Blog Archives

GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 3: Introducing Gideon]

Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. [Judges 6:11]

.

The teachings of the Lord Jesus often appear counterintuitive. Rather than choosing a big gnarly giant with massive weapons and a killer reputation like the warrior Goliath, a man that pretty much every other man on the planet is deathly afraid of and respects absolutely, God instead chooses a young teenage shepherd of likely less than average height with no reputation armed with a mere slingshot.

He did the same thing in the very beginning when He chose Abel over Cain:

Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [Genesis 4:2]   

Abel was the second born. He was a gentle shepherd with a heart for God. Cain, the firstborn, was a hard-nosed redneck farmer with an apparent mean streak and no concern whatsoever for spiritual matters. This is no knock on farmers or those who produce necessary food from the ground but does tell us that shepherding in general is apparently more conducive to and indicative of spiritual work and has a higher priority than farming.

One may recall that the Lord Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd but not as the Good Farmer. He also said that food from the ground is produced pretty much automatically by the ground though the process otherwise calls for a level of work depending on conditions. Excellent soil produces great fruit with less work. Lesser soils and conditions demand more work and produce less.

And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.” [Mark 4:26-28]

Concerning the one whom God chooses, the same dynamic took place with regard to the first two sons of Isaac, the twins Esau and Jacob:

Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them. When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. [Genesis 25:27]

Esau (“hairy”) had no heart for God or for spiritual matters. He also had no control over his appetites. Any man who would sell his birthright for a pot of stew is not worthy of God or His kingdom. While Jacob was a conniver who participated in fraud, he remained the better choice as history proves. Though it took time and much discipline, he learned to overcome his lower nature and serve the Lord.

I could go on. There are many examples of this kind. In fact, the Word of God is consistent regarding such choices. God often chooses the very opposite of those chosen by unregenerate mankind and this world:

And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:15]

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. [1Corinthians 1:26-29]

The preceding is the calling of the real Christian. He or she will be seen as an idiot in the eyes of the world, a person they simply cannot relate to or understand. The life of the real Christian involves spiritual righteousness and Godly concerns. It involves a great desire for spiritual matters, a love of the truth, and a refusal to compromise regarding sin. Above all a real Christian honors the Lord Jesus and strives to serve Him and do His will. The world makes light of such things and cannot understand such things. Goliaths and Cains and Esaus simply don’t get it. They are more likely to make fun of, insult, defy, and reject those serving the Lord. They cannot conceive of the spiritual much less understand spiritual priorities. They put all their eggs in a very temporary worldly basket and have no future in eternity. 

CHOOSING GIDEON

As it is for the real Christian, the same was true of Gideon. This man had no great heritage or birthright. He was of the tribe of Manasseh, a people whose tribal allotment spanned both east and west of the Jordan. Though Manasseh’s father was Joseph, his mother was an Egyptian. Gideon says his family was the very least in the entire tribe. He says further that he is the youngest in his family. He is a man who, in his own eyes and those of everyone else, is seen as the most unlikely candidate to be chosen by God for anything. Above all this, with no experience whatsoever or reputation to prove it, the Lord calls him a valiant warrior. Gideon was entirely perplexed by this. The perceived projection of his life changed completely when the angel of the Lord met him under the terebinth tree (it was not actually an oak):

Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites.

The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me. “Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You.” And He said, “I will remain until you return.”

Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them. The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.

When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” The LORD said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. [Judges 6:11-24] [1]

© 2021 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 1: Take My Yoke Upon You]

GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 2: The Attack of the Midianites]

GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 4: Destroying Spiritual Strongholds]

GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 5: Make Your Calling and Election Sure]

 

THE PROMISE BY FAITH

         But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. [Galatians 3:22]   

         The nature of God’s promise is that without faith there is effectively no promise at all. Not only that, but God will often make it difficult for His promises to be fulfilled in order to build our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Why else does the Lord sometimes wait until the brink of disaster before answering our prayers?

         The Exodus comes to mind. It is a story often cited in Scripture, and for good purpose. Everything was riding on that particular miracle taking place, and without it all was lost. You think you have problems? They were trying to kill the Lord long before He was ever born. Repeatedly, time after time, there arose continued instances wherein the Messianic generational line was attacked. In began in Genesis, pardon the almost pun.

         Abel was taken out. And that was that. Without a replacement there would be no Messiah. The good news is that 130 years later there was an appointed replacement. In fact, the name Seth means “appointed one,” in that he was appointed by God to replace the dead line of Abel. Imagine that. For 130 years there was no hope of the Lord’s coming. Did it mean He would not come? For the people of that time, that was exactly what it meant. Where was the hope that Adam and Eve would ever have another righteous son? Did not this same thing happen after the Lord’s death on the cross? Though He told His men repeatedly He would die and rise again they never understood it, and were certainly not thinking that at the time. For them it was over. Their Master was dead. For three days there was no hope of His coming, and therefore no salvation for the world. The Lord would have to rise again for the promise to bear fruit. Otherwise, it would be as dead as the Lord’s body.

         The righteous line of Seth was almost completely wiped out by the time of the flood. Only Noah and his family were left. But prior to the flood, did anyone other than Noah think everyone else would be wiped out instead? How great were the odds? All was progressing toward the eventual death of Noah and the end of Messianic hopes. But God stepped in at the perfect time and destroyed the great bulk of humanity instead, a humanity that had grown hopelessly vile and sinful.

         Several generations later, the righteous line of Noah came down to a single man. The Lord essentially started all over again with Abraham. The generational line had almost died out. And then what? Sarah was barren. Great. Abraham’s wife could not have children. Wonderful. So that was that, right? Close up shop and go home, all is lost. Unless Abraham had a little faith. And he did. Then he didn’t. Then he did again. It was a battle royal trying to keep Abraham lined up with the plan and purposes of God, but the man stayed strong and eventually believed and served God to the point of fruitfulness. Sarah also eventually believed after a long life of little or no faith. As a result, life was snatched from the jaws of death and little Isaac showed up. He was yet another miracle child.

         Was God doing all this by design, or did it happen because the Messianic line was constantly under attack? Real Christians can identify with all this, for they are also constantly under attack in one way or another. The reason is because they are committed to serving the Lord. The Lord can bring forth spiritual fruit through them, and the enemy must stop them in any way possible. If we trust the Lord, even while under attack, He will bring us through it. Without faith, however, there is no bulwark against the forces of evil. There are no city walls holding back the enemy. A loss or lack of trust in God allows the enemy to storm right in and destroy all in his path, or keep fruit from ever coming forth.

         Seth restored the line. Noah, “perfect in his generations,” obeyed God and kept the fledgling line alive. Abraham did the same. Joseph did the same by allowing God to do the unthinkable to keep his family alive. Without the thirteen-year hardship of Joseph, Jacob and all his sons would have perished in the famine. We can go on. You get the point. These are only a few highlights.

         Does any of this resonate with you?

         Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

         By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

         By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

         By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

         By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

         By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.

         All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [Hebrews 11:1-13] [1]

         © 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.