The story of Gideon gives Christians hope that, even as we have a little bit of strength today, God provides the rest to fulfill His purpose.
[Peter Eddington] And you know there are more than 7.4 billion people on our planet. And out of that number, perhaps 37,000 are members in all the Church of God communities. That means that at most one-half of one-tenth of 1% of the world’s population are currently being called to God’s truth. Mr. McNeely talked about it being a calling, and of course, that percentage includes every man, woman and even the children in all the Churches of God.
Why such a small number? It seems that God is using a tiny group of people to do His great work. It seems that the number…that our strength is small. We have just a little strength. I’m gonna come back to that thought in a little bit later on. Does God need a huge army to do His work? Does God need a huge Church? Jesus said in Luke 12, “Fear not, little flock, for it’s your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He said, “little flock.” There are a number of parallels between the story of God’s Church today and the biblical judge, Gideon. We are a small flock, but doing a powerful work.
And the title of today’s sermon is “For You Have a Little Strength.” “For You Have a Little Strength.” I actually have a subtitle that goes with this, “The Lord Is King,” and that subtitle is going to ring true as we approach the conclusion of the sermon. We are going to examine the story of Gideon from the book of Judges, but also see how it applies to us today. It’s very relevant. We have five important points to cover, and they all come from the story of Gideon in the book of Judges beginning in chapter 6. So we can turn over to Judges, chapter 6.
Gideon was the son of Joash from the tribe of Manasseh, and he lived in Ophrah. Now, before this time, Deborah and Barak’s victory brought Israel 40 years of independence and peace. And as so often happens when we’re doing well, we’ve got peace and things are going nicely, we tend to forget from where those blessings came. And so Israel returned to evil in the sight of God, and so God once again delivered them over to their enemies, and the enemy this time was the Midianites. And, of course, as you through the books of Judges and Kings, you see this cycle—40 years of good and 40 years of bad, and 40 years of good and 40 years of bad. You know, it’s almost like the perfect sine wave on a graph.
And at the time of Gideon, because of their sins and commandment breaking, the nation of Israel was now going once again through a difficult time. Judges 6:1 Judges 6:1And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
American King James Version×, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years.” So as our story begins, they’ve been under duress, under terror actually, for seven years.
Verse 2, “And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves and the strongholds which were in the mountains.” So the Israelites were going and hiding up in the hills to escape the Midianites. “So it was,” verse 3, “whenever Israel sowed their crops, Midianites would come up and also the Amalekites and other people from the east, would come up against them, and they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor donkey.”
And verse 6, “So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” So for seven years, the Midianites and their allies would raid Israel during the harvest seasons, swooping down and confiscating all of their produce from the fields. And so many of the Israelites took to the hills to live in caves, no doubt because invaders would seize food if it was down in their homes. And dwelling in hillside caves provided a place of security and some safe storage for their goods. And so this is the situation we now see as Gideon is about to come onto the scene. And it leads to the first point that I have, and I’ve called point one “from where comes our strength?” From where comes our strength? Because remember, the Lord is King. I’m gonna put that little tagline on the end of every point. From where comes our strength? The Lord is King.
Judges 6:7 Judges 6:7And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried to the LORD because of the Midianites,
American King James Version×now, “And it came to pass when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of Midianites.” Now when things aren’t going so well then you think, “I guess I should pray now.”
Verse 10, “That the Lord said, “Also I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But you’ve not obeyed My voice.’” So here is why you are having the problem. You think more, you fear the gods of the Amorites as if they’re anything and you are not listening to My voice.
Verse 11, “Now the angel of the Lord came and sat on the terebinth which was in Ophrah which belongs to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites.” He wasn’t out on the deck, out on the patio threshing the wheat. No, he was doing it inside out of sight.
Verse 12, “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, Gideon, you mighty man of valor.’” So our first mention of Gideon is somewhat funny. He’s threshing wheat, not out in the open but hidden in the winepress, out of fear of the Midianites stealing it from him. And yet, what are the first words of this divine messenger to fearful Gideon? “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” Yet, why would a mighty man be hiding in fear?
But God doesn’t always refer to people according to what they are, but He often names them what they will become. And Gideon certainly didn’t come across us as a mighty or valorous man initially, but by believing and trusting in God, he ultimately lived up to the confidence God placed in him and truly became a mighty warrior and a man of valor. But his strength would come from God, not from within himself. It appears God saw Gideon’s potential character and worked with him. God, in His mind, already viewed Gideon as a mighty warrior although Gideon saw himself as a man with human weaknesses.
Have we found ourselves in similar situations? Do we forget from where our strength comes and then we remember, “Oh, I better pray”? Our power, too, comes from God. It’s not just an ancient thing. Many centuries later, the apostle Paul wrote that God is more concerned with our spiritual strength than our physical strength.
If you want to keep your finger here in Judges. Let’s go to 2 Corinthians 12. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 8 For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
American King James Version×. Because Paul illustrated this with his own example. He tells of his petition to God several times for healing from a debilitating condition. But God’s response to Paul showed that He would not heal him. It would ultimately be better for Paul and the others that he’d not be healed. So we ask why?
2 Corinthians 12:8 2 Corinthians 12:8For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
American King James Version×, “Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly,” says Paul, “I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Then verse 10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak,” says Paul—when I’m weak physically, when I’m ill, when I’ve got this pain—“then I’m strong.” And of course he’s saying spiritually, then he is strong spiritually because he’s putting his trust then in Jesus Christ and God the Father. God understands our heart and mind. It can be all too easy for us to take credit for what He is really doing, and when we recognize that, God can use us more effectively and we remember where our strength comes from as both Paul and Gideon learned. As our sermon is titled, we have a little strength. You may want to make a note of 1 Corinthians 1:26 1 Corinthians 1:26For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
American King James Version×. “Not many mighty or noble are called.” Not many mighty or noble are called.
And so we go back to Judges chapter 6 and look at verse 14. “The Lord turned to Gideon and said, ‘Go in this might of yours,’” and of course Gideon is thinking, “What might? Okay.” “And you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.” And then God says, “Have I not sent you?” So that’s where the power comes from, when God is behind you. God sends you when God gives you a job to do.
Verse 15. “So Gideon said to Him, ‘Oh my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Maybe he had some big brothers and he felt kind of small next to them. So Gideon was a Manassite, but of the smallest of that tribe’s clans, the Abiezrites, and he himself the least in the house of his father. Maybe implying that he was the smallest or the youngest or the least important or maybe the least thought of kid in the family. He was clearly not a man of any considerable wealth or influence, he was just a regular guy. But as we know, God often works through the unknown and apparently insignificant like me and you. We’re not the mighty or noble ones of this world, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 1.
Judges 6:16 Judges 6:16And the LORD said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man.
American King James Version×now. “The Lord said to him, ‘Surely I will be with you.’” So remember, from where comes our strength? God says, “I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as if you were just one man.” And the Midianites had tens of thousands of soldiers. God said, “You can destroy them as if it was just you doing it, if I’m with you.” Then Gideon said to Him, “Now, if I’ve found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it really is you talking to me, God.” This kind of sounds a little risky. Can You just prove it, just a little bit?
Verse 20, “The Angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread (that Gideon had brought forward) and lay them on this rock and pour out the broth.’ And he did so.” So there’s the meat and the unleavened bread, and then he soaks the bread with the broth, covers it with fluid.
Verse 21, “The Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in Gideon’s hand, or in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread, and fire arose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of sight. Now, Gideon perceived then that this was an Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God, for I have seen the Angel of the Lord face-to-face.’” So this miracle proved to Gideon that it was indeed God who was commissioning him to be the leader of an army to fight the Midianites. The weakest of the clan, Gideon would be the one to use God’s strength in battle. So remember our first point, from where comes our strength? The Lord is King.
Number two. Tear down your idols; the Lord is King. Tear down your idols; the Lord is King. Judges 6:25 Judges 6:25And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said to him, Take your father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the grove that is by it:
American King James Version×. “Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him (to Gideon), ‘Take your father’s young bull and then the second bull that’s seven years old and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it.’” So the paganism had gone right into the family.
Verse 26, “And build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” So use one bull to tear down the altar to Baal and then the other bull was then gonna be a sacrifice on the new altar that Gideon was to build for God.
Verse 28. “When the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down, and the wooden image that was beside it was cut down and the second bull was being offered on the altar which had been built.” Gideon’s first action was to destroy the local altar to Baal, another sign that few Israelites at this point were obeying God, because there were altars to Baal all over the place.
And in the following verses of the story, when the local officials sought to put Gideon to death, Gideon’s father, Joash, challenged them to let Baal punish Gideon. “Let Baal do it. Let Baal prove his divinity by taking vengeance on Gideon through some supernatural means.” So the officials to save face really had no choice but to accept the challenge, otherwise they’d say, “Well, our god can’t do that.” Oh no, they had to say, “Okay, yeah-yeah, that’s right. We’ll let Baal do it, we’ll let Baal punish Gideon.”
The challenge was clever by Gideon’s dad because it would show Baal completely incapable of taking vengeance upon anyone. Midianite, Amalekite, Mesopotamian, or even the most insignificant little man in Manasseh. And of course nothing happened, Baal never took vengeance on Gideon. The destruction of the altar and the confounding of the Baal worshipers gave evidence to Gideon that God was on his side, that this was going to work, and interestingly, the second bull here, which is the one that Gideon put on the altar, says was seven years old. This bull was born when the Midianite affliction began, and just as the bull was sacrificed and died, so too would the seven-year reign of Midianite terrorism end. It had been going on for seven years.
So we know that we don’t all have idols in our homes that we kneel down to and worship. But today, there are other things that come between us and God, that may be in “our home” or they’re in our place that cause us to be part of the world, to be separate from God, to put up a barrier. 2 Corinthians 6. So I’d like to go back to 2 Corinthians, this time to chapter 6, we’ll read verses 14 through 17. Because Paul is telling the Corinthians, who of course were in the midst of a pagan society, 2 Corinthians 6:14 2 Corinthians 6:14Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?
American King James Version×, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? What part has a believer with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” You know, with these bad things. “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” So we now are the temple of God. We are now where God dwells. There is no temple system in Jerusalem any longer.
Verse 17, “Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” So our idols today of those things that Paul lists that cause us to be, he says, lawless there in verse 14. To be in darkness, he says so in verse 14. To be unbelieving and unclean, he says. We cannot have any part in those kind of things in society, and he says, “Choose your friends carefully, those who you spend most of your time with.” And so we ask ourselves, what do I need to tear down in my life today? What is in my home that’s keeping me from God? Is there any form of uncleanness or righteousness tarnishing my temple that keeps God from receiving me? And each of us can only examine our own lives and our own motives, of course. What goes on in the privacy of our own homes, we’re the only ones who know about. And we must do that in personal retrospection.
So like Gideon, tear down your idols and remember the Lord is King. Certainly not Baal. Baal can’t save anyone, as the Baal worshipers found out.
And then number three, have faith in God’s work, have faith in God’s work. Remember, the Lord is King. Have faith in God’s work.
And so now let’s get into Judges 6 again. The seasonal raids of the Midianites and their allies commences as Israelites hide in their caves and cover their produce. But this time when the Midianites appear, the Spirit of the Lord inspires Gideon, and he gathers an army from the Israelite tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali.
I’m gonna be in Judges 6:36 Judges 6:36And Gideon said to God, If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said,
American King James Version×. Now, I’m just thinking if you were Gideon now, would you say, “Okay, let’s go guys!” Just leap in the battle against the Midianites without a care in the world? Would you be looking for a little more backup? Would you need maybe a bit more assurance just one more time? I mean, sure, fire came out of the rock, devoured the bread and the meat, but yeah, maybe I need a bit more assurance.
Verse 36, “So Gideon said to God, ‘If You’ll save Israel by my hand as You’ve said,’” Verse 37, “Look, I’ll put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece but is dry on the ground all around, then I’ll know that You’ll save Israel by my hand, as You’ve said.” Verse 38, “And then so it was so. When Gideon arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he rung the dew out of the fleece, a whole bowlful of water, but of course the ground was all dry roundabout.”
So Verse 39, “Gideon said to God, “Okay now, don’t get angry with me, but let me try this again. Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece. Let it now be dry on the fleece and let the ground be all wet. So God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.”
So we ask, is it proper to repeatedly ask for divine assurances? Not necessarily wrong. I mean, this is not a unique situation. Balaam in Numbers 22, 23 and 24 makes repeated requests of God. Abraham made repeated requests of God. And now we see Gideon here seeming to be a reluctant warrior, but that’s not necessarily wrong. Because after, let’s be careful before we go into battle and start destroying lives. Let’s makes sure God is on our side. We just certainly would not want to act alone.
The Spirit of God had come upon Gideon and he had as yet new faith. He was still learning and growing. So he asked for these two opposing signs from God that God would truly deliver Midian into his hands. And while this was probably for Gideon’s own sake, the evidence of these signs, it also showed the rest of the Israelites that God truly had chosen Gideon here now to fight the battle, whoever got around about these miracles. So God performed the famous fleece signs. And we must remember the success of the enterprise was not going to come from Gideon’s strength but from God’s strength. We know where our strength comes from, that was our first point. So the signs were given, and Gideon was emboldened, and he now had faith in the work that God was about to perform. What work has God given His disciples today? What are we about each day as we prepare to be sons and daughters in God’s Kingdom, to be the bride of Christ at Christ’s return?
One of my favorite passages in Mark 16. Mr. McNeely was in the previous chapter about preaching the gospel. Mark 16:14-15 Mark 16:14-15 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
American King James Version×says, after Jesus had been resurrected and had come back to see the disciples another time before He would finally go to heaven for the near future and for the rest of our known history, “So Christ appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table,” Mark 16:14 Mark 16:14Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
American King James Version×, “and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart because they did not believe those who’d seen Him after He’d risen.” He said to His disciples, “Have some faith. I told you this would happen. You don’t even believe it.” So He rebuked them and then He said to them, verse 15, “So get up from the table, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” to everyone. And we, too, must have faith in the work God is doing in us today, and in His Church today. And the spiritual successes we may have in this lifetime do not come from our own strength, either individually or collectively as a Church, but from God’s Spirit in us. It’s God in us that makes this possible. And so have faith in God’s work as Gideon too came to see that God was with him and was working with him. Have faith in God’s work and remember, the Lord is king.
And then fourthly, God makes our small work powerful. God makes our small work powerful, because remember, the Lord is king. So Gideon set out with his army of 32,000 soldiers to drive the Midianites from the land.
We’re gonna go back to, now, Judges chapter 7 beginning in verse 2. So they’re gonna drive the Midianites out of the land. Let’s stop this pilfering our food, them taking our crops and taking our oxen, and let’s get rid of them. God is with us. Chapter 7:2, “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to get the Midianites into your hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself saying, “My own hand has saved me.”’” So there’s a further lesson now to come to Gideon. “Now therefore proclaim in the hearing of the people saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart and at once from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people went home, said, “Yeah, we are a little too scared, right,” and 10,000 remained. Okay, I got 10,000. The odds aren’t looking too good actually, because there are tens of thousands of Midianites and Amalekites and Vegemite and all the others, and I’ve only got 10,000 left because a whole bunch just went home scared.
The Lord said to Gideon in verse 4, “Yeah, but you’ve still got too many. Bring them down to the water and I’ll test them for you there.” So in verse 5, “He brought the people down to the water and the Lord said to Gideon, ‘Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue as a dog laps, you shall set him apart by himself, likewise every one that goes down on his knees to drink.” So God instructed Gideon to bring the army down to a stream or a pool here, and you know the story. There Gideon was to separate the men into two groups, those who scooped water in their hand and brought it up to their mouth and those who got down on all fours to drink by placing their face down near the water. Those who scooped the water up to the face numbered 300, and those were the 300 men whom God chose. There’s all kinds of questions from the Bible commentators as to why that would be.
Some think, well, if you’re down on all fours with your face in the water, you can’t really see if the enemy is coming. But if you’re kind of standing up and scooping the water up to your face, you can keep an eye out. Anyway, the ones who were standing up more, that lifted the water up to their faces, were the ones that God chose.
So Judges 7:12 Judges 7:12And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
American King James Version×. “Now the Midianites and the Amalekites, all the people of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts, and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” So it was a scary sight. It was a gigantic army that was occupying the land and about to come back and steal the crops another time. “And when Gideon had come,” so Gideon actually snuck into the Midianite camp one night, “there was a man telling a dream to his companion.” So one of their Midianites was whispering to his buddy and the Midianite said, “I’ve had a dream. To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, it came to a tent and struck it, so it that it fell and overturned and the tent collapsed.” And then the Midianite’s companion said, “This must be nothing else but the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel. Into his hand, God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.”
So what we see here—I’m not reading every verse—is Gideon and his servant, Purah, spying on the Midianites. And they hear their enemy being told of a dream in which a loaf of bread destroys them all. And so the Midianites…Gideon thinks it must be at prophecy then of their impending doom at his hand. So emboldened, Gideon sneaks back home to tell the Israelites that he’s now convinced that God is going to have them win the battle.
And verse 16, “He divided the 300 men into three companies and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand. And with empty pitchers and torches inside the pitchers.” And in verse 18, Gideon tells the 300 men, “When I blow the trumpet, I and all who were with me, then you also blow your trumpets on every side of the whole camp and say, ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.’” That’s gonna be the chant, okay?
Verse 19, “So Gideon and the 100 men who were with him,” that’s one-third, “came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch, and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. Then the three companies,” all three companies now, all 300 men, “blew the trumpets and broke the pitches. They held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and they cried, ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.’”
Verse 21, “And every man stood in his place all around the Midianite camp, and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. And when the 300 blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp, and the army fled to Beth Acacia toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah by Tabbath.”
So this actually was an interesting strategy that Gideon used, because normally only the commander of a body of men would have a horn and a torch. Just the leader. So the sound of 300 horns and the sound of 300 torches made it appear in the dark like Israel had a huge army and the sound of 300 clay pitchers breaking all at once would have reverberated down through the valley and sounded like the clanking of lots of military armor and swords. And the sight of the torches and the sound of the Israelite horns and shouting terrified the Midianites who imagined a huge army bearing down on them. It was every man for himself after that, men leaping out their tents without their clothes on, without their armor on, without their battle gear, and in the confusion in the dark, they started killing each other. Slashing around their swords in the darkness, the Midianites, the Amalekites, the Mesopotamians, slaughtered each other in the dark in their panic and desperation. So God, by the most insignificant man in the tribe of Manasseh, from the smallest of clans in the tribe, led an insignificant troop of men through little human strength and wrote a great victory for Israel, and then there was peace for 40 years.
It reminds me of the account of rebuilding the temple in the time of Zerubbabel. It’s in Zechariah chapter 4. If you wanna turn over there with me, I’ll read it to you. Because God’s power can do a lot without little strength.” Remember this point four is God makes our small work powerful. Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×, “So he answered and said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.” Here’s what God says. “’Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts,” the strength to do anything like this. Whether it was Zerubbabel rebuilding the temple, whether it was Gideon fighting battles, whether it’s our work today as Christian soldiers, the power comes through the Spirit of God.
And verse 10 of Zechariah 4, “Who has despised the day of small things?” Who despises the small work of Gideon, or who today despises what seems to be a small work of the Church? One-tenth of half of less than whatever it was, 1%, whatever I said—I have to go back and read this again to see what it was—it’s a tiny, tiny figure. Out of 7 billion people on this earth. So even for us today, God makes our small work powerful, and remember, the Lord is King.
And now the fifth point, God is and will be king. God is and will be king. The Lord is king, and now we get to the crux of the story for this sermon in Judges chapter 8. Because God is our King. We report to no other spiritual power. Judges 8:22 Judges 8:22Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule you over us, both you, and your son, and your son’s son also: for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.
American King James Version×. After this great victory, the small band of men against tens of thousands of other soldiers, “the men of Israel then said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’” We want you to be our king. “But Gideon said to them,” in verse 23, “’I will not rule over you nor shall my son rule over you. The Lord shall rule over you.’” So the victory achieved by Gideon was so amazing that the men of Israel were intent on making him king, but Gideon refused. God was Israel’s King, and Gideon made sure to impress that point upon the men of Israel. And Gideon’s words speak very well of his character, because he knew that eventually all human leadership will fail, that God’s rulership is the only lasting answer to mankind’s problems.
It reminds me of the current US political scene. In watching portions of the convention speeches last week, I was struck by the way the delegates were chanting for a new leader, literally chanting for new leader. It was like ancient Israel. “We want a king. We want a person to lead us through our troubles. Rule over us.” And some commentators say when you saw the image on the screen with the presumptive nominee at the lectern with this giant image of him back behind was reminiscent of pre-World War II or something. It was crazy.
Unfortunately, our politicians at the convention didn’t look to God to bring our nation through its trials. No, they look to a prominent wealthy man, like a king to save us all. Like Gideon, we need to understand and remember that the time is coming when God will be our King to rule over us. It will become a reality. Jesus Christ will return and reign on this earth in the Kingdom of God, and all of humanity will then have Christ as King, as Lord over all the other lords, as a leader over all the other governments.
Gideon knew that only God could exercise fair judgment on mankind, and human history certainly proves that to be true. But we all do need strong, faithful, godly human leaders without a doubt, and Gideon was a godly leader, and nation does need that. We do need more godliness in our leadership, because without a godly leader, our society will crumble. Without someone directing the nation in godly values, our nation will crumble. And here is an alarming warning in Judges 8:28 Judges 8:28Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
American King James Version×as we read on. When Gideon died, after 40 years of peace, the people went back into total idolatry, even building a temple to Baal.
Judges 8:28 Judges 8:28Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
American King James Version×, “Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel so that they lifted their heads no more and the country was quiet for 40 years in the days of Gideon.” Verse 32, “Now Gideon, the son of Joash, died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash’s father in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”
Verse 33, “So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals and made Baal-berith their god.”
Verse 34, “Thus the children of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side, nor did they show kindness to the house of Gideon.” That Jerubbaal there is another name for Gideon that his dad gave him. They didn’t even honor and respect the legacy that Gideon left “in accordance with the good he had done for Israel.”
It’s kind of a sad ending, don’t you think? It reminds me of Josiah. He was a great king and he died prematurely in battle. Why don’t we learn from our mistakes? Why don’t we learn from where power truly comes? Why don’t we remember who our King is? God is very much with the Church today in spite of its size. God makes our small work powerful. He is doing a powerful work. We must never forget that. We must learn from our own history.
Look at Revelation chapter 3 as I wrap this up for you. John writes this in his message to the church in Philadelphia. Revelation 3:8 Revelation 3:8I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.
American King James Version×. Christ wants us to do His work and go through the open doors He gives to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God. He wants us to put Christ as our King and persevere even if we are a small Gideon-like flock.
Revelation 3:8 Revelation 3:8I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.
American King James Version×. Christ says, “I know your works, Philadelphia. See, I’ve set before you an open door and no one can shut it.” See, I’ve given you the wherewithal to do this job, “for you have a little strength, have kept My word and have not denied My name.” So just go through the open door, because no one will shut and I’ve given you a little strength, so keep My word. Don’t deny My name. Do it.
Verse 10, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, and because of that, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which will come upon the whole world to test those who dwell in the earth.” He says, “You’re gonna win, so persevere. You’re going to win and I’m gonna look after you.”
Verse 11, “Behold, I am coming quickly, hold fast what you have that no one may take your crown.” He says, “Stick to it and you’ll claim your reward, because “he that overcomes, I’ll make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he should go out no more. And I’ll write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and I will write on him My new name.”
That’s when we truly become spiritual beings in the family of God, but notice in verse 8 as we go to that open door that no one can shut, it says, “For you have a little strength.” But it doesn’t say, “You have no strength.” We do have strength, a little strength, kind of like Gideon’s army. But where does the power come from? It’s not in numbers.
I often pray and ask God to give us just a little bit more little strength, a little more little finances, a few more few members, a few more few personal appearance campaign attendees, instead of 20, maybe 22, a few more. A few more a few BT responses to the program each week. We do have a little strength, and we can build on that strength, but ultimately, our strength does not come from money or numbers, it comes from God. God is and will be King. Remember, the Lord is King.
Apparently, Gideon understood the ultimate importance and safety of having God as man’s ruler. Gideon knew the Lord was his King. He knew this was a far better outcome than being forced to endure the fickleness of human nature and inbred vanity and pride of human leaders. Gideon knew that God is always merciful, patient, graceful and just toward us human beings, because humans are seldom so. Gideon’s humble, visionary attitude made him a man of valor before God and a hero in the eyes of his nation. And Gideon who was the least in his tribe, in his family, proves to us that through the faithfulness of a few, many can be delivered and become victorious.
With God, the outcome doesn’t depend on human might and strength, instead, it depends on the Spirit of God. Because like Gideon’s small army of 300 soldiers, a few plus God is better than a majority without Him. From Gideon’s example, we can learn that no matter how great the odds are against us, our faithful God is sovereign, and He will always see us through the battles that we face in life as long as we remain faithful to Him, faithful to His calling, and obedient to His commands. Revelation talks about those who become resurrected as being those who kept the commandments of Christ.
Final passage in Proverbs 3, let’s finish with Proverbs 3, verses 5 and 6, because here’s the crux of the whole matter. Proverbs 3:5-6 Proverbs 3:5-6 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
American King James Version×. It doesn’t say trust in yourself, but it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” And that’s what Gideon then was shown how to do. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” So remember who gives you your strength. Remember from where your strength comes, remember how our little work can go far. And in the story of Gideon, we come to see how God uses ordinary people like you and me, like Gideon, to accomplish great things, great things which are according to God’s planning.