Gideon– Mighty Man of Valor
Pastor Tommy Wensil
*The Bible is a book of history*
Someone has aptly stated that the "book of Judges is the book of incomplete victory" (Deut. 7:1-16). Israel settled down in Canaan for a second class situation. They decided to live with the Canaanites, take tribute from them (1:35) and intermarry with them (3:16). They modified the requirements of God. Their conquest’s of Canaan were far from complete. There were still mountains to climb, giants to fight and cities to conquer, yet Israel was not fit for these opportunities. Thus the book of Judges records the "dark ages" of Israel’s history. It is the story of their repeated departure from God and their wandering in sin.
The response of Israel to God may be summarized in a fourfold cycle which is repeated constantly throughout the book.
The story is of Israel during the period of the Judges is monotonous– Israel would prosper, they would forget God, then God would judge them by allowing their enemies to overtake them or oppress them. They would cry out to God for mercy and deliverance and God would raise up a Spirit led leader to deliver them from their enemies and oppressors– this deliverer was called a judge.
Thus the book takes its name from the 12 Spirit led leaders whom God raised up to deliver the nation of Israel from her enemies. The key verse is found in Judges 21:25. The people of God failed the Lord in the early chapters in three different ways (1) There was failure concerning the land (1:1-36); (2) There was failure concerning the law (2:1-10); (3) There was failure concerning their relationship to the Lord (2:11-23). There was a period of failure that lasted 350 years from the days of Joshua to Saul. There are seven times when Israel departed from God, seven times when they were in servitude to their enemies, and seven eventual instances when God delivered them from the hand of their enemies.
*The Bible is a book of prophecy*
The book begins in a compromise and it ends in confusion. The pattern of Israel’s behavior is a foregleam of what we commonly see in the church today. The generalization given by the key verse is a fitting commentary of the days in which we now live (Judges 21:25). Thus the compromise of many days had culminated in spiritual confusion, and the clear lines of absolute truth had fallen to the wayside.
*The Bible is a book of biographies*
The Bible is filled with the stories of various men and women whose lives are broadcast in open view upon the pages of Scripture. The stories of these men and women teach and admonish us from Genesis to Revelation. The lives of even the most prominent heroes are seen with both their strengths and weaknesses. We view their victories as well as their failures. A signal mark of divine inspiration is that God never conceals the failures of even the most prominent people in the Bible. Thes verses present to us a weak man who heard the call of God and became a mighty man of valor.
I. Call of Gideon–
A. The Person– Judges 6:11 "Gideon"
In the sixth chapter of Judges Gideon receives a call from God. He appears to be one of the most unlikely men in all of the Bible. As far as we can tell he has no native ability, he does not possess a dynamic personality, nor any unusual characteristic that would qualify him in the eyes of his peers. He has no qualifications within himself, his family or his tribe (Judges 6:15). He was a farmer not a fighter, and yet his own personal insufficiency became a prerequisite for the call of God. God’s choice of Gideon illustrates that God is able to use people who are weak, insignificant, and those who lack self esteem and personal confidence (1 Cor. 1:27,28).
B. The Place– Judges 6:11 "winepress"
Where is he when the Lord comes to give him the call? Threshing wheat by the winepress, which is very unusual. Usually wheat would be threshed out on top of a mountain or plateau so that the chaff and residue would be blown away. Yet Gideon was likely threshing this wheat in an act of desperation and fear because of the impending threat of the enemy. He is also doing a woman’s job, thus he is a picture of the role reversal we often see in our day. (Interesting enough the Lord used a woman named Deborah in Judges 4,5 to deliver His people from the enemy. We have to ask "where were all the men?"). God can find a person, even in the wrong place, and call them and use them!
C. The Provision– Judges 6:12 "LORD is with thee"
When the Lord spoke clearly to Gideon that day it is not difficult to imagine that he may have turned around as if to say "Who me?" The angel brought to Gideon what the Holy Ghost brings to us today as New Testament believers– the power and presence of God! For we are what we are not when the Lord is with us. By nature Gideon was just as weak as all the other Israelites, yet with God’s presence and power he would be a "mighty man of valor."
An interesting note concerning this portion is the mention of the "angel of the LORD" (6:12). Many expositors have debated as to whether the "angel of the LORD" was a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus. Yet it seems clear from the contextual connection of Judges 6:14 that the angel was in fact "the LORD" who was calling and reaching out to use Gideon.
II. Challenge of Gideon–
Gideon had the challenge to face the enemies of God. There were two principal kinds of enemies which Gideon had to face.
A. Enemies Without– Judges 6:2,3
The people of God had lived in a state of defeat for 7 years (Judges 6:2b). Every Israelite had practically surrendered to live beneath their God-given privilege of "riding upon the high places of the earth" (Deut. 32:13) to resort to hiding out in dens and caves while the enemy ran rough shod over them (Judges 6:2b).
1. Midian– type of the World (6:3a)
In Scripture Midian is often associated with Moab. It was Midian who tried to persuade Balaam to curse Israel (Num. 22:4. The Moabite and Midianite women seduced Israel (Num. 25:1-18; 31:16). The world always tries to seduce the child of God (James 4:4; 1 Jn. 2:15). Thus the child of God had battles with the world, and must oppose the seductive tactics of the world. The world will leave you defeated as a child of God.
2. Amalekites– type of the Flesh (6:3b)
Amalek is a descendant of Esau who sold his birthright for a morsel of meat. Amalek is a type of the flesh. In Exodus 17 Amalek attached Israel in the wilderness just after they had eaten of the manna (Christ the Bread of Life) and drank from the waters of refreshment from the Rock (Christ the Water of Life) – the Scripture fitting states "then came Amalek" (Ex. 17:8). Amalek was cunning (1 Sam. 15:2), cowardly (Deut. 25:17-19) and was a continual enemy of Israel (Ex. 17:16). There was no end to the conflict with Amalek until David reached the throne, just as their will be no overcoming the flesh until Christ reigns in Lordship on the throne of our heart. The flesh can leave you defeated in the child of God.
3. Children of the east– type of the Devil (6:3c)
The "children of the east" were nomads of the Syrian desert which roam the area as marauders. They correspond to the word of the Devil himself for Scripture reveals that Satan "walketh about, seeking who he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). He roams the earth as a marauder to plunder the people of God and the purposes of God (Job. 1:7; 2:2). Thus every Christian must be on guard against the work of the Devil and his cohorts from the world of darkness. The devil will seek to defeat you as a child of God.
B. Enemy Within– Judges 7:2 "Mine own hand hath saved me"
Every believer must face enemies from without, yet an even greater potential hindrance is the hindrance that we ourselves provide. One of the greatest enemies is "self." Every believer must battle the most common temptation of self comparisons (2 Cor. 10:12), self confidence (Jn. 15:5) and self centeredness (1 Cor. 15:31). This generation is permeated with "self worship," self help, psychological self esteem, and other ideologies that are not in line with Scripture. We are to make sure that we are not relying upon the strength that we have. The tendency that we have to rely upon our own wisdom, strength and power to accomplish what is set before us.
C. Evaluation Ahead– Judges 7:3-6
Then when Gideon blew the trumpet there were gathered unto him 32,000 men to form the army. Yet Gideon’s army had to face the sifting process of God. Every church has to face the sifting process whereby God thins out the ranks. It is difficult for any pastor or congregation, yet at times God does call for a sifting of the ranks of the church.
1. Test of Courage– Judges 7:3
The first test was the test of courage so God instructed Gideon to dismiss everyone that was fearful and 22,000 went home from the impending battle. Those who were too fearful would be contagious to the rest of the army (Deut. 20:8). Thus 10,000 remained at this stage in the process (7:3b).
2.Test of Carefulness– Judges 7:4-6
The second test was carefulness so God instructed Gideon to bring the army "down unto the water" (7:4). It is significant that the test would take place at the "water." For in the Scripture still water is a picture of the Word of God, running water is a picture of the Spirit of God (Ps. 23:2; Jn. 7:38; Eph. 5:26). God always test his soldiers by bringing them down to the water— just as every Pastor must bring his people down to the waters with preaching that is empowered by the Spirit of God.
It is significant that 9,700 of these soldiers that buried their faces in the stream without thought of the enemy. Their chief concern seemed to be their own personal comfort. We are never fit to be a front line soldier as long as our own personal comfort is our chief concern. They were willing, and courageous, but not careful thus it eventually disqualified them from sharing the victory of the final army that God used.
3. Test of Commitment– Judges 7:6b
The final group make up the remaining army of Gideon. There were 300 men who put their hands to their mouths carefully and scanned the skyline around them in vigilance and caution. These remembered the presence of the foe and quenched their thirst carefully, without being off guard. These were those that would wage the battle and win the victory.
D. Equipment Approved– Judges 7:16-20
The weapons that Gideon was prescribed to use were not conventional, yet the truth they portray is vivid in practical application for us today. The trumpet or "shophar" is a picture of a clear testimony (Isa. 58:1;1 Cor.14:8); the broken pitchers or vessels are a picture of a contrite spirit (Ps. 51:17); and the gleaming light is a picture of a consecrated life (Mt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15,16). The singular sword is a picture of the preserved Word of God (Ps. 12:6,7). Each solder was to blow the trumpet, brake the vessels so that the light could shine forth. The united battle cry was given and the victory was won. All this was possible because a man surrendered his life as an instrument of God– to be a mighty man of valour!