Troubled Hearts: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign (Judges 6:34-40)
Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign (Judges 6:34-40)
Here is what we know: Yahweh is going to deliver Israel through the hand of Gideon (6:36) and has clothed him with the Spirit (6:34) and surrounded him with a sizable army (6:35). During this heavenly commission, we find a surprising interaction. Then Gideon said to God, “If.”
Gideon is the only judge in the entire Book to whom God speaks directly. And amid direct divine communication, we find the human deliverer asking, “if you will… as you said.”
If, is the language of fear, insecurity, and doubt. If, is the response of a man existing in the present, but living in his past. If is the response of a man who has been beaten down for seven years and has to confront the enemy tomorrow.
Do you know what Gideon feels? For everyone who lives in the land of “if,” there is hope and his name is Jesus!
A few words before we proceed to the signs God gives: this passage has often been used as a template on how to seek God’s will. Ask God for a sign, and he will surely give, right? However, this passage has nothing to do about seeking the Lord’s will. First, Gideon knows, by divine precepts, what Adonai has asked him to do. He knows the will! Second, only the generic name of God is used in this passage, suggesting that Gideon is not calling upon the covenant relationship of the Lord. Third, although God acts, he remains silent, which speaks volumes
Gideon, overcome with hesitation, asks God for a sign. We have already noted the complete absence of the name of Yahweh in this passage. Gideon is stuck knowing about God but not knowing Him as the personal promise keeper, “If… as you said.”
This is the land that so many live. You have heard about a “big man upstairs,” but that generic god is not your personal Savior. A generic god is only convenient when you are in control, a relationship not built on trust but usefulness. You see, Gideon is not requesting a sign out of faith but unbelief because he cannot believe that Yahweh always fulfills His word.
The Lord wants you to know that He is true and always fulfills his promises. This is precisely how Jesus prayed for you in the garden of Gethsemane, “ John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” You don’t need signs when you know Him as Savior.
Take Home: The seal of the Spirit is always better than a sign.
Remarkably, God gives Gideon what he asks. The dew-soaked the fleece so much that he filled a bowl with its water. However, this is not enough! Unlike Yahweh, Gideon does not keep his wordbecause he asks for another sign.
Take-Home: Physical signs of an eternal faith are rarely convincing and will never last. Holy bargaining never works.
Now Gideon asks in reverse: make the fleece dry and the ground wet. Remarkably, Gideon was struggling, and yet the Lord did not condemn him for it.
Take-Home- for all who struggle: Mark 2:17 “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners.
How gracious is the Lord? Knowing Gideon’s fears, God gave him one more encouragement that he never asked for. Read 7:9-14. On the very night, Gideon was to step out in faith; the Lord led him into the enemy camp to hear a dream.
A moldy loaf of bread came tumbling down the hill, struck a tent, and it fell. Here was the interpretation by the Midianite: This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon; God has handed the entire Midian camp over to him! This has to be the most incredible pregame speech ever! God encouraged Gideon in his moment of need, and he does the same for you!
Hebrews 4:16 Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.
Take-Home- You have no need that God cannot meet!
Back to the Battle; Read 7:1-3. With Gideon on Mt. Gilead have assembled 32,000 troops from the tribe of Manasseh. But there is a massive problem. One would expect that you need as many warriors as possible when you go into battle, but Yahweh has other plans. “You have too many troops.” So, Gideon allows the ones who are fearful to go home. So off they go, the leader has to watch 70% of his fighting force walk away.
Why? “Israel might claim for themselves the glory due to Me, thinking, ‘Our own hand has brought us victory” (JPS Translation). Are you living in such a way that gives credit to the Lord for every victory?
Take-Home: The Christian life is a “look at Him” lifestyle. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works so that no one can boast.
If losing 2/3 of your infantry wasn’t enough, the Lord said to Gideon, “there are still too many troops.” Read 7:4-8. Imagine the scene. These men have lived in hiding in caves for over seven years. And now, they are drinking from a fresh stream out in the open. Can you imagine the scene?
Ps 42:1 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so I long for you, God.
Some run and drink like a dog- mouth to water. Maybe they were kneeling or perhaps on their stomach. Regardless they lapped with their tongues.
Some, which would take longer, used their hands to cup the water and bring it close. In scripture, we are not told why God chose the 300 who used their hands (Maybe God prefers manners?) All we know is that Yahweh selected the 300.
Now we find the 300 with a ram horn in one hand and a clay pot in the other, waiting for battle. Read 7:19-23. Now, something has changed.
For Gideon, the one who had lived in fear proclaims, “get up, for the Lord has handed Midian over to you (7:15).”
A newfound faith has resolved the problem of fear. And the assurance that Gideon has in Yahweh leads him to a call to action, “arise!”
Take Home: “Arise” is the cry of faith in Jesus. Faith and apathy can’t dwell together.
Something has changed about the armed forces. At Gideon’s command, every man blew into the ram’s horn and shouted, “a sword for the Lord and Gideon (7:20!”
We find a magnificent irony in this battle cry. No one in the battle carried a sword. It’s a reminder that Yahweh fights in peculiar ways.
Take-Home: Spiritual battles are always won by faith, not by the sword.
Do you remember what Gideon said in the beginning? There was a battle raging in Gideon’s soul, the battle of doubt or trust: God, if you will deliver Israel by me, as you said.
The battle of truth still rages. You can trust every word that the Lord speaks Here is how Holy Scripture speaks about the Word: (Response time begins here)
Eph 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword … It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And the final battle: Rev 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and with justice, he judges and makes war. 5 A sharp sword came from his mouth so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And he has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Did you notice the sword? It precedes out of the mouth of Jesus Christ. Every battle, indeed the final battle, is won by the Word of the Lord.
Was Jesus thinking about the final battle when he uttered with his mouth, “John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.”
You see, the battle was never to be won by the 32,000 or the strength of Gideon’s military prowess. The greatest battles in your life are always won by faith.
Have you trusted in the one who has already won the victory? There will be a day when every knee bends and every head bows. But, if you wait until that day to acknowledge King Jesus, it will be too late.
Are you an “iffy person?”
Is Jesus getting the glory in your life for every victory?