Faith of Gideon
(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi)
I want to talk about the faith of Gideon. Go to the book of Judges chapter six and here we're going to describe some other things about how God sometimes can move upon us. Sometimes it can be by a still small voice, which may sound as if it was coming from our idea, like the one we saw in Jonathan, son of king Saul. We're going to see how God saved Israel. This time he manifested in the form of an angel.
"And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Midianites seven years. And the hand of the Midians prevailed against the children of Israel. And because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens, which are in the mountains and caves and strong holds. 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. And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou came up to Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. 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 came into the land to destroy it. "
This passage simply describes what was going on, and the Israelites were in complete despair. They were being oppressed by these multitudes of Midianites and they couldn't drive the bands of hooligans out of their land. We all know that when something like this happens, a nation must be able to secure its borders, you need soldiers to secure your border. So these people were oppressing them, not only that, they were forcefully collecting taxes from Israel. Gideon was born in that generation, and Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites. And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Now when people are oppressed you always notice that some people will be groaning and crying unto God even if they don't know the true God, God's mercy always looks down upon human race to save, because he created them all. These people were oppressed and even though they had been away from God they themselves started crying unto God because of their oppression.
"And it came to pass that when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, because of the Midianites, That the Lord sent them a prophet which said unto them, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you out of Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage. 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. And I said unto you, I am the Lord your God, fear not the gods of the Amorites in which land ye dwell . But ye have not obeyed my voice."
God told them exactly what they had done wrong, why God stopped delivering them.
V11. "And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophra that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite. And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites."
Now this is the place where the name of Gideon was first mentioned. Gideon was described to be the son of Joash. This angel appeared where Gideon was threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites, because if the Midianites found anyone with food or any produce of the land, they would take it or comfiscate it. " And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, the Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?
And where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hand of the Midianites."
Take note of this: the Israelites were blaming God. Just like human beings. Instead of taking responsibility for forsaking God, they said God has forsaken them.
v.14 "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?"
The Lord would not stand there to argue with him, He just came to do a work.
He wanted to first convince Gideon to go lead Israel to battle. Gideon didn't realize at first that he was an angel speaking with him. But the angel said, "have not I sent thee?"
Gideon said unto him, "O my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man."
Verse 17, "And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me."
Gideon was beginning to realize that he was not having a normal man to man conversation. The visitor was a great person.
He said further, "Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again."
The angel was not in a hurry. God is not in a hurry. One thing I have noticed in walking with the Lord is that, many years now we have been saying the Lord is coming soon, He is coming soon. Yes the Lord is coming soon. To the Lord, he has been waiting for 6 thousand years for man to arrive at this stage. But we believers started believing say 30 years ago and we are in a hurry to bring him down. He is not in a hurry. He sent the apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, but they asked him "wilt thou now restore the kingdom unto Israel?" He was not in a hurry. He responded to them that , "it is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the father has put in his own power", but that they should go do the work he bid them. The Lord is not in a hurry. We are the ones that have a short time on earth. We have to do our own part within the life span we have here. We have to hurry to do our own part.
The Midianites have been troubling Israel for months, so waiting one more hour will not be too much. The angel said "I will tarry till you come again."
(Judges 6:20-21) "And Gideon went in and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
Then the angel of the Lord put forththe end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes.
Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight."
This is when Gideon finally realized he had been visited by an Angel.
Perhaps he thought he was just a holy man, a prophet with some spiritual authority.
"And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! For because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face."
The Lord said unto him, "Fear not, peace be unto you".
After the angel departed, it was not the angel that talked anymore when the scripture said, "and the Lord said unto him, peace be unto thee." The Lord was now speaking to his heart, with the still small voice.
God did similar thing to apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus. After the light visibly manifested and knocked him down on the road, the Lord began to speak to him in the spirit, leading him to do the work God has called him to do.
In the same way, God manifested to Gideon in form of an Angel. From thereon Gideon began to hear the voice of the Lord in his spirit even though the angel did not manifest to him anymore. He was hearing the voice of the Lord, which kept on leading him for the next step to take.
Gideon was to call the army of Israel together. But before he could call the army, God instructed him to first clean up his own house. Remember that. Before God can use you, you must first clean up your house. Sanctify yourself.
v.25 "It came to pass in the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it."
On many occasions when you want to serve the Lord, God wants you to go on a fast. May be a long fast. It is part of the process. Gideon's father had an altar for Baal, which the whole city came there to worship. Whether Gideon believed in it or not is unknown, but his father was the leader of the Baal worship. God told Gideon to throw down the altar, and cut down the grove. That is, clean your own house before God can use you. Gideon performed the operation in the night for fear. He cut down the grove and threw down the altar. In the morning, the men of the city found out who did it and they rose up against Gideon. But his father stood up and convinced the crowd to not defend a god. "Let Baal kill him by himself and let not men help Baal, if he be a god." The men of the city agreed. Of course we know Baal was no god.
That was how Gideon cleaned his own house.
You also have got to sanctify yourself for the Lord's use. Gideon had a special mission to do for God, because God would be talking to him one on one hereafter. Do you also have a special mission you are called to do for God, you've got to sanctify yourself. Set yourself apart, break up your fallow ground, empty your vessel of all debris so that God can refill you. By prayer and by fasting.
We, Christians, also have been anointed by the Holy Ghost. We may see that we are not as fruitful as we ought to be. We are not demonstrating the miracle power of the Lord as we ought to. Perhaps the sick is not healed when we pray for the sick as the scripture promised. Then we may not have fully dedicated ourselves to the Lord. Therefore, sanctify yourself, clean your own house. Search yourself and see: is there any part of your life you have refused to give up to the Lord? Surrender it. He said, "if ye abide in me and my word abide in you, then ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you."
The work God had called Gideon to do is about to begin. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon", when the Midianites gathered again. Before this time the Israelites had no leader to lead them in battle against the enemy. But God has spoken to Gideon and Gideon was now ready to lead the people, so he blew the trumpet and the men gathered to him; now they found one bold enough to lead the people against these enemies. They were all fed up with the oppression caused by the Midianites. They all gathered to Gideon, ready to fight.
v.36 "And Gideon said to God, …..
This part of Gideon's story is not recommended in the new testament, when Gideon was putting out a fleece to prove if God would do what he said he would do for Gideon. It is because of fear and doubt, but God accommodated Gideon's fear and doubt twice, and even afterwards, God helped him out by setting up a dream and interpretation in the enemies' camp for Gideon to hear. Gideon did not have the Holy Ghost like we, Christians, are filled with the Holy Ghost in the new testament. He was going by the voice that spoke to him. But God allowed Gideon's doubt because God himself had a mission to accomplish, to save Israel. Now you can see the difference! When God himself is doing something, he accommodates the weak faith of those who will stand with him on the stage. (Read my sermon on "when miracles happen").
God can show signs if he wants to, but we do not seek after signs. God allowed Gideon to ask for signs twice in a row.
Judges 7:2 "And the Lord said unto Gideon, the people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand … .."
The Midianites are said to be as grasshoppers for multitude, while the Israelites were 30,000. Yet God said they were too many. Those who are afraid were let go, and about 23,000 went home, remaining 7000. Now, the military strategists might begin to panic in trying to figure out what strategy to use for 7000 soldiers to defeat the Midianites who were as grasshoppers for multitude. But God said they were still too many.
v.4: The Lord said, "Bring them down unto the water and I will try them for thee".
v.5: "Everyone that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; ….."
v.6: "The number of them that lapped putting their hands to their mouth to drink were three hundred men. All the rest of the people bowed down on their knee to drink water."
God said, "by the 300 men that lapped with their mouth will I save thee."
Now this is the ridiculous part of the story. God calls men of faith to come and do the ridiculous thing. Only those who are not afraid, nor ashamed to do the ridiculous for God are listed as men of faith. The military strategists would have said, "this is suicide, Gideon".
This is why I said in my earlier writings that this is not the faith of Gideon at all. God came down to perform wonders so that generations after, which hear of it, will know how great our God is. God only needs some faithful men and women to stand with him on the stage to perform his wonders. It's not the faith of these men. But whoever is going to stand with God on such stage must be ready to lose his life to save it. Similarly the Lord Jesus said "he that findeth his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life for the sake of the kingdom shall find it."
It is God on the stage with Gideon to perform his wonders. This is why the Lord allowed Gideon to prove him with the fleece twice and when that is still not enough, God sent him to go listen to what the Midianites were saying about Gideon. God set up the dream in the camp of the Midianites. Someone was telling a dream and another interpreting the dream, and it was when Gideon came by to listen behind the door that they were relating this dream. God set this up to encourage Gideon. It was actually God orchestrating all these things to make Gideon go do the job. God needs someone to stand on stage with him when He himself wants to perform his wonders. We may be trembling within, God will have to give the internal strength for the people concerned to hang in there with him on stage.
It is the same with Moses. God was on the stage to perform wonders but he chose Moses to stand on stage with him before Pharaoh. It was not the faith of Moses that did all those wonders. Anytime God wants to perform wonders he needs you or me to stand on the stage with him. He wants us not to be too scared to stand with him. Will you be a supporter for God? Will you stand on stage with God to perform his wonders?
Three hundred men went to this battle with Gideon and they defeated the enemy because God sent them. How did they fight the battle? See what they used. They were only blowing trumpets and breaking pitchers, and the enemies were routed striking one another down in the confusion God put amidst them. It was God who fought the battle. Similarly, God wants us to go and preach the gospel and stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. It is the Lord that saves the people from the power of darkness, no matter how eloquent or non-eloquent the preacher's voice. God does the work.
There may be occultic people, or charmers that wanted to do us harm when we go about to preach Jesus, we are to stand still and let God do the battle. You and me must be ready to stand and believe God.
Christ said when he comes back will he find faith on earth. What faith will he find in you? Stand and be counted for Jesus. God bless you.
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry