Summary: Message 9 in our Judges series. This is part two of our study of Gideon.
Judges Series #9 Life Cycles
“God Empowers the Timid and Insignificant” PT 2
We find a universal cycle introduced in the book of Judges.
It is a cycle that plays out at all levels of life: nations, states, communities, families, churches, individuals.
The author weaves three main “take away” messages (life principles) all though these journals of Israel’s history in the Promised Land.,
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.
“Start where you are.” “Use what you have.” “Do what you can.”
D. Deborah 4 God empowers the disenfranchised
Last week we introduced a farmer named Gideon who grew up in an idol worshiping family from a renegade Tribe in Israel – Manasseh. They, along with their fellow Israelites, grew up trusting Baal to bring them success.
Finally, God decided to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Baal and the futility of trusting him for life. Again, we see that sin results in hardship intended to get our attention and expose the objects of our trust and devotion. No matter what we say we believe, our actions expose who or what we really trust. Who is the object of your trust?
Where to we spend the bulk of our resources of time and money? What occupies our thinking and dreaming?
What triggers anger or fear?
E. Gideon God empowers the fearful and insignificant. This cycle begins just like the rest.
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD
The sin of Israel, as before, centered in their rejection of God and embracing of someone or something else as the central focus of their lives and object of devotion.
and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. Judges 6:1
The Midianites descended from Abraham through his wife Keturah who he married after Sarah died.
They settled east of the Jordan near the Dead Sea.
Moses married a Midianite and hung out in this area after fleeing from the Egyptian Pharaoh. Moses’ father-in-law was Jethro a priest of Midian.
It is the same area where Moses received his commissioning at the burning bush. Midian allied with Edom, Amalek Moab and Ammon to resist Israel’s occupation.
The Israelites trusted Baal to bless their crops and grant prosperity and fertility.
God allowed the Midianites to decimate their sources of food in order to demonstrate the futility of Israel’s trust in Baal to meet their basic needs.
And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.
God made it clear that He certainly does look out for them but they refused to listen to His instructions intended to keep them out of trouble.
“I rescued and protected you but YOU have not listened to My voice.” Sin leads to bondage and difficulties.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you” (Isa 59:1-2
Notice God specially chose a person, not necessarily a specially gifted person.
As has been clear throughout these cycles, God often chooses the most unlikely people as His instrument of deliverance. Gideon stands as a striking illustration of this principle. God granted Gideon a special encounter with Jesus. “The LORD is with you”. He addressed him by what He would make him -- “O mighty man of valor.” He would grow from coward to conqueror. God sees the potential while we focus on the problems. God focuses on availability not insecurity.
Gideon first aired his frustration with God’s apparent neglect. He blamed God for not rescuing them out their difficulties.
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, 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, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Who did the forsaking anyway? Israel did the forgetting and the rebelling. Whom were they sacrificing to for blessing in their lives? They looked to Baal for blessing. The reason God allowed them to suffer such loss was because they had rejected Him and turned to idols for blessing. We sometime ignore God and then blame Him for the results of our indifference and rebellion. An idol is anything we pursue other than God as the source of wellbeing and blessing. Where we spend our resources, what dreams occupy our thoughts, what we fear losing exposes what we really trust to fulfill us.