Go in the strength you have

by LA UBF   07/19/2005     0 reads




JUDGES 6:1-40

KEY VERSE: 6:14 

“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?’”

In this passage, God puts his hope upon a fearful man named Gideon in order to help his people to repent and to save them.  Through this passage, we pray that we may accept and renew God’s calling in each one of our lives, so that we may be used by God to save souls.  


In the previous passage, the Israelites gave thanks to God and loved God because of God’s salvation and victory upon their lives.  They enjoyed peace for forty years.  However, they did not bear God’s blessing upon their lives.  Instead, they did evil in the eyes of the Lord.  So, God gave them into the hands of the Midianites for seven years.  Because the power of Midan was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds.  Verses 3 through 6 describe how the Israelites suffered under Midain’s oppression.  Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples invaded their land.  They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing in Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.  The Israelites could not live in these kinds of life conditions and what they could do was to prepare shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds so that they might hide and spare some foods for themselves.  Think about life in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds.  These places are for animals that live in the mountains.  All the monkeys, wolves, and bears became homeless when the Israelites took over their homes.  The suffering of the Israelites reminds us our lives before meeting Jesus.  When we indulged ourselves in sins, we revealed the image animals instead of the image of God.  God created us to live as conquerors in this world, but we were defeated by the power of sins and we had to suffer in the dark cave and strongholds and even barely hanging on in the mountain clefts, about to die at any minute.  The suffering of the Israelites teaches us what life becomes like for those who do not know Jesus Christ, or repent their sins before God.  

Finally verse 6 says that Midian was so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.  When The Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, God sent them a prophet.  How did God help the Israelites?  Let us ready verses 8 through 10 together.  In this passage, we can see God’s way of helping his people.  God gave them a history lesson through a prophet.  God helped them to remember God’s saving grace and power.  God showed his power and proved himself as the Creator God.  And he proved that he is the Lord their God.  But the Israelites rejected their God and worship the gods of the Amorites in whose land they lived.  Probably the god of the Amorites seemed to bring them more practical benefits.  As they were enjoying forty years of peace, it seemed like the Lord God was unnecessary in their lives, and they did not want to be bothered by him.  The Israelites chose to worship the god of the Amorites.  In verse 10b, God summed up and pointed out the sins of the Israelites with one sentence saying, “But you have not listened to me.” Not listening to God was their sin.  We can imagine how sorry God was when his own people did not listen to him.  As we live in this world, it’s easily for us to have a casual attitude toward God’s word when we do not bear God’s blessings properly and listen to our sinful desires and refused to listen to God.  My son little Samuel is almost ten months old.  I feel so happy when people say, “Samuel looks like his daddy.”  Also, another thing that makes me so happy is when he recognized me as his daddy.  A few days ago, my son little Samuel was crying uncontrollably, so my coworker called my cell phone while I was working.  And she told me to say something to Samuel over the phone.  So, I said, “Samuel this is daddy.  I love you, don’t cry.”  Then suddenly he stopped crying.  I was so happy that he recognized my voice and listened to me.  In the same way, we should listen to our Father God’s voice each and everyday through eating the word of God.  Listening to God’s word is a matter of life and death. Let us pray that God may help us to open our ears to listen to his words and obey them.  


Look at verse 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.”  What was Gideon doing when the Lord visited him?  Normally people thresh wheat in a field not in a winepress.  Gideon, out of fear of the Midianites was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.  Looking over his shoulder, he was threshing wheat and his heart was beating like a 6 cylinder engine.  As a young man, he should have had great vision and lived a life that is full of potential and zeal even in hard moments.  Instead he was worried and worked hard to secure three meals a day.  Through the life of Gideon who was threshing wheat in a winepress, we can see the lives of young men in our generation. The students on the campuses pour out their potential and zeal just to study hard to get good grades, to get good jobs, and then they work hard.  Their only concern is to have a secure life.  It is hard to find a student who has great vision to serve God in this generation.  It seems like our generation is hopeless.  However, through God who is calling one young man Gideon, we can have the hope of God in our generation.

Let’s read verse 12 together.  “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” God called Gideon to be a mighty warrior.  It seems like the angel of the Lord had knocked on the wrong door and found the wrong guy.  Gideon was a fearful man and at such a critical moment, he tried to spare his own life when others were crying out to the Lord for help.  Through calling a fearful man like Gideon, we can see God’s hope upon Gideon’s life. Even though Gideon seemed to be the last person to be called a mighty warrior, God had hope for him to become a mighty warrior. How could a man like Gideon be a mighty warrior?  The angel of the Lord said, “The Lord is with you.” God has power to mold and train him into a mighty warrior.  When we look at our weaknesses, sin problems, and our own inabilities, it sounds impossible for us to become mighty warriors.  But through God who put His hope in a fearful man like Gideon, we can also have hope to grow up as a mighty warrior in this generation through holding onto God’s promise. 

What was Gideon’s response to God’s calling upon his life?  Look at verse 13.  When Gideon heard that the Lord was with him, he became very angry and he complained to God, “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.”  

Then what was God’s answer?  Let’s read verse 14 together.  “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?’”  God challenged him, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel.”  It seems like Gideon had no strength at all to save Israel.  But what kind of strength did Gideon have? Verse 14b God said, “Am I not sending you?”  It was God most high sending Gideon to save his people.  Gideon had to realize what kind of strength he had. Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield.”  King David praised God after experiencing a great victory through God.  King David realized the source of his strength was the Lord, God. Gideon had to realize that by his own strength he could not do anything.  But when he relied on God, and his strength, he would be able to save Israel from Midian.  So, Gideon had to repent of his fatalistic ideas and rely on the source of strength, God alone to save his people.  In the same way, God asks each one of us, “Go in the strength you have and save my people.”  It seems like raising up Jesus’ disciples and pioneering campuses is a very difficult mission when we look at ourselves.  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” When we only rely on God who gives us strength, we can do a great work of God.

What was Gideon’s response to God’s calling and promise in his life?  Look at verse 15.  “But Lord, how can I save Israel?  My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”  Gideon should have accepted God’s calling with a loud “Amen!”  But Gideon’s life problem was an inferiority complex.  He thought that his background was not that good and that he had nothing to show for himself.  Even though God helped him to accept his calling on a one to one basis, he could not accept it.  But the Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”  God did not give up, but instead helped Gideon to hold on to God’s promise.  “I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”  God already gave him the victory over the Midianites.

Verse 17 through 24, Gideon slowly opened his heart when God had endured him.  Then Gideon wanted to make sure if God would really be with him and he wanted to experience God personally.  So, he requested God’s sign and finally Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord who visited him.  So, Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it the Lord is Peace.  Gideon personally met God as the God of peace who would save Israel from the Midianites and would give them peace.


Look at verses 24 through 32.  In order for God to use Gideon as a mighty warrior, Gideon had to obey and accomplish challenging mission from God.  Let’s read verses 25 and 26 together.  It was to destroy idle worship which was committed by the Israelites.  After hearing God’s mission debriefing, Gideon was shocked.  Gideon said to himself, “I haven’t even broken a plate in my life.  How can I destroy Baal’s altar?  I will be kicked out of my father’s house and might even be stoned to death by the town’s people.” It was the moment for Gideon to make the decision of faith whether to live as a mighty warrior before God or as a small citizen, hiding in a winepress to secure three meals a day.  Then how did Gideon obey God’s command?  Look at verses 27 through 32.  Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him.  But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.  In the morning, all the people in the town heard shocking news.  All local radio stations and newspapers reported that Baal’s altar was demolished with an Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!  When they carefully investigated, they were told, Gideon son of Joash did it and they wanted the death sentence for Gideon. But Joash, Gideon’s father realized that if Baal really was a god, he could defend himself if someone broke down his altar.  Then he defended his son, Gideon and saved him from the town’s people.  Then verse 34 says that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet to summon the soldiers for the upcoming battle against their enemies.  

God commanded Gideon to demolish his family’s altar before using him as a mighty warrior for God’s work.  This event teaches us a very important lesson.  God called each one of us to fight the spiritual battle.  We want to do many great works of God through teaching the Bible.  In order for God to use us in a powerful way, God commands us to make the decision of faith to demolish all our hidden Baal’s altar in our hearts.  What are the Baal’s altars in our hearts?  They are my own plans, doubts, fears, hatred, seeking one’s own glory, arrogance, seeking the pleasure of this world and so on.  When we demolish all these idols in our hearts and build a proper altar to the Lord our God, God will pour out His Holy Spirit upon us.  We pray that the Spirit of the Lord may come upon each one of us so that we may boldly blow a trumpet on each one of our campuses to get ready for the battle and win the victory.

In conclusion, God helped the Israelites to repent of their sins through calling one man.  Gideon was a fearful man, but God had hope upon him and helped him to hold onto His promise.  We pray that we may accept and make the decision of faith to serve God.

One word: Go in the strength you have.