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Gideon the Coward - Wed 5-16-07

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Wednesday Night Bible Study                                                                             May 16, 2007

Corporate Prayer

GIDEON THE COWARD

Judges 6

You have a garden you work hard all spring and summer to make that garden produce what you need.  But every year, when you’re ready to pick the harvest, your neighbors from a near town come down and take ALL of your harvest by force.  Not just your harvest but every harvest in your town and every animal in your town.  This has gone for 7 years everyone in your town is destitute.

This is what the Jews experienced every harvest when the Midianites made their annual raids.

God allowed these raids because the Jews had disobeyed Him.

But this year was going to be different.

God called a farmer from Manasseh named Gideon to become the deliverer of His people.

Gideon started his career as somewhat of a coward.

There are 100 verses devoted to Gideon in the Book of Judges than any other judge.

Gideon was the only Judge whose personal struggles with his faith are recorded.

Gideon should be a great encouragement to us who have a hard time accepting ourselves and believing that God can make anything out of us or do anything with us.

Before the Lord could use Gideon, He had to deal with 4 doubts that plagued Gideon and were obstacles to his faith.

1.       “Does God really care about us?” Judges 6:1-13

           Gideon’s response to the Lord’s message was “The Lord has forsaken us!”

                   Even though the Lord had given Israel proof of His love for them.

                             Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or

                             loathe His reproof, for whom the lord loves He reproves, even as a father

                             corrects the son in whom he delights.”

God does not permit us to sin successfully.

God is not a “permissive parent” who allows us to do as we please.

His ultimate purpose is that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son.”

          Romans 8:29-30 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become

                                                conformed to the image of His Son.”

Just as it says in Matthew, our Father wants to be able to look at each one of us and say, “This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”

Discipline is evidence of God’s hatred for sin and His love for us.

Obedience to the Lord builds character, but sin destroys character; God cannot sit by and watch us destroy ourselves.

Israel had already experienced 43 years of suffering under the harsh rule of the neighboring nations, but they hadn’t yet learned their lesson and turned away from the heathen idols.

Unless our suffering leads to repentance, it accomplishes no lasting good; and unless our repentance is evidence of a holy desire to turn from our sin, not just escape from pain, repentance is only remorse.

Discipline assures us that we are truly God’s children, that our Father loves us, and that we can’t get away from rebellion.

God had already sent someone to rebuke Israel for her sins.

Now He was going to use a farmer to come and repeat the message.

God had delivered them from Egypt.

He was generous in giving them the land and helping them over come their enemies.

If the Jews were suffering from bondage, it wasn’t God’s fault.

He had given them everything they needed.

We need to remember that God saved us so we could live and serve the Him faithfully.

As God’s children we are to walk worthy of our high and heavenly calling, live like people who are seated with Christ in glory.

The motive for Christian living is not that we might gain something we don’t have but that we might live up to what we already have in Christ.

The reason we get disciplined is to make us willing to listen to God’s Word.

         

God speaks to us, either through Scripture or the heavy hand of discipline and if we ignore the first, we will experience the second.

One way or the other, the Lord will get our attention and deal with us.

The people were crying out to the Lord for help, as we usually do when we are in trouble.

The Israelites gave no evidence of real repentance, but their trouble moved God’s loving heart.

                   Psalm 103:10 says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according

                                                   to our iniquities.”

God in His mercy doesn’t give us what we do deserve; but in His grace, He gives us what we don’t deserve.

Why did God choose Gideon for this job?

          God often chooses the “weak things of this world” to accomplish great things for His glory.

          Gideon’s family worshiped Baal bail.

          Gideon wasn’t a man of strong faith or courage, God had to patiently work with him to

          prepare him for leadership.

God is always ready to mold us into what we need to be if we’re willing to submit to His will.

Gideon’s negative response to the Lord’s words indicates his lack of faith and spiritual insight.

Here was Almighty God telling him that He was with him and would make him a conqueror, and Gideon replied by denying everything God said!

         

God would have to spend time with Gideon turning his question marks into exclamation points.

Gideon was living by sight, not by faith.

 

2.       “Does God know what He’s doing?” Judges 6:14-24

Gideon’s first response was to question God’s concern for His people.

His second response was to question God’s wisdom in choosing him to be the nation’s deliverer.

         

It is often said that “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.”

         

Once God has called and commissioned you, all you have to do is obey Him by faith, and He will do the rest.

God cannot lie and God never fails.

         

Faith means obeying God in spite of what we see, how we feel, or what the consequences might be.

The modern “practical” world laughs at faith without realizing that people live by faith all day long.

Once God has revealed His will to us,        we must never question His wisdom or argue with His plans.

God had promised to be with Gideon.

God called Gideon a courageous warrior.

God promised that Gideon would save Israel from the Midianites as if he would do it single handed.

Romans 10:8 tells us God’s Word is “the word of faith.”

Romans 10:17 tells us “and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Gideon didn’t receive that Word, he needed added assurance.

Gideon asked for a sign to assure him that it was really the Lord who was speaking to him.

The Lord was gracious to accommodate Gideon’s unbelief.

Gideon prepared a sacrifice, which was a costly thing to do at a time when food was scarce.

An ephah of flour was about a half a bushel, enough to make bread for a family for

several days.

It probably took him an hour to dress the meat and prepare the unleavened cakes, but

God waited for him to return and then consumed the offering by bringing fire from the

rock.

The sudden appearance of the fire and disappearance of the visitor convinced Gideon that indeed he had see God and spoken to him, this frightened him even more.

          Jews believed it was fatal for sinful man to look upon God, Gideon was sure he would die.

The human heart is indeed deceitful.

Gideon asked to see a sign, and after seeing it, he was sure that the God who gave him the sign would now kill him.

Romans 15:13 says, there is always “joy and peace in believing.”

Unless we are at peace with God, we can not face the enemy with confidence and fight the Lord’s battles.

Gideon built an altar and called it “The Lord is peace.”

         

Whenever God calls us to a job we think is beyond us, we must be careful to look to God and not to ourselves.

          God asked Abraham in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

          Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

          Job discovered God could do everything.

          Jeremiah admitted that there was nothing too hard for God.

          Jesus told His disciples, “With God all things are possible.”

          Paul testified, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

2.       “Will God take care of me?” Judges 6:25-32

  Obeying the Lord meant defying his father, his family, his neighbors, and the multitudes of

   people in Israel who were worshiping Baal bail.

   Gideon probably had his emotional ups and downs.

     Rejoicing that God was planning to deliver Israel.

     But trembling at the thought of being named the leader of the army.

Knowing that Gideon was still afraid, God assigned him a task right at home to show him that He would see him through.

Before God gives us great victories in public,

He sometimes prepares us by giving us smaller victories at home.

Before David killed Goliath in the sight of 2 armies,

He learned to trust God by killing a lion and a bear in the field where nobody saw but God.

When we prove that we’re faithful with a few things, God will trust us with greater things.

This assignment was not easy.  God told him to destroy the altar dedicated to Baal.

Jewish altars were made of uncut stones and were simple.

Baal’s altars were elaborate and next to them was a wood pillar dedicated to the goddess Asherah ash-er-a.

Altars to Baal were built on high places,

     It would have been difficult to obey God’s orders without attracting attention.

     Gideon decided to obey the Lord at night when the village was asleep.

                   This showed his fear; he wasn’t sure God could or would see him through.

                             Mark 4:40 “Way are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”                                         Isaiah12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation I will trust and not be afraid”

After all the encouragements God had given him, you would think that Gideon’s faith should have been strong.

Let me ask is your faith and trust in the Lord strong enough when God asks you to do something?

          Especially in your home town, to your family, and friends that are unbelievers.

True believers can not build an altar to the Lord unless first we tear down the altars we have built to the false gods we worship.

Exodus 20:5 says, “Our God is a jealous God,” 

He will not share His glory or our love with another.

Gideon had privately built his own altar to the Lord, but now he had to take his public stand; and he had to do it without compromise. 

Before he could declare war on Midian, he had to declare war on Baal bail.

It is not easy to keep your plans a secret when someone watches you.

          The whole town knew that Gideon was the one who had destroyed his father’s idols.

          The men of the city considered this a capital offense and wanted to kill Gideon.

Deuteronomy 13:6-9, tells us that God’s law says it was the idol worshipers who should have been killed.

Gideon was probably thinking how God was going to get him out of this situation.

But God proved He was able to handle the situation.

          Joash, Gideon’s father, had every reason to be angry with his son.

                   Gideon had smashed his father’s altar to Baal bail and replaced it with an altar to

                   Jehovah.

                   He sacrificed his father’s prize bull to the Lord and had used the sacred

Asherah ash-er-rah pole for fuel.

          But God worked in Joash’s heart that he defended Gideon before the town mob and even

          insulted Baal bail.

                   He asked, “What kind of a god is Baal that he can’t even plead his own cause?”

          Because of that question the men of the town gave Gideon the nickname

“Jerubbaal Jer-ub-bail,” which means “Baal’s antagonist.”

Often the unbelieving world gives demeaning nicknames to the faithful servants of God.

D. L. Moody was known as “Crazy Moody” when he was building his famous Sunday School

in Chicago, no one would call him that today.

Charles Spurgeon was frequently ridiculed in the British press.

If we are given nicknames because we honor the name of Jesus, then let’s wear them like medals and keep on glorifying Him!

Gideon learned a valuable lesson that day:  If he obeyed the Lord, even with fear in his heart, the Lord would protect him and receive the glory.

Gideon needed to remember this as he mustered his army and prepared to attack the enemy.

4.       “Does God keep His promised?” Judges 6:33-40

          The Midianites and their allies that equaled 135,000 men, moved into the Valley of Jezreel.

          It was time for Gideon to act.

          The Spirit of God gave him the wisdom and power he needed.

As we seek to do God’s will, His Word to us is always

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit” (Zechariah 4:6)

          Gideon blew the trumpet first in his own hometown, and the men of Abiezer A-bee-z-er,

rallied behind him.

          Then he sent messengers throughout his own tribe of Manasseh as well as the neighboring

          tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali nafa-tally.

         

          To Gideon’s call, 32,000 men responded.

What chance did 32,000 men have against an army of 135,000 men plus camels?

         

This is the first mention in the Bible of camels being used in warfare, and certainly they would have given their riders speed and mobility on the battlefield.

The Jews were outnumbered and would certainly be outmaneuvered.

Except for 1 thing:  Jehovah God was on their side, and He had promised them victory.

          Gideon doubted God’s promise.

                   Did God really want him to lead the Jewish army?

                   What did he know about warfare?

                   He was only an ordinary farmer.

                   There were others in the tribes who could do a much better job.

Before he led the attack, he asked God to give him 2 more signs.

“Putting out the fleece” is not a biblical method for determining the will of God.

It is an approach used by people like Gideon who lack the faith to trust God to do what He said He would do.

2 times Gideon reminded God of what He had said.

And 2 times Gideon asked God to reaffirm His promises with a miracle.

The fact that God stooped to Gideon’s weakness only proves that He’s a gracious God who

understands how we are made.

          Psalm 103:14 says, “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

Who are we to tell God what conditions He must meet, especially when He has already spoken to us in His Word?

“Putting out a fleece” is not only an evidence of our unbelief, but it’s also an evidence of our pride.

God has to do what I tell Him to do before I’ll do what He tells me to do!

Gideon spent 2 days playing the fleece game with God.

The first night, he asked God to make the fleece wet but keep the floor dry and God did it.

          The second night, the test was much harder; he wanted the threshing floor wet but the

          fleece dry. 

                             The ground of a threshing floor is very hard and would not be greatly affected by the dew.

          But the next morning, Gideon found dry fleece but wet ground.

There is nothing for Gideon to do but to confront the enemy and trust God for the victory.

I John 5:4 says “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”

 

 

Closing Prayer

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