Summary: Helping people find their place in God’s plan is one important part of the church’s responsibility.
EVERY MAN STOOD IN HIS PLACE
INTRO: A speaker to youth did a takeoff on the story of Gideon, presenting Gideon as a modern-day Rambo. The experiences of Gideon are indeed exciting and adventurous.
I read about a minister who used the story of Gideon in speaking to a group of fifty or so elementary school children. Only a few of them knew the story of Gideon and his three hundred men.
One phrase used in the drama stands out especially. “Every man stood in his place” (7:21 GNB). Helping people find their place in God’s plan is one important part of the church’s responsibility. Being in one’s place in God’s plan is essential to happiness and success.
I. EVERY MAN WAS A VOLUNTEER.
Gideon sent messengers throughout the land (6:35) calling men to follow him in warring against the Midianites and the Amalekites. Thirty-two thousand men gathered at Mount Gilead, but when Gideon told those afraid (7:3) and trembling to go home, twenty-two thousand did so.
Gideon’s army vastly dwindled, but those who remained were true volunteers. A volunteer army is always superior to a conscripted army. A different kind of commitment is obvious. Often Christians give testimonies of how God has had to “conscript” them into His service and will. That is sad. Volunteers believe in a cause and step forward without coercion. God needs volunteers with commitment to His cause. In Gideon’s army every man was a volunteer.
II. EVERY MAN WAS ALERT.
The test given to the remaining army of ten thousand is usually interpreted as a test of alertness or readiness. Only three hundred men passed this test. Gideon must have been greatly discouraged. How could he defeat the Midianites and Amalekites with an army of only three hundred men? (7:4-6)
ILLUS: A layman who had been trained in how to effectively share his faith in Christ with others, said, “It is amazing how many more opportunities I have now to share my faith than I did have.”
The truth is: You have no more opportunities now than before. The difference is that now you are more alert to the kind of opportunities that have been there all along.
Opportunities to serve God present themselves numerous times every day. God needs alert people to see and use the opportunities He sets before us. Jesus condemned the “slothful” servant (Matt 25:26).
Jesus condemned those who did not give Him something to eat or drink, or clothe Him, or visit Him in prison or when He was sick (Matt 25:41-46). They had been unaware and unalert. God calls on us to be alert to hurting, suffering, lonely, lost people around us.
III. EVERY MAN WAS EQUIPPED.
The equipment of Gideon’s army of three hundred men was strange. Each man was given a trumpet, an empty pitcher, and a torch to place inside the pitcher (7:16). The equipment was not only strange, but also it was simple and effective when used to accomplish God’s plan.
God equips His people to accomplish His plan. A simple formula that brings encouragement is “You plus God equals enough.” God never asks you or me to do anything we cannot do with His help. God does not expect the impossible from us. He always provides what we need to do his will. He equips us for service.
God often uses the simple, even the weak, to accomplish His purposes in the world. The disciples of Jesus are a good example. They were ordinary men that God used in extraordinary ways. Think about several of them. Despite their weaknesses, God equipped them for special places of service.
IV. EVERY MAN WAS OBEDIENT.
Every man stood in his place. The clear implication of the story is that each did exactly as instructed by Gideon.
Sometimes Christians struggle to know the will of God. More often Christians struggle to obey the will of God they already know. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts I do understand.”
Obedience is an essential part of faith. To trust is also to obey. The gospel song “Trust and Obey” gives a good definition of biblical, saving faith. Jesus said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46 NASB).
CONC: When Gideon’s army stood “each man in his place,” a great victory was won. Imagine what can happen today in God’s kingdom when every person stands in his place.