Summary: As he did for Gideon, the Lord often places us in situations that seem impossible. He trains us to give up on our own strength and trust in him alone, relying only on his promises, so that the credit goes to God.
Text: Judges 7:1-8
Theme: The Credit Goes to God
Season: Pentecost 17c
Date: September 19, 2010
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/The-Credit-Goes-to-God-Judges7_1-8.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit assures of our God’s protections is Judges 7.
"Jerub-baal, that’s Gideon, and all the people with him got up in the morning. They were camped near the spring of Haron, and the Midianite camp was in the valley north of Mt. Moreh. The LORD said to Gideon, "There are too many people with you for me to give Midian into their hand, so that Israel does not glorify itself against me, saying ’My hand has saved me!’ Now summon the people and say, ’Whoever is fearful or trembling let him return and go back from Mt. Gilead." Twenty-two thousand of the people went back, and ten thousand were left.
"The LORD said to Gideon, "The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Whichever one I tell you, ’This one goes with you,’ he goes with you. And everyone of whom I say to you, ’This one does not go with you,’ he does not go."
"He took them down to the water, and the LORD said to Gideon, "Everyone who laps up the water with his tongue just as a dog laps -- set him apart by himself, and also everyone who kneels on his knees to drink. The number of those who were lapping with their hands to their mouth was three hundred men. All the rest of the people had knelt on their knees to drink the water.
"The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men who were lapping I will save you and give Midian into your hands. Everyone else went to his own place. The people took in hand the provision and their trumpets. He sent everyone of the Israelites to his own tent and kept hold of the three hundred. Midian’s camp was below him in the valley." (Judges 7:1-8)
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
1. What’s the moral in underdog stories? Is that moral what God wants to teach us in the account of Gideon vs. Midian?
The high school basketball team did well that year. They were only a small town in Pipestone County, MN. It was the days before amalgamated school districts. Edgerton was only a town of under a thousand on the edge of the prairie. But their basketball went undefeated in the regular season. Maybe we can relate to that.
But then the playoffs came. This was fifty years ago before big schools and small ones were divided into class A, AA, AAA, and so on. There was only one state basketball championship. What chance did little Edgerton have?
But then they beat Mankato and after that Chisholm. Then came the biggest challenge of all. In the semifinals they faced Richfield, the number one ranked team in the state. Few sports writers gave Edgerton much of a chance. But at the end of regulation time the score was tied. In overtime Edgerton could make only free throws. But that was enough. They won 63-60. After that, the championship against Austin was an easy victory. (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/03/26/edgerton-basketball-championship-50th/)
We love the story of the underdog. People refer to them as David vs. Goliath. Or we could also say Gideon vs. Midian, for Gideon and his three hundred men were certainly an underdog against the hordes of Midain. But there is a vital difference between the way the typical underdog story is told compared to the way the Bible tells the account of David vs. Goliath or Gideon vs. Midian.
What’s the moral people usually attach to the underdog story? Doesn’t it often go something like this: No matter how small you are, if your heart is big enough, you too can be a winner. Or if you try and do your best with all you’ve got, you’ll succeed. Or with hard work and team spirit you can accomplish great things.
But dear friends, that is not the lesson the Lord taught David or Gideon. That is not what he wants to teach us. In fact, he teaches the opposite. For you see, the credit does not go to how big your heart is or whether you try your best or how hard you work. The credit goes to God. That’s what the Lord taught Gideon and teaches us.
2. How did the Lord make it clear to Gideon that the credit goes to God and not to his own effort?
Notice what the Lord says to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that their own strength has saved them" (Judges 7:2 NIV). The credit doesn’t go to the human spirit, strength, drive, effort, or heart. And the credit doesn’t go to good luck or chance either. The credit goes to God. So the Lord made it humanly impossible for Gideon and his men to win. Then there’d be no question about who gets the credit.