Gideon; From Despondency to Defiance Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Gideon was a man with NO COURAGE and LITTLE STRENGTH.
Gideon felt completely INADEQUATE for God’s task.
But, THE MORE INADEQUATE WE ARE, THE GREATER THE LIKELIHOOD OF OUR BEING DEPENDENT.
Next, The PROCLAMATION of God’s PEACE IS GIVEN IN VERSES 22-24.
6:22-24—“And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it JEHOVAH-SHALOM. . . .”
“Jehovah-shalom” which means “THE LORD IS PEACE.”
We usually think of peace as the END OF HOSTILITY or the ERADICATION OF STRESS, but the Hebrews thought of peace as THINGS BEING IN ORDER.
By naming his altar as he did, Gideon was saying, “I’m going to find myself in all kinds of hostilities; there will be incredible stress in my life; but one thing I know—in all my weakness I’ll abandon myself to the Lord who will be with me, and things will be in order.”
PEACE ISN’T THE ABSENCE OF TROUBLE, BUT THE DEEP-ROOTED TRANQUILITY OF ORDER IN THE MIDST OF TROUBLE.
Someone has said, “GOD HAS NOT PROMISED AN EASY WAY, BUT PEACE AT THE CENTER OF THE HARD WAY.”
For a man with a worried heart, “The Lord Is Peace” was just what he needed.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have PEACE. In the world ye shall have TRIBULATION: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Now we have come to GIDEON’S DEFIANCE (6:25-7:25)
The PERFORMANCE of God’s PLAN IS NOTICEABLE IN VERSES 25-27.
6:25-27—“And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and THROW DOWN THE ALTAR OF BAAL that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: and BUILD AN ALTAR UNTO THE LORD THY GOD upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down. Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him: and so it was, because HE FEARED his father’s household, and the men of the city, that HE COULD NOT DO IT BY DAY, THAT HE DID IT BY NIGHT.”
Notice that Gideon still had not completely conquered his battle with fear.
However, he did obey.
Next, the PROVISION of God’s POWER IS OBVIOUS IN VERSES 33-34.
6:33-34—“Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. But THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON GIDEON, and he blew a trumpet. . . .”
Blowing the trumpet was a call to battle.
How could fearful Gideon do such a courageous thing?
Well, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM.”
Literally, “The Spirit of the Lord CLOTHED HIMSELF with Gideon.”
The Holy Spirit empowered Gideon and acted through him.
If God gives you a PLAN, He will supply the POWER.
Ephesians 5:18 says, “. . . BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.”
How can we be filled with the Spirit?
There are three keys:
1. “GRIEVE NOT the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30).
2. “QUENCH NOT the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
3. “WALK IN the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
Always remember, GOD’S POWER IS NOT LIMITED BY YOUR WEAKNESS.
NEXT, The PROOF of God’s POSSIBILITIES IS FOUND AT THE BEGINNING OF CHAPTER 7.
In verses 1-8 we are told that thirty-two thousand men volunteered, but the Lord said, in effect, “That’s too many. The men might get the idea they’re a pretty good army, that they achieved victory.”
So what did Gideon do to trim down the size of his army?
First, he asked whoever “is fearful and afraid” (v. 3) to return home; and twenty-two thousand left, leaving only ten thousand men.
Anyone who has ever been in battle will honestly admit that he was afraid.
Therefore, it would not be improper to suggest that those who went home were the wisest and the most honest of the entire group.
Of the ten thousand that remained, there were still too many.
Gideon, therefore, was instructed to bring them “down unto the water” where God would “try them” (v. 4).
There are two basic views on the water trial:
Most preachers assume that those who lapped the water were those who drank water while crouching or standing, lapping it from their cupped hands and readily watching for the enemy.
However, ancient Jewish interpretation prefers to interpret the passage in a directly opposite manner.
The men selected by Gideon who lapped water out of their hands were fearfully looking around.
In reality, THE FINAL THREE HUNDRED WERE THE MOST AFRAID OF ALL!
When given the opportunity to go home, THEY WERE TOO AFRAID TO LEAVE!
When given the opportunity for a refreshing drink, THEY LAPPED IT UP IN FEAR.
Now God promised “by the three hundred men that lapped will I save you” (v. 7).
Gideon must have looked around at his army and thought, “I’ve got three hundred cowards, and we’re going to defeat the Midianites?”
The army was divided into three companies of one hundred each, and they were to carry trumpets and empty pitchers containing torches.
They were to conceal the torches within the pitchers until the last possible minute, when they would break the pitchers, wave the torches, and blow the trumpets, giving the enemy the impression that a great horde was attacking them.
Several factors regarding ancient Near Eastern warfare should be noted when interpreting this incident.
First, as a normal custom in those days, armies rarely fought at night.
When an army did engage in battle at night, only a minority of men carried torches in order to light up the battlefield.
In addition, only a certain number of men would carry and blow trumpets during a battle.
Therefore, when the Midianites awoke to the sight of three hundred torches and the sound of three hundred trumpets blaring at them from every conceivable direction, they could only assume that thousands upon thousands were attacking them.
The sound of the trumpets would signal the call to battle, and the breaking of the pitchers would simulate the clash of arms.
The awaking Midianites assumed that the battle had already begun and that they were outnumbered.
The battle cry, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon,” would strike fear in the minds of the confused Midianites and their allies.
Since the invaders were a combination of at least three language dialects, they began to attack one another in the confusion of the night.
The enemy literally defeated itself by attacking one another.
1 Samuel 14:6 says, “. . . there is no restraint to the Lord to save by MANY or by FEW.”
The Lord gave each man an earthen jar, a torch, and a sword.
They were told to break the jar, and then shout.
First, think about the SHINING, then the SHOUTING.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7—“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Philippians 2:15 states, “. . . among whom YE SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD.”
John Wesley said, “If I had three hundred men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and determined to know nothing among men but Christ, and Him crucified, I would set the world on fire.”
While it cannot be denied that Gideon became a man of great faith who led the people to victory, it should also be noted that the idea of fear runs like a red thread throughout the story of Gideon’s life.
Yet we find Gideon’s name in Hebrews 11, where we find the heroes of the faith: there is says: “... Gedeon .... OUT OF WEAKNESS WAS MADE STRONG, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:32, 34).
Gideon was a FEARFUL MAN in charge of a FEARFUL ARMY, yet God brought about a FEARSOME VICTORY.
The really dangerous enemy was within the heart of Gideon.
It was FEAR.
When God called Gideon, he was HIDING.
When God spoke to him, he RAISED PROBLEMS instead of TRUSTING PROMISES.
When Gideon did start to obey God, he WORKED AT NIGHT and had to have REPEATED ASSURANCE that the Lord was with him.
But God saw the POTENTIAL in Gideon and even called him a “MIGHTY MAN OF VALOUR.”
The Spirit of the Lord was able to turn a COWARD into a CONQUEROR!
God sees the potential in YOU and says to you as He did to Peter, “Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas” (John 1:42).
“YOU ARE . . . YOU SHALL BE.”
What stage are you in now?
Are you despondent?
Or has the Lord come to you in your despondency, helping you learn dependency?
Or, being dependent on Him, are you beginning to discover He has specific things for you to do?
Are you going in His strength to shine and to shout and to put the enemies of the Lord to flight?
Just remember what you have going for you:
The PROMISE of God’s PRESENCE.
The PROCLAMATION of God’s PEACE.
The PERFORMANCE of God’s PLAN.
The PROVISION of God’s POWER.
The PROOF of God’s POSSIBILITIES.