Gideon (Part 3)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, June 17, 2012.
Gideon 1. Gideon is listed among the heroes of faith for the encouragement of our faith. HEB 11:32-34. 2. His account is in JDG 6-8. 3. The judges were called saviours. NEH 9:27. 4. Gideon was a judge and saviour by an imperfect faith compared to Christ, the Judge and Saviour of perfect faith. JOH 8:29 c/w HEB 11:6; HEB 2:13; LUK 23:46. 5. Gideon is a study of how even a little faith may be used of God and blessed with increase. MAT 8:26; 14:31 c/w LUK 17:5. 6. The story of Gideon shows God's blessing upon faith to the overcoming of impossible odds, a fact we should remember when striving against sin or when witnessing. 7. Gideon means hewer or feller, an appropriate name for someone who cast down idols, groves, foreign and domestic opposition. Judges 6 vs. 1-6. 1. As was the usual cycle in the book of Judges, Israel decayed from a season of godliness and liberty into one of sin and bondage. 2. The Midianites were inveterate enemies of Israel who once aligned with Moab to seek Israel's destruction. NUM 22:4, 7. 3. They were descendants of a son of Abraham. GEN 25:2. A. The church has ever had its share of grief from unspiritual sons of Abraham. GAL 4:29; REV 3:9. B. The church has only endured what the true Saviour experienced. JOH 8:37 c/w MAT 10:25. 4. The name Midian means strife, and comes from a root word meaning brawling and contention. This accords well with their alter-identity as Ishmaelites. GEN 37:25-28, 36 c/w GEN 39:1; JDG 8:24 c/w GEN 16:12. 5. Moses once fled to Midian for sanctuary and married a daughter of the priest of Midian who was a reluctant “convert” to the Abrahamic religion. EXO 2:15-16, 21; 4:25-26. 6. The Midianites were known for their use of camels. JDG 7:12; ISA 60:6. 7. They were once all but extirpated by Moses. NUM 25:17; 31:1-18. A. We should not be surprised if God's church has to fight again with what was once overcome. GAL 4:19. B. This should remind us that unless sin in our members is completely mortified, it is likely to return and oppress. COL 3:5-6; ROM 8:13. C. This also sets forth a basic truth about the superiority of Christ over Moses: what Moses seemed to bring under subjection was not necessarily destroyed. So also the Law could not do what Christ alone could do. ROM 8:1-3. D. Also contrast, “And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel...” (v. 2) with MAT 16:18. 8. Instead of fighting, Israel went into hiding. v. 2. A. Sin had dispirited them, even as they had been warned. LEV 26:36-37 c/w PRO 28:1. B. The condemned heart lacks confidence. 1JO 3:21. C. We dare not let the face of opposition deter us from our spiritual battles. JER 1:17. D. We are commanded to be strong and to stand against the wiles of the devil, not retire to the dens and caves of our fears and lusts. EPH 6:10-11 c/w HEB 13:5-6; 1CO 15:58. 9. “And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites...” (v. 6). Gideon 6-3-12 Page 1A. Israel was oft guilty of spiritual adultery, as here (vs. 10, 28) and adultery tends to root out increase! JOB 31:12. B. What God had given them, they had offered to Baal so God took it away. HOS 2:8-9. C. God is yet the Governor among the nations (PSA 22:28) and those nations which abandon Him, His Word and His righteousness will suffer. PSA 9:17. D. We likewise suffer spiritual impoverishment because of worldly corruptions, entanglements and disregard of God and His Law. HOS 4:6; LUK 8:14; PRO 13:20; 1CO 15:33; REV 3:17; GAL 4:8-9. vs. 7-10. 1. Israel finally “...cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,” (v. 7). A. Interesting that they did not cry unto God because of their sins! Much suffering can be avoided by judging ourselves. 1CO 11:31. B. God might well have told them to call upon the gods they had chosen. DEU 32:36-38; JDG 10:13-14. (1) Quenching the Spirit may result in God withdrawing from us and turning us over to our own devices. EPH 4:30 c/w ISA 63:10; PSA 95:8-11. (2) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (HEB 10:31). 2. God did not send them a Moses or a Joshua, nor did he send plagues upon the Midianites; He sent them a prophet to rebuke them. A. They cried to God; God cried back by a prophet. c/w ISA 58:1. B. A faithful prophet was at least as valuable to Israel as a powerful military. 2KI 13:14. C. What God's church has always needed to stave off trouble is faithful ministers. 2TI 4:1-5. vs. 11-24. 1. In an act of pure mercy, though Israel had forgotten the covenant of their God, God remembered for them his covenant (LEV 26:45 c/w PSA 106:45) and called a savior. A. Gideon wasn't taking foreign occupation and oppression lying down. Although God had given the Midianites civil power over Israel, Gideon took measures to provide secretly for his family. v. 11 c/w 1TI 5:8. (1) Rather than censure Gideon for resisting civil power, the angel of the LORD said, “...The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (v. 12). (2) No authority other than God is absolute and we must obey God when obeying men means disobeying God. ACT 4:18-20; 5:29. B. Gideon was personally industrious and diligent even though he had many servants. v. 27. (1) God chose a diligent man to bear rule in Israel. PRO 12:24; 22:29. (2) Qualified N.T. ministers must be diligent. 1TI 3:1-7; 2CO 8:22-23; ROM 12:8. 2. This angel of the LORD appears to have been God Himself. vs. 14-16. 3. Mark that where Gideon was told, “...the LORD is with thee...,” Gideon's response was “...if the LORD be with us...?” A. One of the great lessons of faith is recognizing that God is willing to call one, or some, but not all of a class. God called Abraham ALONE. ISA 51:2. B. Sardis was a “dead” church wherein Christ eyed only a few. REV 3:1, 4. C. As in Elijah's day, God had reserved some who had not bowed their knee to Baal (ROM 11:4) and would use them to His glory. 4. Gideon seemed to think that the great miracles which attended the church's beginning should always be around (v. 13), an enduring misconception. 5. Gideon's objections in v. 15 seem to be born of humility more than reluctance. Gideon 6-3-12 Page 2A. God does give grace to the humble. JAM 4:6. B. Whether it be self-doubt, humility, weakness or reluctance, when God calls one to work, the answer ought to be “...Here am I; send me” (ISA 6:8). C. Resisting such calls is unwise. EXO 4:10-14; JER 1:6-8; 1CO 9:16. D. Oversight which God gives is expected to be taken. 1PE 5:2; 1CO 11:3. 6. Gideon sought a confirming sign and God graciously granted it. vs. 17-24. vs. 25-32. 1. God then commanded Gideon to cast down his father's altar of Baal, cut down its grove, take his father's bullock, and make an offering to God upon an altar he should build. vs. 25-27. A. God never even implied that Gideon should consecrate this equipment of idolatry to the service of Jehovah! B. This would be an affront to his father but discipleship sometimes means drawing such lines. DEU 33:8-9; 1KI 15:11-13; MAT 10:37. (1) Gideon's act of rebuke was in accord with the function of God's prophets. (2) Like Gideon (hewer), the prophets hewed sinners with rebukes. HOS 6:5. C. Grove here translates from the Hebrew asherah (SRN 842) which means “happy, asherah (or Astarte) a Phoenician goddess; also an image of the same: grove” and it compares with Ashtaroth (SRN 6253). (1) “The Baal, as the head of each worshipping group, is the source of all the gifts of nature; as the god of fertility all the produce of the soil is his, and his adherents bring to him their tributes of firstfruits. He is the presiding genius, patron or cause of all growth and fertility, and baalism, originating, probably, in the observation of the fertilizing effect of rains and streams upon the receptive and reproductive soil, became gross nature worship. Joined with the baals there are naturally found corresponding female figures known as Ashtaroth, embodiments of Ashtoreth. In accordance with primitive ideas which assume that it is possible to control or aid the powers of nature by the practice of 'sympathetic magic', the cult of the baals and Ashtaroth was characterized by gross sensuality and licentiousness.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol.2, 14th edition, p. 834) (2) False religion does tend to be characterized by carnal happiness, a substitute for spiritual emotion: the joy of the Holy Ghost that comes from the knowledge of sin vanquished, not sin sanctioned. ROM 14:17. D. Gideon “...feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.” (1) Here was a fear of man which was not a snare (PRO 29:25) for it did not stop him from doing what God had told him to do. (2) Sometimes being wise as a serpent (MAT 10:16) means doing things by night. JDG 7:19; ACT 9:25; 17:10. E. Gideon was not a Levitical priest authorized by Moses to make an altar and sacrifice (neither was Elijah, 1KI 18), but he was here authorized by God to do so. (1) Recall that Gideon was a savior. NEH 9:27. (2) He was commanded to make the second bullock into a sacrifice. (3) In burning the wood of the grove, he took that which was their sin and made it into that which consumed an acceptable sacrifice (for bulls were acceptable sacrifices, HEB 9:13). (4) Christ our Priest and Savior (not from Levi) became our altar (HEB 13:10), was made sin for us (2CO 5:21), and offered Himself to God for us (EPH 5:2) as the Gideon 6-3-12 Page 3second Adam/man (1CO 15:45-47) because God likewise commanded it so. HEB 10:4-7. 2. The Baal-worshippers of the city called for the death of Gideon for his affront to Baal. vs. 28-30. A. The Law had been turned on its head! DEU 13:6-11 c/w ISA 59:14-15. B. Fools may think false religion to be benign but time will prove otherwise. 3. Gideon's father intervened on Gideon's behalf. In his religion, family meant more than his god. A. God does have ways of raising up helps for His faithful children from unexpected places. ACT 19:33-36. B. The depth of dedication that Joash had to his Baalism came out: he now says of Baal, “...IF he be a god, let him plead for himself...” C. Joash then called Gideon Jerubbaal which means “Let Baal plead.” (1) Baal means lord which means master, ruler. (2) In 2SAM 11:21 Gideon is called Jerubbesheth which means, “Let the shameful thing plead.” (3) The godly, upon reflection, will see their former sins which they served as shameful things. ROM 6:21. vs. 33-35. 1. The enemy had come in like a flood (JDG 7:12) and the Spirit of the Lord arose. ISA 59:19. 2. Gideon blew a trumpet. A. There were relatively few occasions in the Law where the trumpet was authorized but this would seem to have been a valid case for it. NUM 10:5-9. B. The sounding trumpet of war preparations underscores the importance of understanding. 1CO 14:7-9. 3. There seems to have been a dramatic change come over the men of Abiezer! c/w 1KI 18:39-40. vs. 36-40. 1. Gideon has been walking by faith but here tempts God by asking for further proof that God would attend his campaign and bless it. God in charity accommodated him. A. “...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (MAR 9:24). B. Saints sometimes need some help to perfect that which is lacking in their faith. 1TH 3:10. 2. Some have used this example of Gideon and the fleece as a basis for expecting God to supply them with signs or circumstances to enable them to determine God's will. A. Gideon's sign was not merely a circumstance; it was a miracle. Are you going to start asking for miracles to determine God's will? B. NOTE: Gideon did not put out the fleece to determine God's guidance. God had already told Gideon that He would use him to save Israel (JDG 6:14-16). Gideon was seeking confirmation. C. Gideon had already asked for a confirming sign and God had granted it. JDG 6:17-22. D. Thus, Gideon's putting out the fleece was really an expression of his reluctance to believe the call of God. E. That Gideon asked God not to be angry with him when he changed the sign shows that Gideon knew he was skating on thin ice with this. F. Even though God accommodated Gideon in this instance, we read later of God judging Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who sought a sign in unbelief. LUK 1:11-20. G. Examples like Gideon do not establish a precedent for us to follow. H. Scripture does not instruct or encourage us to seek signs from God to determine His will. Scripture itself is sufficient for that. 2TI 3:16-17. Gideon 6-3-12 Page 4Judges 7 vs. 1-8. 1. God, for the glory of His own name and power, thinned Gideon's army down greatly. PSA 33:16; 1SAM 14:6. A. They were outnumbered to begin with: 135,000 to 32,000 but ended up with a ratio of 135,000 to 300, a 450:1 ratio that elsewhere pleased Him for His glory's sake. 1KI 18:22. B. God loves to magnify Himself by confounding the wisdom of enemies and the vainglory of His children at the same time. 1CO 1:26-31; 2:1-5; ZEC 4:10. C. Excluding man's boastings is a major theme of God's works. ROM 3:27; EPH 2:8-9. D. Gideon would walk in the steps of Abraham in this battle against overwhelming odds. c/w GEN 14:14. 2. God will from time to time thin His ranks for various purposes and by diverse means. A. He may provide opportunity for those of weak faith or who are not fully dedicated. (1) Joshua invited Israel to NOT follow God. JOS 24:14-15, 19-20. (2) Had the patriarchs' hearts been froward, they might have had opportunity to return. HEB 11:15. (3) Jesus Christ made discipleship difficult and even encouraged disciples to give up. JOH 6:65-67. B. The first cut was on the basis of fear. v. 3. (1) Although Gideon had not implemented the measure, the Law actually provided for this. DEU 20:8. (2) The shock here was how many of them quit! (3) Christ taught that subscription to His kingdom would be characterized by similar departure. MAT 13:20-21; JOH 6:66. C. The second cut was on the basis of circumspection (the scanning of surrounding objects or circumstances, careful or wary looking about one). vs. 4-7. (1) God said of the remainder, “...I will TRY them for thee there...” (v. 4). (2) try: To separate (one thing) from another or others; to set apart; to distinguish. (3) Christian soldiers/ministers are set apart by trial. 1CO 11:19; 1TI 3:10; 5:22. (4) The good shepherd sees the wolf coming and stands against him. JOH 10:12. (5) Saints must in general be circumspect if they would be successful in spiritual warfare. EPH 5:15-16; 1PE 5:8. D. Christ purges (rids of whatever is impure or extraneous, prunes) believers individually to fit us for better service. JOH 15:2. E. Self-purgers are the ones that are fit to be used of God. 2TI 2:20-21. 3. Those not chosen were sent home. vs. 7-8. A. They later joined in the pursuit. v. 23. B. They were not peevish like those in 2CH 25:6-13. C. They represent some good lessons for believers: (1) Not becoming bitter over the preferment of others. ct/w PSA 106:16. (2) Not becoming bitter over the consequences of one's own choices. ct/w PRO 19:3. (3) Properly esteeming the value of lower postings. PSA 84:10. (4) Making the best of the mercy of a second chance in service. JON 3:1-2; 2TI 4:11. 4. “So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets...” (v. 8). Their hands were full (and more on this later). Gideon 6-3-12 Page 5vs. 9-15. 1. Even before the confrontation with the Midianite host, God told Gideon, “...I have delivered it into thine hand” (v. 9). c/w ROM 4:17. A. This very fact was even in the thoughts of the enemy. v. 14. B. We do well to remember this in witnessing to men: God may well have already prepared a heart for what God has already told us. ACT 10:1-4; 16:14. C. We do well to remember this in personal spiritual struggles: God “...hath delivered us from the power of darkness...” (COL 1:13). As surely as Gideon had to act upon God's word, so must we claim the power of Christ's resurrection in resisting sin. ROM 6:6-14; JAM 4:7. 2. To accommodate his growth in faith and allay his fear, God told Gideon to go down to the host, “And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened...” (v. 11). A. This secret maneuver was essentially an intelligence-gathering mission. B. In contentions for the faith (JUDE 1:3), it is wise to familiarize oneself with what the opponent says in order to strengthen your own arguments against him before going into battle. PRO 20:18. (1) By discovering your opponent's weaknesses and fears, your weakness and fears can dissipate. (2) The enemy may have numbers on their side (as Midian) but actually be more concerned about the power that you represent than you realize. C. Sin is a formidable foe and in battling it we do well to not be ignorant of Satan's devices. 2CO 2:11. (1) For this, you need not go to hell; you need only to honestly look inwardly while studying your Bible. (2) The intelligence has already been gathered and written in a handy field manual called the Bible. D. Gideon's faith was strengthened by seeing the enemy as a defeasible foe (v. 15). Do likewise! 1CO 10:13; 1JO 4:4. vs. 16-25. 1. Since faith without works is dead (JAM 2:26), Gideon initiated a battle plan. vs. 16-18. A. Even though the victory would be virtually a miracle, natural prudence and means were in order. c/w 2KI 5:10; JOH 9:11. B. All the more then, should everyday battles against sin be engaged by study, prayer, faith. 2. What follows here was a case study in faith-based leadership and “followship.” HEB 13:7. A. As noted earlier, Gideon's 300 had their hands full: their hands were full of trumpets and pitchers. This would indeed be a conquest by faith. HEB 11:32-34. B. The only evidence in the whole account of someone having a sword was the Midianites who fought one another! v. 22. C. There is something extremely satisfying in an enemy defeating himself in confusion. ACT 23:6-7; 1CO 2:7-8. D. The lamps were hidden in the pitchers (large vessels usually of earthenware). (1) Paul described apostolic ministry as treasure in earthen vessels. 2CO 4:7. (2) Such vessels may have cracks, may break, and may even have to broken for the maximum amount of light to shine forth. 2CO 4:8-12 c/w PHIL 1:14. 3. Some have criticized the KJV translators for adding the italicized words, The sword, in v. 18. A. But v. 20 shows that the words belong there! B. Try deciphering the following texts without the italicized words: PSA 94:10; 2SAM 21:19; 10:18; 11:8; 9:11 (c/w vs. 7, 10, 13). Gideon 6-3-12 Page 6C. There are times when italicized words in the KJV O.T. are quoted in the Greek text of the N.T. and thus do not appear in italics in the English. (1) PSA 16:8 c/w ACT 2:25. (2) ISA 65:1 c/w ROM 10:20. (3) PSA 94:1 c/w 1CO 3:20. (4) DEU 25:4 c/w 1CO 9:9. (5) DEU 8:3 c/w MAT 4:4. 4. Gideon and his 300 simply stood while God destroyed the enemy. v. 21 c/w EXO 14:13-14. 5. Terror and confusion set into the host of the Midianites. v. 22. A. The self-destructive nature of such confusion is instructive. (1) See here how unjustified fear will make you think your friend is your enemy. (2) This should also warn us to not be afraid with any amazement but rather “In your patience possess ye your souls” (LUK 21:19). c/w PHIL 1:28. B. This confusion was celebrated in the prophecy of ISA 9:4-5 which introduces Messiah and His government. ISA 9:6-7. (1) Matthew Henry said, “...if these pitchers, trumpets, and firebrands, did so daunt and dismay the proud troops of Midian and Amalek, who shall be able to stand before the last terror, when the trumpet of the archangel shall sound, the elements shall be on a flame, the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the Lord himself shall descend with a shout.” (2) 1CO 15:51-58; REV 6:12-17. 6. The men of Israel pursued after the vestiges of Midian's host to destroy them. vs. 23-25. A. Sin must be entirely routed if victory is to be lasting. B. Not just acts, but thoughts and provisions must all be overcome. ISA 55:7 c/w 2CO 10:5; ROM 13:14. Gideon 6-3-12 Page 7