12 Apr Are you feeling useless?
I enjoy reading biographies and learn from the lives of the great people past and present. But reading the achievements of other could make us feel small and useless in comparison. Reading stories of successful people can make me feel useless.
Look at Mark Zuckerberg, a founder of Facebook. He founded facebook when he was 20 years old. Today, he is just 30 years old and with an estimated personal wealth of over $30 billion. I am a 36 years old, and still renting my own home.
Sometimes reading the Bible could also make us feel useless. The hero biographies in the Bible could make us feel small and useless. God use the heroes in the Bible mightily. They have great faith, while we are struggling in our sins daily.
Today, we will be looking at the story of one hero in the Bible, his name is Gideon. But don’t worry, he is not like most heroes we know. Gideon is a lot like you and me.
[Text] Judges 7:1-7 & 16-22
I know there is only one Mark Zuckerberg in the world. There’s only one Bill Gates. There’s only one Steve Jobs. They should not really make you and me feel useless. But the reality of life is that we can often find ourselves useless in our daily living.
If you are a parent, you may be feeling useless in training your children. They could be rebelling against you and also against the LORD. You may be unable to give the best that your children deserve. You can’t even give them the present they want for their birthday. Or can’t afford to take them to a holiday.
If you are a husband or a wife, you may be feeling useless that you can give what he or she wants. You may be feeling useless and helpless as your husband (or wife) leave you for another woman (or man).
If you are a professional, you may be feeling useless in your workplace. You haven’t progress much in your career. And you might be feeling a little jealous seeing your colleagues getting promoted. Or you could be struggling to even find a job right now.
If you are single, you may be feeling useless as you can’t even have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
If you are a student, you may be feeling useless in your study.
If you are young, you may be feeling useless that you can’t even stop your parents from divorcing. You are stuck in the middle unable to do anything.
Whatever your situation is, life can be tough and sometime, it may make us feeling rather useless as a person.
1. How can reading and studying Gideon, who was apparently a great hero of the Bible, going to help us “useless” people today?
Well, in order to do that we need to look at who Gideon really was.
[Text] Judges 6:11-40
v. 11 “Beating out wheat in the winepress.”
Gideon was not a brave hero, yet the angel of the LORD called him “mighty man of valour.” (v.12) What an irony!
v. 13 Gideon even blames God for what’s happening to the Israelites. So, not only that Gideon was a coward, he also blame God for their problems. Judges 6:1 tells us that the LORD gave them into the hand of the enemy Midian, because they did evil against the LORD.
v. 14 Not only God calls Gideon, He also send him.
v. 15 And Gideon confesses that not only that he is a coward, but he doesn’t even have the right credentials. He was from the smallest tribe, and from the least of the family in his tribe. You may be like Gideon that you have come from a small town that no one knows, your family is nobody, no one knows your father.
v. 17 Gideon didn’t quite trust God, and Gideon decided to test the LORD by asking for a sign.
There is nothing wrong in asking for a sign, as in this story, we see that God actually did give Gideon a sign.
v. 25 Then, before God actually sends Gideon to defeat Midian, God gives him a much smaller task, maybe just to build Gideon’s confidence a little bit. After all, Gideon was not a brave man, nor was he a man of great faith.
He was asked to pull down the altar of Baal from his father’s house. Now, you would think that after God gave him a sign, Gideon would become a mighty hero. Well, you are wrong.
v. 27 Gideon took ten men to do the job that God asked him to do.
He took ten men with him?
Where was the altar of Baal? It was at his father’s house, it’s not in the territory of the enemy. Yet Gideon was still afraid and need a company of ten men. Even after having ten men, he was still afraid, and decided to do it quietly at night time.
v.36-40 After destroying Baal at home, you would think that now Gideon is ready to go to defeat Midian. Wrong again!
Gideon decided to test God again, not once but twice.
Are you feeling useless? Or are you afraid that you cannot face what lies before you?
Good. Because Gideon shows us that God can use the useless, the fearful and the faithless.
Do not think for a second that God cannot use you. Do not think that because you are useless, or afraid, God cannot do anything great with you. God can use you.
Now that Gideon is ready to defeat Midian after everything that God has done in his life, lets turn to chapter 7, where we will see Gideon and his army defeated Midian.
2. Next, we will see how God used Gideon to defeat Midian and what we can learn from it?
The story of “Gideon and his might 300” is a very popular story. But it is often read and understood inaccurately.
[Text] Judges 7:1-7
The story is not to highlight that Gideon is awesome, or that his 300 men is mighty. But rather quite the opposite, it is to show that God is mighty.
“The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’”
(Judges 7:2 ESV)
God doesn’t need 32,000 to defeat the enemy. God sets it up in such a way that when people see it, people will know that there is no way it is possible if it’s not because of God. The defeat of Midian has nothing to do with Gideon or his 300 mighty men.
The process of elimination from 32,000 to 300 men does not have anything significant, other than to show that God does not need our help to accomplish His purpose. He doesn’t want us to steal His glory.
Now you think that by this time, Gideon is a brave man? After all, he now has 300 men with him. If you think so, then you’re wrong again!
[Text] Judges 7:9-11
Gideon is still afraid!
This is not a good sign! Here we have a fearful leader leading a fearful army. How can they defeat the mighty Midian.
How mighty is Midian? [Text] Judges 7:12
Now, I hope you can start to see how impossible the task that God assigned Gideon. To defeat the mighty Midian, Gideon would need an advance weaponry, maybe a nuclear weapon or some sort? No, if he has a nuclear weapon, then anyone would be able to defeat Midian.
If not a nuclear weapon, a machine gun maybe? No!
How about some swords and shields? No!
Ok, how about some knifes? No!
Kitchen knives maybe? No!
No, no, no and no!
[Text] Judges 7:16
What? God says, with trumpets, jars, and torches. Surely you can’t win a war with those. This is a war, not a Chinese New Year parade.
[Text] Judges 7:19-21
So, how do you defeat the mighty Midian whose numbers are too numerous to count with only 300 men? With just whatever you have because God wants to make sure that you and I get it, really get it, that it is Him who gives the victory.
Are you feeling under resource? Or are you feeling inadequate, ill-equipped, ill-prepared, to face the challenges in front of you?
Good. Because you are the right kind of person that God can use for his glory.
Don’t count yourself out because you don’t have much to offer. God cannot use people who have much, because they will be full of themselves, they believe that they don’t need God. If you have much money, you don’t need to ask for a miracle to buy a car or a house. If you have everything, you don’t need to desperately seek God and ask for His miracle.
In a world, where people are encouraged to believe in themselves, “you can do it attitude”, we need to be reminded that we need instead to believe in the LORD.
Maybe, we need to be less self-confident, and more God-confident.
Maybe, we need to be less self-reliant, and more God-reliant.
Maybe, we need to be less independent, and more God-dependent.
God can use people who are empty, so that they can be full of God instead.
This morning, may your eyes be opened to see that in your weaknesses, Jesus is enough.
Jesus has accomplished what need to be done on the cross. And let us not think for a second that we need to top-up what Jesus has done with our good works, our money, our efforts.
Let us pray.
Thank you LORD for your word this morning through the story of Gideon. Thank you for showing us that you can use people like us, who are useless, afraid, and sometimes doubt that you can do anything about problems. Thank you for showing us that you can use our lacking and shortcoming for your glory. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish everything needed to be done, so that we can be set free from our bondages. Bondage of confidence in our own self, bondage of self-reliance, and bondage of independence. Today, may we again put our trust and confidence in the saving work of your Son, Jesus Christ.