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Gideon, a Hero of the Faith
Hebrews eleven classes Gideon with the heroes of the faith. This may well have been done. We need to remember, however, that Gideon lived in a day when faith was at low tide; he faced a condition of gloom, and almost of despair among his contemporaries.
In addition, Gideon was, by nature, a good deal of a coward. He had been threshing down in a valley, for fear of the Midianites. He possessed no signal sign of faith, when God first approached him. Let us follow by way of introduction, some of the things that led up to the begetting of Gideon's faith, and the making of a worthy captain of the Lord's hosts.
1. God's view of Gideon. The Angel of the Lord approached Gideon with the words, "Thou mighty man of valour." The Lord was not speaking so much of any thing that Gideon had accomplished in the past; He was speaking of what Gideon would do when faith in God gripped his soul.
Had the Angel of the Lord come to Gideon with words belittling him, decrying his faith, and emphasizing his fearfulness, Gideon had not been stirred to so great an undertaking.
The parent that forever belittles his child, finding fault in all that he says and does, will kill the every aspiration of that child to better and higher things. Speak to your children in terms of trust and expectancy. Let them know that you are counting on them for large accomplishments.
2. Gideon testing God. Gideon asked for the Lord to prove Himself by the fleece. Then, reversing the order, he again sought to put God to the test.
This may appear unseemly, and it was. We should walk by faith, and not by sight. We should not seek dreams, and signs, and the miraculous to make us willing to obey the voice of the Lord.
God, however, did not object to Gideon's demands. God knew the conditions under which Gideon dwelt; He knew that with Gideon there was a special need.
We wonder if some of the miracles of the early Church days were not given with this very thing in view. Spiritual life was at the lowest of ebbs in the first century. Israel had long been a vassal nation. Christ had come, to be sure, but He had also been slain, The world needed the sign of the empty tomb; of the Pentecostal manifestations, of the healing of the lame man at the beautiful gate.
So did Gideon need the miraculous. And God was willing to be tested. God did what Gideon asked, and Gideon's faith became strong, until he was willing to undertake what, to all appearances, seemed the impossible.
I. THE LORD TESTS GIDEON'S FAITH (Judges 7:4 )
1. It was necessary to get the eyes of the people off of the Midianites. There they lay encamped before Israel's very sight. A mighty and a hitherto victorious army. For seven years Israel had lived in dread of the tyranny of Midian, Now they were almost frozen to fear; as long as they looked upon the numbers of the enemy, they would have no faith to bring them victory.
2. They needed to get their eyes off themselves. With 32,000 raw recruits, half armed, and halfhearted, facing four times their number, facing an army well armed and filled with assurance of victory, comparisons were only disastrous. As they saw themselves, what were they? and what the chance of their victory? A march on the Midianites seemed no more than a march to certain slaughter.
3. They needed to get their eyes onto God. As their numbers decreased, their sense of utter self-insufficiency increased. However, with enlarged faith, their clinging to God increased. They were left bereft of hope, save as they found it in Jehovah.
4. They needed to learn that God is able to do all things. He can save by the many or by the few. Israel had reached a stage where faith had waned, and hope had all but died. God was not seeking honor, for honor's sake. He was endeavoring to manifest to a doubting people that the God of Israel still lived. He was seeking to show them that He loved and cared for His people.
II. GOD'S CHOICE OF SERVANTS (Judges 7:5-7 )
It is most interesting to note the methods which the Lord employed to select from thirty and two thousand Israelites the three hundred with whom He was willing to deliver His people.
First of all, Gideon announced to his army that "Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead." "And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand."
We wonder, if the Generals of the armies which war today were to give such a proclamation, how many would return to their homes. In the last World War there were multitudes who fought only because they were conscripted. They did not go as a matter of choice, or of desire. Others, who signed up of their own free will, may have felt like running home as the battle raged.
The ten thousand, however, who were ready for the fray did not satisfy God. The Lord said unto Gideon, "This shall not go with thee." So He brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, "Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink." The result of this test was that three hundred men out of the ten thousand lapped, putting his hand to his mouth.
The Lord chose only the three hundred who were eager for the fray, the ones who showed no hesitancy by stopping to bow down on their knees to drink water.
In our service for the Lord, God demands men who give all diligence to their task. He wants none who are halfhearted, none who love ease and seek after pleasure. The Word of God says, "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
III. THE WEAPONS OF GOD'S WARFARE (Judges 7:7-8 )
There is a verse in Second Corinthians, chapter ten, where it says, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds)."
Mark how the three hundred were panoplied for the fight. They took victuals in their hand and their trumpets. In addition they carried empty pitchers and lamps within the pitchers. This was unique to say the least. God certainly was working in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.
It is still true that God uses that which is foolishness with the world to work His wonders.
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are."
What was God's reason for sending home the major part of Gideon's army? What was God's reason for choosing the weak things, and the foolish things, and the things which are not? It was that no flesh should glory in His presence. God hath said, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
When David numbered Israel in the spirit of pride and of carnal security, God was angry with him and sent disaster. The Lord has said, "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!"
We need to remember that when God stretches forth His hand, the armies of the aliens fall and His people are established.
Today the church needs to turn its eyes away from its preacher, and its choir, and its systematized Sunday School, and its great cathedrals, while it turns its eyes once more to God.
IV. GIDEON'S HEARING OF THE DREAM (Judges 7:13-14 )
The Lord came to Gideon and told him to get himself down unto the host of the Midianites, but He said, "But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: and thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the hosts."
When Gideon went down there was a fellow who was telling a dream, and the man said; "Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along."
With what intent must Gideon have listened to the relating of this dream, and how eagerly did he catch the word of interpretation, which was given by the man who had heard the dream.
"And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host."
Thus it was that when Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation that he worshiped God, and returned to the host of Israel, ready for the fray.
It was thus that Gideon's faith was increased. He who believed was given more faith. Has not God said, "Then shall ye know if ye follow on to know the Lord"?
Gideon had walked faithfully thus far, and God therefore gave him added faith. When we use the faith we have, and step forth on the promise which is given, God will multiply our faith.
V. THE BATTLE ORDERED (Judges 7:17-18 )
There was no hesitation now with Gideon. He divided his three hundred men into three companies. Into every man's hand he put a trumpet, also empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. Then he said unto them, "Look on me, and do likewise." "As I do, so shall ye do."
We wish to pause a moment. Is not this the command of our Lord to us? Are we not to walk in His steps? Are we not to war as He warred? Are we not in the world even as He was in the world?
We can never improve on the Master's message neither can we improve on the Master's methods.
Beloved, the times are still very dark. The shadows are deepening, the powers of darkness are lying heavy upon us. Where is He who is willing to follow his Leader and to enter the fight of righteousness against sin, of truth against error.
Just one other thing is worthy of careful consideration. Gideon and his men went under the slogan, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon." These words carry with them three things.
1. It is not the Lord alone. God is dependent upon His servants. Not but that God could have vanquished the Midianites alone not that. But this God has called us into comradeship with Him.
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ." It is wonderful that we have such a call. It is a call to service, but not to a lonely, onesided service; it is a service of comradeship, of partnership.
2. It is not the believer alone. God does not ask any of us to go out single-handed. We are sent, but the Sender goes with us. Even now we can hear His promise backing His command, "Go ye into all the world," and, "Lo, I am with you."
3. It is both "together." A key expression in the Book of Acts is, "The Holy Ghost and us."
What a marvelous fellowship! What are we that we would dare face so great a task? However, with the Lord as the Chief Member of the firm, we have nothing to fear.
VI. THE VICTORY OF FAITH (Judges 7:21 )
There was no doubt as to the outcome. It was even as the Lord had said. Gideon and his three hundred went forth. "And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled."
"Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is He who "leadeth us in the train of His triumph"; He maketh us to be "more than conquerors," through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Can we ever cease to praise Him? He is our victory. He is our Great Deliverer. It is He who breaks the powers of Satan as they gather round us to destroy us. He leads us from the darkness and gloom of defeat into the light and glory of the overcomer.
It is always so. God leads the way with the faithful and fearless few. The men who are willing to follow His commands and obey His voice; the men who are willing to pay the full price they are the ones whom God appoints as leaders; they are the file leaders beating out the path. Then the masses will follow, and joining in, will help in the fight.
How great was that day's deliverance! Rejoicing filled the hearts of the oppressed in Israel. We run our minds ahead to another day, even to the day of Jacob's final trouble. The Day of Tribulation will find Israel sore tried. The antichrist will center his forces against the beloved city. The city will be taken, the people of God, the Jews, will be trodden down as wheat when it is thrashed. "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight * * as when He fought in the day of battle." Great will be the slaughter in that day. Great will be the deliverance to Israel.
It has been borne in upon Pastor Yasinitsky, that just as Gideon overcame the overwhelming forces which were attacking his country, because he had with him 300 fearless men, so perhaps the evangelization of Russian youth might, to a large extent, be brought about by the fervor and devotion of 300 brave, true Christians. A plan, therefore, has been worked out for this campaign for Christ. It consists in the distribution of Gospels, booklets on vital Christianity, and the magazine "The Sword of Gideon," in all educational establishments where Russians are taught. There are, for example, over 15,000 of these in Harbin, and over 5,000 in Prague in Czechoslovakia. The work has been sub-divided into separate groups, each group consisting of ten youths. In accordance with the constitution that has been drawn up, only truly converted Christians are being employed in this movement. There will be no difference as to which denomination they previously belonged to, provided they are sincere in their purpose. Strict discipline will be observed in private life, and in the work of evangelization on the part of every member. Already moral support has been secured from many preachers in many countries. Series of articles bearing upon revival are being written by some world-known evangelists. The organization is of a purely spiritual character, concerned with an evangelistic aim; and there is absolutely nothing political in it. It is simply to bring the young men of Russia into fellowship with Jesus Christ, with all that that implies. To carry out this great evangelistic movement a huge quantity of Gospels and booklets on Christianity will be used.
The movement is hopeful in that it is not a foreign invasion of the country, but a spontaneous uprising of Russian believers, led by a fervent Russian patriot, whose heart has been thrilled with the thought that, in Christ's Name, he might defeat the forces of Atheism which are at present so strong in Soviet Russia. The Christian.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Judges 7". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12