Powerful Prophecies, Pt. 5
Study Guide – March 12, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
Often things begin as one thing, but become quite another. In fact, as we have begun studying various prophetic passages, we find that some prophecies are also about people, who begin as one thing, but become quite another. Let’s look into one of them today.
If I were to say, ‘setting out a fleece’, who would you think of? Right, Gideon. But there’s something that Gideon learned in that powerful story of the prophesied victory over the Midianites that is also a powerful thing for us to learn as well. Notice several things God says to Gideon in Judges 6. In verse 12 we have this: “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then in verse 14 God adds this: “The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” Now then notice Gideon’s enthusiastic and ready and willing response to this in verse 15: “He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” And then the prophetic statement by the Lord about it all in verse 16: “But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” NASU
What a difference between the way God saw Gideon and the way Gideon saw himself. God says to Gideon, “You are a valiant warrior.” And Gideon is like: “Are You talking to me? I think you have the wrong guy.” And then he goes on to give his reasons why: his family is the least among the tribes of Israel, and he is even the least among his own family. So if he’s the least of all of this, how could God think so much of him?
You know, one common malady we tend to have is that we know ourselves too well and we know our God too little. And since we know ourselves so well, but our God so little, we then tend to go with what we know about ourselves, or to live from who we are in and of ourselves, rather than to go on to discover more about who we are in and of the Lord, and to then live by faith in His strength instead of just our own.
Did you know that ‘who’ you say you are is ‘not who’ you really are? Plus, who others say you are is not who you really are. No, who you really are is who God says you are. Therefore, a major priority is for us to discover who God says we are and to then live out our lives according to who God says we are.
Gideon said, “Lord, let me tell you who I am. I am in a family that is the least of the tribes of Israel, and I am the least in my family as well.” But then essentially God says to Gideon: “Gideon, let Me tell you who you really are. You are a valiant warrior. And let me tell you something else you didn’t know. Not only are you a valiant warrior, but you also have an additional strength that you didn’t know about, as in: “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”
So what was ‘this strength’ that Gideon was to go in? ‘This strength’ was God’s presence in his life, which would enable Gideon to do what God planned for him to do. But how often is it that discovering who God says we are and then depending on God for the strength to do whatever it is that God planned for us to do is so often shoved aside by our own faulty ideas about who we are and by our faulty reasoning about why we can’t do what God has planned for us to do? But how important is it to know this: “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.”
God is not going to require us to do what He has not equipped us to do. Remember, the Apostle Peter specifically spoke about this very thing. 2 Peter 1:3- “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” NLT So is it really possible to live a godly life? Has God given us everything we need to do so? Sure! But we need to practice seeing all of this from God’s perspective; including how we see ourselves.
Again, our natural tendency is to focus on how we see ourselves and also on how others see us, all the while neglecting to focus on how God sees us, which is actually the only true picture of who we really are. Whenever God says; ‘This is who you really are’; that is who you really are! Boom….done!
Question: has God ever said anything to us like what He said to Gideon? “O valiant warrior?” How’s this for a personal identity to carry with you? “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Rom 8:37 NIV More than conquerors? You know, just ‘conquerors’ by itself sounds pretty good. But ‘more than conquerors’? And you see, that’s the equivalent of what God said to Gideon. Plus, notice that God did not just say: “The Lord is with you, O warrior”, but “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior!” It’s like God saying to you, “The Lord is with you, O valiant conqueror!”
And now note this: For God to call us a ‘conqueror’ refers to what God has made us. But for God to also call us ‘valiant’ refers to what God thinks of us. To call us a ‘conqueror’ refers to our duty for God. But to call us ‘valiant’ refers to God’s love for us. Some synonyms for ‘valiant’ are: courageous, gallant, heroic, noble, powerful, benevolent… You mean, that’s how God thinks of us? Yes!
Take ‘courageous’ for example. You want to know what one of the most courageous things on earth is? ‘Repentance’ When a person turns from sin and self to surrender to and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; that’s one of the most courageous things a person can do. When the book of Revelation speaks of the ‘cowardly and unbelieving’ as those who will perish, that is a direct reference to those who will ‘not repent and believe’. It takes courage to repent before God. To refuse to repent is an act of cowardice against God.
But the point here is to realize how affectionately our Heavenly Father thinks of us and how highly our Heavenly Father thinks of us, and how much He now wants us to think of ourselves more and more in the same way that He thinks of us. And by thinking of ourselves as God thinks of us it will embolden us to face whatever we have to face with this understanding of who God says we really are: ‘O valiant warrior! O valiant conqueror!’
Now then, If you are a conqueror that implies you have a battle, or battles. So think about it: What is your battle, or what are your battles? Actually, we should ask that another way: “So, O valiant conqueror…what is your battle? And in whose strength are you going out to fight it?”
You’ve heard it said that before you can fight the enemy you have to identify the enemy. What is often left out is that before you can rightly fight the enemy you have to rightly identify yourself. Here’s an interesting thing about some prophecies. You see, in the midst of this prophecy that God gave to Gideon about who Gideon was going to fight, God also gave him a revelation of who Gideon was going to be as he fought the fight: He was going to be ‘a valiant warrior’. You see, even more important than who and what we face in life is who and what we are as we face it. God wants us to clearly know who we are as we face and fight the battles of life. We are to learn that fighting the battles of life or facing the battles of life is foremost about who we are in the fight even more that what we have for the fight.
God made that pretty clear to Gideon, too. Remember that? Well, first of all they started out with 32,000 people to face the hordes of the Midianites. And God said, ‘Let everyone who is afraid return home.’ And 22,000 of them took God up on the offer. But God said, ‘10,000 is still too many.’ So they narrowed it down to only 300 men. And then do you remember the weapons that God laid out for the people to use in this great victory that God prophesied they would win? Yeah, unusual weapons, to say the least! Each of these valiant warriors were give a trumpet (or ram’s horn), a pitcher, and a torch. Would you like to go out onto a battlefield armed with with a trumpet, a pitcher, and a torch? Clearly, God had something up His sleeve.
Check it out: Judg 7:20- “When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” NASU
Now, the inclusion of Gideon in this shout was a statement to the Midianites of how God was working with and through His people, as well as a reminder to the people of their need to think of themselves as working in union with God. But I wonder how many of them had flashbacks in their minds of the mysterious tactics God had the people use in the victory over Jericho? That battle had been about 250 years before this. I think that saying ‘God works in mysterious ways’ has been around for a long long time. But think about: God was going to bring about this great victory through a trumpet call from God’s people, from broken vessels held by God’s people, from light revealed by God’s people, and by the sword of the Lord proclaimed by God’s people.
Mysterious, yes, but actually pretty standard procedure for how God works in doing battle in this world. How’s that? Well, break it down. God’s procedure for victory in this world is still by using God’s people like trumpet calls to proclaim the excellencies of Christ: 1 Peter 2:9-10- “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” And God is still using His people like earthen vessels, that reveal the most light when they are broken…broken as in humble and surrendered to the Lord for His plans and purposes. 2 Cor 4:7-8- “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves…” And God is still using His people to lift up and reveal the light of the gospel, the light of truth to the world around us. Matt 5:14-16- “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” And God is still using His people to hold forth the ‘sword of the Lord’, which is the word of the Lord. Eph 6:17- “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” NASU
Yes, it’s still pretty much standard procedure for walking into battle with the ‘Midianites’ of this world. We walk with a trumpet; which is the call of Christ’s Lordship over this world, a pitcher; which is the vessel of our life revealed through our broken and humbled lives, and a torch; which is the light of God’s Word, as we carry the sword of the Lord; proclaiming the truths of God’s revelation on our march through this world.
In fact, these trumpet calls are like previews of other prophecies that are now just on the horizon:1 Cor 15:51-52- “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
Matt 24:30-31- “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” NASU
Yes, there are more trumpet calls to come in these great prophecies about what’s to come. And every day on earth is one day closer to the sound of these trumpet calls!
But remember that often even in the midst of prophecies about what God is going to do or is about to do we also learn more about who God has made us to be, and intends for us to be, as in Gideon’s case here, and even in our case. God made us to be valiant warriors, valiant conquerors through Christ who loves us. Remember, God sees us not just as who we are in ourselves; He sees us as who we are in union with Him. For we are one thing in ourselves, but we are quite another in Christ. And since that is how God sees us, in union with Him, that is also then how we are to see ourselves.
So what do you say, O valiant Warriors: Are you ready to pick up your trumpet and pitcher and torch and face whatever you have to face with a sword for the Lord and for His church?
How about a shout of “A sword for the Lord and for His Church!”