1. Introduction

    1. In Hebrews 11, the author defines faith and then lists several Old Testament characters who personified faith.. faith that believes God despite the odds..

      1. He recounts the lives of great men such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses.

      2. As he comes around to the end of the chapter, he writes this

        1. Hebrews 11:32 (NIV)- And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,

        2. He realizes that he has run out of time (like all preachers have!), and list some others that also displayed faith.

    2. Interestingly, the four judges that he chooses have significant character flaws.

      1. When I think Gideon, I think of someone too scared to obey God.

      2. When I think of Barak, I think of a man who insisted that a woman accompany him to battle because he was too scared to go alone.

      3. When I think of Samson, I think of Delilah and her scissors.

      4. When I think of Jephthah, I think about his foolish vow that cost his daughter her life.

      5. But when God thinks about these men, he thinks about their faith.

    3. God remembers you by your faith, not by your faults.

      1. You must remember this.. you can be remembered by putting your faith in God not by the litany of failures..

      2. God doesn’t remember what you were.. He doesn’t see you as immoral or an idolater.. He see you as washed, sanctified, justified..

    4. Let’s look more closely at the story of Gideon.. a man who could easily be remembered by his faults but is instead remembered by his faith.

  2. Gideon’s call

    1. This is the time of the judges.. when the same events kept occurring over and over again.

      1. The people rebelled, their enemies attacked, the repented, God raised up a deliverer, time of peace, people rebelled, etc…

      2. This time it was the Midianites who were attacking.. nomads from the East who would come at harvest and take everything that Israel had worked for all year.

      3. Eventually, the people cry out to God.. they realize that their problems weren’t political or economic.. they were spiritual.

    2. God finds Gideon in the winepress.

  1. Judges 6:11 (NIV)- 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.

  2. In the Middle East, wheat is threshed in an open field where it can be tossed up.. wind separates the chaff.

    1. Winepress is carved in stone and not ideal for threshing wheat.

    2. Gideon is apparently scared of the midianites stealing his wheat, so he is threshing it in a more hidden spot.

    3. Our first portrait of him indicates that he is not particularly courageous.

  3. We soon learn that he is not in the winepress physically.. but also spiritually and emotionally.. he’s timid and bitter.. not courageous.. not looking for a fight.

    1. We might even say that Gideon is in the “whine press.”

  1. The angel of the Lord speaks to him..

    1. Judges 6:12 (NIV)- When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

      1. That’s funny.. all I see is a scared farmer.

      2. God sees us as greater than we see ourselves.. we see our failures, weaknesses, shortcomings.. God sees us as his children.

    2. Judges 6:13 (NIV) 13 “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.”

      1. Gideon is despondent.. it doesn’t appear that Lord is with him or with Israel at all.

      2. Don’t interpret what you believe about God through the lens of your circumstances.

      3. I know many of you are in the midst of difficult circumstances.. don’t let it change how you view God.

    3. Judges 6:14-16 (NIV)-  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?”15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.

      1. “Go in the strength that you have..” That doesn’t sound very encouraging.

      2. Gideon isn’t only cynical about God.. he is skeptical of his own abilities.

      3. Am I not sending you?… that’s the difference maker there.

      4. You + God = a majority

      5. You many not have a lot of faith.. a lot of hope.. a lot of resources.. a lot of ability.. but go with what you have. Because, when you mix your little with the presence of God, it’s always more than enough.

    4. After asking for and receiving another sign, Gideon receives the word of the Lord and build an altar..

      1. Judges 6:24 (NIV)-  So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

      2. Notice that the altar was called “The Lord is Peace…”

      3. The call of God was to a bloody and violent conflict.. but Gideon still understood God to be the God of peace.

      4. Peace is not the absence of conflict. It’s the presence of God in conflict.

  1. Gideon is given an opportunity to see if his “winepress faith” is genuine.

    1. God calls him to tear down the altar of his father

      1. Judges 6:25-26 (NIV)- 25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second[e] bull as a burnt offering.”

      2. Anyone can build altars and worship in the private, but are you willing to take a public stand?

  1. He was called to clean things up at home.. before he was called to clean things up nationally.

    1. Prayer at school but no prayer at home

    2. Sanctity of marriage but how sanctified is your marriage?

    3. Government should help the poor.. do you help the poor?

  1. Expect to be challenged privately before being used publicly.

    1. Gideon is faithful, but he’s still fearful.

      1. He goes in the middle of the night and tears it down.

    2. When we tear down idols, expect opposition.

      1. Judges 6:30-32 (NIV)- 30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

      2. They were upset because he was getting his house in order..

      3. Expect persecution when you start living pure.. living right.. putting God’s house first.

      4. His father saves his life by saying that Baal will deal with him if Baal is the true God.

  1. Private devotion leads to public power.

    1. Gideon rallies the warriors of Israel.

      1. 32,000 show up.. which seems good until you realize that Midian has 135,000.

      2. They are ready to fight, but Gideon needs one more sign.

        1. He takes the fleece of a sheep and puts on the ground, and asks God for the dew to only be on the fleece.

        2. Next, he ask God for fleece to be dry but ground wet.

        3. Gideon is still showing this mixture of faith and fear.

    2. It’s about to go down.. Gideon only has 32,000.. but he’s heard from God.. it’s all good. Then his happens..

      1. Judges 7:2- 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.

      2. God often puts us in positions where we have to depend on him.. rely on him.

      3. He told Gideon to release those who were afraid.. 22,000

      4. He told Gideon to send the remaining 10,000 for a drink of water.. the 300 that cupped the water (thus remaining alert in battle) were selected

    3. Gideon is still fearful.. so God tells him to go to the camp of the Midianites and he overhears a dream.

      1. A round loaf of barley bread rolled into Midianite camp and crushed the tent

      2. This means that the wheat farmer Gideon is going to destroy the hosts of the Midianites.

    4. Gideon proves God right.

      1. Judges 7:15-22a (NIV)- 15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. 19 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. 20 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!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords…

      2. God has called all of the shots so far.. this is Gideon taking initiative. He shows that he was much more than a cowardly farmer.. he was a mighty warrior just like God said he was!

      3. What does God know about you that you don’t know about yourself?

      4. Judges 8:28- So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.

  1. Conclusion

    1. Gideon is remembered as a man of faith.. despite his persistent weaknesses and doubts.. doubts about God and doubts about himself.