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You will remember that God had rescued the children of Israel from Egypt. He had cared for them in the wilderness, and brought them into the land that He had promised to give them. They had quite a struggle possessing the land because there were already people there. God had given them the task of overthrowing the people there. It might sound a little unfair of God to just decide arbitrarily to take the land off somebody and give it to the children of Israel. But you will remember that God had said, that in the land of Palestine — the land of Canaan as it was known in those days — the condition of those people was so bad that He would not allow them to continue to live there.
So under the leadership of Joshua, they moved into the Land of Promise, and little by little they began to overthrow the people who were living there, take possession of it, and settle in the land. It was a blessed situation for the children of Israel. God had given them a land that was plentiful, and after the terrible time that they had experienced in Egypt as slaves, and the awful forty years that they had spent in the wilderness, it really was wonderful for them to have the chance to live in the Promised Land.
For a while things went very well, but, as is often the case, when things get easier people get a little lax. As time went on, the children of Israel stopped honoring and obeying the Lord, and they stopped observing what He had told them to do. You remember that God was intent on bringing the children of Israel into that piece of real estate, and having them as a unique people to show the other people all around what a difference it makes when the Lord is their God. But unfortunately, the children of Israel began to lose their distinctives.
Now, God had promised them blessing, but He had also promised that if they did not live in obedience, and if they did not follow His dictates, and if they did not continue to honor Him, they could not assume that everything would go well for them. And that was precisely what happened.
Now they were surrounded by enemies. There was one particular group of people who began to give the children of Israel a very hard time. They were called the Midianites. They lived in the region called, of course, Midian. They were able to get the other tribal groups into a kind of alliance, and they began to make life very very difficult for the children of Israel. What they would do was, round about the time of harvest, they would come rushing down into the fields and into the farms where the children of Israel had been working on their crops. Just when they were expecting to harvest them, the Midianites and all their allies would come down and steal their harvest, or they would just set it on fire, and they were having an extremely difficult time with this situation. Now it’s in that situation that Gideon comes on the scene.
The children of Israel for seven years had been putting up with the Midianites. They hadn’t been able to do anything about them; they just had to suck it up and wish that eventually something would change. Then it dawned on them; the reason they were having a hard time was they were no longer trusting the Lord; they were no longer honoring Him; they were no longer living in obedience to him, and eventually, they kind of caught on. So they began to cry out again to the Lord.
It’s incredible really, isn’t it? The Lord had made it very clear that if they lived in obedience, if they honored Him, if they trusted Him, it would go well with them. If they didn’t, He promised them things would not go well with them, but it took them seven years to catch on! Seven years! They probably had all kinds of excuses; they had all kinds of explanations, except the right one.
The problem they were confronting was not particularly political, and it was not particularly military, and it wasn’t even primarily economic. The problem that they were confronting was quite frankly a spiritual problem! It wasn’t until they caught on to that, far too late, that they began to cry to the Lord for help. He sent a prophet to them, and the prophet came, and he said to them quite straight out, “This is what the problem is: You have been living in a way that does not honor the Lord! If you will not live in a way that honors the Lord, you must live with the consequences, and that is why you are having this difficult time.” That was the situation. There was an air of despondency, and an air of despair about the people of Israel at that time.
Gideon is a good example of the despondency that was abroad at the time. He knew that it was getting about time for the Midianites and their allies to come down and mess up their crops again. So, he was doing something that was really quite strange, a bit silly really! He was threshing wheat in a winepress.
Now, that probably doesn’t sound like much to us, but let me explain to you. In the Middle East to this day, you will see them threshing wheat by harvesting it, and then taking it out on a big flat slab of rock, and they beat the wheat and throw it up in the air when the wind is blowing so that the chaff is blown away, and the wheat is harvested. The last place that you would do that would be in a winepress for the rather obvious reason that a winepress is exactly the opposite of an open threshing floor. For a winepress is by definition a carved-out stone in which you put the grapes, and the maidens come in and dance around on it, and press it all down, and the juice comes out, and the wine is made.
Gideon is trying to thresh his wheat in the winepress. Now, he is doing this because he is so in despair — he is so up against it. They’re having such a hard time, and he is just trying to eke out a little bit of a harvest before the Midianites come down and catch him and steal it and take it all away.
While Gideon is threshing his wheat in the winepress, the Angel of the Lord comes and speaks to him. What he says to him is really quite startling: “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'”
Now if there is one thing that Gideon did not think he was at that particular moment was a mighty warrior. He was a scared farmer — that’s what he was. He was threshing his wheat in the winepress because he was frightened to death that the Midianites were going to come and steal his harvest. So the idea that he was a mighty warrior just didn’t make any sense to him at all. Neither did the other part of the statement, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”
Immediately Gideon begins to question this, and this is how he responds, “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?'”
So two big questions are here in Gideon’s mind. He is so despondent; he is so in despair when he is reminded of a fundamental of his faith, that the Lord Jehovah is present among His people. That was one of the things that was at the very core of the Jewish religion, that God lived among His people. That was one of the things which they were supposed to hold on to, whatever else happened.
The problem was this: they were beginning to look at their circumstances rather than at their theology. When you begin to look at your theology through your circumstances, very, very soon when the circumstances become difficult you begin to find that your theology gets changed. Have you ever noticed that? I’ve met people quite often who will say, “Yes, I believe certain things, and then their circumstances become rather difficult, and instead of looking at their circumstances in the context of what they believe about God, they allow their circumstances to change what they believe about God.
Gideon had to be reminded of this truth. “Whatever the circumstances are, Gideon, one thing hasn’t changed, and it is this: The Lord is with you!” Now, I’m talking to people here in the sanctuary, and I know many of you; I know something of the circumstances in which you live, and I know that in many, many instances they are very discouraging circumstances. You live in very difficult situations, and I would not minimize these for a fraction of a second. But the one thing you must not do is change your theology about God to fit your circumstances, but rather see your circumstances in the light of who God is. Circumstances change; He doesn’t! Make sure that is the orientation. Make sure that is your focus!
Now, of course, the language of people who begin to change their view of God when their circumstances change is to start asking questions like: “Well, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” The reason that all these things have happened in this particular instance is not that the Lord isn’t with them; it is precisely because the Lord is with them. He has told them all along, if you honor Me, there will be blessing in your life. If you disobey Me, things will not go well for you. So when Gideon says in effect, “What do mean the Lord is with us?” It is perfectly clear that he is either conveniently forgetting or totally misunderstanding what he has been taught from a child.
I’m not saying for a moment that those of you who are going through difficult circumstances are going through those difficult circumstances because of down-right disobedience, but neither am I saying that you’re not going through them because of disobedience. The facts of the matter are this: very often our actions produce consequences that are very difficult for us, and sometimes the difficult things in our lives are directly related to the disobedient actions that we’ve taken. Sometimes bad things happen to us that are not directly related to disobedience on our part. The reason for that, of course, is what we call the solidarity of the human race.
The second question he asked is: “Where are all His wonders?” “I’ve heard all these stories,” says Gideon, “about the good old days.” “I’ve heard the stories about how God brought them out of Egypt, and how He brought them through the wilderness, of how He fed them with manna, and how He brought water out of the rock, and how He dried up the Red Sea, and how they came across the Jordan with their feet dry. I’ve heard all these stories, but why isn’t He doing anything like that now?” I think the answer to that quite frankly is this: that we don’t really understand the sheer wonders of God’s working in the ordinary course of life.
Some people in the Christian life get very excited when God works a miraculous healing, and I’m one of those people. I’m very excited when somebody is healed, and there is no medical explanation for it. It’s just as if God has chosen to intervene in that situation and raise up people that glorify God. It excites His people, and the person that got healed feels pretty good about it as well.
I want to tell you something. It isn’t just when God chooses to intervene and heal that I get excited. Do you know what I get excited about? I get excited about health, because health is perpetual healing. Health is just your body functioning because God is intervening with all the things that could go wrong every single second of your life. Sometimes the question: “Well, if the Lord is with us, why isn’t He doing any miracles today,” is not proof that God is with you, it’s just proof that you’re not really giving God credit for what He is doing in the ordinary course of life. But this is the language of despondency.
Poor old Gideon is allowing the situation to alter his view of God instead of holding firmly to what he knows of God, and looking at his circumstances through that. Now, he even goes so far as to deny a fundamental tenet of the faith, and he says, “The Lord has abandoned us!” Well, that’s despondency for you! I wonder if I’m talking to somebody here, and you’ve brought a whole lot of discouragement, a whole lot of disappointment, a whole lot of despondency here with you. Well, I hope what we’ve got to say in the rest of this talk right now will be a source of encouragement to you, because I want you to carry on this story with me.
For Gideon, after he has been despondent, now has some things happen to him that make him dependent. He starts out despondent, now we see him moving into dependency. This is what the Lord then says to him: “Go in the strength that you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites as if they were but one man” (Judges 6:14-16).
So now the table is turned. The Lord has heard enough of Gideon’s questions and doesn’t bother to answer them. He simply says, “Gideon, this is what I want you to do!” Actually, He didn’t say this is what I want you to do, He said this is what I’m telling you to do! “I am telling you, Gideon, that you are going to be a mighty warrior!” “You are going to be the one who’ll take up the battle against the forces of the Midianites. You are going to do it.” And He tells him how he’s going to do it. He says, “Gideon, you’re going to go in the strength that you have, and that isn’t much,” as is very obvious from the circumstances in which he is operating. “You will go in the strength that you have, but the second thing is that I will be with you!”
“You will go in the strength that you have, and I will be with you!” Those are the two things that are absolutely critical to our understanding of Gideon’s story. He is so unbelievably despondent; he is in such despair. He looks at his resources, and they are utterly depleted. He sees absolutely no hope, and he certainly does not see himself as playing any major part in rolling back the forces of evil. “What me?” “No way,” but the Lord says to him, “I want you just as you are with what strength you’ve got which doesn’t amount to much. What does amount to a lot is that I will be with you!”
Somebody has put it this way: “One person plus God equals a majority!” “Go in the strength that you have. I know it isn’t much; in fact, you don’t amount to much at all. You’re of the tribe of Manasseh. You’re in one of the lowest clans of that tribe, and that makes you even lower on the totem pole; you are way down in the families in that clan, of that not particularly noble tribe, and you’re right at the tail end of family. I know what you are, Gideon, you don’t amount to much! But you’re just who I want, because I’m looking for people who don’t amount too much so that they will begin to realize the key is not what they have to offer. The key is that I have to offer all that they need to be all that I’m calling them to be, and that’s the key!”
The problem is this: when we bring all kinds of riches and resources to the table, we get the impression that our riches and our resources are going to win the victory. But the poorer we are, the more inadequate we are, the more resourceless we are, the more likelihood there is of us being willing to be dependent, end that is the key to Gideon’s experience. Gideon then says, “Well, if I’ve found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really You talking to me” (Judges 6:17). And the Lord gives him a sign, and Gideon begins to recognize that this is the Angel of the Lord, a special messenger from the Lord who has come to speak to him.
The Lord says to him, in Judges 6:23, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon does what should have been done a long time ago. He builds an altar to the Lord, and he calls it, “The Lord is Peace!”
I want you to notice something very interesting about this. The Lord had just commissioned Gideon to be Major General of an army that doesn’t exist, and they are going to go and clobber the Midianites. So Gideon builds an altar and calls it, “The Lord is Peace!” The Lord has just told him to initiate a battle, and he says, “The Lord is Peace!”
This gives us a clue, of course, to the fact in Jewish thought, peace is not what we think it is. When we think in terms of “peace,” we usually think it is either the cessation of hostilities, or the eradication of stress. Are you with me? When we talk about “peace,” we usually define it in negative terms. It is the cessation of hostilities, or the eradication of stress. That is why, you see, when we’re looking for peace, as we are all the time, we’re trying to find ways to stop the hostility and to get rid of all the stress. That’s why so many people have so little peace in their lives.
You know why? Because they can’t give other people’s hostility, and they just can’t eradicate all the stress. But as far as the Hebrew’s understanding of peace was concerned, it had nothing to do with the absence of hostility or the eradication of stress. The idea of peace, as far as they were concerned, was that things are in order. In fact, the bishop of Hippo, Augustine, defined peace as the tranquility of order. What Gideon is saying is this: “I am going to find myself in an extremely hostile situation, I’m going to be in all kinds of hostilities, there’s going to be incredible stress in my life, but one thing I know, it is this: In all my weakness, I’ll abandon myself to who the Lord is. He will be with me, and because He is with me, things will be in order! Because things will be in order, I can go into this hostility. I can go into this stress. I can go into this tension with that deep-rooted tranquility of order in my life.”
This idea spills over into the New Testament. You remember on one occasion the Lord Jesus was talking to His disciples, and He was very blunt with them, He said, “In the world, you will have trouble.” That was encouraging wasn’t it? “In the world, you will have trouble.” But then He said, “In Me, you will have peace.”
Now, I can imagine one of the disciples saying to Jesus, “Excuse me, Master, would You clarify that for me?”
“Yes, what do you need clarified?”
“You just said, ‘In the world we will have trouble.'”
“But then You said in You we will have peace!” “Well, are we going to have trouble or are we going to have peace?”
And Jesus said, “Yes!” Because, you see, peace is not the absence of trouble! Peace is the deep-rooted tranquility of order in the midst of your trouble, because you know that you’re going in the strength that you have, which isn’t much, but He is with you in the midst of the trouble. Therein lies the key!
So Gideon is beginning to turn a corner. He is no longer the despondent Gideon; he is now the dependent Gideon, and he builds an altar. The Lord then says to him, “All right Gideon, this is what I want you to do.” “I want you to go and knock down the altar that your Dad has built to Baal.”
Baal was the god of the local people, he was the antithesis of all that Jehovah stood for. This was how far the children of Israel had declined in their spirituality in those days. They were actually worshiping Baal rather than the Lord.
Gideon’s father, Joash, had built an altar to Baal. They were also worshiping the goddess Asherah, the goddess of the Phoenicians and the Syrians.
So this is what the Lord said to Gideon. He said, “You are going to break down the altar to Baal. You’re going to chop down the Asherah pole. Then you’re going to get your father’s prize bull and you’re going to build a new altar to me, Jehovah Is Peace, or Shalom. You’re going to chop up the Asherah pole, and that will be the wood for the altar, and you’re going to kill your father’s prize bull as a burnt offering before me.”
Now when the children of Israel offered a burnt offering, they would place their hands on the animal that was going to be sacrificed, and they would confess their sins. The animal would be sacrificed as an atonement for their sins, and that is what Gideon is going to do. He is going to tear down what is wrong, and he is going to build up what is right, and that is how we begin to turn things around.
We look at what is wrong and we tear it down. We look at what has been omitted, and we build it up, and at that particular point, Gideon comes, and he makes the burnt offering. When his family wakes up in the morning, boy are they miffed! The altar to Baal has been destroyed; the Asherah pole has been chopped up, and the prize bull is there smoldering on the altar, and the burnt offering is ascending to the Lord.
Now the people want to know who did this? They very quickly find out it was Gideon, and so they want to get rid of Gideon, but Joash, his Dad, comes to his aid, and he says: “Listen, if he’s done this against Baal, and if Baal is any good, he can look after my son anyway.” So they gave Gideon a new name, Jerub-Baal, which means “Baal is going to get after him.” What a nice name to be given. Now he walks around not with his godly name, he walks around with a constant reminder that they’re expecting Baal to get after him for what he did to the altar of Baal and to the Asherah pole.
Then the word of the Lord comes again to Gideon, and He says, “Gideon, now I want you to round up the people. I want you to go into the surrounding tribes, and I want you to start telling them, ‘Listen, the Spirit of the Lord is come upon me. He has given me insights as to what is wrong with us. We have got to acknowledge that for seven years we’ve strayed from the ways of the Lord. We’ve got to acknowledge that we must come to repentance! We’ve got to tear down the altars to Baal. We’ve got to chop down the Asherah poles. We have got to make our burnt offerings and come and worship the Lord in deep dependence and deep repentance. Then we have got to arm ourselves and get rid of the armies of the Lord.'”
That was the word that was given to Gideon, and he goes out and he begins to round up the people, but he has a slight failure of nerve again. You see, the nice thing about these heroes is, that in and of themselves, they’re not very heroic. It’s the fact that the Lord is with them that makes very ordinary people into heroes, and the same is true to this day! So Gideon says, “Well Lord, if you’re really going to do this, if you’re really going to be with me, would you give me a sign? This is what I’ll do if you don’t mind. I will place a fleece on the threshing floor, and if there’s dew only on the fleece in the morning, and the ground is dry, I will know that You are giving me a sign.”
Now, when I was growing up in evangelical circles in England, Christians would talk about putting out a fleece. I’ve not heard that expression for a long time. I don’t know if that’s in vogue here, or maybe I wasn’t listening. But the idea was if you were not sure what to do, you’d ask the Lord to give you a sign.
Gideon did it, and the Lord went along with it. Sure enough, Gideon says, “Here’s the sign, Lord! I’ll put out the fleece in the morning. If it’s wet with dew and it’s dry all around, I’ll know that this is a miracle, I’ll know that You are with me!” Well, the Lord did it for him! Then he said, “Excuse me, Lord, but would you mind just one more time? Please don’t get upset with me, How about maybe it could be coincidence, couldn’t it? It might be beginner’s luck, mightn’t it? There could be an explanation for this happening, so would you mind very much if I put the fleece out again tonight. In the morning, the fleece will be dry, and it will be wet all around.” So the Lord humors him and does it again for him.
Now, apparently, it’s all right to ask the Lord for a sign. But be very, very careful how you do it. There are some people who ask for signs, and they ask for such a ridiculous sign that they know that they’re very, very safe.
“Lord, if the sun rises tomorrow morning in the west, I’ll know you’re calling me to the mission field.”
Well, that’s a bit of an extreme, but you get the drift, don’t you? In other words, you can so load the sign that there’s no way it’s going to work, and so you can get what you want.
There are times when I believe in many other ways where we ask the Lord for guidance, it is appropriate for us to ask him to confirm things in this way. Many years ago when I was working in the bank, and I was very busy working in youth work, and I was getting so much youth work and so much in my business career, I couldn’t continue both, and something had to give. In the end Jill and I said to the Lord, “Lord, if you really want us out of the business world, and into the ministry, would you send somebody to ask us to go and work with them full time in the ministry?” We felt that was pretty safe because no one had ever done it. So, that was a pretty safe thing to ask, but within a week, two different organizations came and asked us, right out of the blue. I didn’t talk to any of them, they came to me. They did exactly what we had asked the Lord to do. That, in accordance with many other things, gave us the impression that we should move.
One of the other things that we did was this: we went to talk to five highly regarded Christian leaders, and we asked them, “Do you think we should leave the business world and go into the ministry?” Now I had asked the same question four years previously when I thought I ought to do it, and all five of them said, “No! You should not do it.” We went back to the same five, four years later, asked them the same question, and all five said, “Yes! You should do it.”
You can ask the Lord for a sign. He wants you to discover His will. But you don’t just manipulate the things, you ask Him in accordance with your study of scripture, in accordance with your own prayer life, in accordance with the advice of godly leaders, in the coincidences that come in your life, when your internal aspirations and your external opportunities come together.
I’ve heard people come up with all kinds of strange ideas about God’s guidance. I’ve heard some of them say, “I believe that God is calling me to do this, this, and this, and the other,” but they have absolutely no aptitude for it. If God is calling you to do something, He will have given you the aptitude for it. The internal desires, and the external circumstances will fit. The Word of God will undergird it. The Spirit of God will assure you of it. The advice of reliable believers will affirm it, and then, as all these things come together, ask Him for a sign, ask Him for something that only you and He will know about. He will direct your path!
So that’s what happened as far as Gideon was concerned. Now, he is beginning to discover that God has really called him to do something. We see Gideon now in the third stage.
Stage 1 — Despondent
Stage 2 — Dependent
Stage 3 — Defiant
Now he is going to take on the enemies of the Lord. So, he sends out word, rounds up the people, and amazingly they come. There must have been something compelling about the difference in this man, Gideon, that made them come. Thirty-two thousand men showed up.
There’s only one problem, when he looked at the Midianites and their allies he discovered that there were so many of them. They had so many camels that they used in their military activities, that it says, “they couldn’t count how many camels they had” — enormous numbers of people. So whilst he had a good crowd there, they were hopelessly outnumbered, and to his horror, the Lord says to Gideon, “How many men have you got?” Thirty-two thousand.
“Far too many.”
What do you mean “far too many?”
“If you go with an army of 32,000, they might get the idea that they’re a pretty good army, and they could think, if you win, mat they did it. There’s no way that they’re going to run away with that idea because they’ve been self-sufficient long enough, they’ve got to get back to realizing that the battle is the Lord’s!” “Get rid of most of them!”
“I don’t want to get rid of most of them.”
“All right, I’ll tell you what to do then.” “Get them all on parade!”
Thirty-two thousand men on parade! Major General Gideon gives the announcement the like of which you’ve never heard in a military parade before!
“All right men, I want all those of you who are frightened to take one pace forward, right turn, quick march, get out of here!”
Twenty-two thousand men left! Poor old Gideon, he’s going to be back in the despondency stage in a hurry.
“Lord, look what you’ve done! You’ve got rid of two-thirds of my group.”
“Yes, I’ve noticed that, and you’ve still got far too many!”
“Got far too many?”
“Yes! This is what to do! Give them a break. Tell them to go down to the river and get a drink — 10,000 of them.” So they all go dashing down to the river to drink. The Lord says, “Watch them!”
They rush down there, and 9,700 of them take a dive head first into the river, stick their heads under the water, and drink, and drink, and drink!
Three hundred of them are soldiers who know that this could be an ambush! So they kneel down by the water’s edge and they keep their swords handy, and they dip their hands in the water and keep their eyes open.
Then the Lord says, “Send that 9,700 home, and give me the 300! Because I can do more with 300 men who trust me and who will be alert and who will be willing to be soldiers. I could do far more with 300 than I can through 32,000 hangers on! There’s a lesson for us here, folks! God works through a dedicated nucleus; God doesn’t work through flabby masses.
Three hundred men are all that’s left. The Lord now says to Gideon, “This is what I want you to do.” “I want you to equip them all with an earthenware jar. I want you to give them all a torch. I want you to round up all the trumpets you can find around here and give them each a sword. Have you got it?”
“Earthenware jar, torch, trumpet, and sword.”
“I want you to break up your 300 men into three companies of 100 each. In the dead of night, at the beginning of the middle watch of the night, the most eerie time — the time for a military maneuver — I want you to surround the camp of the Midianites, one hundred over here, one hundred there, and one hundred here.”
“This is what I want you to do, Gideon; I want you to give them the signal, and at the signal, having lit their torches and put them inside the jars, I want them to take a brick and break the jars. There’ll be a tremendous crash all around the camp in the middle of the night, blow the trumpets, there’ll be a flare of light all around the place, and shout at the top of your voice, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!'”
Not much of military strategy, but in actual fact what it did, it struck terror in the hearts of the people. They turned on themselves, and the Lord gave them a mighty victory, for the battle is the Lord’s! That was a lesson.
It’s rather interesting to notice in the New Testament that the Apostle Paul on one occasion, writing to the Corinthians, said this: “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). And then he says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Get the picture! It’s been like a torch lit from Heaven where the knowledge of Christ has come into our hearts, but we are just old earthen vessels. If we want to keep the light of the Gospel hidden inside us, and we’re not prepared to be broken, then we’re not prepared to be expendable; we’re not prepared to take risks. What happens is that the light of the Gospel stays enshrouded and all the people see is the old clay pot.
What God wants to see is the shining out of the knowledge of Christ in people’s lives through the brokenness of the sacrificial attitude, through the willingness, even though they may be despondent, to become dependent. When that happens God begins to shine through people’s lives, and the shining of the knowledge of Christ through their lives becomes a tremendous beacon to people round about. Then you can sound the trumpet; then you can proclaim the sword of the Lord — as you shine you can shout.
My Dad used to tell the story of a man who went home one Saturday, and his wife had got a “honey-do day” for him. His honey wanted him to fix up a doorbell. So he went down to the local store, and he got the wire, and he got the little battery and the bell, and he wired the whole thing. He put the bell inside, and he rang the bell, and he thought his wife would be absolutely thrilled, and she said, “Ugh, if only you had put a light up at the same time!”
So he trudges off back to the store, and he buys a lamp, and he wires it up to the battery, and he puts the lamp in there, and switches on the lamp, and nothing happens. So he calls an electrician friend of his, and he says, “Hey, I rigged up this bell that my wife wanted, and I pressed it and it rings great. Then, she wanted a light, so I fixed the light on to the battery, and nothing happens.” So the electrician says, “You don’t have enough power because it takes more power to shine than to shout!”
“It takes more power to shine, than to shout!” What God wants us to do before we start shouting is to start shining. If the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ in our lives is being bottled up inside us because all the people can see is the clay pot, then there will be no shining, and the shouting will fall on deaf ears.
But when there’s a breaking and a sacrificial approach, and a willingness in the strength that you have to be dependent and defiant against the forces of evil, you begin to discover that light will shine, and then you can shout. You begin to find that the forces of evil are routed, and the Lord is honored! That’s the story of Gideon.
What stage would you say you are? Would you say that you’re Gideon in his despondent stage? Or would you say that the Lord has come to you in your despondency, where you’ve asked all your questions, and you’ve talked about all your problems? Have you begun to realize that all He’s asking is that you go in the strength that you have, and recognize that He is with you? That’s all you need to do.
Have you begun to discover what it means to step out from your despondency into an attitude of dependence? Then you begin to discover that He has some specific things for you to do, and the something specific that He has for you to do is to go in His strength and shine and shout and put the enemies of the Lord to flight. Are you despondent, dependent, or defiant?