- Sermon Notes
In the Depths of Despair
Intro – Lots of snow, so we can’t go!
Have you ever felt stuck? Full of hopes, but hopeless? Seemingly everything you have tried has not worked and in the difficulty, recognized a sense of despair?
Difficulty and even oppression can enter our lives through circumstances both inside and outside of our control. The common denominator in these situations is a feeling of despair and hopelessness.
This morning we are going to read in Judges chapter 6. Here we see a generation of people who continually turned away from the Lord despite all that He had done. Israelites had been undisturbed for 40 years after being delivered from the Canaanites. After this 40-year period of peace, the people again turned their hearts away from God and were oppressed by the Midianites for 7 years. This oppression caused overwhelming fear.
In their despair, they would move to the mountains and shelter themselves in clefts, caves and strongholds. Their crops and livestock would be taken, leaving them in fear.
Read Judges 6:1-16
After the Israelites turned away from God, the Midianites prevailed against the people of Israel in every way. There crops and livestock would be taken, they had no way to defend themselves and no hope.
They called upon the Lord in their despair and He sent a prophet, then an angel of the Lord to Gideon. Gideon would lead the Israelites in battle, but it would be a victory that would come by the hand of God alone. Often in our lives fear and oppression can cause us to run, become angry or even give up.
I. Call Upon the Lord
- The people in Israel were in great fear of the men from Midian. What would happen is the Midianites would let the men from Israel do all of the farming and all of the harvesting and then come and take the harvest.
Illus - How grain was winnowed.
- The men of Israel were depressed and disappointed.
- After walking away from the Lord they again realized their need for Him after Midianite oppression.
- When they called upon the Lord, He reminded them of His sovereign hand, He also reminded them of their lack of faith.
- Despite their turning away, he was still on the throne and knew right where they were.
A. He sees you where you are
- The Israelites called to God and he provided a prophet to speak to them.
- Not only did he provide a prophet, he sent an angel of the Lord to Gideon.
- This angel of the Lord was an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament.
- Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress in order to save it from the Midianites.
- He winnowed his grain cleverly, but less effectively and full of fear.
Illus. Playing cards with my nephew.
- While Gideon found a way to avoid the Midianites, it was essentially a way to accommodate his fear.
- The angel of the Lord called out to Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior."
- Gideon’s response, was “pardon me, my lord” …"If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happen to us? And where are all his miracles?"
- Gideon had come to the conclusion that the Lord had abandoned Israel.
Illus. Falling off my coaches radar.
- We don’t fall off of God’s radar when our performance is lacking.
- The caution for us is to not blame God when we encounter trials and tribulations. God is still on the throne and as His people, we should continually
call upon Him.
- He knows your story, past, present, and future.
- Gideon thought that all of God's miracles were behind them, but the Lord knew the situation, he also knew their potential.
B. He addresses you as you will be
- The Lord had called out to Gideon and said, "The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior."
- Gideon was anything but a valiant warrior at the time.
Illus. My dad used to wake me up to his hopes of who I might become.
- “My family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house.”
- God's answer is indicative of who Gideon will be, "Surely I will be with you, and you will defeat Midian as one man.”
Illus - God gave Simon the name Peter, which means “rock,” while he was still a fisherman. He would later tell Peter that He would build His church upon that rock.
- God knows who you will be, and he addresses you according to who you will become.
- He is looking for those who will rise up to their calling. Inadequate but willing to step out in faith.
2 Chronicles 16:9, The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (NKJ)
- Gideon declared that he was a nobody, how could he save Israel? His family was the least and he was the least in his family.
- God wanted to turn Gideon’s eyes to who he would be, despite his autobiography.
Illus- You’ll renegotiate when you’re my age.
- God knows who we will be and will be with us when we rise up. It is not about who we are, but who we are through Him.
- Often we wonder how we will get there, but it is the Lord who will provide a way.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 God has chosen the foolish and weak things.
- We should be encouraged when we see so many examples in the scriptures that God delights to use those who are weak to demonstrate the greatness of
Illus – David was the youngest of eight brothers and was considered too insignificant to make a difference in Israel's war with the Philistines.
- Let us not allow our insignificance (real or perceived) to keep us from what God has called us to do.
- The Lord addressed Gideon as a valiant warrior before he was one, and against the odds, God would ensure that Gideon would be exactly that!
II. Trust in Him Alone
- Gideon had doubts, but God had made it clear that he wanted to use Gideon to lead Israel in victory.
- He was becoming a man of strength, and in his despair, he was called to more.
Illus. The path to battle.
- Against all odds, Gideon would need to rely on the Lord alone for victory.
- The Lord had said, “Surely, I will be with you…”
Illus - When the disciples had been fishing all night, Jesus told them to “cast their nets on the other side.” There is a difference between working and working as unto the Lord. He was now with the disciples.
- Trust the Lord for your next step, take His counsel.
A. Don’t take the counsel of your fears
- The Midianite army was 135,000 strong.
- 32,000 men responded to Gideon’s call, this turned into 10,000 and then 300.
- If I am Gideon, I am seeing the odds go from 4:1, to 13.5:1, and finally 450:1.
- When we see the odds against us increase, often fear also increases. We can’t take the counsel of our fears, rather we must pursue faith.
Illus. General George Patton.
- Whose counsel are you trusting?
Illus. Recently I read some published facts about lefties.
- These “facts” are not a real promising vote of confidence for those who are left handed. But they aren’t the “facts” that I base my next steps on.
- I prefer God’s narrative for my life.
Ephesians 1:1-8, Blessed with every spiritual blessing; chosen, holy, and blameless before God; redeemed and forgiven.
- We may be prone to all sorts of things, but are overcomers through his grace and mercy.
- For the Israelites, the counsel of their fears caused such despair that they headed for the mountains to live in caves.
- The Midianites found them there as well. What you fear won’t relent without trust and faith in Jesus.
2 Chronicles 20:15, thus says the Lord to you, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's.”
- Through the counsel of fear, we stand defeated, through faith in Christ, we are victorious.
- When you are in despair, trust in the Lord, not your fears.
B. Pursue confidence through faith
- The scriptures have a lot to say about fear. What is evident is that fear is the opposite of faith. In fact, it gets in the way of faith.
- The more you look at your problems, the greater they become.
- If you keep your eyes on Jesus, your faith will become greater.
Illus – Peter got out of the boat and walked on water towards Jesus, but when his eyes focused on the storm he began to sink.
- As the Lord directed Gideon to keep only 300 of what was once 32,000 men, there must have been a great deal of concern and fear.
- In despair and concern in your life, trust in the Lord alone. God had proven that He was with Gideon no matter what the odds were.
- You must recognize, even in trial and difficulty, God is still with you and He is for you.
Illus. When I leave the room, Eli thinks I am gone.
- When you are in the depths of hopelessness and despair, call upon the Lord. Trust in Him, He is still on the throne.
Judges 6:1-16 NASB