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Last week, in part one of this sermon, we were reflecting on Psalm 46 and walking through the story of Gideon.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Throughout this series, Fix Our Eyes, I’ve been encouraging you to put down your sword and reflect on the lives of those who’ve come before us, to help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Last week, like the week before, I started with the end of the story first, to remind you God is the end and the beginning of our story as well. So, let’s jump into the end of Gideon’s story.
In Judges 7:17 we read:
“Watch me,” he [Gideon] told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’” Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.”
Gideon is outnumbered 125,000 to 300 and he wins this battle using the most unusual weapons—trumpets and jars.
Last week we talked about Gideon’s struggle with having confidence in himself and in God. Judges 6:12-13 says:
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Judges 6:14 continues, “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?”
But in verse 15 Gideon says, “Pardon me, my lord . . . but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
God is trying to tell him and us, it’s not about your strength, it’s about mine; but Gideon didn’t understand one of the most profound Biblical truths: when I am at my weakest, God’s strength is most active in my life. It’s a lesson that Gideon will learn in time, and one we all need to learn. So, let’s move on to the rest of our story.
In Judges 6:36-40 we read:
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.
It’s easy to lose faith, become fearful, and question God’s truth or His promises when we’re faced with life’s challenges.
Do you remember the story of the father and his very ill son in Mark 9:14-29? The son is mute and has seizures. The father takes his son to the disciples to be healed, but the boy comes away no different. Now struggling with his faith, the father brings his son to Jesus and asks, “If you can, please heal my son.”
And in verse 23 we read, “And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Knowing he’s wrestling with his faith, the father responds honestly. He cries, “I believe; help my unbelief,” and Jesus heals his child.
Jesus loves us and understands our struggles. He will help us through our unbelief if we keep our eyes fixed on Him. At some point, this difficult season will be over. The question is, how do you want to remember yourself when you look back? Throughout the Bible, and especially in Psalm 46, God tells His people in the midst of their struggle to wake up and recognize who’s on their side. What I love about God is that He fights battles in the most unorthodox ways. He rescues us in ways we never expected and could have never imagined. Honestly, show me a battle in the Bible that is orthodox.
Gideon’s battle is no different. Judges 7:1-7 continues:
Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
So, Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”
Like in Judges 6 and 7, God in Psalm 46 is saying to us, stop stressing about the battles ahead and trust me. Look to me. I’m the Lord. I’m your refuge and strength.You don’t need to worry when I am with you. I’ll deal with your enemies and fight your battles in ways you can’t even imagine. So, sit down, I got this. Fix your eyes on me and watch what I can do. Psalm 46 would have been an encouragement to the Israelites in a time of war, and it can be just as comforting to believers today:
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
So, back to the end; with 300 men Gideon defeats an army of over 125,000.
God is the end and the beginning of Gideon’s story, and He’s the end and beginning of our story as well. Remember what Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” We struggle with that truth because we need to be in control, we need to fix the issue now; but controlling the future is nothing more than an illusion. Life will not go the way you plan—period. Let me share something I’ve learned over many years: Sometimes the best decision to make is not to make a decision, and just be still.
I’m not saying we should avoid the problem, or suppress it, or procrastinate. What I’m saying is there are times when the best action is inaction. Instead of trying to fix it, just pray. Seek God’s wisdom, wait on the Lord for an answer or deliverance. Back in Mark 9 the disciples are confused as to why they could not heal the boy. It says in Mark 9:28a-29, “After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ He replied, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer.’ Jesus was telling them once again, it’s not by your power, but mine.
Think about it:
How often have you spoken too soon?
How often do you wish you would have waited?
How often do you wish you could go back and do it over?
When we wait, God often intervenes and resolves the issue without our help. Did you know that 94.1 percent of the things we worry about never happen? Never happen! And if they do happen, Jesus is right there to give us the strength to handle it. So, put down your sword and trust that God will fight for you. So, I’ve told you the story of Joseph, I’ve told you the story of Gideon, and now I want to share another story that could shape your thinking during this challenging season: it’s the story of Jonah. Once again, I want to start with the end of his story—and I’ll do that…next week.