Monthly Archives: February 2017

Comparisons

The last thing the enemy of God wanted was for Gideon to realize his calling from God.

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Judges 6:15-16

It is the same for each of us today.  We all have different callings and different things to tend to for God. God is the one who calls people. It is not the job of men to appoint others or even themselves to specific callings. In Matthew 6:33, God exhorts all believers to seek first the kingdom of God and it will all fall into place.  The last thing the enemy of God wants you to do is realize how God works with you. There always is pressure to not believe what God has set before you.

The older I get, in retrospect I see how God has guided my steps. There are times that I let myself backdown because someone or something stepped in the way. Often God moved in and said, ‘Not so fast!”! Those are very exciting times.

In Judges 8:1-3 there is a beautiful record of Gideon responding to some rather critical thoughts of the men of Ephraim who thought they should have been a part of the original battle (God’s 300 men) against the Midiamites. There was unrest within between the tribes of the Hebrews.

8 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.
2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that. Judges 8:1-3

The gleaning of grapes refers to the picking of grapes left on the vine after the vintage is in. (See Leviticus 19:10 and Deuteronomy 24:21).  Gideon humbly turns their indignation around by showing what an important part they played in picking off the princes Oreb and Zeeb. The men of Ephraim’s anger was assuaged in Gideon’s response.

All that had happened was due to God instructions and Gideon carrying them out. God had a plan for them to get them out of the mud in which they were stalled. Glory always comes from God. God wants his people to get the very best and that is his supply. The glory of the Lord is our strength!

15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. 17 For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. 18 For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king. Psalm 89:15-18

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Gideon’s Dad

Evidently, Gideon’s father had an altar of Baal and a grove to go along with it. As a Hebrew, he knew

the God of Israel. It seems like he had everything covered. Having both belief systems covered is not without problems especially since the Midianites were attacking and destroying crops and their way of life.

Gideon had asked God why all the problems were happening to them. They were hiding from the Midianites that had invaded their land. Times were tough, they were not living freely.

God gave Gideon a solution which was to destroy his father’s altar of Baal and cut down the grove. He did what God said to do and quickly the men of the city arose against Gideon.  They went to his father and wanted him to give them Gideon so they could kill him.

30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.

31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. 

32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar. Judges 6:30-32

The Hebrews were having problems because they had one foot in paganism and one foot their own religion.  It sounds like a good way to get along, but it isn’t really. God wanted His people to live freely and abundantly enjoy the plans He had for them. If someone else tried to remove this freedom and abundance, there was pressure and a fight. The enemy cultures in that time were aggressive and violent. Tolerance of the invaders was not healthy.

Joash, Gideon’s father, had an interesting comeback about Baal.  If Gideon was Baal’s enemy, then Baal, being a so-called god, should be able to take care of the situation if he is truly a god.

From that time on Gideon was called Jerubbaal or ‘enemy of Baal’. God had chosen Gideon to save Israel. God’s battle plan was very unusual.  It had a strong underlying theme of believing God as I wrote about in the previous blog. It is a fantastic story of power and reliance on God. Once Gideon believed and was reassured about the job God wanted him to do, he could get it done because God empowered him and showed him how.

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Gideon’s Time and Our Time~What Is Different?

Gideon lived in a day when the Hebrews relied on strong leaders to deliver them.  As we have seen over and over in the Old Testament, the spirit of God rested on certain ones in order to save the rest. Gideon lived in a time when those around him became entrenched in the culture that surrounded them and they adopted pagan thinking and mixed it with their own beliefs. Problems plagued them as a result. That still happens today.

What is different today is that the spirit as a gift from God is available to everyone that accepts the good news of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us. It is a gift, not a  something we can strive for by our works. The only works we have to do is to believe and accept the gift. Because of the pride of man, this may be tough for some. Pride in accomplishments, power and control can be serious impediments.

I love reading about the heart of Gideon.  He seems pretty humble.  I know some theologians have described him a weak, because he asked for assurance that God was reaching out and empowering him. It is pretty clear that he respected God when others around him were not.

22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. 23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. 24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. Judges 6:22-24

It seems to me that most men are weak in some way or another. It is pretty evident throughout the Old Testament. God challenges people in stunning ways. In the Gideon record, a nice size army accumulated to take care of the enemy.  God had other plans:

2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. Judges 7:2-4

The army was whittled down to 300 from 32,000! Actually, when you think about it, that is pretty exciting. It is even more exciting today in light of the power that God has given to each one of us. We have access to God anytime we want. We should not be afraid to lay whatever is confronting us out before him with an honest heart and rest in that! The Lord ‘does not forsake us’ (Judges 6:13) when we approach him for even the smallest detail of our lives. The answer that comes may not involve a huge, showy explosion of might, but rather a sure peaceful perfect resolution that is so awesomely right!

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How Does This Stuff Keep Happening?

The Hebrews, as recorded in the sixth chapter of the book of Judges, had 40 great years during the time of Deborah, but then  got into trouble again:

6 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.
3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; 4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. Judges 6:1-6

God sent a prophet to explain why:

7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, 8 That the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; 9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land;10 And I said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.

The phrase “fear not the gods of the Amorites” caught my attention. It can’t mean be afraid of them. The word ‘fear’ in this case refers to worshipping or serving them.

We all live in a mixed culture and it is easy to see from experience how subtly this can happen. People just get caught up in the times. Recently I marveled when someone said to me that I needed to get with the times as they were a changin’.  In actuality, the issue that we were talking about was an issue that has occurred throughout recorded history and without fail has reaped the same results in a culture. It is not about being out of touch, but rather about not being ignorant of truth as it really is.  I guess as one gets older and older, that claim might be laid more and more so it is wise to get used to it. 😜  Just don’t call them a ‘young whippersnapper’! 😉 They won’t know what you are talking about.

There is so much around us that tries to pull us in one direction or another. How often we are ‘gaslighted’ (oppressing and twisting someone else’s thinking) these days? It is everywhere. Conformity is a tempting solution.

In Judges 6, God raised up another deliverer, whose name was Gideon, when the Israelites finally asked for help from God.

12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?

How come this stuff keeps happening? People get sucked into conformity as the right measure of worth. Gideon posed a great question. He wanted answers and he got them from the right source.

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