John Winter - Rochedale, Queensland Convention - December 2006

Hymn 377, "Be Ye Immoveable"

That hymn we have just sung must have been taken from that story of Gideon and his men when they were faint, yet pursuing the kings of Syria. In Judges, it tells us of the Children of Israel being greatly impoverished by the Midianites and they cried unto the Lord, and He sent them the prophet, and he reminded them of what God had done for them, and yet they took their own way, doing what was right in their own eyes. Those Children of Israel, in listening to that message, would really begin to seek God I am sure, and really plead with God that He would send them help. The Midianites and Amalekites came, and what the Children of Israel had sown, they destroyed. But this angel of the Lord appeared unto Gideon as he threshed wheat by the winepress. Judges 6-12, “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, 'The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.'” He had never fought any battles! He must have found a secret place where he could work, preparing the ground and planting seed, and watching it grow, making sure that it wasn’t destroyed by the enemy, and then harvesting it, and here he was threshing it now, so as to get that which would be bread for himself, and bread for others. The secret place. We can have a secret place where we can truly get bread for ourselves and that which can become bread for others.

Wheat is not bread - a lot of work has to be done so that wheat does become bread. The secret place. Gideon found that secret place and He prepared the ground. God wants us to find that secret place. My father was a bread baker, and when I was a boy he used to like to take me to the bakehouse so that I could watch him make the dough for the next day. I remember the first time he took me to the bakehouse, and we came to a wall and there were two big double doors and he opened a door in those two doors. From the outside you couldn’t tell there was a bakery there. It was almost as if the place was a secret place. Inside those doors over on one side of the yard was the bakehouse. My father took me by the hand to guide me there first of all. After that, when I was going with him, sometimes he had to put his horse and van away first, so I would walk down there by myself. Our Father takes us by the hand to lead us to the secret place, but once we know of it, He expects us to get there ourselves.

I was thinking in the secret place that Gideon had, the Midianites were all around and they would be watching. They would like to know that secret place, but they could never find it. “No foes can reach that secret place, where hides my soul safe in His care.” Gideon would have been very careful when he went to that secret place, because he would realize that the enemy would try to prevent him from getting there, to get to that which was bread for himself and bread for others. I thought of Gideon leaving that place after he had harvested the wheat, because he knew that the enemy would be looking to rob him of that which he had obtained which could become bread for himself and bread for others. The enemy of our soul wants to rob us, also.

I knew of some friends that got listening to a false doctrine and taken up with that. First of all the workers tried to help them, but they still seemed to cling to the false doctrine. The devil had put this false doctrine into them and they thought on it and they began to go after it, and they were really robbed of that which would have been bread for themselves and bread for others. I thought of Gideon being so careful and we need to be careful too, because we have an enemy that wants to prevent us from getting into the secret place. Once we get there to get that which can become bread, he wants to rob us of it. We will lose out on our soul’s salvation if he is able to succeed. Gideon succeeded to do these things, because he had wheat to thresh, and he made sure nothing hindered him, and then the Lord called him a mighty man of valour. What a privilege for God to call us a mighty man of valour, because of getting into the secret place for that which can become bread for ourselves and bread for others.

God told Gideon what He had in mind, that He would deliver Israel from the Midianites. Gideon felt it was an impossible thing, but he showed a very humble spirit. He said, “I am the least in my father’s house, and we are the least in Israel,” but God said, “I will be with thee.” But Gideon trusted God. Gideon said to the angel, “Will you please wait a while so I can bring you a present?” So he brought food and broth with it. Food was in short supply, and the angel told Gideon to put the food on the rock, and pour out the broth over the food, and Gideon did that. He could have been thinking in his own mind, “What a waste! How can you partake of it now it is poured out over the rock?” As he was willing to do what the angel said, fire came down and consumed what Gideon had brought for him. Gideon was willing to do what the angel said to do, and it was accepted. Obeying what God says to us is never a waste. God accepted that which Gideon offered because he was obedient. Gideon was asked to go and cut down his father’s altar that he had built. Gideon didn’t feel he could do this on his own, and he began to talk to some others about it, and they were of the same mind as himself, and they were willing to help him do it because God had asked them to do it. Gideon did exactly as God said, even though it was against his own father and against the men of the district, because they were worshipping Baal. When this was done, they asked, “Who did it?” They were told it was Gideon and they asked his father that his son may be put to death because of what he had done, but who had lost the most when he did that? His father. But God moved upon his heart to be the one that caused Gideon’s life to be preserved. If we are willing to do completely what God would have us do, then God will make sure that our lives spiritually are preserved.

God talked to Gideon about delivering Israel from the Midianites. The Midianites came up a great company, and Gideon blew the trumpet and called many to come and help him do this, but God said, “There are too many, unless Israel should say that by myself I have saved Israel.” God worked that there was quite a reduction in the number. The last test to reduce the number was that he took the men down to the water, and those that went on one knee and took the water in their hands, he set them apart, and those that lapped the water, God said by those would He save Israel and deliver the Midianites into their hand. Those 300 men, with the enemy all around them, those that went down on one knee, they were watchful, ready to fight if the enemy would come. Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray and that is something that we should all do. Watch and pray every day, for the foe is always near.

The way that Gideon got victory over the Midianites, it was the fellowship that he had with God. It was a close relationship with God. This is what God wants us to seek to develop with Him. He will certainly encourage this, for us to have a close relationship with Him. There are many things in life that we have to face, but a close relationship with Him will save us from being overcome.

After they put the Syrians to flight, Gideon sent for the other tribes around to come and help him, and then he asked Ephraim to come and help, and they were able to capture the princes of Midian. First of all when Gideon blew the trumpet, he didn’t call Ephraim, but the second time he did. Ephraim got up against Gideon and said, “Why didn’t you call us at the first and leave it till now?” But Gideon had the words to settle strife. After he spoke to them they were willing to accept what he had to say. The relationship that Gideon had with God enabled him to speak that which would bring no strife - no division.

The kings of Midian managed to get away, and they got a long, long way away. Gideon and his men began to pursue after them, and it says they were faint because they were following a long time. They were faint, yet still pursuing, and they were determined to get rid of this enemy that had had dominion over them. The Midianites had quite a lot of men with them, and they were a long way from the border of Israel, and probably thought Gideon and his men wouldn’t come after them there. It says that they were camped and the hosts were secure, but it was a false security, because Gideon and his men were so determined to get complete victory. The kept pursuing, and they did get the victory. Having a close relationship with God and a great determination, we to will have victory. The false security that the enemy had at this time - the devil wants us as the Children of God to have a false security, then he will be able to get victory over us. When the Philistines came up against Israel in 1st Samuel 4, Eli and his sons were priests, and the Philistines fought against Israel and Israel was defeated, and the elders in the army say, “Let us fetch the ark of God to help us get victory over the Philistines.” That wasn’t God’s plan for the ark to go into the army. The Israelites thought they had security because they had the ark with them, but it was a false security, and when they fought, it ended in defeat. If Eli had had a close relationship with God, this would have never happened.

Gideon, after this was over, made a request to the Children of Israel, and before that the Children of Israel wanted him to rule over them. “No,” he said, “I will not rule over you, nor my sons, but the Lord will rule over you.” Gideon never wanted to take the place that God should have had. He asked the people to give him the gold that they had taken from the Midianites, and they were pleased to give that. Then it says that Gideon made an ephod and all Israel went whoring after that, and that ephod became a snare unto Gideon and his house. He had a close relationship with God, but he couldn’t foresee that that ephod would become a snare to him and his house, but God could. If he had asked God about it, He would have delivered him from it, that it wouldn’t become a snare to him and his house.

Psalm 91 says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” Having a close relationship with God, then we will know of God delivering us from the snare of the fowler. Wonderful thing to know of the help of God in life, enabling us to continue to the end.

I read an article one time of some older Japanese people that made it their goal to clime Mt Fuji. I understand there are a number of resting places on the way up Mt Fuji. You know of the quiet resting places for the children of God, Convention, special meetings, Sunday morning meetings. Those older Japanese people, they set it as their goal to see the dawn from the top of Mt Fuji, and they took a priest with them to worship at a shrine up there. They made the most of those resting places from the bottom of the mountain to the top. At some of those resting places, there was entertainment and some young people made the most of the entertainment, and they didn’t make it to the top. When those older people reached the top and stood there and watched the dawn from the top, there was such rejoicing amongst them. They had accomplished that they set out to do.

What is our goal? To receive God’s well done at the dawn of eternal day? The only way is to make the most of the resting places along the way, and then we will have a close relationship that we have that God will help us and we will see the dawn of God’s eternal day. The rejoicing of those Japanese people was short lived, because afterwards they would have to make the journey down again and back to live. But the dawn of eternal day for us will continue throughout eternity.