Gideon learned a powerful lesson in fighting the Midianites - trust in the Lord beyond your doubts, questions, and exhaustion and He will restore and rebuild!
Scriptures used: Judges 8:4, Judges 6 & 7, Revelation 12:12, Jeremiah 31:25-28, 31-34
Full sermon notes below.
Exhausted But Still in Pursuit
"And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing."
Being exhausted meant that these guys had absolutely nothing left. Gideon had begun with 32,000 men but God had winnowed them down to only 300. The ones cut, however, may not have been willing to fight past the point of exhaustion. They weren’t fighting to gain land, either. They were fighting to combat the nation that was oppressing them and their families.
In Judges chapter 6, we learn that the Israelites had been forced from their homes, left to shelter in caves. All of their fields and flocks were wrecked by the Midianites. God had allowed this to happen because the Israelites had turned from Him to evil ways. Now, God sent them a prophet to help them understand the nature of their plight.
But, when people call out to God, He answers. God is not out in the cosmos somewhere, He is right with us. When God called Gideon, he questioned why He had allowed them to get in this bad situation. God’s Spirit gives us the strength to press past our questions, doubts, and exhaustion to do what we need to, what God calls us to do.
Something within us will draw us into action past the point of questions and past the point of exhaustion when we are working for our families, for our communities. If we decide to pursue God instead of the answers to our questions, we can begin to move forward. When you have done all you can do to stand, stand. Draw from the strength only God can provide.
God provided Gideon a sign to confirm his appointment to the work of defeating Midian. But this only prompted Gideon to seek another sign… and another. Fortunately, God is patient! Eventually, Gideon was faithful enough to take up arms against this powerful army.
In chapter 7, Gideon went down into the camp of the Midianites and overheard a conversation A soldier had a dream about a barley loaf that came from the mountain and destroyed everything. Barley was the food of slaves, the least desirable grain to eat. The soldiers understood that this was a vision concerning Gideon and overhearing their fear about his attack gave Gideon the confidence to press on.
"Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"
Our oppressor, too, knows he has but a short time. Satan is a more powerful foe than we are, but he knows he will be beaten by us due to the covenant we have with God.
The Midianites did not fear Gideon, they feared God. He always honors His covenants - our covenant is so much stronger than the Israelites’ was. Our covenant is not sealed with the blood of lambs and goats, but the blood of Jesus!
"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish." At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me. "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD.
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.""
Notice the God promised to satisfy the weary soul and replenish the sorrowful in verse 25. This promise gave Jeremiah sweet sleep! When God made the promises in these verses, it came with the knowledge that He would tear down Israel - they were defeated yet again by enemies. But, when God tears down, He does so to build back up again, better than before! God promised His new covenant to us, with His law written in our hearts and His eternal forgiveness.