Summary: Gideon faced a large enemy 135,000 strong and the odds were against him. Don’t take 32,000, only take 300. I am the LORD.
Gideon - The Conqueror - Part 1
During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, "Sir, I am not a brave man. . . The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands."
Years later, when Patton’s autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: "I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears."
Gideon had acted in faith by following the command of God. Now he was facing a larger enemy equipped to destroy the nation of Israel if necessary. The eastern peoples had already entered the land and were set to do battle. He needed others in this battle because they numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Gideon couldn’t possibly face this old enemy alone.
1. A Recall of a People - v. 34-35
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
The Spirit of the Lord, the personal presence of God Almighty, usually filled those who were chosen by God to lead the people like kings and prophets. Spirit of the LORD came upon on Gideon and he played the trumpet.
As a trumpet player myself, I do agree that it is God’s instrument. But Gideon blew the trumpet for a specific purpose, to rally the faithful Israelites. He also sent messengers to call the people to battle. The battle to defeat the Midianites was not only Gideon’s responsibility but the entire nation’s as well.
God’s people too often see the minister as the leader or workman chosen by God to do His work. Members sit, enjoy the show on Sunday and expect the pastor to do the work. Certainly pastors and other ministers are called by God. But the work of the Lord is not their’s alone. Everyone in the church is called out to do the work of the Lord. The pastor is the under-shepherd to Christ but all are called and gifted by the Lord to do good works. The Lord has called everyone here today to a minister for Him. Ephesians 2:8-10 says,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
2. A Request......Please v. 36-38
Someone said, "Give me the benefit of your convictions, if you have any; but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have enough of my own." (Goethe)
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Gideon was not a perfect example for us. He was very human and very fallible. He had doubts and fears like everyone else. Some would say his faith was weak but I differ, so far his faith and trust in the Lord had won out over the fear and doubt.
Gideon began his conversation with God with a conditional, "if".
He asked if he could fleece God. The test would involve taking a wool fleece, the skin of a sheep with the wool on it, and placing it out in the night. If the dry fleece became wet and the ground was not dewy or wet he would believe in the promise of God to give victory.
God did as Gideon requested. The fleece was soaked with a bowlful of water and the ground was dry all around. God had given Gideon the sign. However, Gideon was not entirely convinced, after all, someone could have poured water on the fleece. How could he be sure?
3. A Request...Again v. 39-40
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.