SBTS chapel live blog: Bryan Chapell Mullins Lectures – Judges 7

Communications Staff — March 30, 2010

Preacher: Bryan Chapell

Text/title: Judges 7 – Use for Useless Heroes

I had the privilege when I graduated from Covenant Seminary of pastoring the oldest and largest church in our association. To tell you I felt like hot stuff would be an understatement. What I didn’t recognize soon enough was reputation is nothing compared to the weight of the responsibility of pastoring.

I grew up in a farming community. I learned what happens when income starts dropping, alcohol starts coming in. When alcohol starts being abused, abuse happens. And when abuse happens, then marital infidelity happens. And when marital infidelity happens, children born out of wedlock come along. Abortion happens. Depression sets in.

When I stepped into my pulpit, I had ideas for how to combat this culture. My basic message was: stop. Just stop it. That is what I said. That is what I preached. That is what I told people. My ministry was not effective. And it began to wear on me. I became burned out. I told my wife, “I am just discouraging people.” I was considering leaving the ministry.

About this time, I picked up Sidney Griedanus’ book, “Sola Scriptura.” I began reading it. Griedanus talked about how you should preach about the lives of David and Abraham. He asked if we should hold these men up as moral examples to be followed. Act by faith and kill your Goliaths. Is that how we should preach? Well, what about Bathsheba? What about the man that David murdered?

Griedanus’ point was simple: these (David and Abraham) are not the heroes of the text. There is only one hero in the text. And that is the God who cares about people enough to use people like David and Abraham to work in the world.

God is on the scenes throughout Scripture. He uses sinful people throughout Scripture. He uses sinful people like you and me.

I began to realize that God has not called me only to give moral instruction. In fact, that should not be the driving force of my preaching. The driving force should be hope. Hope for sinners. Grace for sinners.

Judges 7 – Use for Useless Heroes

If you are in a position that whether by your failures or faults that you think God can’t use you, then accounts like Gideon are for you.

Gideon’s fear

In Judges 6, we learn about Gideon’s fears and in Judges 7 we learn that God can still use him. In Judges 6, we learn that Gideon is threshing wheat in a winepress. Gideon should be out in the field threshing wheat so that the chaff will blow away. But he is not because he is afraid of the Midianites.

Gideon’s fear is obvious.

His fear is also offensive.

The angel of the Lord came to Gideon and Gideon began to ask him why Israel was under oppression, if indeed the Lord was with them.

Gideon then turns to accusation, “But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

“It is your fault, Lord,” Gideon is saying. We might say, “It is your fault, God. You are sovereign. It is your fault that I am suffering.”

Gideon asks for a sign. And, amazingly, the Lord gives him a sign. Fire sprang up from a rock and consumed meat and the unleavened cakes. Pretty good sign.

The Lord then gives Gideon a warm-up exercise. Before the Lord sends Gideon against more than 100,000 Midianites, He sends him to tear down the altar in his dad’s backyard.

And Gideon does … but he does it at night.

And before Gideon goes to lead Israel against the Midianites, he asks God to give him another sign. Twice.

Gideon is a scared, fearing man.

Chapell’s fear; your fear

I emphasize Gideon’s fear so much because I can relate to it so well.

Chapell recounted an experience of struggling with fear at a veiled threat from a man over Chapell’s leadership at Covenant.

I need Gideon. I need to be reminded that God can work through men who have fear.

I don’t know what you are afraid of. I just want to remind you, even you are afraid, God is with you.

Gideon’s fraility

Gideon is not just telling us about a God who saves us when we are fearful. He is telling us that He is with the most frail of people.

You don’t take 300 men against 135,000 people. The message here is that if Israel wins the battle, it will only be because God gives it to them. God works through 300 men who have idols in their backyard, and turn against men who tear them down, to defeat a mighty army.

What God wants to remind me and you is that we may not be in positions of great esteem. God wants to remind you that He uses frail people to do amazing things.

Gideon’s flaws

God uses fearful people. He uses frail people. And ultimately, He uses the most terribly flawed people.

After winning the battle against the Midianites, Gideon took the plunder from the victory and fashions it into an ephod that people idolized. Through the ephod, Gideon was said to be able to tell the future. So, Gideon won the victory and then turns and fashions another god that Israel pursues and worships. Gideon betrays God and God blesses him.

God uses fearful, frail, flawed men

Grace is pretty disturbing isn’t it? Despite Gideon’s flaws, He received the blessing of God.

God doesn’t do our math. If God did our math, every one of us would stand condemned. We would be in hell and we would deserve it. But God says, I will rescue you. I will rescue you, though you are fearful and frail and flawed.

This passage should tell us to look for a Redeemer. In some of the most surprising and amazing ways, the Lord will show us that He will save us. In some of the most surprising and amazing ways, the Lord shows His people that He will save them throughout the pages of Scripture.

God uses useless people for great and eternal things. He is the rescuing God who shows us His grace over and over again.

The Gospel is real. God can take people who afraid and frail and greatly flawed and pour His glory out of them.

He can even use people like me and you. He used Gideon: He can use us, too.

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