Sunday, November 13, 2011

Virtue & Valor


Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Our message for today is entitled Virtue & Valor. The definition of Valor is: Strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness. (Merriman Webster) And, by the way, valor is a virtue!

This term valor first came into use in the 14th Century and originates from Latin valere meaning worth or strength. It continued to be used through Medieval Latin as valor = worthiness, and on to French and Anglo making the Middle English valour to mean worthiness or the strength of bravery.

As used in the Bible, translated from Hebrew, the word valor refers to that character trait of a person which reveals worthiness. Therefore a mighty man or woman of valor would be a person of true worth.

Note: Looking at the scripture in Proverbs 31 we see the word “virtuous”. This word is the Hebrew word, “Chayil”.

Virtuous: Chayil – it is used 243 times in the OT = truly worthy or valuable

Today we are going to discover 4 abiding truths concerning the virtue of valor. In order to help discover these truths we are going to take a brief look at man who lived during the period of the Judges in Israel. Let’s turn to Judges 6 to find his name and these truths.

God often works in us and on us before He works for us and through us.

The days of trouble recorded in Judges 6, coincide with the days in which Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem and moved Moab in search of food for their family. You can read that story in the book of Ruth. Times were tough all over Israel because the Midianites and their allies had been raiding the land at harvest time for seven years and there was no one to stop them.

It is evident that the Israelites lacked a spirit of national unity and it finally got to the point where there was an occupying force of 120,000 Midianites oppressing the Children of God. These raiders were like grasshoppers that destroyed the land so that nothing was left for the Israelites to eat. The people cried out to God but they refused to simply obey Him. Nonetheless, God had mercy on His children … as He always does!!!

Judges 6

12 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

Here we see this word “valor” once again and you know what – it is the same Hebrew word “Chayil” – The Lord has found a virtuous man … a man of true character – worthy of the call of God. But … Gideon was not perfect – he still had some issues … in fact Gideon was a bit frustrated and perhaps a little angry with God. As well he had some question …

13 Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ’Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."

Gideon, the mighty man of valor, finds it distasteful that he is forced into hiding to thresh his own harvested grain and he is a bit resentful.

It is most reasonable that Gideon had already distinguished himself in resistance against the Midianites and had even lost brothers in these attempts … but now, now he had fallen into despair at the frustration of the whole national situation. He knew the real source of the problems but felt he could do nothing about the nation’s idolatry. Things seemed bigger than one man could fix – especially bigger than he thought he could fix.

Gideon’s father, Joash, was one of those who offered sacrifice to Baal along with others in his community. Gideon evidently did not participate. Perhaps he was reflective as to why the nation had fallen prey their enemies. We know that Gideon had been thinking about this for some time due to his contemplative but immediate answer to the Angel’s introduction.

If we were to read the whole story this morning from Judges 6 through Judges 8, we would find … (Tell the story)

· Gideon distrusted the call of God on his life

Often the most difficult enemies we face are the demons of our own soul. Gideon was angry with the situation even though he may have known why things had gotten so bad, he still blamed God for the way things were.

· He was first called to help his own home town by destroying the altar of Baal and cutting down the Groves

The first commission of Gideon is indicative of God’s call upon so many, including Jesus, to begin their service at home among family and friends. In this, Gideon, before being called and commissioned to go and route the enemy from his country, was called to deal with the enemies attacking his own family and community from within … the spirit behind those close to him, deceiving them into destroying themselves. (2 Timothy 2:25)

Gideon’s father was masterful as he told the men of the city, “If Baal wants to punish my son, let him plead his own case.” He is a god – let him do it!

Before going against the Midianites Gideon first defeated his own frustrations, and next the sins of his people. In other words, He worked on himself, his family and friends before working on the nation’s problems.

· Gideon used his clan to gather an army of 32,000 men

· Through a process directed by God, he whittled them down to 300 – called a “Gideon Revival” in some declining circles.

One group just did not have their heart in the game, (22,000 fearful), and the other group didn’t have their head in the game, (9,700 focused on their own thirst/wants more than the challenges/battles at hand). 300 were left:

· 300 with a shout beats 32,000 with a sword any day

300 faithful beat 32,000 fearful – 300 hearts/300 heads

· The fleece

· God set every man’s hand against his companion

· The victory was gained

· The men wanted Gideon to be king

Before the initial battle Gideon sent messengers to the tribe of Ephraim who lived in the mountains alongside the Jordan. He asked them to watch for retreating Midianites at the river crossings. The Ephraimites caught and killed two of the Midianite leaders and brought their heads to Gideon with a great complaint. They were insulted and offended that they were not called to fight in the initial battle. This division was a distraction and a potential a morale killer and show stopper.

As a good commander and great communicator, Gideon publically recognized the contributions and accomplishments of others as greater than his own. (Judges 8:1ff) This act of strategic leadership proved to solidify his forces and stave off division within the ranks.

No doubt Gideon was a virtuous man, a mighty man of valor, a man of true character and value, a worthy commander. How can we critically judge our own worth and move ourselves towards the virtue of valor?

A mighty man or woman or valor:

1. Deals with himself and his home before dealing with others.

2. Recognizes, values and applauds the contributions and accomplishments of others more than his own accomplishments.

3. Refuses to be elevated to a position God has not given him.

4. Values peace and is willing to fight for it.

Gideon, this man of war, built an altar to God. He dedicated this altar to: Jehovah Shalom – The God of Peace

When it’s all said and done, every soldier finds his true worth in peace.

A peace we would not have except for the bravery, the courage, the virtue and the valor of veterans.

To all who have served in our Armed Forces: Veterans, thank you for serving and thank you for peace!