Obedience over Fear
Searching for a True Savior: An Exposition of Judges

Gary Combs ·
March 26, 2023 · Judges 6 · Notes


We all struggle with various fears and phobias. But God wants us to choose obedience to Him over our fears. He wants to help us overcome our fears in order to obey His Word and His calling on our lives.

In chapter 6 of Judges, the Israelites have again fallen back into that repetitive cycle of sin and sorrow. And God heard their cry and again sent them a judge to rescue them. This time it’s a timid man named Gideon that God calls to overcome his fear and obey the Lord. We can learn to overcome our fears by obeying the Lord.


Below is an automated transcript of this message

Good morning, church! It is good to see all of you here this morning. I want to open with a word of prayer and then we’ll dig in.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for this Sunday together, for the hearing of Your word and for being able to worship You, Lord. We’re reminded that yesterday we put bags out for people to put food in for the hungry in our city, for both of our cities,Wilson and Rocky Mount. We put out 1500 bags yesterday in Wilson, 500 in Rocky Mount. Lord, we pray that You would inspire our neighbors to fill them so that we can help feed the hungry in our city. Now Lord, we pray that You’d “fill” us as we hear Your word; that you’d fill us afresh with your Spirit and with the encouragement of your word. In Jesus’ name and all of God’s people said, “Amen.”

We’re in chapter six now of the book of Judges. We’re going through the book of Judges, verse by verse. Weare going to be talking today about one better known of the twelve judges, the judge Gideon. He’s one that you may have heard of before. We’ll be talking about him today as we talk about this series, “Searching for a True Savior.”

Gideon is the next judge in line that God calls, but he has something to overcome. He has to overcome his fear, his timidity. He has a low self image and he doesn’t feel worthy of God’s calling on his life. Maybe, some of you feel that way today. A lot of us deal with fear. In fact, I would say that in our culture today, it’s the most phobic culture I’ve ever seen since I’ve been alive. Americans today struggle more with phobias and fears than I’ve ever noticed before.

I recently read an article that’s kind of humorous. Maybe you’ve recognized some of these phobias. The title of the article is “Surprising Celebrity Phobias That Famous People Suffer From.” Here are a few: Aerophobia – Fear of flying. John Madden, Jennifer Aniston, Johnny Cash, Muhammad Ali… Coulrophobia – Fear of clowns. Johnny Depp, Daniel Radcliffe, P.Diddy Combs… Ailurophobia – Fear of cats. Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Mussolini, Alexander the Great, Hitler… Thalassophobia – Fear of the ocean. Carmen Electra, Christina Ricci, Michael Jordan… Lepidopterophobia – Fear of butterflies. Nicole Kidman is terrified of butterflies… Nyctophobia – Fear of the dark. Megan Fox and believe it or not John Wick actor, Keanu Reeves… Entamaphobia – Fear of revolving doors. Matthew McConaughey avoids them at all costs. Tonsurephobia – Fear of getting a haircut. Timothy Leary Furniturephobia – Fear of antique furniture. Billy Bob Thornton

That’s a pretty funny list, isn’t it? It’s easy to laugh at what other people are afraid of, but the truth is, fear is no laughing matter. As many as there are in this room, I bet there are that many phobias– things that we’re afraid of. Fear can immobilize us and it can cause us to act irrationally. Even worse, it can cause us to disobey God. It can cause us not to trust God. Instead, we trust our phobias; we trust our fears more than we trust God. Fear can keep us from obeying God.

What about you? What are you afraid of today? What causes you fear? Is there a medical issue that you are afraid of? Are you afraid that you won’t have the money to pay for the bill? Are you afraid of what the doctors told you or the treatment that you might have to face? You may have phobias; you have fears concerning your body. You might be afraid of commitment; it’s kind of the mark of our young people today. What I hear young people sometimes say is, ‘I’m afraid to make a commitment because it’ll close off my options.’ The fear of missing out causes a fear of commitment. Maybe, you have a fear of commitment to marriage. You need to finally ask that girl you’ve been dating for the last fourteen years to marry you. Maybe, it’s a fear of breaking up a bad relationship that you know was never God’s will for you, but you have a fear of being alone. Maybe it’s a fear of getting out of that “dead end” job that doesn’t appreciate you and God’s really shaped you for something else, but you’re just afraid. Maybe, you’re close to retirement and this past year turned your 401k into a 101K and you don’t know how you’re going to manage. We have fears; all of us have fears.

The truth is, God wants us to choose to obey Him rather than our fears. Really, what He wants us to do, is to fear Him rather than fear what the world fears. If we fear Him, it puts all things in order.

In the book of Judges, chapter six, we have the story of Gideon. The people of Israel are repeating that cycle of sin , suffering and so forth. They keep falling back into this thing and God raises up another judge named Gideon to help them. This time, He raises up a timid man, a man that’s afraid. He raises him up and encourages him to face his fears, to overcome his fears and obey God. I believe, as we look at the way God calls Gideon, that we can hear God’s calling on our lives to overcome our fears and obey God in spite of those things that we’re phobic about. that we’re afraid of. We’re going to be looking for four ways that we can do this.

It’s only one chapter, but it’s a long chapter. I’m going to break it into four “bites.” I will make comments after each reading. Let’s read the first ten verses.

(Words in parenthesis are comments from Pastor Gary)

Judges 6:1-10 (ESV) The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. (Now, Midian is actually a tribe that’s related to the Israelites. Midian came from Abraham after Sarah passed away. Abraham married a second wife named Keturah and by Keturah, he had a son named Midian. So, the Midianites and Israelites had been friends. In fact, Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was a Midianite. Normally, they had been friends, but now the Midianites have turned against Israel. They’ve been in servitude to the Midianites for seven years.) 2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. (Now, the Midianites, normally, were not friends with the Amalekites, but they had one thing in common. They were both tent dwelling, nomadic people that never really settled down. They would just move from place to place with their flocks and their camels. They would just eat up whatever was there and then they’d go camp somewhere else and so, they have that in common with the Amalekites. Now, they’re doing this to the people of Israel here. Look at how it describes this.) 4 They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. (They would come like locusts; can you picture that? They would come on the land, eat up everything and leave. Kind of like what happens when all my family shows up at my house. They just show up. I’m just kidding. We love having all of our kids. They and their camels could not be counted so that they lay waste to the land as they came in.) 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD. 7 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, (So, Israel was brought very low because of Midian and the people, what do they do? What do they do in this cycle? The people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord. It’s this cycle all over again, right? When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, on account of the Midianites, what does the Lord do? He sends a Savior, right? No, not this time. He does something new this time, he sends a sermon instead of a Savior.) 8 the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.” (See that word “fear?” That’s the problem they’re having. They’ve chosen the fear of the world over the fear of God and God’s word. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.)

OVERCOMING OUR FEARS BY OBEYING THE LORD… 1. We can repent of worldly fears.

Notice there, in verse 10, “…you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites…” You’re not supposed to fear those gods. You’re supposed to fear me and obey me. You see the cycle begin again and continue again as we’ve seen before. They’re stuck in a cycle. As soon as the previous judge passes away, after they have a season of peace, the next generation comes along and they forget what God has done and they fall back into the cycle of sin and then they fall under servitude.

This time, it is seven years under the Midianites and the Amalekites. They cry out to the Lord in sorrow and the Lord hears them. He sends them a sermon this time. He’s going to send them Gideon, but not yet. In between sorrow and salvation, he sends them a prophet and the prophet speaks to them. Why is that? It is because God wants to break them out of this cycle.

What happens to us is, if we have worldly sorrow, we’re sorry that we got caught. We’re sorry that we’re hurting. We’re sorry for what we chose when we disobeyed God, now we’re reaping the negative results. We cry out to God and we say, ‘God, where are You? Don’t You see?’ Why are You letting this happen to me?’ when often, we’ve done it to ourselves. We’ve gotten back into that cycle. We believe in the Lord. We follow the Lord, but we get into sin and have all of those struggles. For every one of us, there’s like that sin that’s kind of our nemesis. It’s kind of our “kryptonite.” It is that habit that you’ve had ever since you can remember.

God hears you and He sends rescue to you. He’s done that through Jesus, our true Savior. But, have you really repented, because if you want real life change, you have to hear the “sermon.” The Holy Spirit has to come to you. You need to say, ‘I’m not just sorry that I’ve been caught. I’m sorry that I offended you, Lord, because I love You. I want to follow You.’

God is saying to them, ‘I’ve done all of this for you and yet you fear the gods of this world more than you fear Me. You have been disobedient to me.’ True repentance is about obeying God and turning away from your sin.

The “prophet” in this scripture is unnamed; we don’t know who he is. It doesn’t matter what his name is. As long as he is giving you the word of God, don’t make much of him. Make much of Jesus. As for me, I’m just one of you. I’m saved by God’s grace. I’m called by the Holy Spirit to do what I do. I’m just God’s “paper boy.” I just “fold up” the gospel, put a rubber band on it and throw it up on your doorstep every Sunday. I’m God’s “paper boy;” you don’t need to know my name. This “prophet” is unnamed and it doesn’t matter. He brings the word of God. He said, ‘you’ve been fearing the wrong things. You need to repent of fearing the gods of this world and fear me.’ This is what He’s called us to.

In 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT) it says, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” God wants us to have real repentance, which says, ‘I’m sorry. I’m not just sorry for what I’ve done, but I’m also sorry that I’ve offended God.’ Sin always offends God. Turning away from sin and turning towards God is repentance.

There’s a right fear and a wrong fear. To overcome fear, strangely enough, means choosing the right things to be afraid of. I think it’s probably appropriate to be afraid of heights. I’m more afraid of heights now. I wasn’t afraid of heights when I was young. I was one of those “tree climbing monkey kids.” I grew up watching Tarzan so I was swinging from things from my earliest memory. I was jumping off things, which is probably why I had to get “new knees” recently. I had a lot of fun with the younger version of myself. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m a little bit more tenuous about heights and such things. I think I have a healthy fear of it, but I don’t really have a phobia. So, there’s such a thing as a healthy fear and an unhealthy fear. There’s a rational fear– OK, that’s hot. Don’t touch it. How do I know? I know because I touched it and I don’t need to touch it again. That’s a healthy fear.

The best fear that you can have is the fear of God. Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

Oswald Chambers writes in his devotional, “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” That word, “fear,” troubles us. Should I be afraid of God? I didn’t say to be afraid of God. I said to fear God. There’s a difference. To fear God means to respect Him and not to fear that He would condemn you.

As a believer, we have Romans 8:1, that says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you’re in Christ, there’s no condemnation. All of God’s condemnation for our sin has fallen on Jesus; there’s none left over for us. We don’t have to fear His punishment, but we should fear His displeasure. We should want to please God with our lives.

I know that I don’t always please God. When I displease Him, I confess and I repent. I know that He’s already forgiven me, but I want to move forward so that I can see Him closer.

My father died when I was eight years old. I’m the oldest child of my parents. I was a daddy’s boy. I loved my daddy and my mom. My mom was the disciplinarian and my dad was the one who would talk to me when he got home from work. My mom disciplined me with a “switch.” She called it a “keen switch” because it made a sound like Zorro’s sword when it went through the air. My mom would chase me up and down the hallway, switching me and I was hard headed. I wouldn’t cry no matter how long she would switch me. I wouldn’t cry . I was the oldest, I didn’t want to cry in front of my siblings.

Sometimes, though, my dad would come home and say to me, “Your mama said that you disobeyed her today; you misbehaved.” I would be looking at my shoes and he’d say to me, “Look at me, boy. Look at me, son. Look me in the eye like a man.” I didn’t want to look at him because he was disappointed in me, but I finally would and would say the very thing that I feared the most – “Son. I’m really disappointed in you. You’re my oldest son. I want you to grow up to be a good man. You are a good boy but not today.” Hearing these words would make me cry like a baby. All he had to do was say, “I’m disappointed in you.” I think there’s something about this that relates to the way we’re supposed to fear our Father in heaven. We should , as believers, not be afraid that He’ll strike us down because, if we’ve received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we’re safe from condemnation, but we should still fear His displeasure.

May I say this to you–will you repent of the fear of man? Will you repent of the fear of the gods of this world? And will you make your fear of God the healthy fear that causes you to be immune to all other phobias?

Let’s keep reading. We’ve got a lot to cover. We’re at verse 11. Judges 6:11-24 (ESV) 11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. (Now, we have several pieces here. A “terebinth” is like an oak tree. It has a large spreading canopy; is makes a tremendous shade tree. Joash is the father of Gideon. He’s an Abiezrite, which is a clan within the tribe of Manasseh. Gideon is beating out wheat, not in the place where you thresh the grain. He’s not at the threshing floor. He’s in the wine press hiding. Why is he hiding? He is hiding because he doesn’t want the Midianites, who are coming through like “locusts eating everything, to find him. Then, this angel of the Lord appears to him.) 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Isn’t that what we do? We always blame God for our travails. It’s hard to look in the mirror and so we blame God. ‘Where were you,God?’) 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” 19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.


2. We can find courage in the Lord’s calling and presence.

Now, we encounter the second way that we can overcome fear and obedience to God. It’s by finding courage in the Lord’s calling and presence. The Lord, when He first heard them cry out, sent them a sermon, but He’s not finished. He sends them a savior. He sends them a judge named Gideon. He’s an unlikely hero, a timid man.

He’s threshing wheat in the wine press. The wine press was a place where they would crush grapes. They would go barefoot into this rocky thing that they would build. It was like a bowl that they would sometimes just dig out in a rock or they would put brick around it, so it would hold the grapes. It would have a pipe that was gravity fed; it would go to a lower bowl like edifice that the juice would gather in. Those of you that are at least in my age group, remember watching the “I love Lucy” show. You have a picture of Lucy and Ethel, barefoot, jumping around on grapes. That’s how they did it in the Bible, too; it was traditionally women’s work. They would crush the grapes with their feet and the juice would flow, with gravity, down.

This is where Gideon is; he’s threshing wheat in the wine press, but you’re not supposed to do that because the wine press is down in a valley where there’s little wind. You’re supposed to go up on the mountain top where the threshing floor is; it’s an open air area. You would use a threshing fork, lifting the wheat and the heavier heads of grain would fall because of gravity and the wind would blow the chaff away. That’s how you threshed wheat, but that’s not what Gideon is doing. Why? It’s because he’s hiding from those “locusts,” those Midianites and those Amalekites.

The angel of the Lord shows up now. It’s like he found somebody after a hurricane still hiding in their closet and he opens the door and says, ‘Hey, hero, you can come out now.’ He says, “mighty man of valor, God is with you.” Gideon can’t receive it. Is God being sarcastic? Is God making fun? I don’t think so, because when God looks at you, He sees the God-given identity that He wants you to have. Even though you don’t see it.

When you first look in the mirror, maybe you’re like Gideon and you’re hiding because you’re afraid of worldly fears. You’ve yet to repent of that or you have this low self image. Gideon says that he is from the weakest tribe in Israel and he is the least in his father’s house. That is Gideon’s self-image, but when God looks at him, He sees a mighty warrior, a man of valor. Gideon is not there yet, but that’s what God is going to build in him.

You see, God really can’t fill up a full cup. If you already are all “high and mighty” about yourself, God won’t be able to use you. If you are an empty vessel like Gideon, God can fill you up. He can make you the man of valor that He sees in you and that you will be if you’ll answer His calling.

How is Gideon going to become this man of valor? The Lord is with him. “Am I not sending you?” He says. I’m the one authorizing you. I’m calling you and I promise you My presence. Therefore, you can be courageous.

It has been said that courage is a necessary aspect of faith that allows us to take hold of the callings and gifts that God gives us. You have to have a certain amount of courage from the Lord in order to do that. He’s encouraging Gideon to be what He’s calling him to be. God has called Gideon to save His people. Gideon can do it because God is with him.

(Pastor Gary shows a map.)

I want you to know that the first few years of planting this church, I used to “quit” every Monday. Every Monday morning I would get up and “quit” and then, before sundown, I’d “sign back up ” again. What kept me going was I knew God told me to do it, even though I didn’t feel like doing it. It would be one of them Sundays. I had so many Sundays that I would forget things because I was wearing too many “hats” in the early days. I’d forget to take up an offering. Can you imagine a preacher who forgot to take up the offering? My deacons would be at the back, holding the buckets and pointing at them. I’m closing with the benediction and I’m mad at them because they’re distracting me, but they were really trying to get my attention. This was bad news because it meant that I wouldn’t get paid that week because of how tight things were in the early days. There were times that the only thing that sustained me was the calling of God in my life. The results weren’t there; I couldn’t base it on success because I didn’t see any success. I had to just say, ‘You told me to do this God and I’m afraid , but I am not quitting because you called me. That is what would sustain me; that would keep me going.

Gideon needed a sign from the Lord here. The angel of the Lord appears and tells him that God is with him. What does he say? 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The angel of the Lord tells him that he will be sent and will save Israel. In verse 13, Gideon says this, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us…” He switches from lower case L in lord to upper case L lord in all caps. He’s starting to think, ‘this guy is talking with authority. He’s speaking for the Lord.’

Then, you notice that this angel changes. At first, he’s speaking in the third person (God said to tell you this) and then he said, “I am with you.” He switches from third person to first person. What kind of angel is this, that speaks as if he is God. Who else in the Bible speaks of God in the third person talking about His father and then will say “I am the light of the world.” Who else in the Bible speaks of God as He’s over there and God as if He is God. Who else does that? It is Christ. Christ is the only other person in the Bible that talks like this. This is evidence, I believe, of the pre-existing, pre-incarnate Christ Jesus; it is a “Christophany.” It’s an early appearance of Christ.

Gideon doesn’t know it, but this angel of the Lord is God. He is the Lord. Little by little, he figures out that he is talking to the Lord. Ultimately, if you’re looking at an English translation, you’ll see that whenever they encounter the Hebrew word, “Yahweh,” (or some pronounce it, “Jehovah) the English translation puts the word, lord, in all capital letters – “LORD.” Underneath that Hebrew word is “Yahweh,” the covenantal name of God that was revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I am that I am.”

Little by little, Gideon starts realizing that he is talking to God; he thinks he is going to die. He says, 22 “…And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” Then God says, 23 “But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Gideon builds an altar there at the terebinth tree, this big old oak-like tree with this huge canopy.

Can you just picture the pre-incarnate Christ sitting with His legs crossed, under that terebinth tree, waiting for him to go cook a goat. Gideon couldn’t go to Kroger and pick up this goat. He had to go and catch this little goat, kill it, butcher it, clean it, cook it and cook some bread. The angel of the Lord was sitting under the terebinth tree for a good spell. He waited for Gideon because Gideon was afraid. When you’re afraid and you reveal your heart to God, He’s so gentle; He waits for Gideon to finish.

After Gideon has cooked the goat and the bread, the angel of the Lord tells Gideon to put all that he has prepared on the rock. Gideon is thinking to himself, Ok, I spent a long time cooking all of this, but he does what he is told. 20 And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. Gideon thinks to himself, I’m dead. I’ve seen the face of the Lord. ” 23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. Gideon is changing. The Lord is revealing Himself to him. Gideon is starting to hear the call and he’s starting to say “yes”to it.

In the book of Joshua, God was calling Joshua. He says in Joshua 1:9 (NLT) “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I used to love it when my kids were really small and I would be in the swimming pool, at the deep end and they would be on the ledge of the pool. I would say to them, “just jump in.” I wanted them to do two things. One is that I wanted them to overcome their fear. The other was that I wanted them to trust their daddy. They would jump in my arms ; it would thrill me to see them do it. I can see God like that to Gideon– ‘Come on. Trust me. I’m with you. Jump. Don’t fear. Don’t fear the water. Don’t fear the deep end. Just obey me.’ That’s what God wants. Let’s keep reading.

Judges 6:25-32 (ESV) 25 That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old,” (That’s a strange detail, don’t you agree? Get two bulls. One of them is your daddy’s bull and the other one is a seven year old bull. God knows your stuff . He knows how old your stuff is. The number, “seven,” was earlier because they’d been under slavery, under servitude, to the Midianites for seven years. Maybe that’s got something to do with it or maybe it’s the number of completion.) and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it (The Asherah is like a pole carved in the shape of a woman) 26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, (This means that it’s up on a mountain. It is high up on his dad’s land) with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” 27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid (There’s that word, “fear” again. He is afraid of his family. He’s not just afraid of the town. He’s afraid of his own dad and his own family.)of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night. 28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him , him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” 32 Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.”


3. We can remove the strongholds from our lives.

You see, God doesn’t want you to have two “altars” in your heart. He doesn’t want you to worship two gods in your heart. Gideon has built this altar called Jehovah Shalom over there under the tree. That night, God brings to his mind, ‘Hey, wait a minute, you have another altar. You have another altar at your daddy’s house, an altar to Baal and Asherah. I want you to go and tear down that altar to Baal and cut down that Asherah pole. I want you to build a new altar to Me.

The altar of Baal was made out of stone; it was probably a statue like a bull. Baal was the God of storms; he would bring rain. He was the god of power and war. He, also, would make them prosperous. They would worship Baal. The way that they would worship him is that they would give him their newly-born children; they would offer them as a human sacrifice to him. This was a vile kind of worship.

Baal had a consort named Asherah. They would carve her out of a tree. There might be several images. She was always kind of bodacious the way they drew her. She was the goddess of fertility. This was what was going on in Israel. This is what was happening there in the middle of this Israelite town on his daddy’s property.

God said to Gideon to clean out your house. Get the porn out of your house; get this false worship out of your house. The Israelites hadn’t stopped worshiping Yahweh. They still worshiped Him. They still kept the holidays and the festivals; they just added on the worship of the worldly things. God will not allow that . He is the Lord God. “I am your God and you shall have no other before me.” He wants to be the Lord of your life. You can’t have two “altars” in your heart.

We see here that Gideon actually might be better off than he thought because he has ten servants that he could call on that helped him tear this altar down. He hitched up his team of bulls. Isn’t it ironic that God wanted Gideon to offer a bull on the place that the bull god used to be? God wanted him to take that seven year old bull, take the wood from the Asherah pole and chop it up to use as firewood because He wants to take the evidence of that old life of his and use it for his new life .

Here’s what Jesus says about having two masters. Matthew 6:24 (NLT) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” This is what Jesus said. You have to choose. You can’t have two “altars.”

In 2 Corinthians, it talks about how we can pull down these idols, these strongholds in our life. It says, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV) 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” We have the power in Jesus to tear down these strongholds in our lives and to have only one “altar,” one Lord in our lives.

Are you trying to worship at two “altars?” You believe in Jesus. It’s just that you trust these other things too. You might say, ‘Yeah, but this whole thing about idolatry, I don’t have any idols in my backyard. I don’t have what you’re talking about.

Pastor JD Greer says there are “two sure signs of an idol: disobedience and anxiety.” ‘He says, “Disobedience and anxiety is like the smoke that comes off of false idolatry because it’s whatever you trust more than you trust God that causes you to be disobedient.”

Are you being disobedient in a relationship because you don’t trust God enough? You don’t trust His word enough? Are you a young woman, a young girl, and your boyfriend is saying to you, “If you love me, you’ll let me.” Well, the truth is, if he loved you, he wouldn’t be asking you if you loved him. He would honor you until he asked you to marry him. But , we’re afraid that we’re going to be lonely. So we say, “Everybody’s doing it.” Everybody’s doing it in the world. We fear the world, we fear loneliness, we fear rejection from our boyfriend or from our girlfriend more than we fear the word of God. Maybe, you’ve been living together. You’ve been living together because you fear commitment; you come from a situation where you’ve had a bad history with marriage. You’re afraid of that again, so you’re living together. You’re not married; you are in a “limbo” place. You fear loneliness or you fear rejection more than you fear God’s word. Maybe, you’re cheating on your taxes or you’re stealing from your employer because you bow down to the “altar” of Baal because he’s the one who brings you prosperity and you think that you can take a shortcut. Besides, the government is cheating you, so you are going to cheat them back. Your employer didn’t give you the raise they were supposed to and so you work it out in your mind. You fear being without more than you fear God. We tend to go towards those things that we’re afraid of and then we are disobedient or we’re afraid and we disobey God because of an idol, but Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money at the same time.” Let’s keep reading.

Judges 6:33-40 (ESV) Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites (That’s his father’s tribe or clan)were called out to follow him. (Remember, they were ready to kill him just a few verses ago. Now they’re following him. He is clothed with spiritual power and he blows the trumpet. They rally to him.) 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them (These are other tribes of Israel and they went up to meet him. God’s really using him. This is the guy hiding out earlier, remember? Now, he’s clothed with power.) 36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. (He’s finally made it to the threshing floor. Remember earlier, he was at the floor where they make the wine. He was . Now, he’s up on the mountain, but he’s having doubts. I wonder if this fleece was from that goat he killed earlier to feed the angel of the Lord. I don’t know where he got this fleece, but he’s got a fleece there at his tent.) If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.


4. We can ask God to help with our doubts.

God has moved Gideon from where he was hiding out to where He’s given him a new name, Jerubbaal. He’s the guy who overcomes Baal. God gives him his first assignment and he accomplishes it. He tears down the altar of Baal and he cuts down the Asherah pole. The people thought they were going to kill him, but then they changed their minds because surprisingly, his father supports him. Gideon thought his father would be against him.

Then, the spirit of the Lord clothes him. What does that mean? It’s like he’s received the armor of light. He’s got the armor of God on him. He gets bold and grabs a trumpet. The enemy shows up in the Jezreel Valley, where they are camped out. Gideon is up on this mountain and he sees his enemy before him. He’s gotten everybody together. They’re all looking at him. OK, You’re the leader. You’re Jerubbaal. We heard about you. You tore down your father’s altar. We know that we’re going to follow you. Gideon gets alone and wonders, God. Are you sure it is me?

It’s kind of like the way you felt the night before you got married. Everything is ready; everything is paid for. We have all of these people here. I wonder if I could scoot out, if anybody would notice. It’s like before your first day of school, first day of college or your first day on a new job.

You may have heard people say, “I’m going to put out my fleece.” I’m not sure that’s a timeless biblical principle that God’s trying to teach us here. I’m not sure this is how you know God’s will. You can’t look at everything in the Old Testament like this. Gideon doesn’t want God to be angry at him, 39 “… Let not your anger burn against me;” Gideon wants to test God one more time.

I remember when I was younger having the fear of asking a girl out. I was a teenager and I’m thinking about this girl that I want to ask out. Listen, young people, you don’t know how hard it was to ask a girl out. In those days, families only had one phone. Ours was a black phone, hanging on the wall in the hallway of our home. My whole family would know that I was making a call. Her father would answer the phone and I would hang up. You had to go through a lot just to make a phone call. I would go outside to my basketball goal. God, if it’s your will for me to ask this girl out, I’ll make this shot. The ball would bounce off and I would say, ‘Best two out of three, God. Best two out of three.’ You know you’ve done it, you’ve “put out the fleece.” That’s “putting out the fleece.”

Now, why didn’t God get mad at him? Why didn’t God say, ‘I’ve called you. I’ve promised you. I’ve clothed you with the Spirit. I have this army here listening to you. You have a new name. Why in the world now?’ God recognizes that Gideon is afraid. When Gideon is all alone, he says, ‘God, are You sure You called me?’ God is full of grace and God loves him. Gideon needed affirmation.

You can bring your troubles to the Lord. You can go to the Lord and He’s full of grace for you. I’m not saying you should do that all the time because doubt is the opposite of faith. This is not a faithful night that Gideon is having. This is a troubled, doubtful night, but God loves him. He’s building this man up. He’s making him a man of valor. He’s making him a mighty man. He is working with what He’s got to work with, which is how He works with us. You see, God encourages us to ask for direction and wisdom.

It says in James 1:5-6 (ESV) 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” Are you struggling with something? Are you feeling some doubts? Ask God about it. Don’t stay in a doubtful state, but be careful about asking for a sign.

Jesus warns about that in Matthew 12:38-39 (ESV) 38 “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Remember, Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and then he came out alive.

Jesus said, ‘Here’s the sign that I’m going to give you. You’re going to crucify me and three days later, I’m getting out. I’m coming up from the tomb.’ There’s your sign. That’s why we don’t need to ask for a sign. We’ve already been given a sign. It’s the grace of Jesus. He appears here to Gideon, but Gideon doesn’t recognize Him. No one will recognize Him until we get over to the New Testament but we see in the Old Testament that He’s already at work. He’s already at work and He’s already been at work in your life. He’s already given you a sign.

Have you believed in the Good News that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, on the third day He was raised to life and He lives today? He wants to come and live in you so that you are an overcomer, so that you overcome all fear of this world and only one healthy fear remains and it’s the fear of displeasing your Father. I want to follow You, Jesus, in all things. This is the call that God gives us and this is the story of Gideon and how God called him.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for Your word. Thank You, most of all, for Jesus, who is so gentle in how He waits, how He seeks us out and how He calls us by a better name and a better identity than one we’ve ever heard before. Are you here this morning and you’ve never given your life to Him? He’s the true Savior that you’ve been seeking. Would you give your life to Him? You can do it right now in prayer. Just pray with me, ‘Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, He was raised from the grave and that He lives today. Come and live in me . Make me a child of God and forgive me of my sin. I want to follow You all the days of my life.’ If you’re praying that prayer of faith, believing, He will save you. Others are here and you’re a Christ follower already, but you’ve been bowing down to two “altars” in your heart. You follow Jesus, but yet you have fear of what the world says about you or what the culture believes. You’re trying to live in two worlds. It creates so much anxiety and it’s causing disobedience in your life. Would you repent right now? Just say, ‘Lord, forgive me. I turn this area over to You. I’m pulling down strongholds in my life, by the power of Jesus. I want to follow You wholly as the only Lord in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.