Judges 7:1-25 – Gimme That Church! (Even If It’s Just 50 People – 50 Sold Out For Jesus!)

Posted: August 24, 2017 in Book of Judges
Tags: ,

Judges 7:1-25 (Part 1 of 2)
Gideon Defeats the Midianites

“I would rather have a church of 50 people if all 50 were sold out to the Lord than a church of 5,000 where everyone was lukewarm.” I have heard my senior pastor make this statement on more than one occasion. A church of 50 people who love the Lord and serve their fellow man so that (1) they can tell them of Jesus Christ and (2) give thanks to the Lord for what He has done will make a greater impact on their world than any megachurch that is shallow and weak. One of the dangers of a large church is that some will think that others will pick up the slack. We don’t have to be near as committed in a church of 5,000 as we do in a church of 50. I am not saying that megachurches are bad because some of them have learned how to make the big church small and get everyone to be willing to serve the Lord. I am just saying that for those who want to be lukewarm Christians you can certainly get lost in the crowd in a megachurch.

I think what my senior pastor was saying was that he wanted a church full of people that were committed to Jesus Christ and willing to take the Bible seriously and live by God’s Word. What if he preached the gospel and preached it hard and preached on some of the subjects that we stay away from in modern church (so that we can attract people). What if he preached the God of justice as much as the God of love. What we quit being attractional and became missional. What if we encountered people with the truth of the gospel and the hard truths of all of God’s Word. What if in that process we lost people who were offended by God’s justice. What if in that process we lost those who simply come to church to be “spiritually spoon-fed”, to have their needs met through quality programs that entertain but not challenge, and have their children taught about God by professionals so they won’t have to. What if we lost those who pick and choose what they want to believe from God’s Word and justify the sins that they desire to continue unrepentantly participate in as being OK because we now live in a modern world. What if we lost those who like to stick their toe in the water and nothing else. What if we lost those who refuse to grow and are satisfied with just getting their church fix for a few hours on Sunday morning. What if we lost those who think themselves committed Christ followers but who do not obey God through their generosity in tithing and beyond. What if we lost those who want to stay on the shore and watch others serving in the boat. What if we lost those who say they will help out with a church function but think it is OK to not show up and not say a word to the leader about why. What if we lost those who have short attention spans and cannot commit to anything lasting longer than a couple of weeks.

What if we had people who sought to serve. What if we had people that sought to give God honor daily by their service and by their sheer joy and thanksgiving of serving the Lord. What if we had a church full of people who studied their Bibles daily. What if we had people that testified to others whenever they had a chance about this wonderful thing called salvation in Jesus Christ. What if we were so different from the culture that people were drawn to us. What if we had a church full of tithers and more. Imagine our church with three times the capability to reach out into the world and show people Jesus because our people tithed. What if we had people who read God’s hard words in certain parts of the Bible and obeyed them instead of seeking loopholes. What if we had a church full of people who let God’s Word and the Holy Spirit convict them of sins and they repented of them instead of trying to justify them. What if we were a people to wanted to know more about being God’s man or God’s woman. What if we loved the Lord so much that people could tell that we were Christian. What if we had a church that was a kingdom of priests, as the Apostle Peter told us we were. What if we ministered to our community individually without caring whether the pastor patted us on the back. What if we no longer counted our corporate church events as us serving the community and that’s done. What if we learned from these corporate events how to live our lives on mission. What if we had a church full of people with keen eyes to the world around them and ministered to people where they live, work, and play. What if we were a church that had so many passionate followers of Jesus Christ that each one was willing to follow God’s call on their lives and do things that the secular world would call crazy like moving your family to Connecticut and planting a church or taking your family to eastern Europe to serve as missionaries in former Communist countries or take your family to Africa to open up a Christian center where you feed, nurse, educate, and preach the gospel to the people in a remote village. What if we had a church people were they learned to trust God completely and were willing to chuck our 21st century Southern culture and its creature comforts and move to the inner city of some large, decaying Northern city and live in the projects to spread the gospel in the spiritually dark places with hard spiritual ground. What if we had a church full of people who say any sacrifice for Jesus Christ as a privilege and not as something that you can work in if the conditions are right. What if we had a church of people where church was the central core of everything about their life and not just some add-on, not just some cherry on top.

That’s the church my pastor wants. That’s the church that he is working to create. That’s the church God wants. That’s the church that Jesus will not vomit out of His mouth. Gimme that church. That’s’ the church I want to be counted among.

That idea of a totally committed church, a totally committed group of Christ followers, is what I thought about as I read this passage this morning. Here, we find that Gideon ended up with only 300 soldiers who were totally committed to the fight. They did not care that they were outnumbered. Those 300 were the ones that knew God would give them victory. Those 300 were the ones that God wanted in the battle. The others were not totally sold out and when they saw and opportunity to opt-out of this following God with our entire being thing, they bolted. Let’s read the passage together now:

7 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 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.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

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.

17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

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. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”

So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they seized the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.

In this passage, we see that self-sufficiency is a handicap when it causes us to believe that we can do what needs to be done in our own strength. To prevent this attitude among Gideon’s soldiers, God reduced the number of soldiers from 32,000 to 300. With an army so vastly outnumbered, there could be no doubt the victory was from God. The men could not take the credit. Like Gideon, we must recognize the danger of fighting in our own strength. We can be confident of victory against life’s challenges and temptations only if we put our confidence in God not ourselves. Gideon’s army simply watched as the army of Midian fell into panic, confusion and disorderly retreat. Not one man had to draw a sword to defeat the enemy until the Midianites were on the run. God wanted to demonstrate to Israel that victory depends not on strength in numbers but on obedience and commitment to Him.

Give me the three hundred guys that were sold out for God. Give me that 300 guys that knew, just knew, just trusted wholeheartedly that God would give them victory. Give me 12 men empowered by the Holy Spirit that spread the gospel directly and through others throughout the entire, vast Roman Empire within a generation. That’s the church I want. That’s the church I want to serve in. Give me a church that is fully, everyone on fire for Jesus Christ. God, I want to be a part of that church. Gimme a church that wants disciples and not just converts. Gimme a church that trains up, equips, and sends. Even if it is just a church of 50, just let all 50 be on fire. Maybe it won’t be a church of 50 for long if it is a church that is totally committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ that care so deeply about spreading the gospel that they are willing to chuck it all to do that.

Amen and Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s