When God Leads
“The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have…” vs. 14
An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so on his birthday, his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it, mainly because he had this habit of getting lost and they had to rescue him repeatedly. For those of you who don’t know what a
compass is, it’s an old time GPS. 🙂 Well, the next time he went out in his boat, he took the compass with him. But as usual he became hopelessly confused and couldn’t find land. Finally, he was, again, rescued by his friends. Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked, “Why didn’t you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble!” The old sailor responded, “I didn’t dare use it! I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept on pointing southeast.” That old sailor was so certain he knew which way was north that he stubbornly tired to force his own personal persuasion on his compass. Unable to do so, he tossed it aside as worthless and failed to benefit from the guidance it offered.
Doesn’t it seem that life is like that? We have devices that can help us but sometimes we just know better. Today we are going to start a series on the life of Gideon. His story begins in Judges 6 so today we are going to look at Judges 6:1-
16. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Judges 6:1-16
The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. 7 When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the
land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live, but you did not listen to me. 11 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. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” 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.” 14 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.”
The Unheard Warning
As we begin this study, the nation of Israel is being ruled by judges. God wants to be their leader so at this point they don’t have a king, the ruling judge is in charge. Israel had committed to following God and they were told the benefits of following God and his ways but they were also warned what would happen if they didn’t follow God. If we jump back to the book of Joshua 23:6-7 we read the warning:
“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them.” Joshua 23:6-7
The story goes on where Joshua asks them to choose who they will serve and we know the famous line Joshua says:
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (24:15)
The Israelites hear the warning but they really didn’t. They committed to following God in word but the warning is really unheard by them and they don’t follow him in heart. They are reminded of their promise in verse 10:
“I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” vs. 10
They were quick to commit without really considering and taking in what would happen if they didn’t follow him. As the passage says, they heard but they didn’t listen.
Living In Oppression
So because of their refusal to follow God and his ways they are living in oppression, verse 2:
“Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, theIsraelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.” vs. 2
It’s pretty interesting when you think about it, they make a promise to God, break the promise, don’t follow God, and then wonder why things have gone so bad. It had gotten so bad that they were literally being abused, ravaged, and oppressed by their neighbors the Midianites, the Amorites, and the text says other people too. How bad had it gotte
n? So bad that they had two houses, the one in the land and one up in the caves hidden away so they would not be physically abused. And…they would plant their crops, care for them, water them, and just when they were ready of harvest, these so called neighbors would invade their land, snatch up all the crops, and take anything else they wanted.
As odd and uncomfortable as this was, this was their way of life. They lived in constant fear. And it seems that God was allowing these neighbors to do this hoping the Israelites would return to him. All these circumstances lead up to God
calling Gideon to step in an d lead the people of Israel back to God.
When God Leads Your Life, Realize…
It’s funny, we look at difficulties and feel like they are punishment or even that we have just hit a bad patch or bad “karma,” as the world today puts it. It may be that God is using those circumstances to get our attention and to draw us back to him. In this case, these circumstance pave the way for Gideon to follow God’s calling on his life and to minister to the nation of Israel. There are three things that Gideon has to deal with in regards to his call from God. These three things help us understand our own calling from God. So, when God leads your life, realize…
1. God Calls in the Confusion
First, realize that God calls in the confusion. Notice Gideon’s words in verse 13:
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, ‘but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened
to us?’” vs. 13
Gideon might be thinking like we think. We have this misconception that when everything is in line, going well, and working the right way, that is a sign God is working. We very rarely think that when things are going crazy, maybe even confusing or in a upheaval, that God is working. We have really fallen into an Eastern way of thinking that when things go well God is with us and when things go poorly, God is not. We know God is a God of peace and love and this seems contradictory to that. We assume the circumstances have something to do with God working in our life. We even say things like:
-What did I do to deserve this? –Or-
-What did I do wrong?
We even reverse it and think that when things are going well we have somehow earned it and deserve it. Ever seen something good happen to someone and somebody inevitably says: Oh, good for them, they deserve it. I think the Bible is full of stories where there is tough issues going on and we question God on it. Remember Moses and God’s all for him to go free the Israelites. He does what God says and things get worse! It confused him. Exodus 5:22-23:
“Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people…’” Exodus 5:22-23
Even Moses says “Hey God I did what you told me and now it’s getting worse. This can’t be you working.” But we know from the rest of the story that God was setting everything in motion but it sure didn’t feel that way to Moses. Ever get tot
that point? You do what God says and things seem to get worse? Okay, here it is, are you listening?
Don’t be confused by the confusion. (repeat)
I would caution you to not be fooled by circumstances. God calls in the confusion. Things may seem confusing to you right now. Things may seem out of whack. You might need to be asking yourself if God is calling you and if you are letting him lead you or are you discounting his leading because of the circumstances?
2.God See’s Your Differently Than You See Yourself
Secondly, when God leads your life, you might need to remind yourself that God sees you differently than you see yourself. Gideon was a farmer. He grew wheat and had just finished harvesting and he is on the threshing floor of a winepress trying to get some wheat packaged and processed so the Midianites don’t get it and so he and his people have food. At this point God’s angel appears to him and says:
“When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The LORD is with you, mightywarrior.’” vs. 12
So get his, Gideon is sneaking around and trying get some wheat packaged before he’s caught by his enemies. He’s probably being really quiet, very stealth like, and prepared at any minute to run if necessary, maybe and probably even
fearful. This angel appears and says, “Hey mighty warrior.” Gideon actually means in Hebrew
“mighty warrior. He is probably not feeling like a mighty warrior at that time, he might even be feeling more like a mighty scared chicken. This just wasn’t him that was acting like a scared chicken, remember his whole country would run to the hills anytime the enemy came to town. When God leads, he knows what your capable of, and what you can do. He created you and knows what you can do when you let him lead. We know how we feel, how we perceive others see us and we have this history of how we have acted. God doesn’t look at all that.
Remember when Saul had fallen out of God’s grace and God wants to appoint a new king to Israel? Everyone is looking for the biggest, the bad-est, the guy who look like he fits the bill. Even the prophet — thought his brothers looked the part. But God chose this little shepherd boy, a guy that didn’t look the part or even seem to be the right guy but God said in 1 Samuel 16:7:
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORDlooks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
God goes tot the deeper place, the deeper person, to the heart. He’s not concerned about the outside, he wants someone strong, tough, and willing on the inside. Here’s the point, we look at the outside and forget that when we have accepted Jesus in our life and we choose to let God lead our life, we have the Holy Spirit in us. We have the living God in us. There is nothing we can’t do when you have God on your side.
3.God Prepares the Way
And third, and this is great, when God leads your life, realize that he prepares the way for you. He’s gone before you and done all the prep work
Ex. Ever paint a room? What is the hardest part? Not the painting. It’s the prep-work. The spackling, sanding, taping, touch ups, etc. Painting is the easy part. The prep, now that’s hard work. Back to Gideon’s call. Let’s look at verse 7-8 again:
“When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says…’” vss. 7-8
You might have wondered why I read the first ten verse in our passage today, it’s because it shows us that God did the prep work for Gideon. In those verses it says that God had already sent a prophet to warn the people. That wasn’t Gideon. In fact, we don’t have a record of who it was. But God went ahead of him. Ever notice the Bible is full of God setting things up ahead of time?
-God had Moses build an ark before the flood, when people had never even seen rain or a flood before.
-The Israelites were lead by a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night that always went before them.
-David was called years before Saul had passed away and was being prepped to rule the kingdom of Israel.
-David gets all the supplies and things necessary to build a temple for God even through Solomon is the one that will build it.
-Hosea is called to marry a prostitute before he goes into ministry so that he really gets how God feels when Israel chests on him with other gods.
-John prepared the way for Jesus, Matt. 3:3
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord…’” Matt. 3:3
God is working and going ahead of you. Sometimes way before you know it. Even though you are not working on it. Even
though it may seem that everything is going wrong and not working the way you think it should.. We aren’t always privileged to see it and know it. We actually see a lot of God going before in hindsight don’t we?
Moving Out in Boldness
Now the result of letting god lead our life is that we can move out in boldness. Twice God instructs Gideon to move out, first because he knows he’s equipped to do what is necessary, verse 14:
“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?’” vs. 14
God reassures him that he has built him and created him and made him a “mighty Warrior” Gideon, for this. But he doesn’t be that the defining factor. No, he follows it up in verse 16:
“The LORD answered, ‘I will be with you…’” vs. 16
He assures Gideon he can do it in verse 14 but then gives him his real assurance in verse 16 that he can do it because God is with him. A lot of times we know we can do something but isn’t it always more assuring to know that we have backing, especially God’s backing? And we have that in a greater way today. Jesus came to show us that God is with us and that he will always be with us. Through Jesusdeath we have new life in God and now his Holy Spirit.