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Judges 6:33-40

   

“Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel. 34 But  the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him:  and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them. 36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37 behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 38 And it was so:  for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once:  let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40 And God did so that night:  for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.”

 

Introduction 

[Audio version: https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED632]

 

“We have followed Gideon from threshing grain in the winevat, as the Midianites and  the Amalekites have come into the land like locusts, we’re going to find out that there’s at least a 135,000 of them, and Israel has turned away to other gods, and God has turned his hand against them and they are now impoverished, they’re living in the mountains and in the hills.  And they begin to cry out to the LORD again, and he sends a prophet, unnamed, very interesting, a few verses and he’s gone, we know nothing about him.  But he is there to tell Israel, ‘Look, this is because you’ve turned away from me, I delivered you from Egypt, did all of these miracles, and here you are, you’re serving other gods.’  Because in all of these events that we’re going to look at this evening, God’s business is never just killing Midianites.  That’s part of what takes place, but what God’s business is, is bringing the hearts of his own people back to himself.  That’s what he desires to do in these things, and certainly there is often, isn’t there, in our lives, God has a greater battle with Gideon than he does with the Midianites, trying to get him into line and bring him to where he wants him, and so often in our lives God is working that way, trying to get us in our hearts and in our attitudes where he wants us to be.  So we watch this wonderful process.  Look, Gideon, the LORD calls him, he said ‘Who am I?  I’m the least in my father’s house, my father’s house is the least in all Israel, you got the wrong Gideon, you check the phonebook, under the dictionary it says ‘Gideon the least, for further information call Gideon,’ I’m the least, I’m the last guy you want to call.’  And the LORD calls him ‘A mighty man of valour,’ the LORD says ‘Go in this thy strength,’ and ‘This thy strength’ is ‘I am with thee.’  And he sends him, but he does this first, ‘You go to your own home, your father’s home, and you tear down there the altar to Baal, and the pole of the Ashuram, and you sacrifice there, you make a fire out of it, use it for fuel on the altar, before you step into public service, before you step out into the open for me, there’s not going to be idolatry in your home, you’re going to start there, you’re going to take care of things at home at first.’  And look, when we come to the New Testament of course, Paul, someone who says ‘Someone who desires the office of a bishop [King James for pastor, minister], or desires to be a leader in the church, desires a good thing.’  you look through the requirements again, ‘He rules his own house well, he’s not given to money, he rules his own house well, not given to wine, not given to violence, he’s self-controlled, he’s not self-indulgent,’ he goes through all of these things, and it only says ‘apt to teach,’ we build our institutions around these three words [the Calvary Chapels as well as this website].  But it’s almost as if God says, ‘If you give me your heart, you give me your life, you give me your home, you give me your family, you give me your self-control, I can take ‘apt to teach’ and anoint that and do whatever I want with it, if you give me your life, your heart.’  And he says to Gideon ‘You go home first, and you tear down that altar to Baal, and you burn it.’  Then the whole community comes out and wants to kill Gideon.  And Gideon’s father, Joash says, he seems to wake up at this point in time, and says ‘You guys gotta be kidding me, let the guy who wants to kill my son be killed, if Baal is god, let him defend himself, my son tore down his altar, then let Baal get mad, let Baal go after my son and get him, let him defend himself if he’s god, but don’t let anybody put their hand on my son,’ and there seems to be this reform, this revival of sorts in the community there, where Gideon is, his father gives him this name “Jerubbaal” which means “let Baal plead,” so Gideon, Jerubbaal, the same person here as we look at it, and we’ve come that far to verse 32, “Therefore on that day” his father “he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.”

 

The Enemy Masses His Forces In Jezreel, Gideon Blows The Trumpet &  Summons Israel

 

“Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.” (verse 33)  They’re drawn there, Gideon and the enemy seems to be aware of each other.  We’re going to find that out.  We don’t know how word is spread, but evidently the Amalekites somehow are aware that Gideon, we don’t know if this altar in his community he lived in was notable enough, this altar to Baal, as he tears it down, the Amalekites hear to some degree, no doubt God drawing them there for the slaughter that’s going to take place.  But the Amalekites are all gathered together, they’re drawn of God there to the Valley of Jezreel.  “But,” in contrast to that, look at Gideon, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.” (verse 34)  Now, in contrast to this 135,000 Midianites and Amalekites that have come to the Valley of Jezreel, it just says “But the Spirit of the LORDliterally ‘clothed,’ “came upon Gideon,” ‘and swathed him, wrapped around him.’  So we have one man, clothed with the Holy Spirit, and 135,000 Midianites, poor Midianites, no match for God, ‘not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts,’ this mountain or this valley shall be removed.  Very interesting picture, Gideon.  Now we’re told in the Book of Colossians to put off the old man, with the works of the flesh and all, and that we’re to put on the new man, with compassion, you read there in Colossians chapter 3 around verses 6 to 8, there’s a putting off.  When we get saved, we put off the old man, we don’t do this anymore, we don’t do that anymore, but that’s not enough, we’re to put on the new man, we’re to be filled with the Spirit, have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives [cf. Galatians 5:19-21, what we’re to put off, and Galatians 5:22-23, what we’re to put on].  Here Gideon, it says, it’s an interesting picture for us, here he is clothed with the Spirit, energized, there’s an urgency, now, he blows the trumpet, and in a wonderful way, we don’t know how long it’s been since the trumpet’s been heard in the land, and he’s calling the Israelites together, the northern tribes, the Abiezrites come, but they’re calling them out of the dens, it tells us over in verse 2, and the caves where they made their strongholds, they’re being called, you know, by this one man who is filled with the Spirit, and he energizes the rest of them.  Look, we know that a root of bitterness, one person whose bitter can defile many.  We know that if one person is critical and gossipy, they can defile many and pull them down.  We know that if one woman whose filled with the Spirit, she can affect the whole house, the whole family, one father, one parent, one grandfather [here I am! 😊].  And here is this one man, filled with the Spirit, whose blowing the trumpet, how sweet that may have sounded in the ears of so many that were frustrated for so long, hadn’t heard anybody sound the trumpet.  And the Abiezrites gather to him, it says, after that.  “And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers to Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.” (verse 35)

 

Gideon Seeks The LORD’s Confirmation

 

So they’re all gathered together now, look, thousands now are gathered, and Gideon’s thinking, because he never read the chapter, please keep that in mind, he didn’t say ‘I love this chapter, wait till you see what happens.’  Gideon’s thinking ‘Oh man, it’s actually happening, all of this is snowballing.’  Lots of times we’re brave to do things, we’re brave to step out, and all of a sudden when it happens and it all starts becoming a reality around us, we’re going ‘Ahh, a, ah Lord,’ and he’s going to do this thing now, he’s going to put out this fleece.  Look what he says here, “Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.” (verses 36-37)  Now he’s not questioning what God said, God said he would do that.  He’s saying ‘Well if that’s really going to happen, I want you to confirm it now, you’ve given it to me, please confirm this.’  And he’s going to put out this fleece, and you know the story, he puts out a sheeps skin and he says ‘LORD, in the morning let the fleece be wet and the ground be dry,’ he wakes up, that’s exactly what happened, “And it was so:  for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.” (verse 38)  And then he says “And Gideon said unto God, Let not your anger be hot against me, and I will speak this once:  let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.” (verse 39)  So he’s going through a two-day routine with the fleece exercise here.  He never read about a fleece before.  And I want to tell you something, look, Christians, because we have Christians in the church do this, ‘I put out a fleece, I put out a fleece before the Lord.’  First of all, if you’re going to be Biblical you’ve got to put out a literal sheep’s skin, so, don’t put out your fleece, you know, ‘Lord, if you want this to happen, let a black crow fly over my head,’ that could happen anytime to anybody, just stand out long enough, it’ll happen.  We don’t find Paul, we don’t find in the New Testament, they’re not putting out fleeces, you and I have the Word of God, complete.  [Comment: here’s where I kind of take exception to what Pastor Joe is saying.  When you think you’ve been inspired to start a ministry of some kind, and need confirmation, and this kind of confirmation is really not going against anything in the Word of God for our specific lives and circumstances, I have experienced this confirmation coming into my own life, where I asked if the Lord was backing up what I was undertaking, and he provided that confirmation.  It was a sort of fleece-flipping exercise, and it was a real confirmation.  So I find there are times when you can ask the Lord for specific confirmation when undertaking a ministry of some sorts, specific to your ability and the Lord’s leading (see https://unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm).  So this fleece-flipping can have relevance in our New Testament experience with the Lord, there is a proper place for it.  It’s not to be abused, or used for every single decision we make, but only the occasional big one, a lifelong direction for your life in some kind of ministry, kind of a one-time deal.  At those rare moments when confirmation is needed, I find the Lord will step up to the plate.  But he won’t respond to abuse of this method.  Read my experience in that link above.  I had no good counselors, they’d all been stripped from me, because the ministry I was being inspired to create lay outside of and kind of above all the various churches and parts of the Body of Christ, a very unusual ministry where if I had sought advice, I would have gotten all kinds of conflicting opinions, based on what part of the Body of Christ I was asking it from.  My spiritual journey has been a strange one (see https://unityinchrist.com/author.htm).  Gideon was undertaking a plan to attack a superior military force of 135,000 men, with, as we’ll see a force which was only 10,000 men strong.  And as we’ll read, the LORD whittles that number down to a mere 300 men.  Gideon was perfectly justified in his “fleece-flipping” exercise to gain the LORD’s confirmation.]  We have the Scripture, we have the Holy Spirit [so did Gideon, in a major way], we’re surrounded with his saints, we should have good counselors around us, we should have good counsel, we have the tools that we need.  In fact, your problem and my problem, most of the time, isn’t that we don’t know, our problem is that we do know.  Charles Swindoll says we don’t lack for knowing, we lack for doing, most of the time.  I’ve, folks will come up to me after church and say ‘I’m doing this, and I don’t know what to do,’ I say ‘Wait a minute, the problem, the reason you’re here moaning and complaining, is because you do know, it’s not because you don’t know, if you didn’t know you’d be off somewhere else goofing around, the reason you’re here telling me and confessing your sins is because you do know, not because you don’t know,’ and we do this, ‘Lord, I’ve put out a fleece, me and my girlfriend, we’re living together, we’re sleeping together, I know we shouldn’t be doing it, I put out a fleece,’ that’s really stupid.  [Pastor Joe has in my view, taken this way-off-message here from the Scriptural meaning of what Gideon did, which was a special, once-in-a-lifetime-circumstance.  But I guess people do apply Gideon’s ‘fleece-flipping’ in misapplied ways like this, so if  the shoe fits, wear it.]  Read the Bible, it’s way better than putting out a fleece, you’re not supposed to be sleeping with her, I’ll tell ya, we can give you chapter and verse, forget about the fleece.  It’s wonderful now, we have the Word of God, we have the Spirit of God, each of us, indwelt by the Spirit, we have the grace of God extended to us.  Remember as we read through this fleece thing, Gideon never read this, and he wasn’t putting out a fleece for the reason Christians always go through this [which is my point exactly].  Now this, I want to say this on the other side of the coin, God does condescend to us sometimes [as he did when I needed to know, when stepping into a lifelong ministry], we have people who’ll do this, ‘Lord, speak to me,’ and they open their Bible and look down, and that that’s the way God speaks.  Well, that isn’t the way God is supposed to speak to you, you’re supposed to know the Bible, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, and you’re growing in grace, in the knowledge of Christ.  But the truth is, God stoops down sometimes and does condescend to somebody and they actually flip the Bible open and it says something very significant to them, you know, that will actually happen, but you just shouldn’t bet on that.  You may actually put out some fleece and God may actually go ‘Oye vey, ok if you won’t read the chapter and verse, let’s go, let’s move on with the program.’  But not Biblical for us as New Testament believers [if you’re misapplying Gideon’s fleece-flipping as Pastor Joe just described].  There’s a fleece here, in this story, and it’s where we get the whole idea from.  “Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.” (verses 36-37)  He’s not wondering what God has said, he’s knows what God has said, he’s just asking for confirmation here.  Now you know what he does at this point in time, don’t you.  He does what you would do.  You would think, ‘Well, the ground is not absorbent, evidently wool is, I did this backwards, because wool is really absorbent, I should have said, ‘Let the fleece be dry and the ground be wet, then I’d have known.’  “And Gideon said unto God, Let not your anger be hot against me, and I will speak this once:  let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.  And God did so that night:  for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (verses 39-40)  So a famous story with Gideon, and look, Jesus said to the Jews, “You will not believe unless you see signs and wonders.”  Paul, in 1st Corinthians chapter 1, talking about the Gospel said “The Jews seek after a sign,” it was something that was part of their culture, their God was a miraculous God.  Paul said, the problem is that God is [now] doing things a different way, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not many wise are chosen, he’s chosen the simple things of the world to confound the wise, and so forth, and that’s the way the rest of this chapter is going to go, by the way.  [i.e. God demands we walk by faith, not by sight or signs, and boy is Gideon going to learn that in the next chapter]  He’s going to do it in a way that Gideon would never expect it to happen.  But God condescends, and he’s gracious, and he does this here for Gideon. 

 

Judges 7:1-25

 

“Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod:  so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh in the valley. 2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead.  And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. 4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there:  and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water:  and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men:  but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand:  and let all the other people go every man unto his place. 8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets:  and he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men:  and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. 9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. 10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: 11 and thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host.  Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. 12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. 13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel:  for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. 15 And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. 16 And he divided the three hundred men into companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. 17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise:  and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. 18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. 19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch:   and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal:  and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.  [Shock-warfare!] 21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp:  and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. 22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host:  and the host fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah, unto Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites. 24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan.  Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.”

 

The LORD Whittles Down Gideon’s Army From 32,000 To A Mere 300

 

“Then,” chapter 7, “Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod:  so  that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.” (verse 1)  Now, interesting, it uses both names for Gideon here, because there’s two sides of the same coin.  Gideon is doing two things here, he’s God’s man, Gideon, his name, that means “to thresh or to cut down,” and certainly he’s going to do that, he’s going to be politically valiant in the fight, he’s going to be involved in the battle.  But Jerubbaal, his other name, is “let Baal plead,” the other thing he’s going to do is destroy the heresy, the pagan religion that’s in the land.  He’s going to do both things, so it’s very interesting, he’s called by both names here.  When God asks you and I to stand up or step up to the plate for something, and to be counted for, there’s always more than one angle to what’s going on.  And sometimes it’s to thrust down some of the idolatry that’s around us.  And Gideon will do both things here, it’s interesting, both names are used.  And he said he “rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod:  so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.” (verse 1b) now interesting, those of you who were just in En-Harod, there in Israel, we’ve been there many times, there’s this spring there still, on the north side of mount Gilboa facing Jezreel.  The spring is still there and the stream.  Harod means “fear, terror” or “trembling.”  So this is “the well of terror, the well of trembling,” great place to pitch when you’re headed in to war against 135,000, huh? the well of trembling.  “so that the host of the Midianites” we find out in chapter 8, verse 10 that 135,000 “were on the north side of them,” so they’re on the north side of the slope of Gilboa where the spring is, they’re looking north towards the valley of Jezreel, Armageddon, Megiddo, and then over and above that on the other side, where Cana of Galilee is, is the hill of Moreh, it’s called Little Hermon, and it’s the next hill before mount Tabor, and they’re looking north there towards Moreh.  Interesting, Moreh means, is a word that can mean “archer,” but it means “teacher” or “teaching.”  So there’s too much here, that this is not coincidence, the rabbis say “Coincidence is not a kosher word.”  Here they are, they’re camped by the well of trembling, looking at the hill of Moreh, the Teacher or Teaching, there’s a lesson here, obviously for all of them to learn.  Midian means “strife” or “contention,” and they’re camped at this point.  “And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.” (verse 2)  Now what’s Gideon thinking?  He’s got 32,000 people with him.  He’s looking out at the Midianites, 135,000.  He looks at the Midianites, 135,000, he’s on the slopes of Gilboa, he’s got a decent view.  Looks back at his guys, 32,000.  He looks out there, 135,000, looks back here, 32,000, looks out there, they have camels, they have tanks, you know, they’ve got Humvees and Apache helicopters, he looks at his guys, they’re ill-trained, ill-equipped, they got shovels and spears, whatever.  “And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.” (verse 2)  don’t you hate it when he does that?  [yup]  “Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead.  And there returned of the people twenty two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.” (verse 3)  “afraid,” that’s harod, the well of Harod up there.  ‘If you’re fearful or afraid, I want you to just go home early from mount Gilead,’ now this is not Gilead on the other side of the Jordan where we’re going to find Elijah’s from later, it must be part of the hill of Gilboa called Gilead, some say it’s a scribal error, we don’t have any evidence of that.  But that’s not the point, look, he says ‘If anybody’s afraid, 32,000 guys, you guys go home, if anybody here’s afraid.’  “And there returned of the people twenty two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.”  Imagine that, he’s looking out, Midianites 135,000, my army 32,000, and then the LORD says, ‘too many guys here, Gideon, if I let you win with 32,000 guys, they’re going to take the credit to themselves.’  So God, if you haven’t noticed, sometimes in our lives, he loves to stack the deck, you know, he loves to narrow it down and change the odds, so there will be no question when things work out, who is doing it.  Because if there’s any opportunity at all, we touch the glory.  We should never touch the glory.  You know, God’s going to say to Gideon, ‘When this is done, I want people to know who I am, Gideon, I want their hearts to be drawn back to me.  If I let you whup 135,000 Midianites with 32,000 ill-equipped Israelites, even with those odds, you guys will take the credit for yourselves.  So why don’t you go say ‘Whoever’s chicken can go home.’’  22,000 people leave.   So he’s left with 10,000.  Look, Deuteronomy had said in chapter 20, ‘That when they’re ready to go to war, the officer shall speak unto the people, and they shall say, ‘What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted, let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart.’  So whenever they’re getting ready to go to war, the officer should say, ‘Hey, if you’re fearful and afraid, go on home, don’t infect, because the attitude of unbelief is contagious.’  [And smart military commanders know this, even when a soldier has ‘lost it,’ on the battlefield, they know that they have to pull that man out and send him back behind the lines, maybe home with a medical discharge.]  And when one person starts to worry and be afraid, it infects other people, it’s contagious, so if that’s the way you are, it says in Deuteronomy, that’s the law, if they’re preparing to go to war, let the officers give an opportunity for everybody whose afraid, to pack up and to go home.  And he does it here, and it says 22,000 of them pack up and head out.  Isn’t it interesting, he had said to them, ‘You know, if they win with 32,000 they’ll be so prideful that they’re going to give credit to themselves, and at the same time, they’re so fearful they can’t wait to get out of there.’  So the same people that would have been prideful, the LORD said, are the same people that are fearful here.  Fear and pride have an interesting marriage, in all of our lives, ‘I can’t go there dressed like that, they’ll all look at me, you know what they’ll think,’ there’s fear and pride together.  Or ‘I can’t do that because,’ then there’s fear and pride, they somehow always go together, very interesting.  So much of our fear is based on a sense of loss, when we’re particularly afraid of what other people are going to think because our pride’s involved.  Isn’t it interesting, the same people that would have been proud in taking credit to themselves, when you give them a chance to get out of there, 22,000 of them head home.  What an interesting picture.  You know we’re told that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, and that without faith it’s impossible to please God, faith is the evidence and so forth, the substance of things not seen.  [And a lot of that faith comes from God, we don’t work it up on our own, it’s another one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us.]  Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, it says if we have what we hope for, why do we yet hope for it, the things that are still ahead of us, “substance” is from, just like the word “sub,” underneath, “stance,” the Greek word means, “standing,” substance, what’s standing under, in being a foundation in regards to the invisible in our lives.  The evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  So he gives them the opportunity, so 22,000 of them go home, it basically leaves the odds here 13-to-1.  We got 10,000 left, we’re going to go whup these Midianites who have 135,000.  [It’s not over yet.]  You know he’s going to do this,  “And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there:  and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” (verse 4) Gideon says, ‘Ya, I know, for you too many.’  And we’re going to find out, in some way, and it’s hard to be very dogmatic, there’s some evidences here for us, in the most ordinary circumstances of life, God is able to ascertain character.  For all of us, in the most ordinary circumstances of life, what are the most ordinary circumstances of life that you and I do in front of other people?  In the most ordinary circumstances of life, the way we handle money, what we watch, where we go, how we treat other people, how we act in traffic, you know, just all of those things.  He says ‘I’ll try them for you there,’ “So he brought down the people to the water:  and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.  And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men:  but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.” (verses 5-6)  Now no doubt, in that culture, in that world, it’s hot, you know what it’s like to be nervous, everybody’s got dry-mouth, there’s only 10,000 of us left, you’re looking out at 135,000 Midianites, they get to a place where’s this spring of Harod, of Trembling there, still there today, and there’s no way 10,000 could have drunk, so he’s letting them come in groups.  Some of them, you know, you’ve seen in the cowboy movies, where they get to the water, ‘Yeeha!’ and they jump in, dive in, they get down.  Some of them are getting right down on their hands and knees and putting their lips in the water and drinking, but some of them are scooping the water up in their hands and lapping out of their hands, and they’re watching, they’re staying alert.  And God is going to say, ‘the number of them that lapped, putting their hands to their mouth were 300 men.’  All the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water, “And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand:  and let all the other people go every man unto his place.” (verse 7) because again, Gideon must be looking, ‘You got 300 over here, and he’s got 9,700 over here,’ he’s thinking ‘Well it ain’t too bad, only a little group this time is getting divided,’ and the LORD said, ‘No, the 300, we’re going with the 300, send the 9,700 home.’    

 

Christian, Be Aware Of Your Surroundings, Prophetically Speaking

 

“And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand:  and let all the other people go every man unto his place.” (verse 7)  So less than 1 in a 1,000 of those who weren’t afraid who stayed are fit for battle in some way.  Isn’t it interesting?  The LORD’s now keeping 300, everybody else is going to go, and even of those who weren’t afraid, that stayed behind, the LORD is only keeping this small group.  It wasn’t that the others weren’t afraid, they could have left earlier.  But there’s still an attitude here.  We’re told in 1st Corinthians, chapter 9 it says “Every man that striveth for mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.”  Anybody whose striving for mastery.  You know, you watch, I had a great time watching the Olympics last year.  I was amazed with them, we had relatives that went to China, just what China had done in regards to the stadium and everything they put up, we were amazed, the opening ceremony just incredible, we were amazed watching the whole thing.  But you see some of these people that compete, you know, and you just look at them, and they’re just, there’s no extra meat on them, they’re lean, they’re ripped, they get loose before they run, if I do that everything shakes for a long time for a different reason, it’s because I’m out of shape, they do it and it just shakes for a minute because they’re in shape, they’re striving for mastery, just even their bathing suit has to have ribs going in a certain way, every single thing they do, ‘shave your head, because your hair is going to slow you down a tenth of a second,’ they’re striving for mastery for something corruptible, that Paul says you and I do for something incorruptible.  So somebody in this world striving for mastery is temperate in all things.  Camel Morgan commenting on this scene here says, “There are times when we can spend unnecessary time with necessary things.”  It isn’t that water was unnecessary, water was necessary.  Some of them got down like they were never going to get another drink in their life, but some of the men brought the water up to their mouths, we don’t know if they had a sword in the other hand, it seems that they’re more aware, they’re watching, they understand the circumstances, they understand that there’s 135,000 Midianites.  Were they watching Gideon to see that he stayed safe, are they watching the enemy, they were aware.  It tells us in that 1st Chronicles, ‘that the men of Issachar understood the times that they lived in.’  And do we understand the times, do we spend unnecessary time with necessary things?  I remember Billy Graham years ago when he was here, and Jerry and I went out with Cliff Barrows, and we went out with them, Rick Marshal who ran the crusade, and we’re talking with them, and Cliff Barrows said, “Billy Graham considers food fuel.” he said “When we have a staff meeting, he’ll bring in 35 cheeseburgers from McDonalds, everybody gets two cheeseburgers, food is just fuel.”   [I just find Burger King has a little bit tastier or higher octane fuel for my body 😊]  Now I have to be honest, I don’t consider food as fuel, it’s fuel +, like high-grade, it’s fuel and enjoyment, I’m a living demonstration of my philosophy too I guess.  Food is necessary.  You got all these cooking shows, and we’ve got starving people all over the world, people sit home and watch chefs battle, they’re cooking stuff nobody should ever eat anyhow, sometimes.  You watch some of these things, we’re obsessed with that.  And as Christians, there’s lots of ways we can spend unnecessary time with necessary things.  Our homes are important, our family is certainly important, our water is important, taking a shower, that’s important.  But my problem is, I watch, when The Homes of the Rich and Famous are on TV, I watch that and think ‘I want a bathroom some day with palm trees and parrots in it, with a wall with black marble and a whirlpool and a big tub with candles around it and skylights,’ bathrooms are necessary.  But we can spend unnecessary time with necessary things.  I always thought it was ironic they let a guy named “Leech” into the houses of the rich and famous, but.  Look, I really think that Jesus Christ could come at any time, are we living that way?  Are we bringing the water to our mouths, are we watching what’s on the horizon? [what was on the horizon back in 2009 has now come over the horizon and is close at hand]  A cup of cold water is a blessing for any disciple, but are we watching what’s happening?  [A good summation of the past 20 years, right up to 2020 is Spencer Ackerman’s book “Reign Of Terror, How The 9/11 Era Destabilized America…”]  Watch the Middle East [in Thomas L. Friedman’s Nov. 30, 2021 Op Ed in the New York Times he reveals the fact that Iran now has enough fissionable material to make an atomic bomb (he said the Iranians were three weeks from that goal, but that three weeks has long since come and gone, by the time this transcript is up on the site you are reading now).  He also revealed it will take Iran about two more years to have it in a deliverable package that a missile can carry to Israel.  He also revealed in the article that the Israelis have regularly stationed safely off the Iranian coast (Indian Ocean) at all times one of their three upgraded new models of their German manufactured Dolphin-II class AIP/diesel-electric submarines, each equipped with four 650cm launching tubes containing their Pop-Eye cruise missiles, each of which carries a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead.  Should the Iranians come close to having a nuclear warhead and delivery system for it, the Israelis will not hesitate to launch birds, launch those cruise missiles each carrying a 200-kiloton warhead to it’s target.  Game over, Doomsday has begun.]  We’re naïve, the new prime minister is putting together a cabinet for war, if you understand the people he’s putting in position [that was Netanyahu, who is now out of office, but the new prime minister is not a balanced centrist like Netanyahu was, but is on the religious right, even more extreme politically speaking, and probably militarily too].  Jesus Christ could come at any time, at any time [see    https://unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm], and we’ve never been closer [we are now, see my comment about Iran above this one].  And look, you have to understand, if he doesn’t come for 20 years, we’ve never been closer.  Right here tonight, this generation of the Church is closer than any generation of the Church that’s ever lived.  And it says when he comes it will be like a thief in the night, there seems to be a preemptiveness about that, there seems to be unexpectedness about that.  When Jesus tells the parable about the ten virgins, the five were foolish because they didn’t have any oil for their lamps, but the five that had oil had to be awakened when the Bridegroom came, they were asleep, even though they had the oil.  [What exactly, prophetically speaking, are we watching for “to come over the horizon” as he says?  see https://unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm]  So, these men who set themselves apart in some way, are an example to us as we look at this, they have a particular attitude, they’re there, they’re alert, they’re awake.

 

The LORD Re-Assures & Re-Confirms Gideon’s Mission One More Time

 

God’s got it whittled down to 300 men now, against 135,000 Midianites.  In chapter 3, verse 2 it says God left enemies in the land to teach the children of Israel how to do war.  It’s not teaching swordsmanship, you know, with their broadswords and bows & arrows and all that, that’s not what it’s saying.  The way Joshua and the children of Israel did war is they prayed, and then they were obedient, they let the priests go into Jordan River first, and the river stopped up, and they all crossed over.  They marched around Jericho for seven days and the walls fell down, and they saw the sun stand still and the moon in the Valley of Aijalon, and how they learned to do war was on their knees.  Every battle after that was a secondary event.  The primary event was did they find the LORD first, and were they obedient to the LORD first?  If they didn’t do that, they failed, if they did that they succeeded.  And here, God has brought, this is hundreds of years later now, seeking to draw the children of Israel, not just to slaughter Midianites, he could have done that with hail if he wanted to.  He’s seeking to draw them back to himself, his own people.    “And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand:  and let all the other people go every man unto his place.  So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men:  and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.” (verses 7-8)  So, 300 to a 135,000 now, very interesting, and God said to them ‘And by the way, while everybody’s leaving, keep some food, have then give you some food, and make sure every man has a trumpet.’ (we’re gonna start a band here.)  “And it came to pass the same night,” everybody’s left, Gideon’s there with his 300 guys, looking out across the valley, “that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered  it into thine hand.” (verse 9) ‘Gideon, the victory is won, the battle is over, all that’s necessary at this point, is for you to move forward, get thee down.’  “But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:  and thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host.  Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.” (verses 10-11)  Now interesting, Phurah can mean “a branch, fruitful.”  Isn’t it interesting, how the LORD, he comes to Gideon, he surprises him, calls him “mighty man of valour,” ‘Not me LORD,’ ‘Yes, you, you’re going to go, you are going to go in this thy strength, and I’m going to go with you,’ ‘But LORD, I’m the least,’ he goes through this whole thing, and then he sends him to his own house, the issue with the idol of Baal, he goes at night, he does that all at night, and now here the issue, he gathers all the troops together, he’s putting out fleeces, God’s still condescending, he’s working with this man as he would work with any of us, because he loves us.  And now before this battle, the odds seem impossible, it’s 300 against 135,000, God says, ‘Look, if you’re fearful,’ he knows, he knows us, he says ‘go on down, you don’t have to ask for a fleece this time, you don’t have to ask for anything, I know what you need, I love you Gideon, you’re here with 300 against 135,000, and I know what you need, the battle in your heart is much more difficult than the battle’s going to be on the battlefield tomorrow.  Midianites I have no problem with, Gideon, you’re a tough case.  I want you to go down,’ it says ‘I’ve prepared something, you shall hear what they say, and afterwards shall thy hand be strengthened to go down unto the host.’  “Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.”  So, you got 135,000 Midianites down there, they’re not particularly worried about two guys creeping around in the hills, I guess.  But they sneak down there.  “And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.  And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.” (verses 12-13)  Now evidently they sneak up close enough to some of the guys who are sitting around.  No TV in those days, no internet, you know, you’re tired, day’s over, you’re sitting around telling stories, and this guy says “I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.” King James says “a tent and smote it that it fell, and overturned it,” was laying on the ground, stretched along on the ground.  The cake of barley bread represents that fact that no doubt Israel has become so impoverished through being subjugated by the Midianites for all these years.  Barley was the cheapest grain, it’s always a picture of poverty when people were eating barley cakes.  So he sees this barley bread roll down the hill and tumble into the host of Midian.   And it says “it came unto a tent” and there’s a great emphasis here in the Hebrew which kind of would line up with the Greek emphatic, it’s like that, and the sense of it is, ‘it came and hit the royal tent,’ which would give a picture of the strength of Midian, “and smote it,” so this loaf of barley bread hits the main tent, the strength of the Midianites, “and smote it so that it fell, and it flopped over and it was laying on the ground.”  “And his fellow” the one he’s telling the dream to “answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel:  for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.” (verse 14)  Isn’t that amazing?  He goes now and hears it from a Midianite, what God’s been trying to tell him.  He’s going to say to his guys now, ‘Let’s go,’ and the LORD’s thinking, ‘It’s easier for him to believe the enemy than it is to believe me.’  So he sends him down there, he listens to this.  Now this is an interesting scene, many times we hear Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, Pharaoh had a dream, there were times God gave dreams to people that were not Israelites [and not called or indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, like a prophet would be] and used those dreams, and it’s one of those here, it’s a setup.  And we don’t know whether the Midianites and the Amalekites, had they noticed that there had been this huge group of soldiers, 32,000, and all of a sudden they see 22,000 leave.  In their minds are they thinking ‘have they’ve taken position in the hills around us?’  We don’t know.  Then they see 9,700 more go, do they think ‘Hey, what are they doing here?  They must be the crack troops, they’re keeping right here, the 300, that’s the Delta Force, Seal Team 6 right there, and the rest of those guys are surrounding us.’  We don’t know, but the rumour is spreading.  [Obviously by this dream, the Midianites and Amalekites had gotten word something had taken place in Gideon’s village, which caused them all to gather at Jezreel.]  And you’re in an environment where there’s no lights, and I’m sure God made it a cloudy night, so there’s no moonlight, and you know what it’s like sitting out somewhere camping, ‘Did you hear that?’  You hear that story where a guy and a gal are sitting in a car, and they shouldn’t have been there, and they’re kissing, and hear this scraping on the car, and they zoomed away, and found a hook hanging on the side of the car, you start to tell those stories and everybody’s ‘Aahhh.’  So these guys are down there in the dark, no street lights, and they’re telling a story, ‘This guy, we heard about this guy Gideon, he’s 14-foot tall, this is what it has to be, God is speaking, this is the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel, for into his hand hath God delivered Midian.’  God said to Gideon, ‘Go on down there, I have delivered them into your hand.  But if you’re afraid, go listen, they’ll say the same thing.’  “he hath delivered Midian, and all of the host.”  Rumours are so powerful, aren’t they?  “And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.” (verse 15)  he didn’t wait till Sunday, right there, in his heart, he bowed before the LORD, and I’m sure there were tears in his eyes.  I’m sure he said ‘LORD forgive me.’  How many times, I know you never do this, in my life, ‘Lord, why are you doing it that way?  What do you mean 22,000 can go home?  Lord, what are you doing, are you sure?  It’s because of their lack of faith, isn’t it Lord, they’re no good, I’m glad they left, that 22,000, I never liked them anyway.  What do you mean, the 9,700 can go home, why are you doing that?’ and you find yourself, I find myself, excuse me, in the circumstance where I’m whining, I’ve been complaining, ‘Lord, I’m your pastor, if I were you I wouldn’t treat your pastor this way, this is bad PR for you, imagine what people are going to think,’ and I gripe and I complain, and when you finally get to the point where you realize and you see his grace, how many times I just sit quietly with tears in my eyes and say ‘Lord, I was a griper and complainer again, Lord, forgive me, how often, too often.’ … “he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”  God’s thinking, ‘I can’t believe he’s so brave now from listening to a Midianite, I’ve been trying to tell him this for two chapters.’  “And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet” this is the shofar, the ram’s horn “in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.” firebrands, there’s a fire burning.  The only sword is the LORD, there’s no weapons here [shock & awe warfare, psychological warfare].  There’s only one sword, that’s the Word of the LORD.

 

The Battle

 

“And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise:  and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.  And when I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.  So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch;” now you’re between 10 O’clock and midnight, depending on which scholar you read, nobody’s up watching David Letterman, in this culture when it gets dark everybody goes to sleep, so most of the camp, imagine what it sounds like, 135,000 Midianites snoring, and their camels, it’s quite a noisy valley, so it’s the beginning of the watch, so the watch is changing, if they had guards at all, there’s some moving around in the dark, they had newly set the watch, “and they had but newly set the watch:  and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.” (verses 16-19)  So what happens is, Gideon it seems is on the northern slope of Gilboa, he sends the other two groups, and each one of them has a hundred men [Israelite military companies are made up of 100 men, our U.S. companies are made up of 150 men], spreads them out around the camp.  Now he says ‘When I start to blow the trumpet I want all of you guys to start blowing your trumpets, and then when I brake the pitcher and all of a sudden the fire is exposed, I want all you guys to start breaking your pitchers, and the whole time I want you to start screaming The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’  So imagine everybody, you know what it’s like when your alarm clock goes off in a strange place.  Every happen to you?  You’re in a hotel somewhere, you know sometimes when you’re in a hotel, when you’re leaving you set the alarm clock for like 3 in the morning, set it real loud, just to get even with the people who have done that to you.  You wake up, you don’t know where you’re at, you look around, ‘Where am I?  Who am I?  who am I?  This is not me, I don’t know who I am,’ that’s the kind of situation this is.  All of a sudden, all these guys are sleeping, the watch change is creeping through the camp in the darkness, there’s no street lights or flash lights, creeping through the camp is the one watch, trying to feel their way back to their tents to go back to bed, so you got guys moving through the camp, quietly in the dark, and then all of a sudden all of this screaming, and there’s been that rumour, Gideon, Gideon, now all of a sudden they’re hearing all of these trumpets blowing, they’re convinced they’re surrounded now, by the enemy, the noise of all these pitchers breaking, flames appearing everywhere, and they’re hearing ‘The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!’ everybody’s screaming.  So everybody’s up, they’re stabbing the guys that are coming back from the watch, and it says they’re discomfited, every man’s sword is drawn against his brother, they’re in complete panic now, and there’s no sword in any of the Israelite’s hands, all they had was a pitcher and a trumpet.  So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch:  and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.  And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal:  and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.  And they stood every man in his place round about the camp:  and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.” (verses 19-21)  So in the pitch dark they’re all running now, screaming, hacking each other, it says, “And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host:  and the host fled to  Beth-shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah unto Tabbath.” (verse 22)  Beth-shittah is “the house of the Acacia,” we’re not sure where that is exactly, they’re trying to get across Jordan, and Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah, “the meadow of the dance,” evidently on the other side there of the Jordan River, and to Tabbath, “And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.” (verse 23)  So now probably the 22,000 and the 9,700 that left, they hear all the trumpets blowing, so they’re now coming back together again, it seems.  So, this interesting, interesting scene now, we’re going to find out, if you turn over to chapter 8, verse 10, it says there “Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east:  for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew the sword.”  120,000 are dead, 15,000 at that point at least, had still survived.  That’s 135,000, these were 120,000 men that drew the sword, and the other guys had pitchers and trumpets.  Now, Paul says this, and it’s worthy to take note of, “Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues what shall it profit you?  except I speak to you either by revelation or by knowledge or prophesying or doctrine, even things without life giving a sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sound, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?  So likewise, ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken, for you shall speak into the air.”  Paul, encouraging the church not to be hyper-spiritual, to be supernaturally natural, but he’s saying if you speak simply, you simply teach the Word simply, in doctrine, if they can understand, it’s like somebody making the sound of a trumpet, and then people when they hear it they can prepare themselves for battle.  We’re told in 2nd Corinthians chapter 4, it says, “For God who hath commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.”  So, application, there are many, I would say, look, from the beginning, none of us should step out in public ministry unless we’re clothed with the Spirit, unless God has done that.  To be the husband I need to be, I need to be a spiritual husband, father, or the grandfather, I have to be spiritual.  Those things are as sacred as anything else.  Certainly to feed the flock, certainly to serve your church, certainly just to go stand next to somebody’s hospital bed, and be filled with the Spirit.  You don’t have to put out a fleece about that.  You don’t have to put out a fleece about anything, you have the Word, you have the Spirit, you have God’s grace, the instruction we need is there.  [The lesson about Gideon’s fleece-flipping is that he was seeking God’s confirmation about a ministry God was giving him or had given to him, and God gave him that confirmation, and seeking that confirmation appears to be Scriptural, and even though Pastor Joe has not defined it as so, there are situations where we can seek God’s confirmation for a specific ministry he's given to us to fulfill.  It’s usually a one-time deal, with me it was over a period of several years’ worth of confirmation, but it was in reality a one-time deal.]  And our lack, most of the time, is for doing, not knowing.  Most of us know.  If I talk to anyone in the church and we’re talking about sin, and they’re angry or they’re offended, it’s because they do know what the Scripture says, and they don’t want to hear that…what bothers me is I do know how I’m supposed to be, and I have to get alone and say ‘Lord, please, forgive me…’  Fleeces we don’t have to put out, in any circumstance if the Lord begins to trim down the odds, if you’re obedient you’re right where you should be, there’s no Red Sea that he can’t part.  Now that’s easy for us to read in the Bible, but I know there are things that happen in our lives that are very difficult, and we think ‘Lord, it’s going to take a miracle for me to get through this,’ there is no Red Sea that he can’t part, there is no giant he can’t kill.  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  Easy for me to talk about that up here, but no doubt God revealing himself through the life of Gideon, the fact that he’ll take someone whose threshing grain in a vinevat, who doesn’t see himself anyway special, and use that individual, if he’ll yield, if he’ll be obedient. For you and I,  we’re to give a certain sound, you know, study to show yourself approved, a workman of God, studying the Scripture.  Vessels, yes we’re earthen vessels, the light never shines the way it should until we’re broken, you know, a broken vessel, a vessel that’s truly broken, his light shines, not our own.  And he does a wonderful job of it, God is the wonderful breaker.  You know, in his Kingdom, it’s so different from the world, and in the world when something’s broken you throw it away, in his Kingdom when something’s broken that’s when he’s just getting started, that’s his specialty, to take a broken life, a broken heart, and that’s when something becomes valuable in his Kingdom, in this world that’s when you throw it away, in his Kingdom that’s when he’s just getting started.  I don’t appreciate brokenness all the time, what I do really appreciate when I feel my heart is broken is he is always there.  He says I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.  And that’s who he is, and that’s who he’ll always be.  And in the times when the battle is beyond our strength and our ability, in the days when everything seems to be slipping away, and those days come to all of us, he’s the same, he is the same.  His ways are above our ways, they’re past finding out, he doesn’t do things the way we’d do them all the time, but he is always there.  Isn’t he, in your life?...[transcript of expository sermons on Judges 6:33-40 and 7:1-25, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links:  

Audio version: https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED632

God confirmed the ministry he inspired me to create, see https://unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm

My spiritual journey has been a strange one, see https://unityinchrist.com/author.htm

Jesus could come at any time, see https://unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm

What exactly, prophetically speaking, are we looking for “to come over the horizon”?  see https://unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm           



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