When Small is Good
August 23, 2020 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (Philippians 4:13)
A. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
1. Those words were written by an ex-Jewish man named Paul, who was sitting in a prison awaiting trial before caesar Nero for upsetting people with the Gospel
2. He wrote this letter to the Philippian Christians to encourage them
3. Even though he had lost most everything in life, he was the most joyous and most hopeful person
4. And he bragged that he was able to do what he was doing, and face what he was facing by the strengthening power of the Son of God in his life!
B. My job is to convince you that THAT is still true! And get all of us living like that is true…
1. Never shying away from whatever God asks of us
2. Because it will always be HIM who enables us to do whatever He says do!
C. God gave us the perfect example of an impossible situation in Gideon’s life, to show us that anyone truly can do whatever God asks of us, by the strength of Jesus Christ IN them!
1. Like, to Stay married
2. Preach this Bible from cover to cover
3. Become a missionary in a far away country
4. Endure every hardness
5. Like, Teach in Children’s Church
6. Open our mouths and tell a complete stranger about their need to repent and believe the Gospel
7. Humble ourselves and get right with absolutely anyone who ever hurt us or that we hurt
8. Forgive any and everyone who ever hurt us
9. And put away any addiction or sinful habit that has a grip on our hearts and minds
A. You can do whatever He asks of you, through the strength of the Son of God in you!
II. Background (Judges 7:1)
A. God spent all of Judges chapter 6 encouraging and convincing a young man named Gideon to do something impossible – drive an army of 100,000 Midianites back out of the land of Israel
1. Gideon was the least likely man for the job
2. Terrified of the task he was asked to do
3. Had to be convinced God was actually with him and would keep His promise to win, using him
4. Gave God TWO difference fleece tests to confirm
5. And Gideon finally is fully convinced and ready to face off with and push the Midianite army back out of the land like God told him to
B. The Israeli army is assembled – 32,000! Yay!
1. It is time now to act – to face the enemy
2. They set up their camp right at the edge of the valley of Jezreel, facing the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the armies of the East all gathered on the other side
3. Outnumbered 3 to 1, but that was okay for Gideon.
4. To him, it was “do-able” (“I can see us winning…”)
C. Then God interrupts Gideon’s newfound confidence – “There are too many!”
1. There are too many with you
a. Gideon thought there are too many AGAINST him, but God said too many WITH him!
b. That’s so strange! Who ever heard of such a thing?
2. God said that there are too many men gathered together for God to get all the glory
3. That’s important to understand
a. The victory is guaranteed, but when those men win it, they will think THEY won it – and that is bad!
b. People are so easily deceived into thinking we can live without God’s help, and when things go well, we believe it was OUR efforts that were successful
c. Truth is… When the glory of success shins on US, it ruins us – makes us like the devil!
d. When all the brightness of the glory of success shines on God, it blesses us
e. You need to understand that God does not share His glory with anything or anyone (Isaiah 42:8) I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Not His Mother, not His Church, not any of US)
D. So, God now step-by-step, strips down, cuts back, scales down the army of Israel to just… three hundred and 1 men against 100,000. And then wins the fight through just those 301!
A. Step 1 - Let the Fearful Go Back (Judges 7:2,3)
1. Those 32,000 men who were gathered together, saw the massive army of 100,000 bullies gathered together across the valley of Jezreel (3 to 1)
2. And it terrified them - War ALWAYS terrifies the strongest soldier – no exceptions
3. But God said it was okay to be afraid, and they could return to their tents if they were afraid
a. Gideon knew a lot about fear, but those in leadership cannot quit - are not allowed to be afraid
b. But for the common soldier, God says it is okay. (Deuteronomy 20:5-9)
1) 20:5 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
2) 20:6 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
3) 20:7 And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
4) 20:8 And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.
5) 20:9 And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.
c. The same is true for the common Christian – we get very afraid as well
1) So, If you want to go back home and hide, then go
2) Some of us are going to stay in the fight
4. Gideon thought maybe 100, 200 would go back to their tents
5. But imagine what it felt like when 22,000 men walked away!!!
a. Gideon was Gutted - Disappointed
b. It always disappoints when people walk away, for whatever reason
c. Thousands walked away from following Jesus in John chapter 6
d. And, People walk away still today! They don’t stay in the spiritual war that we are in. They just stay home, afraid, content to let the devil ruin the world around us! Afraid of the persecution they get for being a Bible believer instead of a news-believer
B. Step 2 - Let God Hand-Pick the Soldiers (Judges 7:4-7)
1. Now only 10,000 men stood with Gideon. It was 3-1. Now it is 10-1 against them.
2. But God said it was still too many men!
3. Go down to the river. Gideon took the army to a nearby river and lined them up along its edge
4. Watch the men drink
a. Watched them bend down and get a drink
b. They were NOT told what to do – they were just watched what they did right then and there
c. The majority got down low on their knees to the river water and scooped up the water and drank like “normal” people would – with cupped hands
d. But some “lapped”. Gideon noticed some of the men “lapping” up the water
e. It probably was embarrassing to watch them drink that way
5. God said pick out the ones that lapped the water like a dog and pull them aside
a. Easily picked out from amongst the crowd of men
b. After a few minutes, 300 men had been noticed “lapping”
c. Gideon probably thought, good! Send them home!!!
6. God said, “Those are the ones I want with you Gideon! Send the 10,000 back to their tents.”
7. Wait, what?
a. This was NOT what Gideon was expecting!
b. Gideon wanted the best of the best helping him fight
c. Yet God’s help rarely is what we expect
1) We expect the most noble, smart, educated, good looking, popular people to be “called”
2) At least, that is the kind of people that we WANT God to call – so that it is not US who are called!
3) And so that we are not embarrased
d. So, just look at the number of men – just 300!
e. Look at their habits – unusual, not “normal” way of drinking water
f. Look at the enemy – still 100,000 strong – not diminishing
8. How can this ever work NOW??? Gideon has had every source of confidence taken away!
9. Forgot to look to GOD ALMIGHTY
C. What’s So Special About The 300?
1. Not much. These were not the Special Forces, the SAS soldiers, the Delta Force, or the Israeli Sayeret Matkal
2. They were Unknown – never heard of before or after
3. They were Unnoticed before – didn’t stand out for their abilities, or tactics
4. Unusual – a bit strange, a bit out of the ordinary, peculiar in their habits (lapping water instead of slurping it) – in what other ways were they “different”?
5. At least brave – they had decided to stay and fight instead of go back when offerred
6. They were trusting - Not knowing of what was going to happen – not given special top secret information – they were just willing to press ahead and to follow Gideon
D. Step 3 - Prepare for War (Judges 7:8)
1. No more time to train
2. No more time to pray
3. No more time to write home
4. Even though it was the middle of the night… It was time to face the enemy of 100,000 strong men, with just those 301 men!
5. So, Gideon told them to Grab your packed lunch men (carried in clay jars), and your trumpets, (and your swords obviously) and let’s GO to the fight!
E. Gideon Gets Encouraged One more Time (Judges 7:9-15)
1. As they are packing up…
2. God told him to go and listen to the Midianites talk amongst themselves
a. God was very kind to Gideon here
b. God knew Gideon was more afraid than ever (down to just 300 unlikely men)
c. So God told him to sneak down into the enemy camp and just listen to them talk
d. Gave Gideon a glimpse into what God had already been doing
3. Discovers that God had given that entire army a nightmare – not to just one man, but all
a. A dream of a small bread-roll of barley grain (we usually eat wheat, or rye grain bread)
b. The dream was of that small bread roll, rolling down from the hill, across the valley and right into one of the Midianite tents, knocking the entire tent down flat
c. What a strange dream
d. God gave them not only the dream, but the interpretation…
e. That was Gideon’s little army on its way, and would defeat the Midianites!
4. Gideon couldn’t believe his ears!
a. Were the mighty Midianites more afraid than he was?
b. Could God really defeat the Midianite army with just 301 men?
c. Gideon decides to believe with all his heart finally! No more fears, worries, struggles
d. He just believed it!
e. And because Gideon believed it, his men would follow!
5. So Gideon worshipped…
a. The God who called him to do this impossible task
b. The God who would do the impossible through him
c. The God who doesn’t lie, and lead on, but keeps His promises
d. The God who was with him!
e. THAT is the same God WE worship this morning and every day of our lives!
F. Now Came the Easy Part (Judges 9:16-25)
1. The actual fight was going to be easy now - Why?
a. Because all the hard parts were completed
b. Convincing Gideon that God was His strength - done
c. Convincing Gideon that God knew how to win - done
d. Convincing Gideon to take whatever men God gave him - done
e. Stripping down Gideon’s confidence so that all Gideon had was GOD! Done
f. Convincing Gideon to just do as God said do things, and it would be okey! Done
g. The battle itself was going to be easy
2. Gideon encourages the men with his faith in God – passed on that confidence
3. Divides the men into three groups of 100 men
4. Equips the men
a. With their clay lunch pots
b. And with lamps in the pots
c. And with their swords
d. Notice, both hands were full!
5. Leads the men by example
a. Into their assigned places – a thin line of poorly equipped soldiers around the enemy army
1) Everyone had a place
2) And everyone a job to do
3) No one was expendable, or unessential – all were needed now more than ever!
b. And then, in the darkness of midnight, Gideon blows his trumpet again, loud and long (he is getting good at this)
c. Then the men next to him blow THEIR trumpets, in an ever expanding ring around the enemy below them in the valley
1) Remember, it is midnight, and it is pitch black dark
2) Everyone is sleeping, dreaming of bread rolls knocking down their tents
3) Rudely awakened
4) It has always been a rare event for any battle to begind in the middle of the night – can’t see each other, so you can’t see who you are fighting!
d. The noise of those horns just continues to grow louder and louder, terrifying the Midianites with such noise
e. The Midianites jump out of their beds and grab their swords and leap out of their tents and start bumping into each other and not knowing who they had bumped into, they started swinging their swords and attacking EACH OTHER!
1) The Midianites thought Gideon’s army had entered their own camp and were attacking them – total chaos
2) But Gideon hasn’t attacked yet! Still just standing there!
f. Then Gideon smashed his cay pot with the fire in it, and held up the bottom of it high in the sky for those Midianites to see
g. And then like magic, across the hillsides hundreds of torches appeared
h. And then LIKE ONE MAN with ONE VOICE a phrase was heard over and over again…
i. “THE SWORD OF THE LORD JEHOVAH, AND OF GIDEON!
j. It was just too much to handle!
k. The Midianites saw that they were surrounded and just gave up and tried to run as fast as they could back home 300 miles away!
6. Gideon next watched all Israel get involved
a. 1 man (Gideon) inspired 300 men, who inspired the entire nation of Israel to trust God again!
b. The noise of those loud trumpets, and the clanging of swords, and the shouts of over 100,000 terrified men in the middle of the night, was heard dozens of miles away
c. Gideon called for every man everywhere to come and help and stop the army from escaping
d. And all those scared Israelites who had stayed out of the war, came running, ready to fight!
7. Gideon won the war
a. The victory was won…
1) By God – not will power, but by fully believing God was able to do what He promised
2) By Gideon just trusting and obeying God
3) By just 300 men working together in unity like one man
4) And by those that joined even at the last
5) They all got to watch the win!
b. As GOD kicked the entire army of Midian out of their country
c. Freed all the people from fear and from poverty and oppression of their enemies
d. The Midianites would never again attack Israel and take their crops and animals
e. Did you notice that Gideon and his men didn’t even really fight at all – the Midianites themselves destroyed themselves!
f. That’s because, the Lord fought for them – helped them! As he always does!
IV. Application – What the Point?
A. Every person in this room CAN become free like Israel was… Free
1. From fear – from all fears
2. From whatever is holding you back and down and oppressing you
3. From the power of the devil himself
4. But you have to let God do with you like He did Gideon
a. Tearing away everything you right now are holding onto and trusting in
b. Your ability to handle your addiction
c. Your ability to hold your marriage together
d. Your ability to manage your addictions to prescription drugs
B. Our enemies (the demons and devils of this world) are more afraid than we are
C. God is already at work on our enemies (both physical and spiritual), even when we are struggling with whether we should trust Him or not
D. Stripping us down is the work of God
1. No ability
2. No smartness and cuteness and wisdom of our own
E. The labourers in the Gospel ministry are always FEW compared to the need – and most are afraid to even try and help. But we will keep going!
F. The actual fight you have to win is going to be easy once all the hard parts are completed
1. Convincing YOU that God is your strength - done
2. Convincing YOU that God knows how to win - done
3. Convincing YOU to take whatever help God gives you - done
4. Stripping down YOUR confidence so that all YOU have is GOD! Done
5. Convincing YOU to just do as God said do things, and it will be okey! Done
6. So, no matter what battle you may be facing, it is going to be easy!
A. Don’t live in bondage, simply because of fear
B. Accept the help God offers…
1. We want help from the most noble, smart, educated, good looking, popular people…
2. Yet God uses the foolishness of Bible preaching, simple believing people, to free the prisoners!
3. And what do we preach? Christ died in your place, was buried and rose again to take away the power of sin over your life!
4. If you will only believe
C. Today is a good day to get saved, and then start living free