Messages from Pastor Raddatz

December 12, 2021, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX, Third S of Advent


Judges 6:11-24, 7:2-9

Adapted from Concordia Publishing House resource: Symbols of Salvation: Advent 3, YOU SHALL DEFEAT THEM AS O

Grace, mercy and peace, to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

'Army Strong' replaces 'Army of One' - Oct. 9, 2006, 12:23 PM CDT / Source: The Associated Press

In its battle to win the hearts and minds of recruiting-age Americans, the Army is replacing its main ad slogan — “An Army of One” — with one it hopes will pack more punch: “Army Strong.”

The new approach, the fruit of a $200 million-a-year contract with a major advertising agency, was announced Monday by Army Secretary Francis Harvey. He said “Army Strong” will be the centerpiece of a multimedia ad campaign to be launched Nov. 9, timed to coincide with Veterans Day weekend.


Army officials acknowledge that recruiting during wartime is difficult, particularly with the Iraq war grinding on far longer than Bush administration officials expected and U.S. troops dying in battle almost every day.

“There’s no question that we want to have a marketing boost right now, it’s important to us,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, who oversees the recruiting effort as commander of U.S. Army Accessions Command.

More than 2,700 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

“Every recruiter will tell you, there is a very strong likelihood that you’re going to deploy — and pretty early on in your career,” he said.

Army officials said the switch did not mean the “Army of One” slogan was a loser, but many have criticized it.

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute research group, said the previous slogan seemed to promote the notion that you could join the Army and preserve your individuality.




The Angel of the Lord, the Son of God, appeared to Gideon and called him a mighty man of valor. But Gideon did not appear to be immensely powerful at all. He was in hiding from the Midianites, who were oppressing the children of Israel. The Midianites would come up like locusts on the land to destroy Israel’s crops and kill or take their animals (Judges 6:1–10). As a result, many of the Israelites were forced to make dens and strongholds for themselves in the mountains and in caves. What little wheat Gideon was able to gather he was forced to thresh in secret, in a winepress. And on top of all that, his clan was weakest in Manasseh, and he himself was least in his father’s house.

So we can understand Gideon’s response to the Angel of the Lord’s greeting: “the LORD is with you.” Gideon said to Him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us? . . . But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

There are times when the people of God’s Israel today, the Church, feel like Gideon. Perhaps there have been moments in the darkening days of this SEASON OF PREPARATION FOR CHRISTMAS, when you yourself have asked questions similar to his. If God is with us, if He really is Immanuel, why is the Church struggling or mistreated or ignored? If God is with me, then why are things such a mess? Why do I feel alone? Why am I sick and suffering? Where is the power of God that we hear about in the Bible?

Like Gideon, we, too, may sometimes feel forsaken. And yet, we also know, deep down, that the messes we experience are sometimes of our own making. That’s how it was in Gideon’s day. The reason God allowed Israel to be overrun by the Midianites is because the Israelites had done evil in His sight. This happens repeatedly in the Book of Judges. The Israelites forsake the Lord to run after other gods they think will give them more of what they want. God’s anger is roused against His rebellious people, and He allows their enemies to overtake them. Then, in their distress, they cry out to the Lord for help. And the Lord raises up a judge, a deliverer, to rescue them from the power of their enemies. The land has rest, and everything goes well for a period of time. But then, the judge dies, the people become spiritually complacent and apathetic, and they forsake the Lord again, and the entire process starts all over.


This is a warning for us. When everything is going well, we, too, can be tempted to become complacent in our faith, forgetting the Lord and forsaking Him for the things of this world. It should not surprise us, then, if the Lord allows hardship to come upon us so that we might be brought to see what we have done. But this is also for our comfort; the Lord is doing this for our good. He is seeking to work penitence in our hearts so in faith, we might call upon His name again and with greater fervency. He chastens us like a son whom He loves. With the Law, He turns us away from our idols, and by the Gospel, He draws us back and restores us to Himself. Through Christ, our deliverer, we have rest once more.

WHY GIDEON: He is a picture of Jesus

Gideon is a picture of Jesus. He was the one chosen by God to deliver Israel in that day and to bring them rest again. Even though he was weakest and least, he was the Lord’s man for the job. This is a consistent theme even to the end of the Gideon narrative. Instead of defeating the Midianites with a massive army, the Lord insists that Gideon reduce his army down from thirty-two thousand to only three hundred men. This was so that the victory would not be won by human strength (so they could boast in themselves) but solely by the wisdom and strength of the Lord.

The power of God being hidden beneath seeming powerlessness points us to a fulfillment in Jesus. Gideon is a living prophecy of the victory over sin and death and the devil, which the Lord brings to us at Christmas. It is the way of God that the last shall be first and the humble shall be exalted. Jesus embodies this. He is the mighty and eternal Son of God, yet He does not appear to be so. He was laid in a cattle trough for a crib. His birth took place almost secretly. He appeared to be nothing more than a poor peasant boy. He was born in Bethlehem, which Scripture says is little among the clans of Judah. When, as an infant, Herod threatened his life, He was hidden away in Egypt for a time.


Jesus, our mighty man of valor, appeared to be vulnerable and helpless—not only in His birth but also in His death. Nevertheless, He brought about the fulfillment of His own words, which He had spoken to Gideon, “I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man” (emphasis added). Gideon and his mere three hundred would defeat the countless Midianites as one man because the Lord was with them. The Lord Jesus defeats all of our enemies, quite literally, unanimously. By His incarnation, He has taken our humanity into Himself, and by His death and resurrection, He has destroyed sin, death, and the devil once for all. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:19, emphasis added).

Jesus is an army of one, the only one who can deliver us from our enemies. The one-man Jesus defeated our powerful enemies through weakness because He is the Lord in the flesh. Out of lowly Bethlehem came the One to be the ruler and deliverer of Israel. The Midianites, in their confusion, would end up turning on and killing one another in their camp. In the same way, Jesus turned death and Satan against themselves on the cross, delivering us forever from their power and the sin that oppresses us. The one-man Jesus assumed the humanity of all people in His conception and birth. And so this one man’s victory also counts for all people in His death and resurrection. The name Gideon means “one who breaks or cuts down.” Jesus, our Gideon, has broken and cut down all false gods and the devil himself by the wood of the manger and the wood of the cross.

The Angel of the Lord first appeared to Gideon when he was threshing out wheat for bread in a winepress, and He departed from sight after Gideon offered up bread and meat on the rock. All of this points us to the Sacrament of the Altar, where the Lord fulfills His promise to be with us in the flesh—where His body and blood, offered up on the rock of Golgotha, are given to us under bread and wine. Though Jesus has departed from our sight, He is still present with us as true man in our need so that we might also share with Him in His divine glory. And so we say with Mary in her Magnificat, “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”

Finally, when the Angel of the Lord departed from Gideon, he perceived fully that he had been in the very presence of God. Gideon thought he would die for having seen the Angel of the Lord face-to-face. But Gideon is given a word of peace. So, also, we are given peace, an invitation to come into the Lord’s presence without fear, through faith in Christ Jesus. By His true humanity, we are saved from judgment and reconciled to God. The Son of God also comforts us by saying, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” For the Lord Jesus is both the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace.

Let us, then, during this Advent season, celebrate GOD’S ARMY OF ONE, in Jesus.   His might is hidden in lowliness. Let us with penitent hearts hope in Him who is born to be our eternal Deliverer and Savior.  


Our weaknesses are many.  God’s strength is found in the one named Jesus.  


May this peace, which passes all human understanding keep your heart and your mind in this one true faith in Jesus Christ, to life everlasting, Amen.

Pastor John Raddatz




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