You have been given one life to live. The question is “How will you live it?” The church today is facing a great enemy and soldiers are needed to join the battle. The kind of soldiers that God is looking for can be summed up in two words; WILLING and ABLE.
There are 4 types of Christians in terms of service:
1. Not Willing or Able – the crowd
Several nations that lived around Israel to the North in what is present day Syria came together to march out and destroy it. The army that came against them was massive:
Judges 7:12 (NLT)The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count!
To come against this vast army Gideon blew the trumpet and called all the Northern tribes of the Israelites to come together to fight:
Judges 6:34-35(NLT)34 Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. 35 He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded.
There were 32,000 that responded to the call and came together to face the enemy. Certainly this did not represent all the men of fighting age that were available. Many heard the trumpet but did not respond to the call. They were part of the Jewish nation and like those who responded to the call they had everything to lose but they chose to stay home and let someone else fight their battle for them. They just did not show up.
It is interesting that in the Herodotus account of the Battle of Thermopylae, after Leonidas was defeated Xerxes asked why a larger army had not been sent. The answer given was that most of the Greek men were participating in the Olympic games. They were more interested in games than battle.
Likewise the church today is facing a great enemy. Just turn on the news and look at the world around you. Marriages are under attack. The liberal media is dragging the name of Jesus through the mud. There is a very real and clear agenda to destroy the church. The host of hell have gathered and God is sounding the trumpet and calling us to fight. Unfortunately, there are many who will just never show up. All around us we see this. Christians who just stay at home. They are part of the family of God. They have everything to lose by what is happening around them and yet they stay home with no interest or experience in worship or service.Too many believers today see their faith as a purely personal experience. They see involvement in the church as an optional part of their life. I sometimes here this attitude expressed; “If I have nothing better to do – I’ll go to church”. As long as worship does not interfere with my rest and recreation or challenge my convictions or cause me discomfort then I will participate.
2. Able but not Willing – the curious
The 32,000 that came to fight were no match for the huge army they faced but God wanted to make it very clear that it was in HIS strength and not the armies strength that Israel would be saved. When given the choice to stay or leave 22,000 (about 69% of the army) left for home immediately. Even though they had been summoned and had shown up for battle, their hearts were not in it. They were not really committed to what they had been called to. They had other things to do.
Can you imagine that! What if the marines on D-day had been given a choice not to get out of the landing boats? It reminds me of the paid expatriate soldiers who ran away at the start of the Kuwait invasions when they saw the Iraqi tanks – they understood that their paycheck was not worth dying for.
I am sure that within this group of 22,000 men that there were many warriors. There must have been many who had faced other battles in the past and knew combat well. They did not stay and fight because their minds and hearts were somewhere else. Perhaps they had things to do at home or perhaps they were just afraid. Perhaps they had been hurt in the past and did not want to be hurt again.
3. Willing but not Able – the committed
There were 9,700 who chose to fight but still did not experience battle. Much has been written about why God would have separated out the men that put their face down to the water to drink from the men that brought the water to their mouths to drink. I don’t think that this choice was arbitrary. I think that God was intentionally selecting the trained soldiers from the group. An experienced soldier is always on the lookout and keeps the battlefield in sight at all times. The 300 who brought the water to their mouths were the veterans and most experienced soldiers in the group.
Willingness is an essential element in Christian service but it must be tempered with ability. Training and equipping is essential. The Christian life is not about trying but about training.
4. Willing and Able – the core
The few that remained were both willing and available. They had shown this in action and attitude. With this small group God was able to defeat a mighty enemy and win the victory.
Judges 7:19(NLT)19 It was just after midnight,[c] after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the 100 men with him reached the edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the rams’ horns and broke their clay jars. 20 Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands, and they all shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”
21 Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape. 22 When the 300 Israelites blew their rams’ horns, the Lord caused the warriors in the camp to fight against each other with their swords. Those who were not killed fled to places as far away as Beth-shittah near Zererah and to the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.
The same is true today. The trumpet is sounding throughout our city and nation. A mighty enemy has marched out and declared war upon us. God is looking for a people who are willing to serve and able to be equipped for service. Let us join together in the fight.
The devil is the prince of the air. When you blow the shofar you release into the enemy’s camp the sound of the trumpet, which is like the voice of God. Each time the shofar is sounded it hammers holes into the enemy’s camp with the voice of God. That is why the whole atmosphere is changed when the shofar is sounded. You are clearing the air between you and heaven. You drive the enemy back with each blast of the trumpet. You are releasing Gods power and anointing into the air. It creates confusion in the enemy’s camp just as it did for the troops of Gideon. At Gideon’s command 300 troops went into battle blowing shofars , and it confused the enemy and they destroyed themselves.
Judges 7:8, 16, 20, 22
People are healed when the shofar is sounded.
Numbers 10:9 – when you go to war in your land against the enemy, who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God and you will be saved before your enemies.
Sickness is the enemy that oppresses you in you land (your body).When we blow the shofar in obedience to the Lord, God delivers people from the enemies that oppress them.
When a shofar is first cut off of the animal it has cartilage and flesh inside. The outside is rough. There is no hole or mouthpiece to make a beautiful sound that is pleasing to God. But by taking the horn and cleaning out the rotting flesh and smoothing and polishing the outer edges, drilling a hole and making a mouthpiece to breath air into it, You create a beautiful sound that is pleasing to God, and disruptive to the enemy.
The making of the shofar is symbolic to the making of a Christian. When you are first saved you still have a lot of flesh inside of you. The outer edges are rough and there is no way for God to breathe life into you. God takes all of the flesh (worldly nature) out of you, then he cleans up the edges, then He breathes the Holy Spirit into you and uses your mouth and actions as a beautiful sounding instrument that is pleasing to His ears and disruptive to the enemy.