Week 47: Judges 7
Read Judges 6:33-35
The enemy gathers against Israel. Some believe they had heard of Gideon tearing down Baal's altar and they had now come to fight for their God.
How sad that the nations must fight for their god because he cannot defend himself.
Our God has never had anyone fight to save Him, nor does He need to have anyone fight for Him. The God of the universe needs no help.
Others believe that the Midianites, the Amalekites and the Arabs of the east came because it was harvest time and have come to do what they have always done; strip the harvest from the weak people of Manassah. Pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction.
“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, NKJV)
They had grown in confidence and presumed they would meet with no match. But the Lord, in response to the prayers of a humbled, broken and repentant people, is bringing them to the threshing floor and will thresh them with one little man!
Nothing is more dangerous to the devil than a humbled and broken people who are praying earnestly.
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he blew the trumpet.His encounter and communion with the Angel of the Lord has enlarged his faith to destroy his father's altar to Baal. Judgment begins at the house of the Lord. God's people have been sorted out. Now is time to sort out their enemies.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, NKJV)
Gideon, filled with the Holy Spirit, is going to go on with bigger faith to do bigger things.
See Christ here: He is the Holy Ghost baptizer. The world needs to hear John 3:16. The Church needs to hear Luke 3:16:
“John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16, NKJV)
Christ would empower eleven men and one replacement with His Holy Spirit. Fire came upon their heads and upon their hearts also. Burning, they would set the world on fire. Friends, the promise of the Holy Spirit has not died with them. It is for us also.
“‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
Read Judges 6:36-40
By now, the small man's small faith is a little bigger than it was when he began. The Bible is filled with people who have pint-sized faith that God adds a gallon to.
We first saw Gideon hiding in a winepress with grip of wheat that he was trying to keep from the Midianites. Anything of substance has a measurement. Faith is certainly a substance. (Hebrews 11:1)
If faith is measured like this: no faith, little faith, some faith and great faith. There is no question that the Gideon began at near zero.
But the Lord sat down next to him.
I heard a leadership guru say that we need to surround ourselves with bigger people than ourselves because they will make us bigger. I think that is probably true. Small people, however, surrounded Gideon. He describes his family as the least of tribe of Manassah and himself as the least in his father's house. Judges 6:15 He didn't have anyone on this side of heaven who could make him any bigger.
As we saw last week, The Angel of the Lord, which is a manifestation of Jesus, sat next to him and spoke big things to him.
“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”” (Judges 6:12, NKJV)
The Lord would enlarge his faith. Let's be sure we get this right:
The Lord will enlarge faith, but it is never His will to enlarge a man's pride. The bigger a man gets in his own eyes the less he is of value in the kingdom of God.
The greatest prophet who ever lived, according to Jesus, was John the Baptist. He thought very humbly of himself.
“After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (Mark 1:7, ESV)
King David had a substantial history with God. He was the ruddy and faithful youth who ran to the battle line against the giant Goliath when every grown man in Israel hid from him. He was mightily gifted in battle, possessed keen intellectual prowess and was a deep-hearted man of worship writing most of the Psalms. Yet, he didn’t think himself great. When a prophet spoke great promises to his family future—even the Christ to be born in his lineage, what does he pray?
“Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18, NKJV)
Genuinely humble prayer, brings a soul to a higher seat.
It is the glory of the Lord to fill small people with great faith and keep them humble at the same time. This is a near impossibility, but the Lord can do the impossible. His servant must see himself as he really is.
“What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:4, NKJV)
Throughout scripture, you will find many like Gideon, John the Baptist and David. The secret of their greatness is that none of these men thought they were great, but they knew God was. Those are the kind of men that God clothed himself with such men.
“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”” (Luke 17:10)
Gideon shows us the man whom God is enlarging in his faith. He asks for a sign with the fleece. Let 's go back a bit:
He was at near zero faith until the Lord sat next to him by the tree and engaged him. After some real talk, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” Where are all the miracles our fathers told us about?” The Lord blows his mind, “…you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” Gideon wanted to be sure that he was talking to the Lord and asked for a sign that it was in fact, the Lord.
“Then he said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me.” (Judges 6:17, NKJV)
Gideon prepared a goat and some bread and brought it to the Angel of the Lord. The Lord touched it with His staff and fire leapt up from the rock and devoured it.
“Now Gideon perceived that He was the Lord.
So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”” (Judges 6:22, NKJV)
At the moment, Gideon's faith substance went from near zero to a solid registration on the faith meter. From that faith, he would go on to tear down his father's altar to Baal. But we note that he did it by night because he was afraid. It is safe to say that his faith wasn't great yet, but he certainly had some faith. The Lord told him, "Go in the strength that you have for I am with you."Judges 6:14
Gideon started small, but he started!
He started with what he had--even a mustard seed.
Now he has blown the trumpet and gathered Israel to his side before the next exploit, the defeat of the Midianites and others. And what does he do? He looks for another sign and will use the wooly covering of a sheep to get it. Some use the idea of "laying a fleece" before the Lord as a way to make a decision. As we have noted before, Gideon didn’t lay a fleece before the Lord to make a decision. He had already been given direction. Judges 6:14
What Gideon needed was a supernatural confirmation of what he had already been divinely directed to do. He was seeking a confirmation that would enlarge his faith.
He was a man who began with near zero faith who was enlarged to some faith and now needs great faith. He will humbly press the Lord to increase his faith by running a sign twice, even backward and forward.
See how tender the Lord is with his servants. He knows that we are only flesh. He will stoop down to help his faith and He will help our faith also--if we will ask him.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:24, NKJV)
We shouldn't jam up the small man for his small faith. Even the apostles needed faith building mercies:
“And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”” (Luke 17:5, NKJV) See Christ here: He did increase their faith.
“So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20, NKJV)
Read Judges 7:1-7
The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself..." Judges 7:2
Texas has recently been passed up as the state with the number of the fastest growing churches. Florida has now has 15 of the fastest growing churches. Texas follows with 10. California has 7. There are some 588,021 people represented by 100 of the fastest growing churches in the United States.
On numbers, The United States seems to have a lot of Christians being added, but no real spiritual impact is felt.
Let's get real, if there are so many Christians, then why is the country is still bankrupt morally, politically and religiously?
If real revival swept through this country, it wouldn't look like it looks right now. A minority with spiritual life and vitality has a greater impact than a majority without spiritual life.
Gideon is told there are too many. God has never needed numbers.
"We often find God bringing great things to pass by a few hands, but this was the only time that he purposely made them fewer."
They begin with 32,000, which is a small number, compared to the locust hordes of the Midianites and their allies. Judges 7:12 Gideon was probably thinking, "We need more men!" The Lord will tell him he needs less men. The Lord will soon take them down to 300 men. The Lord tells Gideon to release anyone who is afraid. They lose twenty two thousand immediately.
A major denomination reported that during their first year of what they called “the decade of harvest,” they got 294,000 decisions for Christ. They found that only 14,000 remained in fellowship. That is, they couldn’t account for 279,000 of their decisions for Jesus. And this is normal modern evangelical statistics when it comes to crusades and local churches.
Cowardice is contagious: ““The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’” (Deuteronomy 20:8, NKJV)
Cowardice is also big deal. I've learned that time and time again over the years as a pastor.
How many have peeled away from the Lord because they were afraid to do the right thing in a majority of people doing the wrong thing.
Fear of men is a big deal. A lot of people almost became Christians under the ministry of Jesus.
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;” (John 12:42, NKJV)
They were afraid of men. They were man-pleasers instead of God-pleasers. Paul cut the line: you can't do both.
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10, NLT)
If we don't think cowardice is a big deal, we remember this:
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”” (Revelation 21:8, NKJV)
How many of the thousands of church-goers in our country show up for Jesus on Sundays but disappear for Jesus in front of their peers on Monday? Some say, "Well, I don't have my life in order yet so I don't want to confess His name before others and be the hypocrite."
What a confession! The remedy isn't cowardly silence. The remedy is true salvation.
There aren't fifty public evangelists in this country preaching true salvation. There are plenty preaching forgiveness though: "Just come and be forgiven."
But how many are preaching salvation? Salvation preaching begins with the first word of John the Baptist, of Jesus Christ and a re-fired Peter. That first word is, "Repent!" Salvation preaching includes forgiveness but it also includes a changed heart and a changed life!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)
See Christ here: He had five thousand followers. When the challenge got hard and the call got real to go all the way with the Lord, nearly five thousand would walk away.
Jesus had the fastest shrinking "church" in Israel.
Yet with only eleven left, and one imposter soon to be moved out of the way, the world would soon know that the kingdom of God had come.
Read Judges 7:8-25
Gideon's faith is strengthened once again. He hears the dream of a Midianite prophesying his victory. He, in turn, strengthens the faith of his greatly reduced army.
Faith is contagious.
Gideon divides them into three companies and what weapons do they have?
Trumpets, torches and empty pitchers.
The clay pots are to conceal the burning torches as Gideon's men secretly encircle the enemy camp. There are no swords. Trumpets, torches and clay pots are useless in battle. This victory is going to be won by the power of God in a weak man, with a tiny army and no weapons.
This reminds us who the hero of the story is. The hero isn’t Gideon. The champion is the Lord.
When the trumpets sound, the jars are broken and the torches are lifted. Every adversary turns upon another in the noise and confusion. Those few that get away are caught and handled, including the chiefs of Midian.
Do the trumpets, torches and clay pots tell us anything? Here are three verses to think about:
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15, NKJV) A gospel that is trumpeted is still the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Romans 1:15
“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV) We are called the lights of the world who hold out the Word of life in a dark generation. Philippians 2:15-16
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NKJV) These clay pots are not spared in the advance but they are used mightily for the victory. As A.W. Tozer said, "God breaks everything He uses."
See Christ here: The whole of Gideon's story shows us that God uses one man to save with foolish instruments. One man, Christ, gains the ultimate victory though the foolishness of the cross. In His final hour, when circumstances were at their bleakest and Jesus was at His weakest, God's power and deliverance came through.
Friends, we have must have clean and yielded vessels for the Lord to use.
“Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21, NKJV)
We must let our lights shine. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV)
We must trumpet out a clear witness for the Lord. “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8, NKJV)