Art of War: Unlikely Heroes

Joshua 12 – Judges 7



Midianites came up like locusts with their flocks and consumed and terrorized the land.

[Jdg 6:3-5 NKJV] 3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it.

This was an old enemy of Israel — they had joined with Moab bacon Numbers 25, at the advice of Balaam, to send women into the camp of Israel and seduce them to sacrifice to their Midianite gods.

[Num 25:1, 6 NKJV] 1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. … 6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who [were] weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

God had commanded Israel to destroy the Midianites, which they did, but some were left alive

[Num 31:7, 9 NKJV] 7 And they warred against the Midianites, just as the LORD commanded Moses, and they killed all the males. … 9 And the children of Israel took the women of Midian captive, with their little ones, and took as spoil all their cattle, all their flocks, and all their goods.

Now years later Midianites, who held a grudge all these years, have now grown into a very populous nation. The Bible says more than could be numbered! And they come up as Israel’s old enemy to destroy the land and the people. The Bible tells us that Israel is so afraid of the Midianites they make caves, and holes in the mountains to live in]

Who inspired Midian to war against Israel? (Remember the snakes in the wilderness? When Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, the hand of God no longer restrained the plans of the enemy)

[Rev 7:1 NKJV] 1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.

[Job 1:12 NKJV] 12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has [is] in your power; only do not lay a hand on his [person].” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

  • God sometimes allow Satan to bring trials in our life, to demonstrate something essential in

His kingdom, or to develop an essential trait in us (Romans “produces character”)

[Rom 5:3-4 NKJV] 3 And not only [that], but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

  • Sometimes, like in the case of Israel, the trial is the result of us stepping outside of God’s protection — in this case the will of Satan is being performed not the will of God, to destroy.

[Jdg 6:1 NKJV] 1 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years,


Now, is God to be blamed when bad things happen to us? We would only blame God if we felt that He was unjust, unkind, or unloving. We blame those who we feel have wronged us! But anything God allows, He allows for our good — in the case of Israel, what did their suffering produce that was good?

[Jdg 6:6-8 NKJV] 6 So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. 7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, 8 that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage;

[Hos 5:15 NKJV] 15 I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

Even though the Midianites came on the land as a result of Israel’s wickedness — when we read the story from outside the story, when we see the trials of others without facing the trials ourselves, we see that the trials led Israel who had totally turned away from God, back to God. If Israel sinned and God had not removed His hand of protection that was holding Satan in check, and had God not allowed Satan to inspire the Midianites to come and destroy Israel’s flocks and herds and crops and land, had God just continued to bless Israel while Israel sinned, what would have been the result?

Can we really blame God for the suffering, when in the end it produces the needed result?

[Eze 33:11 NKJV] 11 “Say to them: ‘[As] I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ and how do we turn to the Lord?

[Psa 50:15 NKJV] 15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

So Israel does just that, they go through immense poverty, and they have no where to turn for relief except God and they cry out to Him — and God sends a prophet to them, reminds them of His work of salvation in their life in the past and then leads them to see how they are in error today.

[Jdg 6:8-10 NKJV] 8 that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; 9 ‘and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 ‘Also I said to you, “I [am] the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ “

When we sin, these are the two things God seems to always do in His process of saving us: He reminds us of His work in our past, and then He convicts of our miserable sin in the present. Why does He do this?

  1. Reminder of the Past: Looking to God’s work in the past gives us faith that He will save us in the present
  2. Conviction of Sin: Being led to see our error, God desires to lead us to confession and repentance

[Isa 46:9 NKJV] 9 Remember the former things of old, For I [am] God, and [there is] no other; [I am] God, and [there is] none like Me,

So Israel cries to the Lord, and He sends them a prophet but not a deliverer immediately, because the people need time to sit with the message of the prophet. They need to decide are they going to trust God to deliver them as He did in the past? Are they going to repent of their sins and turn again to following God’s ways?

I’m not sure how much time passes, but eventually God goes to call a Hero for Israel.

Where would you find a Hero at a time like this?

What qualities would God chose in a Hero?

The truth is that God goes to the most unlikely place to find a Hero, and choose the most unlikely man. Let me paint the picture of Gideon and the scene where God finds him:

  1. Gideon is scared to death like all the other people, and he doesn’t want the Mideonites to take away the grain he has harvested, but before he can do anything with the grain, he has to thresh it which is to beat off the outer husk and toss it in the air so that the chaff, the unpleasant bits of the husk float away and the wheat falls to the ground now ready to be ground into flour and baked into bread.

Normally this process is done in what the Bible calls “The threshing floor”, but Gideon is terrified and is doing it in the wine press in secret so as to not be found.

Not only is Gideon terrified! But he is the least qualified:

[Jdg 6:15 KJV] 15 … behold, my family [is] poor in Manasseh, and I [am] the least in my father’s house.

Gideon is not a rich man, not a powerful man, a man without a position or title — We might call that a nobody! Gideon is not known for anything great. He isn’t mentioned at all before as  Hero. There is no track record of success, not great battles won, nothing that would make you think “Here is a real Hero”…

Remember David slew a Lion, he killed a bear, defeated Goliath, and led armies to victory all before he became king. David had a track record!

Gideon, the only record we find in the Bible is a man hiding like everyone else — a nobody in


So He is terrified, He is a poor nobody, and lastly the Bible paints the picture of Gideon as a man who struggles with doubt:

  1. 15 He doubts that God can save Israel through a poor nobody like him
  2. 13 He doubts that God is even with them since all he sees is the destruction of the Midianites
  3. 17 He doubts that an angel is really talking to him, and asks for a sign
  4. 36-37 He doubts that God will really save Israel, and sets out his fleece as a sign
  5. 39 He still doubts that God will save Israel, and after God makes the fleece wet and the ground dry, he doubts that God really gave him this sign, so he asks for the sign again in reverse.

Side Note: Some use Gideon as a role-model of how we come to know God’s will… Just put out a fleece they say! Have you ever made a fleece a condition of obedience? God if the light stays green I know you’re asking me to keep the Sabbath… God if that guy dates me then I know you want me to follow you…. God if it rains today then I know I’m supposed to take this job…. God if my toast burns then I’ll know that I’m not supposed to teach Sabbath School today….

We have made Gideon’s Fleece our ultimate guide in how to know God’s will! But what did

Jesus say:

[Mat 12:39 NKJV] 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

The fleece was not the apitome of Gideon’s godliness — The asking for a fleece was not the ultimate path to know God’s will… The fleece was a sign of Gideon’s weakness and unbelief…  

  • God had sent a prophet to remind Gideon of His power to save
  • God had sent an Angel to assure Gideon He would save
  • God had worked a miracle for Gideon by consuming his meal with fire from a rock

There comes a point when the way of God is clear enough — the voice of God is loud enough

— and the evidence is plentiful enough — that to demand a sign is unbelief.

How do we know God’s leading?

  1. The Word of God — Reveals His Will
  2. The Holy Spirit — Confirms His Will
  3. God’s Providential Opening or Closing of Doors of Opportunity — Demonstrates His Will Example: Word of God says “Remember the Sabbath”, The Holy Spirit applies this to our hearts and we are convicted to keep the Sabbath, God providentially leads a job opportunity into your life that allows you to keep the Sabbath.

God also speaks through angels, sometimes message through Godly people, the example of others lives, sometimes a still small voice — But always God’s leading is in harmony with His


[Luk 16:31 NKJV] 31 “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ “

Now, don’t miss this — We find the supposed Hero

  • scared for his life hiding in a wine press
  • he is poor as dirt and no one knows him
  • he is slow to believe, and a skeptic of God by nature

Is this the Hero you would chose to lead your nation to victory? And now for the most unbelievable part of the story. Listen to what the angel calls this poor, no-name, skeptic when he appears to him in the wine-press:

[Jdg 6:12 KJV] 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD [is] with thee, thou mighty man of valour.

Definition of Valor: “The qualities of a hero or heroine; exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger (especially in battle).”

Why would God call Gideon “A Mighty Man of Valor”? That’s like calling Ketchup —> Tabasco!  Mighty Man of Valor? Far from it! He doesn’t have wealth, position, or courage — There’s no evidence of faith or fortitude or firmness… Up until the moment the angel speaks, Gideon looks nothing like a Hero!

But here is where a mighty lesson lays for all of us — God calls us not by what we’ve been, but by what He envisions in us….

Remember God said: Light when it was only Dark and the Darkness turned to Light

God said let there birds in an empty sky and the sky was filled with birds

God said let there grow plants on a barren planet, and what God named it is what occurred!

  • God changed Abram a fatherless man, Abraham — the Father of a nation
  • God changed Jacob (The Deceiver)
  • God changed Peter which means a rock — A man who acted first and listened later —

Simon which means “To Listen” in Hebrew”