Summary: Out of weakness Gideon was made strong.
[I used a sermon by Stuart Briscoe in Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook (2003) as a starting point for this sermon.]
Hebrews 11 is often called God’s “HALL OF FAME.”
In this chapter we find a character with whom we can identify. His name is GIDEON.
Gideon’s name is found in verse 32. A phrase in verse 34 especially describes Gideon: “OUT OF WEAKNESS WERE MADE STRONG.” Gideon was weak but God made him strong.
Sermon Text: Judges 6 & 7
Judges 6 begins by telling us that for seven years the Midiantes had been tormenting and terrorizing the Israelites.
During every harvest season the Midianites would rush in like swarms of locusts covering the land and devouring everything in their path.
This oppression became so severe that it caused the Israelites to hide in mountains and caves.
God’s people became beaten down and filled with despondency. The enemy tries to do the same with us today.
I. GIDEON’S DESPONDENCY (6:11-13)
Gideon is a good example of despondency. He was so terrorized by the Midianites that he threshed wheat in a winepress—the worst place for that task.
In the Middle East to this day, you will see them threshing wheat by harvesting it, then taking it out on a big flat slab or rock where they beat the wheat and throw it in the air, so that the chaff is blown away and the wheat is harvested. The last place you would do this would be in a winepress for the rather obvious reason that a winepress is exactly the opposite of an open threshing floor. A winepress is a carved-out stone in which you put the grapes, and the maidens come and dance around on them, and the juice come out and the wine is made. Within the confines of a wine press only a small amount of wheat could be threshed at a time. Gideon was trying to thresh his wheat in a winepress because he was in despair.
He was scared that the Midianites might see him threshing wheat and steal it from him, so he hid in a winepress. So in this opening scene we find Gideon AFRAID and HIDING from the enemy.
6:11—“there came an angel of the Lord” to Gideon. The phrase “an angel of the Lord” should have been translated “THE angel of the Lord.” The angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is Christ Himself. We call this a theophany, a preincarnate appearance of God in human form.
6:14—“And THE LORD looked upon him. . . .” This proves to us that the angel of the Lord who spoke to him was the Lord Himself!
The angel of the Lord said to Gideon, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (v. 11). The truth was, though, that Gideon wasn’t a mighty warrior at all, but a SCARED FARMER. He must have looked around and asked, “Are you talking to me? Mighty man of valor? This is me, Gideon, hiding in a winepress! You’ve got the wrong guy. The mighty man of valor lives down the road.”
Gideon took issue with the Angel’s statement, “The Lord is with thee.” He replied, “IF [One of Gideon’s favorite words was “if” (vv. 13, 17, 36).] the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of. . . .”
In other words, Gideon was QUESTIONING GOD’S PRESENCE WITH HIS PEOPLE. The power of Israel’s enemies seemed to show that God was not with His people.
Jewish theology taught that God lived among His people, but Gideon’s people had begun to LOOK AT THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES INSTEAD OF THEIR THEOLOGY. When you begin looking at your theology through your circumstances, you soon find your theology shifting. Gideon needed to be reminded that whatever his circumstances, the Lord was with him. You may live in very difficult circumstances, but you must see your circumstances in the light of your theology, not vice versa.
THE LORD HAD NOT REALLY FORSAKEN THEM; THEY HAD FORSAKEN THE LORD.
II. GIDEON’S DEPENDENCY (6:14-24)
A. The PROMISE of God’s PRESENCE (6:14-16).
6:14-16—“And the Lord looked upon him, and said, God in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. And the Lord said unto him, SURELY I WILL BE WITH THEE, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”
The Angel said, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have I not sent thee?”
However, Gideon immediately began to make EXCUSES for himself. He gives three excuses in verse 15: