During my 25-year career as a custom home builder, I learned a lot. I weathered storms in the local economy and watched the market shift to favor huge conglomerates over the little man. I had some fabulous successes and some crushing failures– lessons I continue to teach from of today.
One thing I learned: while God loves for His people to prosper, the devil hates it and works against us constantly and from all directions. But no matter how far under it you feel, God has empowered you to break free. By faith, you can face the devil head on and break the power of poverty for yourself and your loved ones. How?
Judges 6 recounts the miserable condition of God’s people during the time of Gideon. The oppressive Midianites were stealing all their crops and their working animals, too. So not only were the Israelites hungry, but they had little hope of growing food in the future. On top of everything, they were demoralized, hiding in caves. The Bible says they were “greatly impoverished.”
But they didn’t stay that way. Here’s how they broke free:
1. Cry out to the Lord of your covenant.
Judges 6 says out of their poverty, they cried out to God. God’s covenant with Abraham was to bless them, yet their situation wasn’t lining up. At all. The Israelites had fallen away from God and begun to worship the gods of the peoples around them, but even still His mercy was stirred as they cried out. He would send Gideon to deliver them. We, too have a covenant with God, and has sent Jesus to ratify it and deliver us. Cry out to God for your rights under this covenant to be realized!
But Gideon was just as much a victim as the rest of his people. Maybe you can relate. He, too, was in hiding. He, too, was hungry. As the angel of the Lord found him, he was threshing a piddly amount of wheat, barely big enough to cover the inside of a winepress. He hoped the Midianites wouldn’t see it. God saw it, and surprised him with a visit: “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
2. Change the way you see yourself.
God called Gideon a mighty man of valor. He wants us to view ourselves not as victims but as victors. Now we won’t fear and run from the devil, but stand and face him, mighty and courageous. God called him that, even with no evidence of might or valor at that time. Gideon argued with God a little: “If God’s with us, why are we so miserable?” Of course, God gave him step-by-step understanding of the problem and remedy for it.
3. Sanctify yourself.
Israel’s main problem was they had left the source of blessing, the one True God. Is there a part of your life where you’ve trusted someone or something else to provide for you? Start where you are and begin trusting and obeying God in that area. Gideon’s own father maintained an altar to Baal. God told him: destroy it. It takes guts. Others surely would not approve. Yet Gideon valued God’s favor over anyone else. That’s how we set ourselves apart and clean house in our hearts.
4. Build an altar of praise.
Not only did Gideon destroy his dad’s idolatrous altar, he built one for God. Then he used the wood from Baal’s altar as firewood to burn up your father’s young bull as an offering. Remember, Gideon still hadn’t seen God fix his problem yet. Hebrews 13:5 says we should offer the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips giving thanks. Praise God for deliverance before you see the data. That’s a sacrifice God honors, and it will please Him. Your praise moves heaven and earth, and changes your situation.
5. Obey when it doesn’t make sense.
As God kept leading Gideon, he kept obeying. His little altar stunt made his own people mad, but it really enraged the Midianites and surrounding people groups… so much so that Gideon rallied Jews from neighboring tribes to fight them. Common sense told him he’d need all the warm bodies he could get! When 32,000 of his brothers showed up, Gideon must’ve been really encouraged. But God said that was way too many. The people would think they delivered themselves. He said to send the scared and busy ones home. Well that at least left an army of 10,000. Still too many, said God. Get them to the river, and we’ll see who we can use to stay and fight: not the ones who drink like dogs and let their guard down, but only the ones who drink with their hand while maintaining a watchful stance. Can God really defeat the vast hordes of Baal-worshippers with just 300 men? God can, He did, and He still does!
As it turned out, the opposing army became so fearful and confused that they actually turned on each other. The tiny army chased down the evil kings who were left, killed them, captured watering places and completely subdued Midian. The victory became legendary. The land was at peace for 40 more years under Gideon’s rule.
Baal worship in Gideon’s day has some striking similarities with ungodly cultural trends we face today. Sometimes it seems the system is stacked against us. Even if we have enough to live comfortably ourselves, do we have abundance to supply all the good work of God like we want? (The ungodly rich sure seem to fund their causes adequately.) God is calling us up higher. He wants us to be abundantly blessed and powerful with wealth that we use to build His kingdom. Will we as the Church rise up in faith and throw off demonic oppression that keeps us poor and weak? Will we watch in prayer while refreshing ourselves in the river of the Holy Spirit to stay strong in life’s battles? Most importantly will we be generous with the blessings he gives to fund God’s assignments?
Rise up, mighty people of valor! It’s our time to prosper.