Summary: Gideon’s experience encourages us to trust in the power of God to deliver and bless.
June 3, 2001
Moving from Cowering to Courage. Judges 6:1-16, 7:1-24
Reading: 2 Tim. 1: 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
Background material: Today, as we begin our new quarter, we will be looking at Gideon, the 5th Judge of Israel. Gideon means “cut down or cut asunder.” 15 Judges follow after Joshua’s death before Israel has a king. The book of Judges covers 400 years plus or minus. No one knows when it was written, or who wrote it, but look at chapter 18:30 for a second. It mentions the captivity, which occurred after the kings. That would make the writing of Judges at least after 586 BC. Chapter 18:1, 19:1, and 21:25 repeat the statement: “In those days, Israel had no king…” We can assume that whoever wrote Judges is reflecting back on the time before the monarchy.
The religious pattern.
1. Israel turns away from God to idols,
2. God sends an adversary to oppress them,
3. They repent and turn to God,
4. God sends a deliverer to save them.
Morals (“immorals”) of the times:
1. Idol worship (constantly referred to)
2. Human/child/infant sacrifice (see Jephthah)
3. Sacred prostitution (Baal and Asherah)
4. Homosexuality (Benjamites ch. 19)
There was a man named Fred who had fallen off the edge of a high cliff but managed to grab on to a small bush. He couldn’t get back up. There he was dangling 200 feet above a rocky canyon calling out for help. Finally a voice answered, “Fred, Fred, this is the Lord, would you like me to help you?” Fred answers, “Yes! Thank-you Lord. Please help me!” The Lord says, “I will help you, Fred. But you must trust me.” Fred says, “Oh, yes! I will trust you, Lord. Just help me get back up.” So the Lord says, “OK, Fred, I will help you. Now, let go of the bush.” Fred looks down below him, and looks up at the top of the cliff. The Lord says, “Fred, if you want me to help you, let go of the bush.” Fred calls out, “Is there anybody else up there?”
Gideon is a great Old Testament example of learning to trust God. He moved from cowering to courage, but it was a process. A process that involved letting go of fear and growing up in faith.
In a similar way, the Christian faith that conquers fear has to be developed and it has to be maintained. If someone came to me and said, “Greg, drop and do a hundred push ups.” I could drop. I could do the first 30 or so, but I can assure you that short of God’s power, 100 push ups is beyond my ability today. But 3 years ago if someone told me to do 100 push ups I could drop and do them, no problem. Why? Because I exercised to build up to it and did it every day. Built and maintained…
About a year and a half ago, if you asked me to quote Matthew 5,6, and 7, I could do it. I was quoting it every day in my head as I walked to work here. Today I’m real rusty. I haven’t gone over it in a long time and just remember the outline. There was a process that I had to go through to learn these verses and there was a process that I had to do to maintain them. Built and maintained… The same is true of faith. We must exercise our spiritual mind and muscles to become strong and must continue using them to maintain strength.
Judges gives us a picture of the faith cycle of Israel. We see their road away from God. It was from strength to satisfaction to decline to disobedience to disorder. We see their road back to faith. God intervened with punishment allowing an invader to conquer them. They would cry out to God and he would respond with prophecy and a deliverer. That move from fearful cowering to faithful courage is demonstrated right here in Judges 6 and 7 with Gideon. If you were here for Bible class this morning Gideon’s story should be fresh on your mind. But the road back to God actually started with the Midianites invasion.