Summary: In Gideon we see a truth about EXCUSES!! What is an excuse? It is A LIE WRAPPED UP IN AN EXPLANATION and you think because you have some explanation that makes the lie less ugly and more acceptable.
GO, in the Strength YOU have
It is really intriguing how God writes a sermon. This sermon comes out of a discussion I had with Shawn about why God blesses some churches and not others. But then, it also comes out of a book I read about Gideon.
It started out as a sermon about one thing and God completely changed where it went.
Oh, yes. Good news. It also comes out of an article I read entitled: Why Shorter Sermons Are Better
Today we continue the series… Our Faith Family Tree and we will be looking in the Book of Judges.
The book of Judges records six cycles of failure, repentance, and restoration. It can be illustrated like this. (Diagram)
The story begins with one of those cycles.
Judges 6:1 says: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites”
The Midianites were desert bandits who came from the Arabian dessert to raid the farms of Israel. They would attack the people of the valleys, steal the food and cattle, destroy the villages, and chase the Israelites into the hills. For seven years these bandits came back. Every time the Israelites were ready to reap the harvest, the Midianites came out of the desert on their camels; attacking the children of Israel; stealing their food, their women, and their animals; destroying their cities and stealing the crops and then running back to the dessert again.
The results were devastating.
This went on for seven years!
Finally the children of Israel were broken before God. They repented of their sin and cried out to God for deliverance.
God answered by sending Gideon, aka Super Chicken! A guy who’s afraid of his own shadow!
When we first meet Gideon, he is a mess. Judges 6:11 says, “The angel of the LORD came . . . where . . . Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites."
A winepress was a deep hole lined with stones. You threw the grapes down into the hole. Then someone would jump in and stomp the grapes. Gideon was down inside the winepress, but he was not trying to make grape juice. He was in the winepress trying to thresh wheat!
Normally this was done on a threshing floor in an open field where the breeze could blow the chaff away. Gideon was fearful that if he did it out in the open, the bandits would come and steal the wheat from him. So he got down inside the winepress and tried to throw the grain up just high enough to be blown but not seen.
It hasn’t changed in thousands of years
Well. Back to Gideon. About this time, the angel of the Lord came along dressed like a shepherd and sat down under a tree next to the winepress and said to him: “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12).
Gideon probably thought, “Mighty warrior? Are you out of your mind? I’m scared to death! I’m down here in the wine-press hiding for my life!”
Gideon replied, “IF’ the LORD is with us [the first of Gideon’s many ifs], why has all this happened to us? . . . The LORD has abandoned us” (Judges 6:13).
Instead of correcting him, criticizing him, or chastising him, the angel said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand" (Judges 6: 14).
Go in my strength? Gideon thought. I don’t have any strength! I ’m Super Chicken, hiding down here in a winepress.
God has a way of choosing unlikely candidates to do His work.
God called and people came by the thousands to follow Gideon… 32,000 men.
The problem is, there were 130,000 Midianites and Amalekites down in the valley.
We’re outnumbered! We don’t stand a chance! We’re doomed! What am I going to do?
God comes to Gideon and says, “We’ve got a problem.”
Gideon is thinking, YA THINK??? YEAH we have a problem alright! I don’t have enough men!
God said, “No, you’ve got too many men!”
Too many men? What do you mean, too many men? Gideon thought. You’ve Got to Be Kidding!
God replied, “I know these people. If I let 32,000 defeat 130,000 they’re going to say, “We did it ourselves!” I’ve been dealing with these people long enough to know how they operate.
So God whittled Gideon’s army down to three hundred men… and the enemy has 130,000… we’re outnumbered like… 433.3 to one!!!!!!!
BUT… finally, Gideon was ready to go. Then God said, “I have another idea.”
This sent shivers down Gideon’s spine… Oh no… He’s going to get rid of some more men.”
The Lord told Gideon to take the three hundred men and divide them into three groups. He gave instructions to Gideon to give a pitcher with a torch inside it to every man, along with a trumpet for them to carry. Then He told him to put a hundred men on each side of the valley and a hundred in the middle. Gideon was to give the signal and the men would break the pitchers, wave the torches, and blow on the trumpets. Then they were to shout, "The sword of the LORD and Gideon!”