Summary: The story of Gideon is a great example of just an ordinary man who learned to trust God & became a man of impressive courage. (PowerPoints Available - #355)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free - just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org & request #355.)
ILL. Chuck Swindoll, in his book, "Living Above the Level of Mediocrity," tells about a church in the Soviet Union during the days of the Iron Curtain that was forced to meet secretly because house church services were illegal.
They tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as they gathered on Sunday to worship the Lord, so they came at different times & casually entered the house until all had arrived. Then they would lock the doors, pull the curtains, & quietly worship the Lord.
But one Lord's Day, right in the midst of their worship, two soldiers broke into the house, & at gunpoint commanded the Christians to raise their hands & line up against the wall. Then they told them that they had a choice, either to renounce Christ & leave, or to stay & suffer the consequences.
Several hurriedly left. They waited a few moments, which seemed like an eternity to those still lined up against the wall, & then the soldiers said, "This is your last chance. You may either renounce your faith in Jesus Christ & leave, or stay & suffer the consequences."
Another left, & then another, almost hiding their faces in shame as they left. But the rest remained, children standing beside their parents, trembling in fear, some even crying.
After all had left who chose to leave, the soldiers closed the doors, turned to those remaining & said, "Now keep your hands up, but this time in praise to our Lord."
The soldiers explained that some time earlier they had been sent to another house church to arrest the Christians there. But in the process, they had heard the gospel & had accepted Jesus as their Lord & Savior, too.
But as they explained to these Christians who had stayed behind, "We have learned that you can't trust anybody who is afraid to be true to his faith."
PROP. The story of Gideon, found in Judges 6 & 7, is a great example of just an ordinary man who faced fear & overcame it with God's help. He learned to trust God, & became a man of impressive courage.
I. A TASK FROM GOD
A. The story begins with an angel appearing to Gideon to give him the fearful task of leading Israel into battle against the Midianites. The Midianites were ruthless raiders who came in swarms to terrorize the Israelites, invading their land, stealing their crops & cattle, & burning their homes.
Judges 6:5 says, "These enemy hordes ... stayed until the land was stripped bare." And Gideon was afraid, for vs. 11 tells us he "was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites."
Wheat was usually threshed above ground where the wind could blow away the chaff. But Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, a large cistern or hole in the ground, to keep the Midianites from seeing him & stealing his grain.
While Gideon was down there Judges 6:12-15 says, "The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, 'Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!' 'Sir,' Gideon replied, 'if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?'
'And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? 'But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.'
The angel replied, 'Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!' 'But Lord,' Gideon replied, 'how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!'”
APPL. Sometimes we, like Gideon, think our feelings of inadequacy exempt us from involvement. In fact, we like to think that our lack of confidence impresses God because we're so humble.
But humility is not low self-image. Humility is discovering the gift God has given you & using it for His glory - not for your own.
Then the angel answered Gideon, "I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites ..."
SUM. It's been said, "God plus one equals a majority." That's true even if the one on God's side is weak & uncertain. God was going to use one man - Gideon - to save His people.
II. A TEST FOR GOD
A. But Gideon wasn't convinced, so in vs. 17 he asks, "If you are truly going to help me, show me a sign to prove that it is really the Lord speaking to me." And God did.