The book of Judges is about 12 leaders who served as both a judge and militarily who conquered some of the enemies of the Israelites. This was a dark time in the life of Israel and they were forgetting God and giving their lives to other gods.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
The Leaders in Judges had many faults but God used them to help deliver His people even though after they were delivered they repeatedly went away from God. If you were to sum up the book of Judges it would look like this.
- The People turn away from God
- God allows them to be conquered and oppressed
- The People cry out to God
- Gods sends a judge to deliver them
This pattern continued throughout the book of judges but God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful people is what separates Christianity from other religions. God does not love us because we are good (Romans 5:8) because we could never be good enough to earn His favor. We do not remain His children because we are perfect (Romans 8:38-39) but because we have been adopted into His family through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5)
Where the problem started
In Joshua 2 we see that the children of God did not drive the people and the false gods out of the land like God told them to. When they allowed them to stay in the city they became corrupted with their way of thinking and acting and it drew them away from God. God said He would drive them out before them but that changed when thy disobeyed Him.
Joshua 2:3 says that their gods will become a thorn in your side. This is how it is with us when we do not drive out sin from our lives even though God promises us that He can overcome any sin we might struggle with. The sin we allow to stay in our lives will eventually be a thorn in our side because we will find that we no longer control the sin but it controls us. Sin leads to more sin and there is always a spiral downward if we do not handle it right away. Like termites in a house we may not see the damage for a long time but we can be sure it will eventually be shown for what it is when it is exposed because of weaknesses in our foundation.
Judges 2:18-19 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
Because of the sin of the people God allowed the Midianites to come and oppress the people of Israel. They fled and were living in caves and in the hillsides because they were scared of the enemy. They literally imprisoned themselves because of their sin of not chasing them out of the nation when they first arrived.
At harvest time the enemy would come to steal what the Israelites had worked hard to produce all year. The Bible said it was like Locust because they not only took what they wanted but also destroyed anything that was left as they went through. This would make winters very difficult as they had to survive on whatever was left behind.
After seven years of this process being repeated by the enemy the Children of God cried out to Him and God heard their cries and was going to rescue them out of the enemies hands.
Read Judges 6:11-18
1) Courage is needed to believe what God can do through you
“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of Valor”
Gideon was found sifting wheat in a winepress. This is the place where they would put the grapes where they would step on them and then the juice would run down into another container that would hold the grape juice. You normally sift wheat out in the open where they wind could blow the chaff away but instead he was hiding from the Midianites because he was scared of them. Being able to sift the wheat in a winepress shows you just how little they had and how desperate the times they were living were.
Whenever we face challenges we have to realize it is not about us but about God being with us. Our courage comes not from our own might, power or capabilities it comes from the Lord.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus calls Peter a rock. He was anything but a rock but Jesus saw him that way because He knew how He was going to use him. Gideon was called a mighty man of valor not because of how he was acting but how God was going to use him. God does not need people that have all the skills to lead, He wants people who have the courage to trust Him to do mighty things through them.
Gideon did not think God could ever use him because he was from the least of the tribes of Israel which meant the other tribes would have had more people to choose from and to help fight the Midianites.
I will be with thee
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This same promise is given to us as a church that no matter what obstacles we face we just have to do what God is calling us to do because He is the one who will make it happen.
Read Judges 6:25-31
2) Courage is needed to break away from family traditions
God asked Gideon to break down the altar to Baal and to burn a sacrifice to God with the Asherah pole.
Family beliefs are powerful and many people hold strongly to family traditions even when they contradict Gods word. Some religions will kick family members out of the house for believing in Jesus Christ and so the pressure of that individual to not go against the family is a very difficult decision.
Gideon had to make a choice whether he was going to honor God or his family members and so he honored God even though he did it at night where no one could see him. In the morning people saw the destruction and eventually it was discovered it was Gideon who broke the altar of Baal.
The first thing Gideon had to do before he could lead them in battle against the enemy was to destroy the sin in the camp. The people started accepting other religions as equal or more important than God and that had to be stopped. They had forgotten the stand that Joshua took years earlier about choosing who you are going to serve and went right back into serving other gods.
Gideon had to destroy the idol that was consuming the people to the point that they wanted to kill him for destroying it. Gideon’s dad protected his son by saying let Baal defend himself if he is a god. As we said before, you never know the impact you will have on your own family.
Read Joshua 6:36-40
3) Courage is needed to obey Gods commands
The task he was going to face was a giant one but the reality is, He just met with Jesus Christ face to face.Our job as Christians is to do what Christ has already told us to do and then to be guided by the Holy Spirit in the areas we are unsure of.
Gideon began looking for signs to help secure his faith in what the Lord had already told him to do. Signs are showing that you have a lack of faith in what Jesus will do. Jesus in Matthew 16:4 says a wicked generation asks for a sign. John 16:13 says the Spirit will be our guide and we need to trust Him to lead us exactly where we need to go. God is patient with us because He knows we are weak (Psalm 103:14) but we need to learn to move forward on what He has already told us to do.
Just because the laying out of the fleece is in scripture does not give us a pattern to follow. We need to trust that if we are not doing what we are supposed to do then the Holy Spirit will stop us. (Acts 16:6)
Read Joshua 7:2-8
Only 300 men against an army that seemed like more than anyone could count was Gods way of showing that it was His strength and not Gideon’s or the army that would bring the victory.
God can do a lot through a handful of people and that is evident with the small group of disciples that believed in Him after His resurrection. With a few people God can change the world because it is about His power and abilities and not our own.
God removed those who were afraid first because fear is contagious. We have to be careful to not allow the crowd to determine what we will do or not do based on fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
The second group God got removed were those who were careless. They were not paying attention to the enemy as they drank the water. They did not keep their eyes open for what might be lying ahead of them living foolishly at the moment. These people placed their faces down into the water to drink which would have made them vulnerable to an enemy attack. Too many Christians take the attack of the enemy lightly and therefore do not guard themselves from the possibility of danger.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour
Joshua went with a servant because God told him to go and listen to what the enemy had to say. Gideon was able to sneak in close to them and heard soldiers talking about a dream that one of them had. One of the soldiers interpreted it as being that God has given Gideon victory over them. God reassured Gideon of the victory through a sign that Gideon did not ask for.
So Gideon divided the 300 into 3 groups of 100 and they had a plan that they would sneak around the camp and on a command they would all blow the trumpets , break jars and scream. Can you imagine how crazy this sounded to those who where still with Gideon? I guess it was not crazier than 300 men taking on so many men they were almost impossible to count.
Read Joshua 7:19-23
It was about 10 Pm so many of the soldiers were sleeping and most of them had a confidence in the numbers of soldiers that were around them. The noise of the jars breaking and the sudden lights being shown along with trumpets blaring made them think that there was a bigger army invading than there was. Confusion set in and they began fighting each other because they could not see who was friend or foe and who knows what the noise did to the camels which some believe would have started a stampede
They would scream a Sword for the Lord and for Gideon which were apparently the only ones with swords as the rest of the men had no real weapons that we know of.
Everything we do is to give Glory to God. No matter how crazy the situation sounds that you are in know that God can use it to bring Himself glory.
God is not done trying to reach people for Himself and we need to be busy doing what He asked us to do. Living for Christ may take more courage in the days ahead because more and more people do not want to hear what Christians have to say. People who want to sin do not like when people have moral standards because it exposes their sin and heaps guilt upon them.
We are still in a battle today (2 Corinthians 10) and we need to be alert and ready to be use by God. We have work to do and God is calling us not to hide and hope the evil goes away but to engage in a battle to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) We do not fight like soldiers fight but we engage the enemy through prayer, through love, through kindness as we speak the truth of Gods word.
The Only courage you need is to trust that God can use you
The Only courage you need is to leave behind the things of the world
The Only courage you need is to obey God.