Summary: A church seeking revicel must offer life signs to the community.
Signs for Life
Well we are in week 3 with the story of Gideon. We started out with a view of a coward, that an angel called a mighty warrior. The lesson for us was that we must come out of the protection of the winepress if we are ever to be used by God.
Then last week we watched in scripture when Gideon made an offering to God as a way of testing if it was really God doing the speaking or more importantly that God is actually speaking to him. He witnessed a miraculous sign as the offering was consumed by a rock that gave off flames. Later that same day God gave Gideon some direct instructions. Destroy the altar to Baal and build a new one and offer a proper sacrifice.
The town folks find out who did the damage and confront Gideon’s dad. And dad protects his son and suggest that if Baal is a true God he will defend his own altars.
Our lesson was that we live in a Canaanite world and we also have housecleaning to do if we and our community are to be useful to God.
Listen to part of our scripture for today: Judges 6:33- 35
33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
We don’t have any idea how long it has been between his action of tearing down the community altar and the multi-national invasion was threatened.
Perhaps the bigger question would be …Why is it Gideon that blows the trumpet?
How did he get to be the man in charge?
Here is my thinking; the Angel prophesied that Gideon was to deliver Israel from the hands of their enemies. That means that Gideon by the selection of God was a judge. However, he was not what we call a judge today. He was not hearing cases and deciding what was right and wrong.
He was not an early version of a King and he had no administrative duties and no line of succession before or after he performed his calling. However he is called by God for life.
Judges were raised up by God to free Israel from their enemies. Most of them led a group of several tribes to defend Israel and free the people from oppression. Judges were called for a life of leadership to the community.
So, it seems that because of the prophet of God, Gideon has received a little respect. Perhaps partly because Baal has not responded to the attack of the altar. Now we see in scripture that the Midianites, Amalekites and other Eastern people crossed the river Jordan and started setting up camp.
These nomadic people have come again to gather all they can consume by force. They know how to fight and take what they want.
When word comes to Gideon, you might expect that he would head back to his winepress or head off to the strongholds that the community made in the hills. But, that is not what happens. He blows the trumpet….
“Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.”
He does not run because the Spirit of the Lord empowers him. He grabs a trumpet and blows the call to gather the people. He dispatches messengers to go to the surrounding tribes calling to arms…. Not calling to hide…. Not calling to run…. CALLING to ARMS..
Somehow, Gideon has become strong….He has become a leader… He is willing to give orders and gather the troops…and it seems that people are listening.
Well not exactly troops. This Farm Boy calls for all the other farmers to grab their grandfather’s swords and shields, axes, rocks and sharp sticks and come running.
They are familiar with working hard, raising families and crops and were good people. But good people are not automatically warriors.
Gideon rallies the people to face the growing threat.
However, it appears that he still has some doubts about what it is supposed to do.
36 Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised- 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said."
Let’s see, Gideon has met an angel. He has witnessed the acceptance of his offering. He has heard God’s instruction to destroy idols and build a new altar to God and not been killed by his family or the men of the town.