Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Judges
“The Lord turned to Gideon and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ ‘But Lord’, Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family’. The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you…’.” Judges 6:14-16a
What a great story that not only speaks of a humble man of God recognizing his frailty before the Lord and his inability to accomplish anything of heavenly value in his own strength, but this story also shows us how the Lord God Himself will ‘win the battles’ of this life to show us that He and He alone deserves all the glory.
In a nutshell (which really means I’m going to go into more detail than I ought to!), Israel is living in a time of great national disobedience. Moses has died; Joshua has died; and no one leader has been trained or mentored to follow the footsteps of these two godly men. So Israel falls into disobedience, and the Lord disciplines Israel by allowing them to fall into the grips of their enemies. Finally the people cry out to the Lord, and in the Lord’s mercy He would raise up a leader – a judge – to defeat their enemies and establish some semblance of a culture focused on serving the Lord God.
But then that ‘judge’ would die, and the people would fall right back into a life of disobedience; the Lord would discipline them through their enemies; Israel would cry out for help; the Lord would raise up another judge; and the cycle continued.
Now we come to Gideon. The Midianites are the current ‘disciplinarians’ in the life of Israel, and once again the Lord sends an ‘Angel of the Lord’ (the Lord Himself – a theophany) to appoint the next judge. That new judge is a young man named Gideon, who at that moment is threshing wheat in a wine press so that the Midianites won’t find him. The author tells us this fact to illustrate the timidity of young Gideon. The Angel of the Lord addresses Gideon as “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior”, which would be much like the best boxing trainer in the world addressing Pee Wee Herman as the ‘Heavy-weight boxing champion of the world’!
Gideon immediately doubts this positive affirmation of his ability to be a ‘mighty warrior’ because he is only looking at his circumstances. First off, look where he is: threshing wheat in a wine press because he’s afraid! Along with that, he is young; his clan is the weakest in Manasseh; and he himself is the least in his family. “You’ve got your wires crossed Mr. Angel of the Lord. I’m not your man!”
But the Lord knew differently, and it wasn’t just because the Lord was optimistic or could already see ‘down the corridors of time’ and just so happened to see a victory for Gideon. The Lord spoke confidently regarding Gideon’s ability to lead Israel to victory because it was, is, and always will be the Lord that wins for us the battles of this life; we just have to get out of the way and allow His Spirit to work through us. But that doesn’t mean that we just sit on the front porch and let God do all the work. He accomplishes great things – no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2) – THROUGH us. We still have to step out of the boat; we still have to take that step of faith; but all along it is He Who will enable us to fulfill His purposes (Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Philippians 2:13 – “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”).
To get to the points that this verse is making (So as to keep me from preaching too long here!):
- The Lord said to Gideon to ‘Go in the strength you have’. How does this weak man already ‘have’ the strength to save Israel? He already has the strength because the Lord God has already called and empowered him before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:4).
- ‘Am I not sending you?’ If the Lord is sending you to enter battle or to accomplish any task that He has called you to do, then He is, and will continue to equip you for that work and service. The Lord doesn’t just willy-nilly pick someone out of a group and ‘hope’ He made the right choice, because in our own strength NO ONE can provide the victory that Israel needs. As someone has said, “The Lord doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called”. He’s sending you to pitch hit because He knows that you WILL get the necessary hit regardless how that hit is to play out – it doesn’t even have to be a home run! And the reason you WILL get that hit – or accomplish the Lord’s purposes – is because He is the One enabling and calling you to the task.
- And as the end of our verse says “I will be with you”. There are no sweeter words in all of God’s Word! What comfort; what confidence; what joy and peace those words can and will bring to the heart of a believer! No matter what we have been called to (and please understand, sometimes – for the Lord’s good purposes – what we have been called to do may NOT go as WE have anticipated or desired – but it will always be for the Lord’s good and glory), the LORD IS WITH US. As we read in Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5, “I (the Lord) will never leave you nor forsake you”.
Imagine a father or best friend, who ‘is with you’, but allows you to get beaten to a pulp (Again, we will face tribulations of all kinds), and He does nothing! Granted, you and I may have to go through some horrific things in this life because of the fallen world we live in, but HE IS WITH US – and if He, for His good purposes, doesn’t stop the trouble at that moment, HE WILL ultimately take care of us and use that hard time to bring forth His justice on the perpetrator; extend grace to us as He enables us to work through that trial; and He will repay the years the locust have eaten (Joel 2:25). We are never alone. We are never called to fight our battles on our own. All things DO work together for the good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He will turn our trials into gold (1 Peter 1:7). The Lord will somehow and some time deliver us from our afflictions (Psalm 34:19).
If you haven’t already done so, you ought to read the ENTIRE story of Gideon – there is much more to learn here, and you will clearly see how the Lord Himself wins the battle so that He and He alone will receive all the glory! But our main lesson for this one particular verse is that “If the Lord has called you to do anything for His glory, He WILL be with you!