Summary: The lesson that Gideon had to learn before he could be used of God is that "The LORD is peace" in verse 24.

Purpose: To explain that God is our only source for peace.

Aim: I want the listener to rest assured of God's peace.

INTRODUCTION: It has been more than 200 years since God revealed Himself as Jehovah-M'Kaddesh (the LORD who sets apart or makes holy). The promised land has been conquered and divided up among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joshua has been dead for a long time. As soon as he died the Jews started on a downward spiral that lasted during the entire period called the time of the judges.

"During the period of the judges, from about 1380 1050 B. C., (330 years) the government of Israel was a loose confederation of tribes gathered about their central shrine, the ARK OF THE COVENANT. Without a human king to guide them, the people tended to rebel and fall into worship of false gods time and time again. 'Everyone did what was right in his own eyes' is how the Book of Judges describes these chaotic times. To punish the people, God would send foreign nations or tribes to oppress the Israelites.

"These judges or charismatic leaders would rally the people to defeat the enemy. As God's agents for justice and deliverance, they would act decisively to free the nation from oppression. But the judges themselves were often weak, and their work was short-lived. The people would enter another stage of rebellion and idolatry, only to see the cycle of oppression and deliverance repeated all over again." [1]

Israel's Pattern in Judges

#1 Peace

#2 Disobedience

#3 Oppression

#4 Earnest Prayer for Help

#5 God Delivers through a Leader

#6 Peace

It was during the fifth of twelve of these cycles that we find another name for God: "The LORD is peace" in verse 24.

Things haven't changed much have they? The entire history of the world proves that peace is rare. Since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than 8% of the time! Of 3,530 years of recorded history, only 286 years saw peace. Moreover, in excess of 8,000 peace treaties were made & broken. During this period there were 14,351 wars, large & small, in which 3.64 billion people were killed.

What we need is peace.

The word PEACE (shalom) means "^7965^, peace; completeness; welfare; health." [2]

PEACE comes from a root word shalam (shaw lam') that means: "7999... to be safe (in mind, body or estate); figuratively, to be (causatively, make) completed; by implication, to be friendly" [3]

In our text we learn that the Midianites had been oppressing Israel for 7 years. After the reforms under Deborah there had been forty years of peace and prosperity. Then God used Gideon to bring about another 40 years of peace.

So, Gideon and the whole Jewish nation was living in constant fear, which is the opposite of peace.

►Vs.1-5 I. The Steps Away from Peace

► Vs. 1 A. Sinning before God "did what was evil"

Every time we see a lack of peace in our lives, sin is always the cause, not our circumstances.

Paul said we could have peace, but he says that we will have in proportion to our trust (Vs.6) and obedience (Vs.9) Philippians 4:6--9 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (NAU)

► Vs.2 B. Making your own solutions "made...dens...caves"

For seven years the Jews had to hide in caves to protect themselves. Fear is always a result of getting away from the Lord. Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. (NAU)

Fear was the first outward evidence of sin. Genesis 3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (NAU)

Instead of running toward God when trials come, we tend to continue running away from Him.

► Vs.3-5 C. Being defeated by your enemies "came into the land to devastate it"

The Midianites would wait until the Jews had planted and cultivated their crops and were ready to reap. They would sweep down and steal the crops and then leave them alone.

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