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Summary: Message 8 in our series on Judges. This message explores the account of Gideon.

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Judges Series #8

Life Cycles

“God Empowers the Timid and Insignificant”

Review

We should all be familiar with the cycle by now.

Sin-Slavery-Supplication-Salvation-Service

Up to this point, I have described the fourth stage as God raising up a deliverer.

Technically God is the Deliverer who commissions or raises up an instrument of deliverance.

This third generation of people following the glorious deliverance from Egyptian slavery lapses into a period of sporadic servitude spanning nearly three centuries (299 years).

What were the sins of this generation?

They rejected the teachings of their founders.

They no longer passed on the stories of God’s amazing loving acts for His chosen people.

They became enmeshed with the pagan nations that God commanded them to destroy.

They purposely ignored God while picking up the dreadful beliefs and practices of those nations and worshiped multiple deities.

They arrogantly did their own thing.

Every man did that what was right in their own eyes.

They lapsed into idolatry, immorality and anarchy.

These are sins not unlike the practices of people today; even in the church.

The author weaves three main “take away” messages all though this journal of Israel’s history

Sin continually causes bondage and enslavement.

God mercifully grants deliverance from slavery.

God powerfully enlists the unlikely to precipitate the unimaginable.

I. Cycle Identified 1-2

II. Cycle Illustrated (Seven examples) 3-16

A. Othniel 3:1-16 God empowers the faithful

B. Ehud 3:17-30 God empowers the weak

C. Shamgar 3:31 God empowers with whatever is available.

D. Deborah 4 God empowers the disenfranchised

Before we shift our focus to Gideon, we passed by a contemporary of Deborah who appeared in the last verse of chapter three who God used to deliver a small group of Israelites from oppression.

He got one verse (3:31)

This could be considered part of the Salvation section of Deborah’s cycle.

Shamgar belonged to the tribe of Naphtali.

The record reveals that God used Shamgar to break some local oppression from the Philistines.

Shamgar, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit killed 600 Philistines with just an ox goad.

A clear lesson emerges from this brief reference.

God uses whoever and whatever happens to be available.

Availability and obedience stand out again as criteria for usability.

A fair guess is that Shamgar was not a warrior but a keeper of livestock.

God encouraged and empowered a common person to use what was available to accomplish the purposes of God.

I bumped into a ministry on the internet called “Shamgar Ministries”.

I know nothing about their ministry but their logo intrigued me.

“Start where you are.”

“Use what you have.”

“Do what you can.”

That about sums up the Shamgar principle.

INTRODUCTION

One universal struggle lies at the heart of so many of our actions.

This struggle can lead to life paralysis, misery and a host of difficulties in life. FEAR!

The subject of fear flows from Genesis (Adam hid from God because he was afraid) to Revelation.

Remember how many times God encouraged Joshua not to fear but to take courage.

Jesus constantly addressed fear in His disciples.

If fearlessness were a criterion for usefulness, the number of possible candidates would be minimal.

E. Gideon God empowers the fearful.

This cycle begins just like the rest.

1. Sin

The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD,

Every time a godly influence passed from the scene, the people lapsed into the same sins as before.

It seems clear that the people’s heart really had not changed.

They only followed God because of some external influence.

That is the shortcoming of law-based motivation.

Israel lacked true heart change.

To attain a better idea of the level of evil’s permeation in the people, let’s skip ahead to a snapshot of Gideon’s own family.

That night the LORD said to Gideon, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.”

Baal worship took front and center right in Gideon’s family.

The Asherah was a pole or tree that represented Baal’s wife the goddess of fertility.

They were carved and placed near places of worship and were often placed next to altars erected to Baal.

At times they put an Asherah pole next to an altar to Yahweh.

How serious was their Baal worship?

Look at the response after Gideon tore down the altar and the Asherah pole.

And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.”

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