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Gideon the Conqueror

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Wednesday Night Service                                                                                    May 23, 2007

Corporate Prayer

Don’t for get about Potluck Sunday after service and the picnic Monday at 2 at Kanakanak Beach, if it is raining, it will be postponed and we will have it the next Saturday or when we can.

GIDEON THE CONQUEROR

Judges 7

Last week we learned how God called Gideon a farmer from Manasseh to become the deliverer of His people.

We saw how Gideon asked God for signs: The Lord called Gideon a “Courageous Warrior”

                                                                   The Lord consumed Gideon’s sacrifice with fire from

                                                                   a rock.

                                                                  

Gideon tore down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole.

                                                                   God changed Gideon’s father Joash’s heart.

Gideon than asked for 2 more signs:          He asked God to make a fleece wet,

but the ground around it would be dry.

                                                                   He than asked God to make the fleece dry and the

                                                                             ground around it wet.

                                                                   God in His never ending patience preformed these

                                                                             signs for Gideon.

In Judges 7 God makes Gideon a “Conqueror”

Hebrews 11, tells us that because Moses was a man of faith,

          He was able to “see the invisible,

                   choose the eternal,

                             and do the impossible.”

What was true for Moses can be true for God’s people today.

But men and women of faith seem to be in short supply.

 

I John 5:4 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”

Christians are either overcome because of our unbelief or over comers because of our faith.

Faith doesn’t depend on how we feel,

          what we see,

                   or what may happen.

We have the Word of God.

The exciting account of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites is really a story of faith in action.

It reveals to us 3 important principles about faith.

If we are to be over comers, and not be overcome,

we need to understand and apply these principles.

1.       God tests our faith (verses 7:1-8)  

          A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.

         

          God tests our faith for a couple of reasons:

1.                 to show us whether our faith is real or counterfeit.

2.                 to strengthen our faith for the tasks He’s set before us.

God has often put us through the valley of testing before allowing us to reach the mountain top of victory.

          Charles Spurgeon said, “when he said that the promises of God shine brightest in the

          furnace of affliction and it is in claming those promises that we gain the victory.”

The first sifting, look at verses 7:1-3 (read)

          God tested Gideon’s faith by sifting his army of 32,000 volunteers until only 300 men

          were left.

          If Gideon’s faith had been the size of his army, then his faith would have been very

          weak by the time God was through with them.

          Less than 1 percent of the original 32,000 followed Gideon into battle.

God told Gideon why He was decreasing the size of the army:

          He didn’t want the soldiers to boast that they had won the victory over the Midianites.

          Victories won because of faith bring glory to God because nobody can explain how

          they happened.

                   Dr. Bob Cook said, “If you can explain what’s going on in your ministry, then

                   God didn’t do it.”

          II Chronicles 26:15-16 says, “In Jerusalem he made engines of war invented by

          skillful men to be on the towers and on the corners for the purpose of shooting

          arrows and great stones.  Hence his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously

          helped until he was strong.  But when he became strong, his heart was so proud

that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered

the temple of the Lord to but incense on the altar of incense.”

People who live by faith know their own weakness more and more as they depend on God’s strength.

          II Corinthians 12:10 says, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with

          insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for

          when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In telling the fearful soldiers to return home,

          Gideon was simply obeying the law Moses originally gave in

Deuteronomy 20:8, “Then the officers shall speak further to the people and

say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted?  Let him depart and

return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like

his heart.”

         

The fearful and trembling man God cannot use.

Pride after the battle robs God of glory,

          and fear during the battle robs God’s soldiers of courage and power.

Fear and faith can’t live together very long in the same heart.

Either fear will conquer faith and we’ll quit,

or faith will conquer fear and we will triumph.

The 2nd sifting (verses 4-8) read

          God put Gideon’s surviving 10,000 men through a second test by asking them all to take a

          drink down at the river.

          We never know when God is testing us in some ordinary way of life.

          I Samuel 14:6 says “Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor,

                                      ‘Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised;

                                       perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to say

                                      by many of by few.”’

Moses assured the Jews in Deuteronomy 32:30 that, “How could one chase a thousand and two put

                                                ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock has sold them, and the

                                                Lord had given them up?”

The rock they were standing on was God’s promise.

All Gideon needed was 27 soldiers to defeat the whole Midianite army of 135,000 men, but God gave him 300.

The Midianites knew who Gideon was, and no doubt they were watching what he was doing.

God graciously gave Gideon one more promise of victory:  read verse 7

         

By claiming this promise and obeying the Lord’s directions,

          Gideon defeated the enemy and brought peace to the land for 40 years.

2.       God encourages our faith (Judges 7:9-15a)

          The Lord wanted Gideon and his 300 men to attack the camp of Midian that night,

                   but first He had to deal with the fear that still persisted in Gideon’s heart.

          God had already told Gideon 3 times that He would give Israel the victory, in verses 6:14,

          6:16 and 7:7.

          He had reassured Gideon by giving him 3 special signs:

                   Fire from the rock – verses 6:19-21

                   The wet fleece – verses 6:36-38

                   And the dry fleece – verses 6:39-40

          You would think that Gideon would have strong by now, but that wasn’t the case.

          It is so awesome how God understands us and doesn’t condemn us because we have doubts

          and fears, AMEN!

          He keeps giving us wisdom and doesn’t scold us when we keep asking for signs.

                   Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Therefore, so since we have a great high priest who has

                   passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but

One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us

draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and

find grace to help in time of need.”

          God keeps giving us more grace.

          God encouraged Gideon’s faith 2 ways:

1.                 God gave Gideon another promise verse 9.

The Lord told Gideon for the 4th time that He had delivered the Midianite army into his hand.

Although the battle must be fought, Israel had already won!

There is a saying: “God says it – I believe it – that settles it!”

2.                 It took courage for Gideon and his servant to move into enemy territory and get close enough to their camp to overhear the 2 soldiers talking.

3.                  

God had given 1 of the soldiers a dream,

          that dream told Gideon that God would deliver the Midianites into his

          hand.

The Lord had already told Gideon this, but now Gideon heard it from the lips of his enemy.

God often communicated His truth through dreams.

                   Jacob – Genesis chapter 28 and chapter 31

                   Joseph – Genesis 37

                   Solomon – I Kings 3

                   Daniel – Daniel 7

                   Joseph the husband of Mary – Matthew 1:20-21; and Matthew 2:13-22

We must not conclude from these examples that this is the only way the Lord speaks to His children.

The best way to get God’s guidance is through the Word of God, prayer, and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we watch circumstances around us.

          The man who interpreted the dream had no idea that he was speaking

God’s truth and encouraging God’s servant.

          Gideon now knew for sure that Israel would defeat the Midianites and

deliver the land from bondage.

          Gideon worshiped the Lord right than, he didn’t wait to get back to camp.

                   He was so overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness and mercy that he fell

on his face in submission and gratitude.

                   In Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua did the same thing before taking the city of Jericho.

It is a good practice for us to follow.

Before we can be successful warriors, we must first become sincere worshipers.

3.       God honors our faith (Judges 7:15b-25)

          Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to

                                      God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who

 Seek Him.”

          Faith means more than simply trusting God;

                   it also means seeking God and wanting to please Him.

          We don’t trust God just to get Him to do things for us.

          We trust Him because it brings joy to His heart when His children rely on Him,

                   seek Him, and please Him.

          How did God reward Gideon’s faith?

                   God gave him wisdom to prepare the army.

                   Gideon was a new man when he returned to camp.

                   His fears and doubts were gone as he mobilized his small army.

                   By doing that Gideon, imparted courage into the men’s hearts by what he said and did.

                             Read verse 15

 

          Gideon’s plan was simple but effective.

                   He gave each of his men a Shofar to blow, a jar to break, and a torch to burn.

                   They would surround the enemy’s camp, the torches inside the jars

and their shofar’s in their hands. 

                   The trumpets were rams’ horns, shofars, just like Joshua used at Jericho.

          At Gideon’s signal, the men would blow the trumpets, break the pitchers, reveal the lights,

          and then shout, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”

          God would do the rest.

Gideon had come a long way since the day God had found him hiding in the winepress.

          We no longer hear him asking “If – Why – Where?”

          No longer does he ask for a sign.

In stead, he confidently gave orders to his men,

knowing that the Lord would give them the victory.

The Good News of the Gospel says we don’t have to stay the way we are.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, anybody can be changed.

          II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore it anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old

                                                  things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

 

This is good news for anyone who wants a new start in life.

God can take a weak piece of clay like me, you, and make a rock out of us.

God can take a doubter like Gideon, like me, like you and make a general out of us.

God gave him courage to lead the army (verses 19:22 read)

At Gideon’s signal they all blew their shofar’s, broke the jars,

and shouted, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!”

Finding themselves surrounded by sudden light and loud noises,

the Midianites assumed that they were being attacked by a large army,

the result was panic.

The Lord intervened and put a spirit of confusion in the camp,

and the Midianites began to kill each other.

Then they realized that the safest thing to do was run away.

God gave him opportunity to enlarge the army (verses 23-25 read)

It was obvious that 300 men couldn’t pursue thousands of enemy soldiers,

          so Gideon sent out a call for more volunteers.

Many of the men from the original army of 32,000 responded to Gideon’s call.

Even the proud tribe of Ephraim came to his aid.

          Remember the tribe of Manasseh was the least of the tribes.

The story of Gideon began with him hiding in a winepress (verse 6:11),

but the story ends with the enemy prince being killed at a winepress.

Gideon’s victory, reminded the Jews of God’s power to deliver them from their enemies.

We can learn from this and be encouraged by it.

God doesn’t need large numbers to accomplish His purposes,

          nor does He need especially gifted leaders.

Gideon and his 300 men were available for God to use,

          and God enabled them to conquer the enemy and bring peace to the land.

When the church starts to depend on “big-ness” – big buildings, big crowds, big budgets

          then faith becomes misplaced, and God can’t give His blessing.

When leaders depend on their education, skill, and experience rather than in God,

          then God abandons them and looks for a Gideon.

The important thing is for us to be available for God to use just as He sees fit.

We may not fully understand His plans, but we can fully trust His promises;

and it’s faith in Him that gives us the victory.

Closing Prayer

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