This week we’re in part two of our new series called, “The Warrior” and were going to be looking at the book of Judges. The name gives you a hint that the book is related to those unique leaders that God gave to his people to protect them from their enemies. The name “Judges” in Hebrew can also be translated as “deliverers” or “saviors", so this morning were going to look at one of those judges named Gideon. And I believe we can learn a lot from Gideon, because Gideon was one who was called a “Mighty Warrior" and many of you are very aggressive, very powerful, faith filled warriors in certain areas of your life, but there are other areas of your life where God has called you to lead and yet you’ve become passive and uncertain; much like Gideon.
So today we’re going to look at Judges Chapter 6 and I want to set the context for you so that you understand what the people of God were dealing with and what Gideon was facing when God called him to deliver his people. Now just imagine for a second if you were a farmer, or you had a large garden in which you worked very hard all spring and summer to make sure that it was fruitful. But every year, just about the time that you’re ready to gather the harvest, your neighbors come and steal your crops. Year after year they come and hold you captive taking your harvest by force and there’s nothing that you can do about it. That was exactly the situation that the people of God found themselves in. For seven years God had allowed the Midianites to plunder the land leaving the Jewish people in poverty. But about the time of the eighth season, just as they were anticipating the Midianite’s invasion, God called a man named Gideon to save his people. And so what we’re going to discover is that Gideon is a great encouragement to those of us who have a hard time accepting ourselves, for those of us who have a hard time believing that God could make anything out of us, or for those of us who can’t see God do anything with us. Let’s read together in Judges Chapter 6, beginning at verse one through verse sixteen…
“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
7 When the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, 'I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me."
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior."
13 "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
14 The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
15 "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
16 The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together." NIV
Now verse 11 tells us, that Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. He was trying to harvest a crop before the Midianites came, he was hiding in a winepress and he was guarding what he had. In fact, he’d surrendered to the fact that they were always going to be oppressed by the Midianites, and he had accepted the fact that his people didn’t have what it takes to defeat these guys. So he had become very passive and was just trying to glean some of the harvest before it was taken away.
That was until God spoke to him through an angel in verse 12 and said, ‘The Lord is with you… mighty warrior.” Now Gideon was a farmer, he was passive, he was hiding, but the Lord said, “You’re a mighty warrior.” You see, when God looks at a man, he doesn’t just see the man as he is, he doesn’t just see him where he is, and he doesn’t just look at you and see what you do; but instead he sees what you can do and who you could become. And so God saw something in Gideon that others didn’t see, he saw something in Gideon that Gideon himself didn’t even see and the Lord said, “I am with you, mighty warrior.” You see, this is so big. Some people might look at you and say, “But, you don’t look like a warrior” and God says, “I’m not just looking at what others see… I’m not just looking on the outside… I’m looking at what I created inside of you.”
You see, men, you have the heart of a warrior. And whether you’re a warrior, or even some of you warrior princesses, you were created in the image of God and part of that image, part of who God is, a characteristic of God, is that “The Lord is a warrior” (Exodus 15:3). And He created you men specifically with the heart of a warrior and we discovered last week that every warrior has a cause to fight for. And so Gideon had a cause, but he hadn’t recognized it yet, and in verse 14 God says, “You are to save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” You see, God had seen something in Gideon that he hadn’t even seen in himself. And so you could imagine Gideon standing there like a deer in headlights, he’s just been promoted from farmer to warrior, and in verse 15, Gideon asked, "But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family."
Now you have to wonder why God would choose a guy like Gideon, with an attitude like that. But, you know, God often chooses the lowly things of this world to accomplish great things for his glory so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:28-29). And while verses 12 and 14 should’ve given Gideon all the assurance he needed, he wouldn’t believe God, and like Moses he lived by sight. Yet, God was calling him to walk in faith, just like he calls us to walk in faith, to obey in spite of what we see, how we feel, or what the consequences might be. But here’s the problem, if you’re like most men, including me, you don’t want to admit this, but even the boldest, strongest, and most courageous warrior, before or during the battle questions whether they still have what it takes. You see, deep in our hearts we fear failure!
God told Gideon, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand” (Judges 6:14). And Gideon’s response in verse 15, reveals his lack of confidence, his lack of faith, and his innate fear. You see, that’s not a great start, but to us warriors, failure is personal, to fail is not something that’s out there, to fail is internal, it feels like I am a failure, it strikes us right to the core of our hearts. And so as a warrior if I can’t win I don’t want to fight. So for most guys if we can’t come out on top we give up and resign ourselves to passivity. So whether or not the warrior is struggling in a career, wrestling with temptation, or his family is falling apart, it’s a personal assault on our own self-worth. And I’m not saying that’s right. But I believe that most warriors feel that our worth is based on our accomplishments. We feel better about ourselves when we’re successful, when we’ve accomplished something, and when we’ve been victorious. And so if we’re not, we feel incredibly insecure and we think poorly of ourselves, because deep in our hearts the fear of failure paralyzes us.
And so God had said, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." But Gideon questioned God saying, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about…” (Judges 6:12-13). In other words, Gideon doubted God considering all the problems that his people faced, without giving any thought to the fact that they’d brought this upon themselves through their own disobedience. And so he asked, “Why has all this happened?” Without considering the fact that as a whole the people of God had taken their eyes off God.
In Matthew’s Gospel there’s a story where the disciples were in a boat and Jesus came walking to them on the water. And so Peter’s like, “That’s cool; can I come to you on the water?” And Jesus says, “Come.” So Peter jumps out of the boat and he’s walking on the water, he’s looking at Jesus, he’s looking back at the guys in the boat, and then it says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him" (Matthew 14:30-31). You see, when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked away, he saw the wind, his fear became greater than his faith in Jesus, and he started to sink. And in the same way, when a warrior’s fear of failure is greater than his faith in God, he freezes and becomes a passive warrior.
Men, I wonder this morning, if in some area of your life, if you’ve taken your eyes off Jesus, and like Gideon you’re looking at your own troubles, your own abilities, and you’re thinking, “I may not have what it takes?” Or like Peter, you’re looking at the storm in your life, you see the wind, you question your abilities, and you begin to sink. And so, your insecurities and your fear of failure become greater than your faith in God and you became a passive warrior. Your fear of failure is keeping you from walking in victory Christ purchased for you.
And maybe for some of you, you’re afraid to take that first step, you’re afraid to commit, because you’re wondering if you have what it takes. You know, maybe you really love Jesus, but there’s no evidence of your family and your household being Christian. You know your neighbors would be surprised to hear that you’re going to church instead of to the lake or the race track. And so you think you’d like to lead your family spiritually, but you’re afraid because you don’t know what to do, you don’t know what that looks like, and maybe your wife might see that she really knows more than you do, and so you freeze, your fear of failure is greater than your faith in God. And deep down you’d love to try, but you hesitate because if it doesn’t work… then you’re going to be a failure. Or maybe there’s a ministry you’d like to be involved in in the church, but what if you don’t know enough, what if you’re not good enough? And so instead of doing what you were created to do, fighting for the cause of Christ, you do what so many men do and you freeze. Instead of leading courageously you become a passive warrior.
But on the other hand, there are a lot of warrior princesses that complain that their husbands are not the spiritual leaders of their home; that they have to wear the spiritual pants in the family, but let me tell you, if you’re already doing it he’s probably not going to do it. You see because he’s still learning, maybe you’ve shut him down before, maybe he felt disrespected, and so he’s like, “If I can’t win this game; I don’t want to play.” And so the very thing that you want the most, he won’t do, because he can’t live up to your expectations.
Well here’s what you do, when he does anything even slightly spiritual, don’t criticize it, reward it. You know, maybe for the first time he just prays over the meal. You know, “God is great, God is good, God, I thank you for this food.” And so you just look at him and say, “Wow! That was great!" And so you just encourage him, you let him become the man that God created him to be, you let him lead spiritually and he will exceed your greatest expectations. He’s a warrior!
That’s what God was doing with Gideon in verse 14, he said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand.” It’s been well said that “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.” And so once God has called and commissioned us, all we have to do is obey him by faith, and he will do the rest. Warriors, you have what it takes. God has given you what it takes to do what he has called you to do. And so God tells Gideon in verse 14, “Am I not sending you?” Warriors, the message is the same to you. Is God not speaking to you, leading you, and stirring you? You’ve got what it takes! Draw your sword and go!
You see, once God reveals his will to us we must never question him, because the Bible says, "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?" (Romans 11:34). In Job Chapter 11 it says, "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty” (Job 11:7)? And so when you consider God’s promises to Gideon, you’ve got to wonder why he wavered in his faith. You know, God promised to be with him, he called him a mighty warrior, and Gideon had what it takes!
In the same way, you warriors have what it takes. You’ve got the intellect, you’ve got the desire, you’ve got the willpower, you’ve got the self-discipline, you’ve got the strength, you’ve got the courage, you’ve got the stamina, you’ve got the resources, and you know what? Wherever and whenever you don’t, God says, “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). So when God calls you, you go in the strength you have, because God is going to give you everything that you need to do what he’s called you to do.
But here’s what you don’t want to do… you don’t want to take your eyes off Jesus, you don’t want to look at the wind and the waves, and you don’t want to look at the war around you. Men we’ve got to stop looking at the war and just look at the battle that’s in front of us. You see, you’ve got what it takes to win the battle in front of you. God has given you what it takes to win the battle. The Bible says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, you have what it takes, we have what it takes. God’s divine power has given us “everything”. God’s power has given you everything you need to do to accomplish what God puts before you. Go in the strength that you have.
Now I know some of you, you’re still sitting back and you’re doubting. But you’re going to wake up one day and your greatest fear is going to lead to something much worse. You’re going to look back and wonder, “How did I miss it? It was right there in front of me and I didn’t even try. My fear of failure was greater than my faith in God and I didn’t even get off a warning shot.”
You see, if there’s something that’s holding you back right now, if you don’t take that risk, if you don’t trust God, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life. There’s a risk that you have to take. The Bible says, “There is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And it’s time to face your fear. Men, God has created you with the heart of a warrior. There’s a cause to fight for and God has given you everything you need to accomplish what He’s put before you. You have what it takes. Go in the strength you have and be the spiritual warrior that God created you to be!
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
August 30, 2015