” That’s not an answer, but then again Gideon probably already knew the answer: God hadn’t moved the Israelites had. God hadn’t abandoned the Israelites the Israelites had abandoned God.
1. the Bible is full of questions and question marks
Abraham asked “How will I father a nation when I haven’t fathered a son”
2. Moses asked “How can I confront Pharaoh when I don’t speak well”
Moses asked “How can I confront Pharaoh when I don’t speak well”
Mary asked “How can I have a son, when I’m still a virgin”
3. Mary asked “How can I have a son, when I’m still a virgin”
4. Even Jesus when he hung on the cross asked “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”
Even Jesus when he hung on the cross asked “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”
2. God doesn’t ask that we come in and check our brain at the door, but understand God is God and you are a people so you might not understand the why, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask questions of God
is God and you are a people so you might not understand the why, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask questions of God
a. asking the questions doesn’t mean you’re being disobedient
C. ONE CAN GROW FROM DOUBT TO GREAT FAITH
1. Gideon did it
a. doubt is not the opposite of faith, disbelief is the opposite of faith
b. doubt simple says, “I’m not entirely sure, but I’ll trust God anyway.”
D. REMEMBER WHO’S SUPPOSED TO GET THE CREDIT
1. 300 men and they send 135,000 warriors packing
a. Israel wants to immediately make Gideon king over the land
2. from farmer to King, that’s not a bad career move
a. but listen to Gideon’s response: But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!”
you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!”
b. Gideon knew who was responsible for the victory and who should rightly rule over the lives of His people
the lives of His people
CONCLUSION
God is looking for Gideons today - men and women of faith, who are willing to step out and be obedient, faithful, and usable.
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