Gideon – A Faith that Challenges Life
September 19, 2021

Gideon – A Faith that Challenges Life

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8MelhMY_qs

This morning we are continuing our study on the forefathers of our faith by looking at the highlights of several people God put into His Hall of Faith found in Hebrews Chapter 11. And what we see are living examples of the kind of faith we need to endure the trials and challenges we face in this life.

Therefore, when our faith seems to come up short, or breakdowns, yes, there will be breakdowns, we can go to the lessons these men and women can teach us as to the type of faith we need to face these troublous times.

Today I’d like to look at the story of Gideon, and maybe that’s because he’s always been one of my favorites. This is probably why his encounter with God is a major part of our maxim we repeat every Sunday morning saying that we are mighty men and women of valor.

Now, one of the reasons I like Gideon so much is because he’s a lot like you and me. He didn’t start out with strong faith, rather he started off weak, timid, and scared, but God still used him to do great things. This is why the writer of Hebrews records his name.

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” (Hebrews 11:32 NKJV)

And so, to find out more, we need to go back to the book of Judges and see how God built up Gideon’s faith that allowed him to do great things. His story begins in Judges chapter 6

“Then 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.” (Judges 6:1 NKJV)

Let me give some background as to what was going on at this time. After the Jews were basically settled in the Promised Land, Joshua died. But God never raised up another leader like Joshua. Instead, God raised up men and women who were called “judges” to lead segments of the Israel against local enemies. Now the very fact that they had to fight these enemies was due to their own disobedience, which resulted in their being in bondages to them. But God was gracious and provided the necessary leadership to get them back on track.

The last verse of the book of Judges says it all.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 NKJV)

In those days Israel had no ruler, so everyone did whatever they wanted. Now, the Book of Judges spans a period of about 300 years, and every 40 years or so a new cycle would begin, starting with disobedience, resulting in bondage and misery, followed by the people crying out to God for help. Then God sent a judge to help, resulting in repentance, deliverance, rest, and revival. But the cycle would start all over again. So, for 300 years Israel bounced back and forth between faithfulness and unfaithfulness, and between obedience and disobedience.

Now, Gideon was one of these judges God raised up to deliver the people from the Midianites. What the Midianites would do is wait for the people of Israel to finish harvesting their crops and then they would come in and steal what they could.

And so, the Israelites were forced to hide in caves to wait them out. Well, after seven years this was getting a little old, so the people cried out to God for deliverance, and God called Gideon.

Now, remember when I said that we all could relate to Gideon. Look at where we find him.

“Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites.” (Judges 6:11 NKJV)
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Gideon was a farmer and had no desire to be anything more. In fact, he just wanted to stay alive. So, he’s hiding what little food he had from the Midianites. He had no political ambitions, nor did he dream of becoming military leader. But God had a different plan for his life.

We are like that. We don’t want to be anything more than who we are, and the last thing any of us want is to be used by God in ways that will take us out of our comfort zone. Delivered – yes – but to be used by God, not so much. But like Gideon, God has a great plan for us as well, if we would just believe.

Now, from what we see, Gideon was not exactly a picture of strength and courage. He’s hiding what he could from the harvest and threshing it in a winepress. Normally they used a flat elevated piece of ground with a fire built below. To thresh the grain, they would toss it up into the air and the husks, which were lighter than the grain, would float on the wind and into the fire.

So, the picture we see is not one of a courageous hero, but rather of a defeated, discouraged man, filled with doubts and fears. Not only was Gideon in the winepress physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well.

Gideon was a bitter, disappointed man, and many of us are no different. We can all give plenty of reasons as to what has happened and why we are in these winepresses pushing ourselves away from God. But this is not the life we are called to live. And so, that is what I want us to look at as we see the faith of Gideon.

The first thing in this process is our need to See Ourselves as God Sees Us

Look at how God saw Gideon. Gideon is threshing grain in a winepress when the Angel of the Lord came and said, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6:12 NKJV)

It is at this point that I can see Gideon looking around to see who might have come up behind him, and then, seeing no one, he probably pointed at himself and said, “Who me?”

God didn’t see Gideon as he saw himself. Gideon said “Who am I? How can I save Israel? I am the least in my father’s house, and my father’s house is the least in Israel.” (Judges 6:15 paraphrase)

Far too often we see ourselves through the eyes of worldly standards. We see ourselves through the label’s others have put upon us like when we’re told that we’re not good enough, or that we’ll never amount to anything.

But God sees us through His own eyes and sees the faith that lies hidden within the winepresses of our souls. He sees us as kings and queens, princes and princesses, men and women who love God with the whole of who we are, body, soul, and spirit, and therefore like Gideon He sees us as mighty men and women of valor, or faith.

Next, we need to understand that God isn’t calling us to big things until He gets us past the smaller things that’s holding us back.

And so, our second point is that God Starts Us Off Small

After God tells Gideon to lead Israel and defeat the Midianites, He tells him to offer up a sacrifice, and in the process tear down the altar and image of Baal that is in his father’s back yard.

“Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it.” (Judges 6:25 NKJV)

Baal was one of the chief gods of the Canaanites. According to Canaanite lore, he was the ruler of heaven and god of the sun, rain, thunder, fertility, and agriculture.

Now, at this time the Jews had all but abandoned the Lord and as a result built for themselves alters to the false gods of the nations that surrounded them. And then they wondered like we wonder today why they were in such a mess, and where was God.

This is what we see in Gideon’s question earlier to the Angel of the Lord.

“O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about … But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:13 NKJV)

The concept behind this second point of starting out small is that God doesn’t start us off with the big stuff, but rather with smaller tests of our faith. This is what is behind God’s reward for those who faithfully use the gifts and talents He has given them. Jesus used this very concept with his description of the faithful servant.

“Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17 NKJV)

And so, God doesn’t ask us to do the big things until we first take care of the small things.

This leads another point. God wants us to Take Care of Present Business

God wants us to take care of our present business before we tackle our future purpose. Concerning Gideon, what we see is that before he could deliver the people, he had to tear down the idols in his life.

How many times has God said, “I want you to take care of that?” or “This is what I want you to do?” Yet, we dismiss it. But God isn’t going to take us any further in our walk of faith, until we take care of what He has already given for us to do.

To Gideon, God said this needs to be taken care of first, because it was at the heart of Gideon’s and the people’s disobedience.

God will never reveal any new truths until we obey the truths He has already given. Until we do what God has already told us, He isn’t going to take us any further into His kingdom purposes.

What I have found is that we’re so busy looking for all these new truths, all these new revelations that we’ve forgotten the tried and true, that is, those truths and revelations that have already made difference, and brought revivals in the past.

I love what the Lord said through Jeremiah, but the tragedy is that the people refused to obey.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV)

God has given us what we are to do through the teachings found in His Word, but the sad reality is that fewer and fewer people are walking in the ways of God.

In our study on Daniel’s faith that helped him overcome, I brought forth a recent survey where in the last decade, from 2010 to 2020, among U.S. born-again Christians their belief in the core doctrines of the Christian faith fell from 47% to 25%.

And then just the other week I saw a disturbing survey that said that only 6% of all American adults, or only 15 million people, have a biblical worldview. And that over 90% of those who call themselves Christian, and/or born-again, they now believe that all faiths are equal, they don’t believe in moral absolutes, and they believe that a person can be good enough to make it into heaven. And by the way, all three of these are at the foundation of our faith.

So, we need to get back to God’s word because we’re digging ourselves a hole and then finding ourselves stuck in a rut of our own making, where we never move forward into all the fullness of God.

There’s an old saying that if you find yourself in a ditch, quit digging. But we continue to dig ourselves deeper in these spiritual ruts by not obeying God’s word and what He is telling us to do in order to get out.

Next, God makes this call of faith to each one of us individually.

God Always Begins With Me

There’s an old spiritual hymn whose chorus says, “Lord send a revival, and let it begin in me.”

But whenever we hear a good message, or get a word from God, we usually say, “Boy, if only my husband, wife, child, friend, co-worker could hear that.” But that is the wrong response. The change needed to move forward and overcome, always begins with us.

There is a book by Evelyn Christensen that I highly recommend. It’s entitled, “Lord Change Me.” This is probably the best prayer and philosophy that we as Christians can have, because when it is applied, I have seen miracles happen.

And so, what God was saying to Gideon was, “I’m not going to deal with the Midianites, rather I’m going to start working on you and the idolatry that you have set up in your heart.”

You see, Gideon was looking for the bigger stuff. He said to God, “Where’s all the miracles that I keep hearing about how You delivered us from the Egyptians.”

And isn’t that something we all do? Why aren’t we seeing the miracles we’ve heard about in God’s word? I believe that God will deliver and do these great miracles, but first we have to change and start obeying what God has already said.

Now, most of us have attended church for years, and we’ve heard hundreds of messages and biblical truths. But if we’re not following them, then all this food designed to feed and nourish our souls will be stolen and we’ll remain spiritually malnourished.

Now, we’re famous at blaming others, the preacher, the denomination, the church, anything and everything except ourselves. So, what God is saying to us through Gideon is that we’re going to have to work on ourselves first.

So, God sends Gideon home to first take care of his own spiritual business before God can use Him for His greater purposes. I guess where I am going with all of this is that God tests us with what He has already told us to do, the small things, before He can continue to grow us for His greater works.

This brings me to another point, and that is that God Tests Our Faith.

“You have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7 NKJV)

Five-year-old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother was making supper. She asked him to go to the pantry to get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go. He said, “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.”

His mother said, “It’s okay, Jesus will be in there with you.” So, Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it peeking inside. It was dark, and so he said, “Jesus if you are in there, will you please hand me a can of tomato soup?”

Now this next statement I believe is a keeper.

God tests our faith to see what part of our hearts need shoring up so that He can give to us the encouragement to obey. God doesn’t test our faith to see how badly we can fail, but to see how He can encourage us to succeed.

Consider the progression of Gideon’s faith. What I absolutely love about this story is how God strengthens Gideon’s faith before He even puts it to the test, which then encourages Gideon to move forward not only to obey God at each of these points, but also to strengthen him for the greater tests to follow.

When Gideon was told to knock down the altar and idol of Baal in his father’s back yard, God knew how weak his faith was, I mean, he’s hiding out in a winepress. In fact, when God tells him to go and wipe out the Midianites, He knows Gideon’s hesitancy and fear, so God tells him to go in the strength that he has. But, to encourage Gideon, God tells him to make an offering, and then the Angel of the Lord, which was none other than the Lord God Himself, touched the sacrifice with His staff, and up it went in a puff of smoke, and the Lord was gone. Gideon then went and tore down the altar of Baal.

Now, the people started to come, and so Gideon needed a second helping of courage to go and fight the Midianites who were greater in number. And so, he went to God and asked him for a sign. This is where we get the saying, “Putting out a fleece.” What Gideon did was first ask for the fleece to be wet from the morning dew while the ground around it remained dry. And it was so. And then he asked that the fleece remain dry while the ground around it became wet from the morning dew, and again, God answered his request.

But then God tested Gideon’s faith by whittling down his army from 32,000 to 300.

And so, Gideon wasn’t all that sure about how God was going to make it all happen. How can 300 defeat an army of over 100,000? To strengthen and encourage Gideon once again, God tells Gideon to go down into the camp of the Midianites, and listened.

Gideon heard one of the Midianite soldiers share a dream he had about a loaf of barley bread overturning the Midianite’s tents, and then another solider interpreted the dream as being the sword of Gideon and how God had delivered Midian into Israel’s hand.

That’s all Gideon needed to hear, and so he divided the 300 men having torches in one hand and a sword in the other and ordered them to attack yelling out these words, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon” (Judges 7:18 NKJV), and the Lord threw the Midianites into confusion and Gideon won a great battle by faith.

Gideon started out with little faith, but God encouraged and strengthened that faith along the way, which saw a great victory in the end, and Gideon was added to God’s Hall of Faith.

And so, we come to our last point, and that is God Offers Us A Choice

God gave Gideon a choice in the beginning, run and hide or by faith believe God’s promises and move forward in the will of God. And so, it all comes down to the choices we make, because faith determines our choices. We can choose to go back and live the way it has been, or by faith deal with the challenges and move forward.

God gives to us a choice, and the choices we make tests the commitment of our faith. God is testing our faith through the choices we make. And so, we need to have our faith built up, otherwise, these problems will steamroll us, and like Gideon we’ll start to wonder, “Where is God? Did He abandon us?”

Conclusion

When the problems of life come, not only is our faith put to the test, but so is our commitment to God. Will we remain faithful regardless of the outcome? Faith is saying okay, we will serve God no matter how things turn out.

What we need to realize is that in God’s Hall of Faith there are not only those who succeeded by faith, but there are also those who weren’t victorious, but their faith was still rewarded by God. Look at what the writer of Hebrews says about them.

“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword…persecuted and mistreated…These were all commended for their faith.” (Hebrews 11:36-39 NIV)

Sometimes we only think that those who are successful win God’s approval. On the contrary, however, the secret of successful faith is to be like Job. When covered in boils his wife said, “Curse God and die.” But Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15 NKJV)

The secret of faith is that God may put us in circumstances and a miracle may happen, but it may not, but our faith should still remain. When life’s challenges are bigger than we are, that is when our faith in God will see us through. That’s what it means to be a mighty man and woman of valor and faith.









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