Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GIDEON’S GOD”

Judges 6.11-7.18 

Take your Bible and turn to First Corinthians 10.11 and stand for the reading of God’s Word: 

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 

This verse tells us something that we would do well to heed. It tells us that the things which occurred in the lives of the children of Israel, which things are referred to in First Corinthians 10.1-10, are things that are examples for us to pay attention to. They are events in the history of God’s chosen nation which are recorded in Scripture for our benefit, for our admonition, if you will.

I am very well aware of the fact that the verse we just read has direct reference to those Old Testament events which are rehearsed in verses 1-10. But I would submit this for your consideration: Though the Apostle Paul refers only to those things which happened to Israel during her wilderness wanderings before she entered into the Promised Land . . . the things that occurred after she entered the Promised Land are also recorded for examples and our admonition. As a matter of fact, 

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”[1] 

Isn’t that correct?

What that means for us is this: There is, somewhere in the Old Testament, an event, an occurrence, an incident, or some happening, that strikes such a parallel with what is happening in our own lives and experiences that we can learn valuable lessons from the Old Testament record. That is, through either the failures or the successes of the individuals or the peoples recorded in the Old Testament, we can learn truths to apply to our own lives. For example: From the life of Adam and Eve do we not learn things related to our adversary, Satan? Do we not learn his successful strategy for attacking and bringing to ruination a family unit? Sure we do. And do we not learn from the exaggerated example of Solomon the danger of a believing man marrying an unbelieving woman? Sure. His numerous pagan wives drew him away from a close walk with the true and living God. With most men, it takes only one pagan woman to draw him away from God. Do you hear me?

I could go on and on, but the reality that I want us to take note of is this: There are situations, if you can find them and if you properly and carefully analyze them, which can be of tremendous help and encouragement in dealing with your present situation, whatever it may happen to be. It is just one of those examples in the Old Testament that I want to bring to your attention. As we journey back through time to the Old Testament book of the Judges, you would do well to recall the cycle of events that God’s people experienced during that time after they had entered into the Promised Land but before God had given them a king.

The cycle that can be observed by reading through Judges some times in rather a quick succession is a cycle that is repeated in our own Christian lives. There are four parts to this tragic cycle. First, there is a rebellion against God. Second, there is retribution from God. Third, there is repentance toward God. And fourth, there is restoration by God.

Isn’t this the awful cycle that you would like for God to deliver you from, my dear Christian? First, you sin against God. This is rebellion. Then God exacts retribution in the form of chastisement. Third, as a result of God's retribution, in response to God’s chastisement, there is repentance. And when you, in repentance, cry out to God for deliverance, He restores you to that sweetness and intimacy with Him that you enjoyed before your rebellion.

What we experience on a personal level Israel used to experience on a national level. But addressing the sin cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration is not the thrust of my message. Instead, I want to draw your attention to events related to a single man.

Remember, the reason the book of Judges is so titled is because the events in this book are closely related to individuals called judges. And what a judge was, precisely, was a military leader raised up by God to deliver His people from the bondage that pagans had subjected them to. When they rebelled God’s retribution was in the form of foreign domination. When they repented, God raised up judges to throw off the yoke of bondage and restore them.

We’re going to look at one of the judges in the book of Judges. And the remarkable thing we will notice as we examine this judge is that it isn’t the judge who delivered the children of Israel, but God Who was able to use such judges as this. As we examine events in the life of Gideon, in Judges 6.11 and following, notice that it was not Gideon, but Gideon’s God, Who delivered the Israelites from their wicked enemies.

We know that God deigns to use human instruments to do much of His work. But notice what kind of human instrument He used to do this great work of deliverance. Notice the kind of man Gideon was.

Five things show us the keys to success as a tool in the hand of God: 

First, YOU MUST BE, AS GIDEON WAS, A PERSON WITH LITTLE COURAGE 

“What do you mean little courage, pastor? Don’t you have to have the courage to be used by God? Don’t you have to be spiritually tough?” Hey, while it would certainly seem to be advantageous to have the courage to be used of God, verses 11-14 do not indicate that our example of a man mightily used of God had much of that commodity. Let’s look at these verses:

Verse 11: 

“And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.” 

I get a kick out of the fact that the angel of the LORD came and sat under an oak tree. Did He just appear there, or did He come with a flourish of great majesty? We are not told. But Joash’s son, Gideon, was threshing wheat by the winepress, which was probably under the shade of the tree the angel of the LORD was sitting under. And why did Gideon thresh wheat by the winepress? To hide it from the Midianites. The Midianites were the people God had used to oppress the children of Israel for their sinful rebellion. But the fact that Gideon is threshing his wheat behind cover so the bad guys won’t see it and come and seize it indicates that he is not a courageous individual.

Verse 12: 

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” 

As the angel of the LORD appears to Gideon take notice of what He says to Gideon as compared to what we know from the Bible about Gideon. There are two statements made. One statement is true, but the second statement is a statement of irony. It is the exact opposite of what is meant. 

“The LORD is with thee.” 

This statement is true and is to be taken exactly as it reads. The LORD is with Gideon, and the results of that truth shall be shortly seen. But when the angel of the LORD says

 

“Thou mighty man of valour” 

we have two choices in deciding how to interpret this phrase. Either we take this phrase literally, in which case the Bible seems to be in error since there is abundant evidence in Judges that Gideon was not a mighty man of valour, or we accept this as a figure of speech, an irony, used for underlining the fact that this man that God has chosen to use is, in fact, not a mighty man of valour. Gideon, as will soon become very clear, is a gutless coward.

Verse 13-14: 

13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? 

Here we see further evidence of the fact that Gideon is a man with little courage. First, he pays no attention to what the angel of the LORD has said. He was told, “the LORD is with thee.” He responds, “Oh my LORD, if the LORD be with us, why then...?” Second, he asks why everything has befallen Israel, and where are God’s miracles, and then states that God has forsaken them. Typical of a man with little courage, Gideon blames God for what has befallen him and his people, Gideon wants to have the spiritually easy life of walking by sight with miracles rather than the walk of faith that glorifies God, and then he concludes that God has not kept His word and is not with Israel. Why don’t people realize that it’s not a matter of God being with us? It’s a matter of us being with God. Third, in verse 14, the LORD says, “Go in this thy might.” What might, Lord? Now you understand. Gideon doesn’t have any might. “And thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?”

If you read verses 11-14 carefully, it becomes obvious that God has seen fit to work mightily through a man who has little courage. “But pastor, I’m afraid to teach a Sunday School class. I’m afraid to go out on evangelism. I am afraid of discipleship. I’m afraid to tithe. I’m afraid to sing in the choir. I’m afraid to be a strong witness at work.” Great! As with Gideon, that means you are qualified to be sent forth of the LORD. 

FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS AS A TOOL IN THE HAND OF GOD. First, YOU MUST BE A PERSON WITH LITTLE COURAGE. Second, YOU MUST BE A PERSON WITH LITTLE STATUS. 

For God to use you to do great things you have to be important. Right?

Verse 15: 

“And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 

Is it not strange that Gideon pleaded that he was unimportant when God wanted to use him? I’ll bet just about the only time in a believer’s life he pleads insignificance or lack of status is when God taps us on the shoulder and says, “I want to use you.” “Lord, you can’t mean me. I’m a nobody.” Most of the time we fabricate untruths about having a status that we don’t really possess, but in these kinds of situations, just the opposite tack is taken. Isn’t that true? Are we agreed? But Gideon was telling the truth. He was from a no-status tribe of Israel. And his family was a no-status family in the no-status tribe. And he was a no-status member of a no-status family in a no-status tribe. He was about as no-status as a man can get.

Verse 16: 

“And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” 

In essence, God responded to Gideon’s explanation of having no status by saying “Great! I’m with you. You’re going to whip the Midianites the way you’d whip a single man.” And why, my friends, does God not care that you and I have no status when He desires that we serve Him? Because, #1, He wants us to depend on Him not ourselves and, #2, when things turn out successfully, as they must when God is involved, He wants all of the glory. First Corinthians 1.26-29: 

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 

YOU MUST BE A PERSON WITH LITTLE COURAGE. YOU MUST BE A PERSON OF LITTLE STATUS. AND THE THIRD KEY TO BEING A SUCCESS IN BEING USED AS AN INSTRUMENT IN THE HAND OF GOD IS, YOU MUST BE A PERSON WITH LITTLE FAITH. 

“Little faith. Little faith. Pastor, are you crazy? You have to have great faith to be greatly used of God.” Do you? 

Verses 36-40: 

36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,

37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.

38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.

39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.

40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground. 

I do not see evidence of great faith on the part of Gideon, here. I see a man who seeks, as much as is humanly possible, to walk by sight, not faith. Not that he has no faith. Just that he has little faith.

I’ll grant you that the just are to live by faith. And I will grant you that those men and women who are mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, the faith hall of fame, demonstrated great faith in God. But you don’t have to appear in Hebrews chapter 11 to be used by God.

I also agree that without faith it is impossible to please God. But understand the point that I am seeking to make here. Gideon was not a man of no faith. He was a man of little faith. Did Gideon believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, Hebrews 11.6? Sure he did.

So you see, Gideon just didn’t have much faith. Gideon was a man of little faith. But with God little is much and having a little faith is infinitely preferable to having none. Have no faith and go to Hell, unusable to God. Have little faith and go to heaven, usable to God. Gideon was a man of little faith . . . so God used him greatly. 

THINK ABOUT IT. A PERSON WITH LITTLE COURAGE. A PERSON WITH LITTLE STATUS. A PERSON WITH LITTLE FAITH. WHAT ELSE COULD THERE BE JUST A LITTLE OF? REMEMBERING THAT HE WAS TO LEAD THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL TO GREAT VICTORY OVER A MIGHTY HOST OF MIDIANITES, REMEMBER ALSO THAT HE WAS A PERSON WITH A LITTLE ARMY. 

7.1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

2  And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

3  Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

4  And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

5  So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

6  And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

7  And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

8  So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. 

There were thousands of Israelites who had responded to the call to rise up and defeat the Midianites and throw off the yoke of bondage, but God said that Gideon had too many soldiers. I can just imagine Gideon’s response. “Too many? Why do you think we have too many, Lord?”

God’s reason for not wanting too many Israelite soldiers is found in verse 2, “...lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, ‘Mine own hand hath saved me.’” See that? There’s the Old Testament version of “that no flesh should glory in his sight” that Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

So, Gideon started out with 32,000 soldiers. After Gideon obeyed the LORD and allowed every man, who was afraid to return home there were 10,000 men left. 10,000 brave men. But God still thought that too many and devised another method of reducing the number of men.

While the men drank water, the LORD directed Gideon to observe each man’s method of drinking. Some men went down to their knees and bent over, literally sticking their face into the water to drink. Most men drank that way. But there were a very few who crouched down and ladled water to their mouths with their hands.

It was those 300 men, the ones who ladled water up to their mouths with their hands the way dogs ladle water to their mouths with their tongues, which God decided to deliver Israel from Midianite bondage with, according to verse 7: 

“And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.” 

Oh, by the way. Did you notice that interesting little phrase that God used in verse 7 to tip Gideon off as to what He was going to do? The phrase reads “will I save you.” Gideon’s the man, but God is the God. 

A PERSON WITH LITTLE COURAGE. DO YOU QUALIFY? A PERSON WITH LITTLE STATUS. DO YOU QUALIFY THERE? A PERSON WITH LITTLE FAITH? AGAIN, DO YOU QUALIFY? A PERSON WITH A LITTLE ARMY (READ FEW RESOURCES, LITTLE MONEY, LITTLE EDUCATION, LIMITED SPEAKING ABILITY, AVERAGE INTELLIGENCE, ETC.). DO YOU QUALIFY ON THAT ONE? MY FRIENDS, IT’S THIS FIFTH QUALIFICATION WHICH MAKES UP FOR ALL THE DEFICIENCIES OF THE FIRST FOUR. GIDEON WAS A PERSON WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD. 

The promise of this is found in Judges 6.16: 

“And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.” 

I want you to take note of this verse. This is the verse that guarantees that Gideon is going to achieve success in the endeavor to which God has called him. This is what guarantees success for anyone doing anything God wants them to do. God is going to be with him. Can you imagine how great it must have sounded to Gideon to hear God promise him that He would be with him? But like us so much of the time, Gideon didn’t listen to God’s words when he first heard them. It was only after he put out the fleece to test God, and it was only after the victory had really been won against the Midianites, that Gideon sat down and thought on what God had said to him. 

“Surely I will be with thee.” 

Don’t you know that God just does not often say “Surely I was with you.” That’s because no faith is required afterward. No courage is required afterward. Nothing is required afterward.

The particular is found in Zechariah 4.6: 

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” 

Though the details were not explained to Gideon, this verse and later revelation in God’s Word not given during Gideon’s time on earth shows us just how God chooses to do what He does. He works through His precious Spirit, the Third Person of the triune Godhead. Even the Lord Jesus Christ’s marvelous life on earth was lived through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. John tells us that the Spirit was given to Him without measure.[2] God’s method of working through an individual’s life has always been and will always be by His Holy Spirit. That is the reason someone with little courage, with little status, with little faith, with a little army or limited means of any kind, but with the Spirit of God, can achieve great spiritual success.

 

Think about that for just a few moments, Christian. When a child of God does something great for God, it is God Who has done something great, not that believer. So, if God could use a Gideon to serve Him and to accomplish great feats, don’t you think He can use you to do similar things? Sure He can.

You may have your reasons for not surrendering to God’s call to preach the Gospel, or to serve God in full-time Christian service, or to engage in some ministry in our Church, be it Sunday School, evangelism, or discipleship, but it’s only an excuse. And you may have your excuses for not responding to God’s call to show up and encourage others on a work day. But you know what an excuse is, don’t you? It’s a lie wrapped in the cloak of reason.

For you see, God can take anyone who has little courage, just like you. And He can take anyone who has little status, and no one in this Church is anyone of note or renown. And He can take those of little faith and means of their own to serve Him. But add to that batch of ingredients the Spirit of the living God, and you have a recipe for outstanding success.

When David went to fight Goliath, he was opposed and ridiculed by his brother. To his brother’s protests, David asked, “Is there not a cause?” I ask you the same question. “Is there not a cause?” Our children sing a song with the words, “Only a boy named David.” We have examined a frightened no account man named Gideon. And we could cite numerous other examples that would tell us the same story: When God calls you to do something, and you have His assurance that He is with you in it, your success is guaranteed.

And do we have His assurance He is with us? Our Lord Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” He is with us. The question is...are you with Him?

__________

[1] 2 timothy 3.16

[2] John 3.34

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org