Joshua 1:14… “But ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them” (KJV). Proverbs 3:27… “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”
There is a very interesting incident in the book of Judges (chapters 6-8) that speaks about the men of Succoth and Penuel, who withheld food and water from Gideon and three hundred warriors in the time of battle. Catastrophe came upon them. First, let me give you a little background about the calling of Gideon and the Midian oppression.
The Midian oppression came at a time when the people of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. In the book of Judges, the story is told of how the people did what they felt was right in their own eyes and how they fell away from doing what was right in God’s eyes. The book of Judges is filled with people very much like us, people with potential greatness, yet wide open for catastrophe. When they trusted God and obeyed His laws, they made a strong godly impact upon society, and God’s glory was proclaimed. When they depended upon their own flesh, they sealed themselves in isolation for fear of their enemies. The marauders of Midian (and of the devil) came and tore their lives to pieces. Israel began to compromise with the enemy, and in doing so, they cut themselves off from the biblical roots of divine protection.
The Midian oppression came in time of harvest. 9/11 happened in a time of prosperity. The people of the U.S. watched as their hard work was torn down. The Midianites succeeded because there was no national or spiritual unity. We are seeing this same thing in our nation today. During the 9/11 incident a motto developed, “United we stand,” but at this time there is more division than ever. The book of Judges presents us with living examples of people who fell under oppression, and also of people who survived and flourished in times of adversity. When people draw back from God, God is not pleased (Hebrews 10:38-39). In spite of the hard times in our land, we still live in exciting and challenging times. What a day to serve the Lord and to help the mighty men of valor in our day who are serving the Lord in a fivefold faith project by subduing kingdoms, sowing righteousness, obtaining promises, stopping the mouths of lions, and quenching the fires of violence (Hebrews 11:33-34). There are violent fires burning in our society, such as the drug wars, AIDS, child abuse, murders, corporate stealing, homeless people, and much more. The devil is marching too.
In this Midian oppression, God called a mighty man of valor to be a deliverer. Judges 6 tells of his call and his commission. The name “Gideon” means “to cut down.” He was called to cut down the oppression caused by the Midianites. Isn’t this what Jesus came to do? He came “healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38, NASB). Isn’t this what we are to do? (Mark 16:15-20) Despite the nation’s persistent unbelief and disobedience, they cried unto the Lord, and He responded by calling a mighty man… an obscure farmer who nervously threshed wheat in hiding to escape detection. He didn’t look like a man of valor, yet the angel of the Lord called him exactly that because of the qualities of leadership that lay dormant in him (Judges 6:12). I strongly believe that the next great revivalist will not be found behind some pulpit. He will be found at home, sitting at the feet of Jesus and worshipping. Jesus called out Peter and said, “Thou art . . . Thou shalt be.” (John 1:42) Gideon was at first timid and fearful (Judges 6:13-15), but soon built an altar (6:24). The altar speaks of renewal, dedication, and consecration to do the will of God. Gideon had met the Lord and he worshipped. After this came Gideon’s first challenge, which was to tear down the altars of Baal (6:28). He did it at night, but he did it. He was fearful, but he did it. The Midianites were angry and gathered to do battle (6:33).
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. “The Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon” (Judges 6:34, ESV). Gideon was now a God-ruled man and anointed, a man selected by God. He blew the trumpet and the people sensed the presence of God with him. 32,000 made a spontaneous emotional response to help this mighty man of valor. People recognize anointed men. God eventually reduced this army to three hundred men (7:1-7). God looks for quality help more than He looks for quantity. God is not impressed with numbers. It’s not numbers that move God’s hand; it’s the quality of the saints. He looks for saints with faith who are disciplined and committed to obey, and who are not afraid to face great odds that war against them. Napoleon said, “In war, men are nothing; the man is everything.” In chapter 7:3, the 32,000 were asked to test their own hearts. What is in there? Is it faith or fear? Fear broke down their faith and 22,000 went home. Emotional people do not make good warriors if their faith breaks down. In chapter 7:4, 10,000 men were asked to drink from a stream of water. The Lord was weeding out the careless and reckless. Most drank without concern of a possible ambush. Many people never watch out for their souls. 9,700 more went home. That left only 300 warriors.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
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