Summary: God uses imperfect people! That's the message of the book of Judges. In the first sermon in this series we see Gideon was a coward, a catalyst, and a conqueror!
Judges: Ordinary People in the Hands of an Extraordinary God (Gideon)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 7/5/2014
Video: Flaws of Biblical Proportions
As much as I love the Grove, I would never call it a perfect church. No church is perfect because every church is made up of imperfect people. The Bible itself is full of imperfect people, isn’t it? Scripture isn’t exactly what you’d call a list of “Who’s Who in Purity and Sainthood.”
In fact, many of their antics and attitudes would make you think of the Saturday night crowd at the county jail, rather than the Sunday morning church crowd. What few halos there are among them could probably use a bit of straightening and polish. Yet, strange as it may seem, it is this very humanness that makes them refreshing. They may have had flaws of biblical proportions, but thankfully God uses imperfect people.
No section of Scripture demonstrates this better than the book of Judges.
Judges is set shortly after the conquest of Canaan. Moses and Joshua are both dead and buried. The great kings like Saul, David, and Solomon are yet to be born. The Bible describes the situation like this: “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 NASB). Unfortunately, it seems most of them were a little shortsighted. Without strong, stable leadership, Israel went astray. They started worshipping false gods, mimicking the pagan practices of the surrounding Canaanites, and indulging in every kind of immortality imaginable. So in order to prod them back to himself, God allowed Israel’s enemies to hammer and harass them. When the oppression became unbearable, Israel would cry out to God for help and God would raise up a hero, a champion to lead the people to victory and spiritual renewal. These spiritual, military leaders were called judges.
If you ever need a reminder of God’s tolerance and love, you’ll find it in the book of Judges. If you ever wonder how in the world God could use you to change the world or make a difference, look at these people—flawed people in the hands of a flawless God.
For the next five weeks, I want you to get to know their stories, because we find our stories in theirs. We find our hope where they found theirs—in the hands of God. I’d like to start with the story of Gideon. Gideon isn’t the first of the judges, but he’s my favorite and since I’m preaching the sermon, I get to pick.
Gideon’s story takes place in Judges 6, the first verse of which says, “The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds.” (Judges 6:1-2 NLT). The Midianites were a nomadic tribe that would wait until the Israelites had harvested their crops and raised their cattle, and then swoop down and raid their farms—stealing what they could and destroying the rest. They were the quintessential neighborhood bullies. And, after seven years, this routine was starting to get a little old. Finally, when the Israelites had nowhere left to turn—they turned to God, who in turn called a young man named Gideon to rescue his people.