I want to share some thoughts with you taken from the life of Gideon, one of the judges of Israel. We take a look at Judges chapter six verses one to twelve which will kind of give us the context and bring us up to the starting point where we want to start.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds. 3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; 4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. 5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it. 6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD. 7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, 8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; 9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; 10 And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice. 11 And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
We’ll end up looking at a number of things over this and the next couple chapters, some good things, unfortunately in the life of Gideon, we also see some negative lessons that we can learn from. First of all, I draw your attention again to verse number eleven. The angel came unto him, there he is under the oak and we see Gideon threshed wheat by the wine-press to hide it from the Midianites. I’ve heard it remarked before, the angel in the very next verse is going to call him, “Gideon, thou mighty man of valour” and our first introduction to him we see he hiding behind the wine-press. There could almost seem to be a contradiction there but I don’t believe that the Lord speaks and I don’t believe that the angel of the Lord speaks tongue-in-cheek.
I don’t think he uses a lot of sarcasm and so I believe Gideon was a mighty man of valour but I see here, a principle. Gideon was doing what was necessary to provide for his family. His country had been invaded by a neighbouring country, they would just come through at the time of harvest and they would just wipe the country out and from one coast to the other. All the way across, they would take everything. It says here that “They came as grasshoppers” on the land. Later, when it talks about them being destroyed, it records that one hundred and twenty thousand had been killed and only fifteen thousand remain. So this was an army of at least one hundred and thirty five thousand men.
We see here, a man in fear of his own life, still doing what was necessary to see that his family was taken care of. Men, this is a lesson that we can take to heart. In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder to make sure our families get what they need and I’m not necessarily talking physically, although that is certainly true. We all know a rand doesn’t go as far as it used and so the idea of a simple work week and nine to five and being done and having all of our needs met doesn’t always work and I believe a man should be willing to do what is necessary, physically and economically to take care of his family. But spiritually, we certainly see this to be true. You know our children are facing things that my generation didn’t face. My sons already are growing up in a world where evil is certainly called good and good is called evil and everyone is out to get them. If I send them to school, if I let them go to the shopping centre, if I let them buy a kids book, the things that they can read, see and hear, things that are in direct opposition to God and His Word. I have to make sure that they get what they need.
I must see that they are introduced to the God of the Bible and that they are introduced to spiritual truth and that they are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that is my responsibility and I need to do whatever it takes to see that my family’s needs are met.
1 Timothy 5:8
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
I have been given a job to do and I need to be willing and determined to do whatever is necessary.
And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
“Have not I sent thee”, Gideon was sent by the Lord and this was the guarantee of his success. I am guaranteed success in as much as I am going to do the work that God has sent me to do. If my goal is my own work, if I have my own hopes and dreams, if Gideon had set out to accomplish whatever it was that would fulfil Gideon’s hopes and dreams and whatever would make Gideon famous and whatever would accomplish Gideon’s goal for Gideon’s life, there would have been no guarantee of success. He was guaranteed success in as much as the Lord said “Have not I sent thee?” We need to firmly establish that we are in the work that God has given us to do. When we think about the realm of a church, God has given us a commission, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations,… teaching them to observe all things.” That is the job, that is what God has sent us to do.
God has not promised us success in building great buildings, He has not promised us success in having nice furnishings, He hasn’t promised us success in being renowned in the community for our abilities and our talents but He says “If you do what I told you to do, you’ll have success in that! I’ll give you the power and the strength to accomplish that.” So we need to be sure that we are firmly in God’s work and God’s will for our lives and then we can have success.
And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
Here I see that this mighty man of valour had a clear understanding of his own insignificance. Now all of you are members of the human race, right along with me, you are my brothers and sisters in humanity and so I know you struggle with something I struggle with because we all do, it’s called pride.
It’s that point where we start to think that we are something, that there is some measure in and of ourselves, that we have some great value, ability, talent, gift; something to offer God but this mighty man of valour was very clear on the fact “I’m nobody! I don’t bring anything to the table; I don’t have anything to offer. Why are you looking to me to do this?”
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
As a preacher, when I read that verse and I see the testimony of the Apostle Paul, it doesn’t give me a lot of room to think anything of myself. I mean here’s a guy who wrote Romans, here’s a guy who I believe wrote Hebrews, I mean when you talk about having a grasp of Theology proper, here’s a guy who did. He wrote the church epistles. Everything we’ve studied in church doctrine; yes he’s the guy who wrote it.
And he says “I’m less than the least of saints.” There’s nothing special about me, that I was given this honour of preaching the Gospel. How much more true is this of me? That God’s called me to do a work, God’s entrusted me with a job both in ministry as well as in my family, in being a husband and a head to my wife and a father and a leader to my sons and I’m the least of saints. We need to understand our own insignificance.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
You want to know how to make a job hard? Have God push against you. Have you thought about that? “He giveth grace to the humble.” And that’s a blessing, that’s a help but he gives the other side, He says “I resist the proud.” It’s not like either God is behind me or God just steps away. When I’m His child, He says “If you’re going to be lifted up in pride, not only am I going to leave you to do it yourself without my help, I’m actually going to step in and I’m going to push against you. I’m going to provide that resistance.” We need to understand, I need to understand my own insignificance.
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.