Adult Sunday School - Part 10 - Gideon
Adult Sunday School - Part 10 - Gideon - by P.K.Odendaal - September 2012
How do you go from rejection, bitterness, accusations and humiliation to arrogant and steadfast faith? How can any man go from the one extreme to the other? Just ask Gideon. For me he is an example of what can be done if you are touched by God - more than once. Many of us are touched by God and it stays a touch - and even soon disappears.
Read the article by Annemie here :
I have been touched by God many times, and it stays an anchor for my soul in times of abject depression, which fortunately are quite rare.
We start off with Gideon - himself, his family and his nation being rejected and forgotten by God, with no hope and no God.
But suddenly something odd happens - an angel of the Lord appears to him. The interpretation says that it was the Son of God, but I am not here into interpretations - so let it be any angel - if you will. And the first words of the angel is : Jdg 6:12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
This is about the last thing he thought of himself and he immediately starts a tirade on his dismal situation :
Jdg 6:13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
The truth is that he is a mighty man of valour, but only God can see that, and God wants him to know it so that he can become an instrument in God's hand - and this is a secret we all should know. We are not what we think we are. We are useful people made in the image of God. If we think we are useless we in fact criticise God for making useless creatures.
The next thing Gideon knows is that he receives and instruction from God to save Israel from the Midianites: Jdg 6:14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
And this is about as far as we would venture into the unknown, but Gideon takes the opportunity to 'inform' God of how useless he thinks he is, just in case God did not know : Jdg 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
He does not realise that it is just those qualities that he has now enumerated which convinced God to use him. We do not need to be great men of great deeds to be useful for God - we need to be humble and simple.
And here we have Gideon who has to make a decision. Without denigrating us further I wish to add that it is here we stop, because we are scared, we do not know what to do or how to do it, we profess to wait for further instructions - and we will probably wait forever. Something needs to be done, because God wants to know whether we mean business with Him. Some of us, like myself, will usually rush in and upset the apple cart, but Gideon does the right thing which we all should do in such situations. He wants confirmation of this. Scripture says that 2Co 13:1 ... In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. Jdg 6:17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
What follows is one of the shortest stories of the life and times of Jesus Christ. Gideon brings Him 'flesh and unleavened cakes' to eat, but He does not eat it, because His time has not come yet. Instead He devours it on the rock with His staff, while he sat under a tree. Flames devour the offering and the Lord disappears. In just this one verse we have the cross (tree), the bread and wine (flesh and unleavened bread), Holy Spirit (fire), rock (Jesus Christ), staff (the Word of God) and the ascension (disappearance). The fact that this person is Jesus Christ is confirmed by the scripture in verse 23 which says 'thou shalt not die' (from seeing God).
From now on it is all action by Gideon, because he knows what he should do and he has the faith and purpose. He goes on to wreak havoc on the Midianites and delivers his nation from the bondage of the Midianites, much like Jesus Christ delivered us from Evil.
The story is too long to discuss here fully, but you should notice that God is with him with signs, wonders and visions every step of the way. These are a short summary of this altercation between God and himself:
1. The very first night God tells him to: Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down. And he does it faithfully with fear in his heart because of the possible consequences, one of which is facing death, which they threatened him with.
2. After this conflict, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he sounded the trumpet of war, to gather all his nation for this war against the Midianites. Simultaneously he again consults with God to give him a sign based on fleece of wool, which God had to wet or keep dry. God, true to His acknowledged support, gives the confirmation, and Gideon knows for sure there will be war and that he will win, but ... faith is so frail. He will need other signs as well.
3. What follows is a very interesting sifting of Gideon forces. If he is to win, he is to win spectacularly, demonstrating to his own nation and the Midianites that God gave the victory. So God asks Gideon to pare down his forces from twenty two thousand to three hundred! Firstly he had to get rid of those who were fearful and afraid. The would be more a hindrance than an asset. And what was the count of the enemy - as the 'sand by the seaside'.
4. What follows next is just as amazing. God want Gideon to hear how scared his enemy was, so he sent Gideon and Purah to the tents of the enemy to hear what they say, and he hears this story one of them tell of a dream he had of a cake of barley bread which came rolling down the hill, and overturned his tent - Jdg 7:14 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.
Gideon and the Midianites knew that the victory of Gideon was secure. And this is a point I mad in another article in connection with accidents. They do not happen there and then when you see it. They are triggered somewhere else. The same goes for our victories in the name of God. They are won before the battle - so much so that they did not even have to give battle - they only had to blow their trumpets.
5. Ultimately he gets to full of faith that he says to the men of Succoth: Jdg 8:5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. v:6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? v:7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers. This is not the Gideon God found at the winepress, where he first met God. At last all his fear was gone.
What can we learn from this?
1. If God has a mission for you, then follow it with all resolve and expedition. Do not let an encounter with God leave you untouched.
2. God does not give you full instructions beforehand of all that you have to do - it will come one at a time, and only if you have completed the previous step. If God did this, we all would have shrunk from the enormity and danger of the task.
3. God will support you all of the way with signs, wonders and visions - and even dreams you may hear from the enemy. Remember, the enemy knows this is the wrath of God and they fear, and they talk and they worry. This you can also become acquainted with from the gift of the Spirit called discernment.
4. Faith is frail and starts small - fear is intimidating and start big. It is only after we have executed the will of God, and saw Him support us that we can ' tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers'.
5. Do not worry if you are small and weak or disappointed and despondent. These are exactly the reasons God wants to use you. Just take one step at a time.
6. God allows us to set tests for Him to confirm our mission- here in the form a fleece of wool.
7. We should not expect any gratefulness from the people we save. They will forget us and what we have done, or despise us out of jealousy, as they had done to Gideon. This is good, because we should not be overly proud. Jdg 8:34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: v:35 Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.
8. Do not despise, berate or reject yourselves as unworthy. God knows what He put inside you - it is His character, tenacity and persistence.