By Paul Turner

The gospel of Luke presents Jesus as a man.  In laying out the case for His humanity, we come across Luke 2:52:     “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

In other words, Jesus became a man.  He moved from childhood to adulthood.  He grew up physically and mentally.  This is an important verse because we know that He was preparing for 3 years of service to His heavenly Father which ended with His physical torture and death on the cross.  For the sins of the world, He needed to grow up!

Each of us has gone through, or will go through, this same process of growing up.  If you are reading this, it is safe to assume you have already gone through the transformation from childhood to adulthood.  Some of us are old men, others are middle aged, and still others are young men.  As we survey the current state of the world in which we live, a reality check tells us, we need men!  Not just biological males with he/him pronouns and not men like Demas, who love this present world (II Timothy 4:10) .  We need men of God who follow after, pursue, and chase after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness (power under control).  Men who, “fight the good fight of faith” and who live the eternal life of which they are in possession (I Timothy 6:11 – 12)

With the need of the hour before us, one must ask, where have all the men of God gone?  Many churches are devoid of men…not just men of God, but men period.  Of the men that are attending, many are ungodly hypocrites dragged to church by their godly wives.  Still other men in churches are simply unwilling to stand.  Far too many men are embroiled in one immoral sin or another.  Sadly, many of these men, in all these categories, are fathers who are so self-absorbed they fail to realize the impact their godlessness is having on their sons and the other young men in the church who are desperate and hungry for a godly man to emulate.  If you are a godly man, I pray you realize the impact you have on the young men in your family and in your church.  They are watching you.

If you are a godly man, young or old, I also want you to realize you are NOT alone!  There are others, just like you!  I Kings 18 regales the historical account of the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  Elijah was greatly outnumbered, and the prophets of Baal had home court advantage.  Mt. Carmel was the supposed dwelling place of Baal.  After God uses Elijah in a mighty way, the following chapter records Elijah in a low moment.  In his despair, the Lord lets him know there are 7000 men like him, who have not bent the knee to Baal.  That is good news and bad.  It is good news because Elijah is not alone, but at the same time, that is bad news because Israel, at that time in their history, numbered in the millions.  The supermajority of men in Israel were Baal worshippers!  Thankfully, we know from Scripture that God does not need large numbers of men, just faithful men.  And, just as Elijah was not alone, neither are you.

So, how do we move from our perch on the wire of complacency and inactivity into a place of faithfulness?  I always find truth and history to be inspiring and motivating and I believe God’s Word agrees.  Hebrews 12:1 talks of the “Heroes of the Faith” (The theme of our Family Bible School this summer.) and says, “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”.

Let’s start with truth.  Romans 8:35 asks a very pertinent question that we, as believers, must know the answer to, if we are to walk faithfully.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword?”  The answer comes two verses later in verse 37 with a resounding NOTHING!  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”  You and I are super conquerors through Him!  That is the absolute truth!  Anyone who has trusted in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for their salvation is more than a conqueror through Christ!  Ephesians 3:20 furthers this truth by emphasizing that God is able and that we have His power working in us.  Sometimes, however, we do not feel like a conqueror, and sometimes we don’t feel able.  We live in a culture that thrives on feelings, and sadly we often make decisions based on how we feel rather than what is true.  II Timothy 1:9 tells us that God has called all who are saved to serve Him.  His wisdom should trump our feelings.

Now for some history to inspire and hopefully motivate us.  Judges 6 opens with a telling statement of the condition of the people of Israel.  Scripture records that they did evil.  At other times in the nation’s history, Scripture simply says they did that which was right in their own eyes.  While doing what is right in their own eyes was bad enough, I believe doing evil was the next level.  Because of their evil doing, the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Midianites for 7 years.  Verses 3 through 6 records in brief detail the events of those 7 years.  Israel hid in the dens, caves, and strong holds of the mountains while the Midianite masses overran their promised land and pillaged and plundered everything without resistance.  Things become so dire that verse 7 tells us they finally cry out to the Lord.  Up until that moment, they were faithfully worshipping the gods of the Amorites (vs 10).  Where were the men?

In Judges 6:11, we find a young man named Gideon hiding from the Midianites in a winepress.  Just like all the other men in Israel’s culture, he was hiding.  He was a coward.  He was NOT leading.  The church today is filled with Judges 6:11 Gideons.  Men who keep their heads down and their mouths shut as the culture overruns their position.  They don’t lead in their marriage, home, church, or community.  But God was calling Gideon for His purpose.  God was calling Gideon to lead!

I find it fascinating, in Judges 6:12, before Gideon has done anything, that the angel of the Lord (preincarnate Christ) calls the coward in the winepress a “mighty man of valour”.  Gideon was called a mighty man of valor, not because of anything he had done, but because the Lord was with Gideon.  You and I are “more than conquerors” who cannot be separated from the love of God according to Romans 8:37, 39.  That label, placed on us, is not because of anything we have done, or will do.  It is a label given us, solely based upon what Christ has done.

Judges 6:13 – 24 tells of the many excuses Gideon throws out to counter God’s wisdom in picking him to be a mighty man of valor.  It sounds a lot like Moses and his many excuses when God called him to lead Israel.  By contrast, the apostle Paul understood when he was weak that he was strong (II Corinthians 12:6 – 10) How did Paul know this truth?  His faith had been tested and proved many times by the time he was inspired of God to pen those words.  Paul, through experience had shifted from dependence on himself to complete dependence upon God.  Young Gideon had yet to learn dependence on God.  He was about to.

At this time in Gideon’s life, he was living in a family and city of Baal worshippers, (Judges 6:25 – 32) and the Lord, who was with him, was about to call him to “clean house”.  Gideon obeys that very night.  He takes 10 servants (11 men in a nation of millions) smashes the alter, cuts down the grove, builds an alter to the Lord, and offers a burnt offering to the Lord with his fathers young bullock and the wood from the grove.  God used one faithful man to desecrate and destroy their idol worshipping strong hold.  One…faithful…man!

There is a noticeable pattern in Scripture that we see from time to time.  Gideon was faithful in the small things, and so God used him in more ways and to do greater things.  The Apostle Paul’s journeys, as recorded in the book of Acts, subsequently grew in length.  The maps in your Bible bear this out. You and I need to be faithful in whatever God sets before us, and allow God to use us however he sees fit.  Often, those first steps of faith take place in our marriage, our home, or our church.

Not long after Gideon destroys the grove, the annual Midianite invasion begins (Judges 6:33 – 35).  However, after seven long years of keeping their heads down and being overrun, Gideon blows the trumpet ( a call to battle), and men respond.  They respond because of the faithfulness of one man.  They respond because they are personally affected by his example.  Thirty-two thousand men show up because of the faithfulness of one.

This historical event ends with a resounding victory.  The irony in Gideon’s story is that it begins with cowardice at a winepress, and ends with godly victory…at a winepress.  The surroundings are the same, but faithfulness breaks the cycle, and produces a vastly different result.

Sometimes we wonder, “What can one man do?”.  We think, “Does what I am doing really matter?  Am I making a difference?”  What I do know, is that one man doing nothing will accomplish nothing.  Ungodly, faithless, self-absorbed men will be just like every other ungodly, faithless, self-absorbed man.  In stark contrast, one faithful obedient man can and will rally others to the spiritual battle.

Let me leave you with one parting thought.  Judges 8:10 gives us the odds of the battle in which Gideon led the men to a godly victory.  The Midianites numbered 135,000 of which 15,000 survived.  In contrast, Gideon’s army of torch bearing, sword wielding men was winnowed down to 300, of which all survived (Judges 8:4).  Those were 45 to 1 odds, but the underdogs were on the Lord’s side.  The truth is, God could have achieved the same victory with even less men.  Deuteronomy 32:30 is part of the song of Moses and says,

“How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?”

According to the song of Moses, Gideon needed only 27 men, but God gave him 300.  We live in an age where mega churches are viewed as the pinnacle of spiritual achievement.  Pastors are celebrities.  Servant leadership is a thing of the past.  The popular sentiment is, “the bigger the footprint in the community the better”.  Books are written to assist churches on how to become the next mega church.  More people and more money must mean God is blessing.  God didn’t need an army!  He needed an excuse wielding coward of a man to simply trust Him!  With that one man, He ended Baal worship in Gideon’s family.  With that one man, He ended Baal worship in Gideon’s home town.  With that one man, He defeated a culturally powerful, marauding army.  With that one man, He brought peace to Israel for 40 years.

Whatever happened to godly men?  Who among us will be Gideon?  Who will faithfully be the man of God He has called us to be?

“But thou, o man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”  II Timothy 6:11 – 12