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INTRODUCTION:  For Clark Kent to become Superman only required a quick trip to the nearest phone box. But for fearful, insecure, skeptical Gideon to become a "mighty warrior" needed more than a "zap" or a spiritual shortcut. God now begins a process that brings him from obscurity to leadership.The principle we are seeking is that what God begins, He brings to completion.

 

Read Judges 6/25-40

 

[1] THE EXCLUSIVENESS OF LOYALTY   (vs.25-32)

 

Where does this training process begin? *Army Academy?   *Training Manual?   *War Games?   NO!  The process begins much closer to home.  The issue of exclusive loyalty must be settled first. It was many years after this episode that Elijah issued his great challenge on Mt.Carmel

 

"How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!" (1 Kings 18:21 NLT).

 

But this challenge was very relevant for Gideon right here, right now. Recall v.1 - "…the Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight" - the worship of Baal compromised the true faith of Israel. Yet the people endeavoured to worship two deities. God wanted to determine which "god" Gideon would follow in tough times and good times.

 

Question: Read Matthew 6/24. Can you see the principle that Jesus was teaching? Discuss together, at this point in the Gideon story, if you see the same or similar dynamics as confronted Gideon at this point?

 

*Baal - was the supreme Canaanite deity - rain the god of fertility - cultivating good relations with this god was vital to an agricultural people.

 

*Asherah - she was believed to be Baal's female consort - sexual fertility rituals and perversion were virtually inevitable. The Midianite army was not their primary problem; their real issue was their divided loyalty & resultant false worship.

 

The lesson for all believers is this: before we can serve God whole-heartedly, false gods/loyalties must be rejected. If Gideon cannot deal with false worship, he will never defeat the Midianite invasion. The real issue is spiritual, not military The real issue to be resolved was internal loyalty not external threat.

 

So Gideon obeyed God. Having already built an altar to the Lord (v.24), he now tore down the altar devoted to Baal and, in its place, built another altar to the Lord on which he sacrificed a bull using the material from the altar to Baal as fuel!! Now that is an expression of decisive loyalty to the Lord!!

 

Questions:

 

1. Did you notice that Gideon was afraid as he undertook this task? His fear did not stop his obedience. Just because we are afraid does not mean that the power of God is absent.

 

2. Have there been times in your life when God called you to do something but you had to push through the fear barrier to obey Him? Can you share that with the group?

 

3. Read v.31. Now read 1 Kings 18/24-29. Can you see any similarities between these two events?

 

[2] THE ENABLING OF GOD (vs. 33-35) The call of God, when obeyed, is also accompanied by the presence & power of God - even though we may be afraid at the time. The human and divine now interact & mesh in such a way that ultimately leads to victory. The Holy Spirit "clothed Himself with Gideon" (v.34) and empowered him for this specific task.

 

Under the New Testament, our experience of the Holy Spirit is more complete and permanent. He resides within us. He doesn't come and go as seems to often be the case in the Old Testament. (John 14/16). Yet there are times when the Holy Spirit empowers us - like a turbo charge? - for a specific situation where we need that 'something extra'.

 

Read Acts 13/6-12. Luke 4/1,14 - Jesus lived, walked and ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Read  Acts 5/32 - the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him; who obey the gospel and continue to obey God's call.

 

[3] THE EDGE OF FAITH (vs.36-40)

 

As with most (all?) of God's servants - then & now - strength & weakness fluctuate in same person. Do you realize that Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Thomas and Peter all had experiences in which they struggled to maintain their faith? Gideon is again overwhelmed by the size of the task and, understandably, seeks some further confirmation or assurance as faith wavers and struggles within him (v.36).

 

It seems that we can never be comfortable with the level of faith in our lives because God keeps taking us further out on to an edge of faith - "pushing the envelope" pilots call it! "Putting out the fleece" is an expression that is used almost exclusively by Christians. It refers to those times when we sense that God may be calling us to undertake something new and greater than we have ever attempted thus far. And we want/need clear guidance.

 

Question: Some would say that the episode with the fleece was proof of Gideon's faith. Others would say that it is proof of his unbelief. What do you say?

 

As with Thomas (John 20), God sometimes accommodates our struggle and gives us a "God-incidence" that confirms His call upon us for that particular activity or ministry. The real test for us is what we do when no sign if forthcoming BUT we know God has called us.

 

Questions:Can you think of a time in your life when you "put out a fleece"? How did that go and what did you learn about faith?

 

APPLICATION/LESSONS

 

1. False gods/altars must be abandoned in favour of exclusive loyalty & worship of the One True God.

 

2. Dependence on one's personal ability or past experience must make way for power of God's Spirit.

 

3. Press in to the knowledge of God's will - seek it with all your heart.

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