The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
GIDEON Part 3
- We have been studying the book of Judges, and tonight will be our third message about Gideon. As I’ve said before, there is more space devoted to Gideon in the book of Judges than to any other judge, with Samson being a close second.
- You will recall that Israel had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years (6:1). God called Gideon and prepared him to be the deliverer.
- Part of Gideon’s preparation was to tear down the altar of Baal that his father had erected. Gideon obeyed God, and next we read that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon” (6:34).
- When I preached about this well-known story I mentioned that a friend of mine tore down a Romish statue in his parents’ front yard. That friend happened to be here Sunday night.
- Last week we saw that the Lord had to trim down Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to just 300 (7:1-6). God was demonstrating that no flesh should glory in His presence. Only the Lord could defeat the huge Midianite army with a small band of unarmed men.
- There are many wonderful spiritual lessons in the book of Judges. We saw how God delivered Israel with Ehud’s dagger, with Shamgar’s ox goad, and with Jael’s nail. Tonight we will see how God used Gideon’s army of 300 men with their pitchers, torches, and trumpets (no weapons).
- At least Ehud had a dagger to kill fat King Eglon. Shamgar only had an ox goad, but he used it very effectively to slay 600 Philistines. Jael grabbed her hammer and nail (tent peg) and drove Sisera’s brains to the floor.
- But Gideon had no weapon, and neither did his men. We are reminded of the Scripture from the book of Zechariah – “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
- First Gideon worshipped (7:15), and then he went to work (7:16). Gideon had his priorities right.
EVERY MAN HAD A TRUMPET (7:16).
- It is interesting that God did not equip each man with a sword, but with a trumpet. Perhaps Gideon and his men were thinking of Joshua’s conquest of Jericho.
- The priests blew their trumpets and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. That was a great miracle, and so was Gideon’s victory over the Midianites.
- All throughout the Bible we see trumpets. This dispensation will come to a glorious end “with the trump of God” (I Thess. 4:16; cf. I Cor. 15:51-58).
- In the meantime we should lift up our voices like a trumpet, and get the Gospel out (Isa. 58:1).
- “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Cor. 14:8). We are in a battle; the Gospel trumpet needs to be sounded loud and clear.
- But only a few Christians are blowing their trumpets (Judges 7:16-19). Churches are closing down their Sunday night services. Hardly anyone goes out soulwinning any more.
EVERY MAN HAD A PITCHER (7:16).
- Each man had a trumpet and clay pitcher (7:16). Notice it says these were “empty pitchers.”
- Second Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
- These empty pitchers represent the bodies of believers. They must be emptied before God can use them. But oftentimes we are too full of self for God to use us.
- The latest edition of The Baptist Vision has several sermons by Pastor Lee Roberson, commemorating his 95th birthday. In one sermon, Dr. Roberson said, “Your greatest enemy is self…You will have to die to self. Die to compliments and die to criticisms. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 12:24).”
- The apostle Paul said in I Cor. 15:31, “I die daily.”
- And in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…” And in Col. 3:3, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The pitchers had to be empty.
- The songwriter wrote, “Emptied that Thou mightest fill me, A clean vessel in Thy hand…”
- Second Timothy 2:21 says, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
- Now please note that these pitchers were only empty in order to hold the light (7:16b; cf. II Cor. 4:6). It is not our light that must shine, but the light of the Gospel (cf. Phil. 2:14, 15).
- Furthermore, the light could only shine after the pitchers were broken (Judges 7:16-20). Some Christians are not broken; therefore the light cannot shine through. That is why I believe in Bible preaching that brings conviction. Christians must be broken God before can use them.
EVERY MAN HAD A LAMP (7:16).
- The Scofield margin says “firebrands or torches.” I read that an old lady went to John Wesley and said, “Our pastor is a very poor preacher; he cannot preach very well.” John Wesley replied, “Madam, pray that the Lord will set him on fire, and when He does that, the people will come out to see him burn.”
- That’s a good way to pray for the pastor. Spurgeon said, “If you have a fireman in the pulpit there will not be any snowmen in the pews.”
- Before the fire lit up the camp of the Midianites it first of all lit up the pitchers of Gideon’s 300. Unless I am lit up with the light of God I will never be able to light this dark, sinful world.
- Unless the Lord lights our congregation, we will never be able to light up this wicked community.
- The (clay) pitchers were easily broken and the sudden blaze of the torches, along with the loud blasts from the 300 trumpets, surprised and frightened the Midianites (7:19-21).
- When the devil’s crowd sees the light they often get confused (7:22). They can either get right with God or run. In this case the Midianites “fled to Beth-Shittah in Zererath…” (7:22).
- The slaughter of the Midianites is referred to 500 years later by the prophet Isaiah (Judges 7:25; cf. Isa. 9:4; 10:26).
- The execution of the two Midianite princes, Oreb and Zeeb, is referred to in Psalm 83:11.
- There are many spiritual lessons from the life of Gideon. One that needs to be considered in this day of “purpose–driven, seeker-friendly” hoopla, is that God does not need large numbers to accomplish His purposes.
- God used Gideon and his 300, and He can use us if we make ourselves available.