God's Deliverance of Israel Through Gideon
The Preparation of Gideon's Army
We saw the conditions of Israel and the prerequisites for victory from previous message.
We also saw the call of Gideon by the Lord, and how Gideon destroyed the idols in Israel.
1. The men were too many! (7:2):
Gideon already blew the trumpet of war, and the men were come up to the battle. But there is a problem- the people were too many! This seems rather strange. The Lord explained that the people would be lifted up in pride because of the victory, and claim that the victory was due to their own strength and their own ability.
1. When people boast in their works they show their lack of understanding.
Mark it down, when people boast about their works, especially their works for God, they reveal their lack of understanding and knowledge of God. Sometimes so-called preachers are the worst for this.
2. Boasting of our works dishonors the Lord.
We are supposed to glorify God, and cause others to glorify God by the works that He does in, by and through us. When we claim the glory for the works of God, we are not only lying, but we also rob God of His glory, and rob others from seeing the glory of God.
2. Gideon sends the fearful home (vs. 3):
1. Fearful soldiers are not fit for battle.
They are a hindrance and a danger to themselves and to the rest of the army. They destroy the confidence of the strong soldiers. They may freeze up in battle, and become an easy prey to the enemy. They will tremble in fear, and become unable to wield their sword; or worse yet they may turn and run, becoming certain prey to their enemies.
2. Fearful soldiers will bring a reproach upon others, and the Lord.
The losses sustained because of the fearful, make the Lord and His people a laughing stock to the enemy. Better not to fight at all than to fight and lose.
3. As we saw already, Gideon was also fearful, but He was strengthened by the Lord for the battle (Notice vs. 9-11). Although we possess fearful traits, we can overcome these by the Lord's strength and training.
The indwelling Holy Spirit gives strength that can drive away our fears. Also, an increased understanding of the Lord through His Word will increase our faith; and faith is the opposite of fear. The experience we gain through serving the Lord, will also quell our fears.
Thus Gideon's army is reduced from 32,000 men to 10,00 men.
3. The men are still to many! (vs. 4a):
Keep in mind that the host of the Midianites and Amalekites were like grasshoppers for multitude, and their camels were without number, as sand by the seaside for multitude. The Midianites vastly outnumbered Gideon's original army of a mere 32,000 thousand men. Now, with 10,000 men left, they are still too many!
1. The Lord intends something much more than just a mere great victory, as it would be unthought of for 10,000 men to win a victory over such a multitude. The Lord intends a mighty miracle that cannot be claimed by human pride.
2. Though this miraculous victory, the Lord wants to insure His people that He is God, and that He is their God.
3. The Lord intends to show that the heathen gods are nothing be idols, and that they cannot help themselves much less those who worship them.
4. Gideon sends away those that bow (Vs. 4-7):
1. What is meant by lapping like a dog? It is to bend from a standing position and cup water with the hands and raise to the mouth to drink.
This method of drinking is a sign of fitness for battle, in that it shows a person's moderation and self control towards fleshly appetites. A good soldier can't be overcome with fleshly desires, which will hinder his ability to fight in God's warfare. A good soldier can't be distracted or overcome with passions, or he will be easily enticed and ensnared by the enemy.
This position is a sign of fitness in that this allows the soldier to be alert to the situation around him. He never has to put his guard down, thus denying occasion to the enemy to attack. He doesn't even have to lay his armor by in order to provide for his carnal needs.
This position also denotes watchfulness and sobriety; and well as uprightness and dignity. We're not heathen. We're not to display indignant behavior and conduct that is unbecoming of our Lord and Savior. We're to walk "circumspectly and not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time".
We're to show forth the grace of God in our lives; that as mean fisherman, and people who were brought out of the low life of sin, our enemies will question how that we know such things, and take knowledge that we have been with Jesus. There is nothing more repudiating to the Lord than for professing Christians to conduct themselves like the people of this world. God wants you, as His dear child to be different from His enemies in this world. And if we won't be different, then He has no place for us in His service; plain and simple. Mark it down, God will put us on a shelf- we need to be careful.
2. What does it mean to bow down upon the knees to drink? It means to either to get down upon one's knees and then use the hands as in case above, or more likely it means to put ones face in the water to draw the water quickly with one's mouth.
This method of drinking is a sign of unfitness for battle. Such a person is one who is easily given to indulgence in fleshly appetites. This person is not alert or sensitive to the situation around him. This person is not watching either his Commander nor his enemy. This person has let his guard down, and has laid his armor by. He is not showing the dignity and uprightness worthy of his position in the Lord's army.
As a result, all of these were sent home, and not permitted to fight in the battle of Lord. Does God exclude men from His service? He certainly does.
So Gideon's army is now fit for the battle. They consist of those who are brave, and those show forth the grace of God in their lives. Gideon started out with 32,000 men, now he is down to 300!
I am going to make a statement that would get me thrown out of most churches in the country- but here goes: I would rather have 300 church members who feared the Lord, and loved the Lord, than 32,000 thousand who didn't. I will go a step further than that- I'd rather have 12 church members who feared the Lord and loved the Lord than 32,000 that didn't! But I'd rather have 32,000 church members who do fear and love the Lord!!!
God is not interested big numbers, but in obedience, love and faithfulness to Him. God is not interested in quantity, but in quality. The Lord would rather use 300 that fear Him and Love Him and are obedient to Him, than 32,000 who aren't.
Are you a good soldier today? Are you fit for the battle? Would God select you today to fight in His warfare?
May God help us! May God send us revival!!!!
Are you saved by the grace of God? You're not in the Lord's army if your not saved. In fact, you're one of the enemies!
Repent! This morning! Lay down your armor of rebellion against the Lord. Throw yourself upon the mercy of God; perhaps He will be gracious and save your miserable soul- I don't know! You may be a reprobate sinner doomed for everlasting hell fire- I don't know. Is there any hope for you today? I don't know! Maybe not. You may be like Cain, and go out from the presence of the Lord this morning with God's indelible curse upon you, to wander in a God forsaken life until Hell consumes you- I don't know.
But what I do know is that if you are ever to be saved, you must repent! You must come to know, and to own, and to be plagued with the conviction of your sins before God. And if you are ever to be saved you must believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He paid your sin debt on the cross, and was buried, and rose again to give you eternal life by the power of His resurrection. Is the Jesus you know still in the tomb. True faith embraces not a dead, but a resurrected Lord and Savior- Jesus Christ; the Captain of the Lord's host!
Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!!!
(Sermon preached by Pastor Burke at the Faith Baptist Church of Lawtey, Florida)