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Judges 6: Someon God Can Use Print E-mail
Judges
Sunday, 12 April 2015

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Most jobs have a list of qualifications that a person must meet in order to be hired.  If you are going to be a surgeon, then you will probably need a medical degree from a reputable university that teaches how to operate.  If you want to be an accountant and prepare people’s taxes, then you might need to know how to work with numbers (or really good with TurboTax).  If you want to be a teacher, then you need to know how to teach a particular subject and how to handle a classroom.  Most jobs have some set of qualifications that must be met.

 

So what about the job of being a deliverer of God’s people?  What sort of qualifications are needed for that particular job?  As we consider the calling of Gideon this morning I want us to to think about that question and how it relates to his story.

As we have seen before, the story begins with the people’s sin and God giving them over to their enemies.  Look at verses 1-2.  The people were worshipping Baal (as we will see in the story) and God gave them over to the Midianites.  What exactly were they doing?  Look at verses 3-6.  The Midianites were stealing their crops and their livelihood and driving the people out of their homes and into the hills.  They would do this around harvest every year.  After seven years the people begin to cry out to God for help.  The Lord responds by sending them a prophet.  Look at verses 7-10.  The prophet reminds the people of all that God has done for them by delivering them from Egypt and giving them land.  Yet, they did not obey His voice.  What does such an indictment lead you to expect will happen next?  Judgment?  Leaving the people to their enemies?  There are times when the Lord will give His people over, yet, as we have seen in this book, He is faithful to send them a deliverer.  Does He do it because they deserve it?  No, He does it because He is gracious and merciful towards His people.  In this instance, He will raise up Gideon to be their deliverer.  Yet, Gideon has some serious struggles before agreeing to the task.  I want to identify three of them this morning in our time together.

Gideon was full of questions (v. 11-27a)

Gideon’s first response to God’s call on His life is not what we expect.  Look at verses 11-13.  This is what I would call circumstantial or situational theology.  The angel of the Lord tells Gideon that God is with him and Gideon looks around at his circumstances and says: ‘Yeah, well I don’t see Him.  Sure, I have heard the stories about how He set the people free from Egypt and gave us the Promised Land, but all I see now is our enemies running off with our food every year.  I see no evidence of God’s strength and goodness in my life right now.’  Ever felt like that?  Sometimes our circumstances trump what we know to be true.  God is strong and He is good, no matter our situation.  The angel of the Lord responds in verse 14.  Look at that.  Gideon complains that God has not delivered the people from the Midianites and the Lord essentially tells him: ‘That’s why I’m here talking to you. You will be the deliverer.’ Perhaps a lesson here is don’t be surprised when you complain if the Lord calls you to be part of the remedy!

The next question that Gideon asks is found in verse 15.  Look at that with me. Gideon asks the Lord: ‘How can I save Israel?’ He then gives the Lord all his excuses: my family is the weakest, and I am the weakest in my family.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Sounds a lot like Moses in Exodus 3 when he tells the Lord that He has chosen the wrong men to go to Pharaoh. We are good at giving the Lord excuses for why the God of the universe cannot possibly use us.  ‘I am not strong enough Lord,’ as if He needs our strength.  ‘I am not smart enough Lord,’ as if He needs our wisdom. ‘I am not good enough Lord,’ as if He has not made a history of using broken people.  How does the Lord respond to Gideon?  Look at verse 16.  Oh man, what a promise!  God could have said I will give you the largest army ever of the best weapons, but He gives something even greater: Himself.  ‘I will be with you,’ is what the Lord tells Gideon.  You remember that the next time you are tempted to tell the Lord that you cannot serve Him.  Go ahead and make a list of all your excuses and hear Him whisper: ‘But I will be with you.’  The presence of God with His people takes away all their excuses and gives them everything they need to faithfully obey the Lord.

The last question that Gideon asks is this: ‘But how do I know that it is you?’  Look at verses 17-18.  Gideon wants to be sure that he is actually speaking with the Lord.  So he asks the angel to stay while he goes and prepares a meal.  Look at what happens in verses 19-21.  The angel has Gideon pour the broth over the food and then he sets the whole thing on fire like a burnt offering.  The fire symbolizes that God really is speaking with Gideon through the angel.  Look at how Gideon responds in verses 22-24.  He knows this is the Lord and so he actually fears that he will die for seeing the angel, which seems strange to us (Davis, p. 96).  But the Lord shows Gideon grace and goes on to give Him his first mission.  Look at verses 25-27a.  If Gideon is going to deliver Israel, then he must begin by delivering his own family and clan from idolatry.  So the Lord tells him to tear down the idols and Gideon obeys.  But his approach to the task reveals another struggle.

Gideon was full of fear (v. 27b-35)

Even in obeying the Lord, Gideon is still struggling.  Look at verse 27b.  Was Gideon fearful of God?  Yes, we see that in his reaction to the fire.  But who else was he afraid of?  He was also afraid of his family and the men of the town.  He was fearful of God, but he was also afraid of men.  Sounds a lot like us.  Gideon did obey and complete the mission, but he was not quite ready to take the risk.  Of course, the rest of the story makes it plain that his fear was not unfounded.  In verses 28-32 we are told that the men of the city come looking for the person who tore down the idols.  They discover that it was Gideon and they come to kill him.  But Gideon’s dad intervenes.  Look at what he says in verses 31-32.  Why does Baal need them to contend for him?  If he is real, then he should be able to take care of Gideon.  The men are satisfied with that answer and the whole episode leads to Gideon having a new name: Jerubbaal.  And when the Midianites begin to make their yearly move against Israel, Jerubbaal is ready and he calls the men to action.  Look at verses 33-35.  Why are so many willing to follow him at this point?  The author of Judges tells us: But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.  God is with him.  God gives him His Spirit.  And that makes all the difference in the world.  Fear gives way to faith.  Through the Lord’s strength, Israel is ready to take out their enemies...well, sort of.

Gideon is full of doubt (v. 36-40)

The story of what Gideon is known for comes at an awkward moment in his life.  He is ready to take on the Midianites.  He has called for the men and they have responded.  The Lord is with him.  Everyone is ready for battle.  Everyone except Gideon.  Look at verse 36.  Gideon is not trying to discover God’s will at this point.  He knows that God has raised him up to defeat the Midianites.  Rather, Gideon is simply doubting God’s word to him.  He is wondering: ‘Will God really do what he said?’  Ever asked that question?  So Gideon asks God for another sign.  Look at verses 37-38.  Gideon lays out a fleece and asks God to make it wet while the ground around it is dry.  And that is exactly what happened.  So then, surely his doubts have been answered right?  Well, no.  Look at verses 39-40.  Gideon tests God a second time with the fleece.  Only this time he wants the fleece to be dry and the ground to be wet, which seemingly would be more difficult.  And of course, the Lord has no problem fulfilling his request.  And from here, Gideon will obey the Lord and move forward with the battle, at least after the Lord makes the odds impossible!  We will look at that next week.

Conclusion
So then, what can we conclude from Gideon’s story about those that Lord chooses to use?  Gideon is full of questions, full of fear, and full of doubts.  On the surface, he seems like the least likely person is Israel to be the deliverer.  And yet, he is the one that God chooses to use.  Of course, we could dismiss this all by assuming that this is a one time situation.  God doesn’t normally use people who are full of questions and fears and doubts, right?  Actually, that seems to be the pattern.  Moses was full of questions and fears and doubts, and the Lord used him to save His people from Egypt.  David was just a boy when he defeated Goliath and a great sinner as king, yet the Lord used him to be a great leader in Israel.  Of course, we could conclude that this is only the pattern in the Old Testament.  But that would be wrong as well.  Think about the disciples: fishermen, a tax collector, guys more concerned about their own glory and safety at times.  Imperfect men all of them.  God built His Church on the Rock, Peter, who denied even knowing Jesus the night before He was crucified.  And what about Paul?  He was murdering Christians and throwing them in jail when the Lord called him to take the gospel to the Gentiles.  All imperfect people.  All unlikely candidates.  Yet, the Lord used them for His purposes.

What about you?  Do you have questions?  Do you have fears and doubts?  Do you feel weak and unworthy?  Then you are qualified to serve in God’s army.  Gideon’s imperfections points us forward to our perfect Deliverer, Jesus Christ.  He did what none of us could ever do.  He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, our doubts and fears, and He rose victorious over the grave.  Through faith in His perfect sacrifice, imperfect people like you and me can be used for the great purpose of God, which is to spread His glory over the whole earth through the proclamation of the gospel.  So give the Lord all your excuses.  Tell Him why you cannot serve.  And then watch Him nail it all to the cross of Christ.  In His grace and mercy, He will use you to accomplish His good purposes for His great glory!  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

 

Last Updated ( Monday, 11 May 2015 )

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