I would like to talk with you this morning about the call of the small. You know, God has many problems. Did you ever think about that? After Jael's Nail was driven home, Israel prospered for forty years. There was food on the table, and the oxen were not in the repair shop and things were going smooth. The kids were behaving. But again the Israelites did evil. They got out their idols and dusted them off and started bowing down to them. And so, times got hard. Their investments went south, and the kids started misbehaving and their enemies came in like a herd of hungry locusts. Finally the people cried out for help.
God had a problem. You see, God serves as the chairman of the nominating committee in heaven. God needs to choose deliverers, and the pickings were pretty slim. He needed to find a qualified leader to rescue His people from the Midianites. We're over here in Judges 6, if you want to follow along in your Bible. And so, God did a talent search. He came up with a whole country full of nobodies. There was nobody qualified. Yet God had to chose somebody. And so God chose a farm boy and made a nobody into a somebody. And God is good at that. And I just really feel that God has selected me in that same way. I am nobody, and yet He has chosen me to do something. And He has chosen you as well.
GIDEON WAS THE UNLIKELY HERO
You may think of Gideon was the author of all those Bibles that you find in the motels along the highway. No! He was not a famous writer. Gideon was just like you or me. He was ordinary and average. God specializes in making a specialist out of somebody who is a nothing. Our God does not start looking in Hollywood or in Congress. God scouts in the backyards of life and He finds leaders.
God found Gideon. The miracle is that Gideon became one of the top heros of all Israel. Before we start reading in Judges 6, let me read you in the hall of fame over in Hebrew 11. Hebrews 11:32. Here's what it says about our subject for today. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms. These were God's heroes. And Gideon was one of those heroes.
What do we see in Gideon--?
1. Gideon was a Coward. Judges 6:11 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. Why was he threshing wheat in a wine press? He was doing that because he was fearful. He was a coward, maybe, he was afraid. Verse 2 says God's people were living in caves, mountain clefts, and crude hidden shelters. Sounds like the time of trouble doesn't it? It was not good.
He is afraid of his cousins. His cousins were the Midianites. And who were the Midianites? They were cousins from Abraham's other wife, Keturah (Gen 25:1-2). The Midianites had afflicted God s people for seven long years (1198-1191BC).They more or less held them captive. They had big impressive camels. These were awesome and the people of God were afraid. The Midianites were a rich people because each camel wore expensive necklaces around it's neck (8:21). They liked to decorate up their tanks.
The entire nation was frail, frightened, and fettered. And so was Gideon. But heaven can't use stealth Christians to do spiritual warfare. He had to come out and stand publicly for God. Gideon needed to take his stand and so God had to do a little molding and fashioning of this leader to make him into a good leader.
The numerous nomadic bullies used to come by every year and swooped down on Israel and seized their crops and take their food, their grain, their meat, their animals and take them off. And, anything they could not remove these nomadic tribes would burn so that there was nothing left behind. Scorched earth would be about it. They left behind a lot of suffering, a lot of starvation and a lot of fear about the next time they would return. So, imagine some bad bullies stealing your donkeys, robbing your livestock, snatching your lunch and riding off on your bike. They were not good people.
So Gideon was hiding down there inside of that winepress. Winepresses in those days were carved out of stone. They would find an area that they couldn't plow. It was stony and rocky and they would carve out a winepress, fill it full of grapes, tramp down on those grapes. The juice would come out and go into a lower area which was called the wine vat. And that's where Gideon was. He was in the bottom of the vat, in the bottom of the barrel, striking the wheat with a stick, working as quietly as possible. He's afraid. He's scared to death. Suddenly he hears this booming voice from up above, and he suddenly looks up and there is this stranger and he thinks, "Oh no! They've got me. I've had it. The Midianites have come." But it's not the Midianites. It's an angel. Imagine the rush of Adrenalin he felt when the Angel suddenly broke the silence. The Angel came directly to Gideon's hiding place. I will tell you that America spends a billion dollars a day trying to find Ben Laden in Afghanistan, and the angels know exactly which winepress we're hiding in the bottom of. Remember that God knows where you are. Never forget that.
What else do we see in Gideon?
2. Gideon was Common. Judges 6:15 "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." He was probably the youngest. His dad, Joash, and other sons were not there apparently. The other boys were not even at home because they had all been captured by the Midianites on previous raids. Only Gideon the youngest was left. Gideon says to God, "You have the wrong address! I am a nobody. Don't pick me. We are poor. I am the runt of our family, the youngest." And yet it is the helpless that God is most able to help.
3. Gideon's house was not in order. I would never choose him. Sin infested his father's house. Look at this. You can read this in the book of Judges. There were idols there. You've read this before. They were worshipping idols. Gideon's father was an idolater. He had an idol to Baal. He had an evil Asherah Pole, and they were active right in their own back yard in their own property. And these two gods happened to be the gods of peace, prosperity and safety. And yet the people were suffering under the scourge of the Midianites of difficulty deprivation and distress. They were suffering from the very things the idols were good at eradicating. Their false gods had utterly failed them. Yet they continued in idol worship those things. Apparently God in His talent search looks for people who might not be sin free, but who are ready to stand up against sin. That's about all God could find at that time.
4. Gideon was discouraged. Notice in Judges 6:13 he complains to God: "If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" The Lord has abandoned us. Do you think he was discouraged? Absolutely. But Gideon was wrong. Had God abandoned His people? Does God ever abandon you? It is you who abandons God. Have you mimicked Gideon? You may say: "If God is with me, why am I almost bankrupt? Why did I fail my exam? If God is really with me, why are things going so bad? Why did I come down with this terrible condition that I have? Why am I in all this pain? Why are my kids going over fools hill? God has abandoned me!" The truth is that God has not forsaken us but God is searching for us to use us for His kingdom and His glory. Gideon problems eclipsed his view of God.
5. Gideon was devoid of the Holy Spirit. When the angel found him where was he? He was threshing wheat down inside the winepress threshing wheat. Verse 11 says he was there to keep the Midianites from finding his wheat. Now, I must be all confused here. How do you thresh wheat? You hit it to take the chaff off of that precious grain. And then you throw it up in the air so the wind blows the chaff away and yet, he's down in the bottom of the barrel. Do you see what he's doing here? Gideon is working without the wind. What is the wind a symbol of? The Holy Spirit! - John 3:8. Gideon was trying to do it on his own power.
6. Gideon's Trust was defective. Look at the story of the fleece. The Midianites had fleeced his faith! Over and over he responds to God by saying: "But, but, but, what about.. How can I.. If, If.." Look at Judges 6:36-38. Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew--a bowlful of water. This should have made him jubilant!
But old Gideon still doubts. He thought, "Wool tends to absorb water. Let's reverse the test tonight. Judges 6:39,40. "This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." That night God did so. Can you learn anything of God's character here? Isn't God sweet? God is able to help us and bend over backwards to help relieve our fears. He's so nice. Notice how patient He is.
Gideon did not throw out the fleece to determine God's will. A lot of people say, "Well, I need to throw out the fleece to figure out what I'm supposed to do." No, he already knew what God's will was. Why did he throw out the fleece? He put out the fleece to be reassured that God would go with him. If you want to know God's will, forget the Fleece. Just ask for it and He will reveal His will to you over time through precious things like the Scriptures. Just ask Him. God will enlighten you in His way and in His time.
I want to focus on what God saw In Gideon, not what we see. All I see is a coward and a discouraged man and a man who is not qualified. What did God see in Gideon? Obviously God saw more than we do. Our church nominating committee would never choose Gideon. He didn't have any qualifications. But God did! God chose him. Why would god do that? I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
Now look at what God saw. God saw The Seeds of Success in Gideon.
1. Look at Judges 6:12. What is the very first thing the angel says? He calls him a mighty warrior. God saw a Mighty Warrior! At that point, was Gideon a mighty warrior? No. Maybe a warrior in the bud. That's about all. God sees a mighty warrior in Gideon. He wasn't one yet. But that's what God saw.
I want to ask you parents, What do you see in your kids? Do you see the mud on their shoes, or do you see the might of their developing character. Do you see their messy room or do you look beyond that at their growing personality? You need to look for the best in your children. Don't call your kids stupid and dumb and lazy unless you want them to be stupid, dumb and lazy. Call them what you want them to become. If you call them a mighty warrior they will become a mighty warrior. They will live up to your expectations. Call them what you want them to become. That's from the divine example. That's exactly what God did to Gideon. God called Gideon a mighty Warrior. God sees the potential in each of us. God looks at what we might become and not what we are. God sees a mighty warrior in you!
2. I believe that God saw Gideon was Hard worker. Where was Gideon? He was threshing wheat. He had not given up-He was doing all he could. He was out there working instead of grumbling about how bad things were. He was doing something about it. His crop had matured early. The Midianites weren't there yet, which tell me that he was an ambitious aggressive person. He had planted his crops early and he had gotten them in and harvested before anybody else. He was a hard worker. He was aggressive. Instead of sitting by groaning over his plight, he did all he could. He was not lazy. God chooses busy people to be His leaders.
3. Gideon was Humble. Now, he was common. He was ordinary, a humble man. In a chain, he would have been the weakest link. He was the baby of the family. In many societies the first born son has the most jurisdiction and the youngest the least. He was an unknown, he was inconsequential. His town was nothing. His family was not distinguished. His father was a nobody. They were the poorest folk in town. The Bible says he was the least, and he was the least of the least. And he was the person God chose.
Gideon was hiding down in the bottom of the barrel. God's angel came along and found this young man down in the bottom of the lowest level of a stone winepress. What an unlikely candidate! Yet these things are the exact qualifications God is looking for in choosing His heros. God looks for someone small enough and weak enough and then He makes them into his celebrities. Luke 1:52 - God has lifted up the humble.
4. Gideon was Willing to be used. He didn't say, "Well, no, I will not do this." Gideon was yielded to God. True greatness is not based so much your IQ. It does not depend on your rank in society. It does not depend on your beauty or your wealth. I think it depends on your willingness and your connection with God. Success comes from quality of character and Godly commitment. Judges 6:14 The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" He was called, he was sent of God. Never forget that. Gideon knew that God had spoken to him. That means a lot, doesn't it. Simply go in your own strength and I will give you success. You become a success when you partner with God. When you have that relationship with God then you will be successful.
5. Gideon was Generous. Do you catch that in here that he was generous? Look at verse 19. The angel was there. He was going to cook a meal for the angel. He went home and opened up the cupboards and what do you suppose was in there? Not much, because they had been raiding everything. The cupboard was bare. Food was a scarce commodity, but look at the size of the meal he fixed for just one angel! He goes home and he kills goat. Goats are scarce because the Midianites have taken them all. And look at the size of the local bread that he makes. One Ephah of flour is about two thirds of a bushel! No way that angel could eat a twenty five pound loaf of bread and a whole goat. Gideon is generous. God looks for generous liberal people to be His leaders.
6. Gideon was Obedient. He Did exactly what God said. Once he was sure it was God talking to him, he began to act. Judges 6:25 That same night (perhaps in a vision) 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. They had a bull that was seven years old. For seven long years they had successfully hidden this bull from the Midianite scouts and managed to have it for work around the place. This is the identical same time that the nation had been suffering from the worst economic depressions ever. Don't miss the fact that God knows each animal in your barn. He knows how old it is. He knows your resources. And God simply asked that this prized asset be used to advance His kingdom. Gideon was willing immediately obeyed. That's the type of a leader God chose. Judges 6:26. 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. Gideon did that. Gideon was not afraid to do God's will.
Gideon was afraid of what would happen, but his commitment to God was stronger than his fears of his friends. Gideon woke up ten of his trusted servants and obeyed God's command. He tore down the idol and burned the poles and sacrificed the bull. God looks for people who will trust Him and obey Him.
The next morning his father woke up to the noise of a rioting mob in his yard. The town men were there to demand retribution for the destruction of these idols. They wanted to lynch Gideon. When you obey God you face ridicule and trouble. Gideon s dad had to quickly decide between his idols and his only surviving son. He quieted the yelling mob and said: Don t attempt to defend Baal. If Baal is god, then don t take away Baal's right to punish Gideon. Let Baal defend himself.
7. Gideon's own house was in order. Gideon had not bowed down to the idols himself. From all that I read here, unless your house is right, you can't go out and help somebody else. You need to make sure things are right at home. Secret sin prevents public success. Make sure your house is in order before you do something for God. At great risk he cleaned out the idols in his immediate family. He got his fathers house in order. You can t expect God to bless you while you and your family are serving Satan. First get yourself right with God. Pluck the log out of your own eye. Then work on your family. Then God can use you for a wider goal.
8. Gideon was responsible. Judges 6:12. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty Warrior." Notice Gideon's response in verse 13: "But sir," Gideon replied, "If the Lord is with us why has all this happened to us?" See how Gideon twists it? God says, "I am with you." And Gideon says, "If You are with us." See the leadership coming out here? He regards himself as a leader. He's becoming a leader. "If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us?" See how he links himself with his people? He's responsible. He assumes personal responsibility for them.
9. The Holy Spirit empowered him. That's the reason for his success. Judges 6:34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. How shocked he must have been when over thirty thousand men showed up to follow him. "I can't believe all these people came." But they were there. And God gave him success. Gideon was truly a man of God. If God calls you then God will empower you. You will be successful.
I believe today that God is an expert at taking the extraordinary people and making them into something extraordinary. The sky is the limit on what God can do with you if you are totally surrendered to His will. God is on a warrior search today. Some day He's going to come to you and knock and He's going to say, "Hellos, Nat, you mighty warrior." And you may say, "I'm not a mighty warrior. But you are in His sight, because if God taps you on the shoulder, if God calls you, God will also provide the power for you to become what He has selected you to be. When He comes your way, be a Gideon!Bulletin
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