Close Encounters: Part 4

If you have noticed these close encounter Bible stories are all about preincarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. They are also called Theophanies or even Christophanies. These are simply real life appearances of Jesus on earth before the virgin birth. These stories can be found all throughout the Old Testament. Each time we see one of these Theophanies it is in a very personal way. This is the way Jesus works. He loves to get close and personal to His people. We have looked at three of these personal close encounters already. Today’s close encounter is with a man named Gideon, a lowly farm boy. Notice this conversation that the Lord had with Gideon. See how God can take anyone and do mighty and marvelous things through them. There is a lot to learn here for us all.

Judges 6:12-16 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

A Conversation with Christ

I. What can we learn from: The Lord’s Presentation and Compliment?
A. Look at His Appearance
* The Lord comes to us in many different ways:
1. To Abraham He came as a distant Traveler
2. To Jacob He came as a mysterious Wrestler
3. To Joshua He came as a military Leader
4. And to Gideon, “The Angle of the Lord”, who is God’s Negotiator.
* One thing we can learn from all Theophanies is that God will show up in the way we need Him most.
B. Listen to His Accolades
1. “The Lord is with thee”
a. What a blessing for God to say that is with you.
b. Knowing that The Lord is with you is one of the most comforting things to know.
2. “Thou mighty man of valor”
a. Gideon was not a hero or a fighter of any kind; he was just a farm boy.
b. The Lord told Gideon this because this is what he needed to hear for encouragement.
c. The Lord also gave this compliment to Gideon in respect to his future accomplishments.
* The Lord does not often give away compliments to people. Why is this?
* God is not impressed by our worldly success, but only our faithfulness and obedience to Him.
* So what is God saying about you now that is developing you for the future? (Good or Bad)

II. What can we learn from: Gideon’s Provoking and Complaining?
* Here we see Gideon complaining and asking some provoking questions to our Lord.
* Listen also at Gideon’s tone as he nags away to God.
A. Listen to his provoking questions:
1. He had a question of Uncertainty, “IF”
2. He had a question of Locality, “Where”
3. He had a question about History, “Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?”
B. Listen to his complaining statements.
1. He made a statement of disgust & aversion “Ohhhh my Lordddd”
2. He made a statement of desertion & abandonment “The Lordd has forsaken uss”
3. He made a statement of distrust & accomplishment “Delivered us into the hands of the Midianites”
* Gideon questioned God about the problems he and his nation faced, and about God’s apparent lack of help. What he didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey and neglect God. How easy it is to overlook personal accountability, and blame our problems on God and others. Unfortunately this does not solve our problems or bring us closer to God. These types of statements and attitude lead to the path of rebellion and backsliding. Gideon wrongly assumed that God had given up on his people. But it was the people who had given up on God. They knew what God expected of them. They had his laws, but they chose not to obey them. When problems come, most of the time the first place to look is within. Our first action should be confession to God of sins that may have created these problems in the first place.

III. What can we learn from: The Lord’s Plan and His Command?
A. Look at Christ’s Command.
1. “Go”
2. The Lord also told Isaiah to “Go, and tell”; Jeremiah to “Go, and cry”; Ezekiel to “Go, and speak”
3. In the New Testament we see Jesus Himself using the command “Go” over 100 times.
4. What is He telling you to “Go, and do”???
B. Look at Christ’s Plan
* Another thing we can see in all the Theophanies is the plan that God shared with the people He visited.
* God has different plans for different people:
1. For Abraham: God revealed His plan to destroy Sodom & Gomorra.
2. For Jacob: God revealed His plan to use him and his twelve sons to be His chosen family: Israel.
3. For Joshua: God revealed His plan to destroy Jericho.
4. For Gideon: To save Israel from the Midianites.
5. What plan does God have in store for you?

IV. What can we learn from: Gideon’s Plea and Clarification?
* Gideon quickly wanted to clarify things to God just who he was with his excuses. Listen again to Gideon’s pathetic tone in his voice. “Oh my Lord”
A. Listen to his excuse of Inadequacy.
1. “Wherewith shall I save Israel?”
2. He was saying, “What can I do to save Israel?” I am a nobody with zero military skills. I am not that smart or strong. How can I do this thing you want me to do? Or simply, I can’t do this God, you must be mistaken.
B. Listen to his excuse of Ancestry.
1. “My family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.”
2. He was saying, “Not only am I nothing, I come from a family of nothing.” We are just simple poor county folk and can’t offer anything. Not only are we a poor family we are from Manasseh, you know it is not part of the original 12 tribes. On top of all that I am the runt of the litter. Surely you can’t use me.
* God promised to give him the strength needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise for
strength and success, Gideon made only excuses. He saw only his limitations and weaknesses. He failed to see
God’s limitless power and how He could work through him.
* Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Although God promises us the tools and strength we
need, we often make excuses too.

V. What can we learn from: The Lord’s Promise and Comfort?
A. Here we see the promise of the Lord’s Future Comfort.
1. “Surely”.
* This is a sure thing! You can bank on it! When God says it’s a sure thing it is a sure thing!
2. “I will be with thee”.
* The Lord Jesus is saying no matter what you face I will be there. No matter who you face I will be there. No matter when you face trouble I will be there. Now that is comfort!
B. Next we see the promise of Gideon’s Future Conquest.
1. “Thou shalt smite the Mideanites.”
* How much easier would it be to go to a football game, basketball game, etc, knowing that your team was going to win? Think of the confidence you would have if you were the team captain and God told you that your team was going to win tonight. Folks if you are saved today you are on the winning side. What confidence and comfort that brings to us saved folk to know that sin and Satan has been defeated.
2. “As one man.”
* God was telling Gideon that not only are you going to be victorious, but I am going to single you out as the leader to bring this victory. We read later on where Gideon, under God’s direction, chose 300 men. Gideon went on to lead them in war against thousands and was overwhelmingly victorious in battle.

Wow, another awesome battle story! This time God uses a nobody to deliver His people from a very powerful opposition. It just goes to show you that we serve a big God who is bigger than any of our problems. If we would just completely put our trust in Him and allow Him to take care of our problems, we would be much better off. Also, God is not interested in your abilities. He is only interested in your availabilities. Our Lord loves to work through us common folk, which gives us encouragement and brings Him glory.

Are you struggling with some kind of opposition that is too big for you to handle? Remember how big our God is. Get close to Him and He will get you through whatever you are facing. Is God telling you do something or calling you to a position that you think you are not qualified for? Here in our story God turned a runt of the litter farm boy into a great and mighty leader of Israel. Please allow Him to work closely in your life and He will turn your nothingness into greatness. This always pleases the Lord and draws people to His throne of grace.

God Bless and Happy Hunting.

Posted by Mark Newell

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