Summary: He was a farmer who really enjoyed his trade. Unlike some farmers, he had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He never had political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for his life. I’m talk
Opening Statement: He was a farmer who really enjoyed his trade. Unlike some farmers, he had no desire to be anything more than a farmer. He never had political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming a military leader and yet God had a different plan for his life. I’m talking about Gideon – not the guy that wrote all the Bibles in the hotel rooms. The Gideon story in the Old Testament is unique in that it is the story of how God made a hero out of an unlikely person. It’s not just a story of great exploits; it is a transformation story as well.
Transition: God is looking for a Gideon today - men and women of faith, who are willing to step out and do great things for God.
Title: The Story of Gideon – The Making of a Hero (especially for students who are returning to school)
Text: Judges 6:1-8:35
Background: Before we get into the story, we need to set it up by looking quickly at Israel’s judges, the cycles, and the enemy they faced.
After Joshua had defeated all of Israel’s enemies and established the tribes of Israel in the Promised Land he died. Instead of appointing another main military leader, God would occasionally raise up men and women who were called “judges” to lead segments of the Israelites against local enemies. The very fact that they had to fight these enemies was due to their own disobedience at times. Nevertheless, God was gracious and would provide them with the necessary leadership to get them back on track. But even then, the leaders were less than they should have been.
The period of the judges is known as one of the lowest times in Israel’s history. The last verse of the book says it all: 21:25 In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right. This book records seven cycles of sin that spanned about 300 years. The cycles began with disobedience, which resulted in bondage, and which resulted in misery. Then, God would raise up one of the judges to call people back to Him. This resulted in repentance, deliverance, rest, and revival. But then, just when life got easier, back into compromise and disobedience they would go. You see, in their years of peace and prosperity the people began once again to wander from God’s will and as often happened, their moral decline was followed by military oppression from the outside. So for 300 years, the people of Israel bounce back and forth from being faithful and obedient to God to being disobedient to God. In each cycle Israel seems to have sunk lower than she had previously sunk before.
It is in this kind of setting that the Gideon story took place. Gideon was one of these local “judges” raised up by God to deliver a localized group of Israeli’s from a group of people known as the Midianites and the Amalekites (Judges 6:3). The Midianites were a nomadic people who would wait until the people of Israel had finished planting their crops and they would sweep down upon them stealing their crops and herds and destroying what they couldn’t take with them. Well this went on for seven years (Judges 6:1) and it was starting to get a little old, and so the people cried out to God to deliver them, and He called someone to lead His people, firstly out of military oppression and secondly out of moral oppression. And that person was a man named Gideon.
With all of these things in mind, you’re now ready for the story.
Opening Statement: When you think of a hero, you’re usually inclined to think of strength, great intellect, personal charisma and beauty, or enormous wealth. But our hero today had none of these. He started out as a bitter and weak farmer, but was transformed into a warrior in a most unlikely fashion. He experienced a personal revival.
Key Word: The fascinating story of Gideon brings to use THREE PICTURES in the making of a hero. Stay with me and we’ll make some applications at the end.
Transition: The first picture…
GIDEON THE COWARD 6:1-24
Exposition: Judges 6:11 pretty much says it all: 6:11 The Lord’s angelic messenger came and sat down under the oak tree in Ophrah owned by Joash the Abiezrite. He arrived while Joash’s son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress so he could hide it from the Midianites. Gideon is not exactly a picture of strength and courage here. He is hiding down in a winepress threshing wheat. Normally they used an open flat place where the winds and open air would blow away the chaff, but Gideon was hiding in a winepress beneath a tree, threshing wheat with a stick, desperately trying to save a little bit of food that he had hidden from the Midianites. This is not a picture of a courageous hero; it is a picture of a defeated, discouraged man, filled with doubts and fears. Not only was he in the winepress physically, but spiritually and emotionally. Gideon appears to be a timid and bitter man. While being challenged to deliver Israel, he said to the Angel of the Lord in Judges 6:13: 6:13 Gideon said to him, “Pardon me, but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”