October 16th, 2022: The Call of Gideon-Judges 6:1-2, 7-16
Moses warned the nation of Israel about the danger that would result from partial obedience. He compared the character of God, which is faithful and unfailing, to the character of human beings, which is fickle and lazy. They would have been wise to heed the warning, but the children of Israel did not obey the Lord with their whole hearts. They entered the promised land and experienced the supernatural power of God in battles like Jericho, but as time passed, they grew weary of obedience and failed to drive out the inhabitants as they were instructed to do. Instead, they fought against some and dwelt among others. Their compromise eventually resulted in marriages of believers to unbelievers and finally in a generation that grew up ignorant of the knowledge of God and his promises.
And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges 2: 8-13)
To worship Baal is to worship a family of false gods considered to be “Lord” as the name is literally translated of all things. Baalim in the above verses refers to the host of minor gods who are under the title of Baal. Baal and Asteroth, specifically, were worshiped as the father and mother of everything. It’s interesting that Satan first rebelled against God to take His title, then tempts and deceives mankind so he can take ours.
"Satan first rebelled agaist God to take His title, then temp and deceives mankind so he can take ours."
God chose Abraham and Sarah to be the father and mother of the people God would bless and offer eternal life to, through their descendant Jesus. Satan has the generation of Abraham’s family after the time of Joshua’s death worshiping false idols as a mother and father who require sacrificial death to be satisfied. Worshiping Baal included human sacrifice, especially child. Some commentators calculate that it was around 1400 BC when the new nation entered the promised land (after 40 years of wandering), and it is approximately 1144 BC when our lesson starts. In approximately 256 years this nation lost sight of who God is and the promises that He made, and the miracles he performed. So, instead of being the strong and mighty leaders God called them to be, they are hiding from their enemies, those they befriended and compromised with who they were actually commanded to drive out. Far from being benefited from their new religion, they were being destroyed by it.
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. 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.
God had given them the promised land, given them victory, given them authority, given them self-government, and they had relinquished all of it to a false “Lord.” As a result, they are hiding in caves and underground cowering for their lives. For all intents and purposes, in a worse position than they were in as slaves. They chose to forsake God, they didn’t realize they were also choosing the consequences. God’s promises are unchangeable. His goodness is given only to those who acknowledge Him, and destruction is sure for those who refuse Him.
Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. (Judges 2:16) .
Judges were men and women selected by God for positions of leadership in order to bring his wayward people back on course. They are acts of Grace, as God’s help was undeserved.
And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: (Judges 3: 4-5)
God used the nations around them to correct Israel and give them an opportunity to repent and receive his forgiveness and blessing. A generational cycle began to develop in the Old Testament that Bible Scholars and Historians alike have applied to the great empires of the world. It starts with a moral and disciplined people who are blessed by God and begin to grow and prosper, at the height of their success they become lazy and apathetic and produce generations who take the good life they are born into for granted. This generation fails to be moral and fails to be disciplined and falls farther and farther away from God and into corruption. Naturally, another stronger nation seizes power. In distress, the overtaken nation goes back to the truth that their forefathers believed and acted on. They cry out to God and God, who is always full of grace and mercy, raises up a champion who delivers them. They start again as a moral and disciplined people, and the cycle begins all over again. It may be that the hardest circumstance to survive spiritually is riches.
7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites, 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; 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;
A call comes from the prophet of God to a wayward people. Remember! Look past your current reality and remember who God is and what He has done for you. God didn’t change, His people did. If you’ve ever been to the beach on vacation, you’ve experienced a little of this. If you swim in the ocean for a while, you can look up and in shock, realize that you can no longer identify your hotel on the beach. Without realizing it, you’ve drifted a lot further on the currents than you had intended to. It can be unsettling, to say the least. You need to identify something in order to find your bearings. The hotel is in the exact same position that it always was, you have drifted carelessly away. Look for a landmark, maybe a dock you recognize, and make your way back to safety.
Look at the mess you are in. Remember that God made you, has a plan for you, and has offered forgiveness to you. God is long-suffering. Make your way back to what you know for sure, the love and goodness of God. Israel had forgotten that they were chosen by God, and called to live differently from their pagan neighbors. They needed to remember.
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.
When we know who God is and that he is ours, fear has no place. Fear flees in the face of faith and obedience.
11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
Divine humor. A man hiding his wheat out of fear of the Amorites is saluted by God’s messenger as a mighty man of valor. God sees what we will be, not what we are. The solution is in the declaration that God is with him, in such a state, it is impossible not to be mighty.
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.
Gideon is living far beneath the privileges of the Promised Land. His answer to the messenger of God is, “what has God done for us lately?” He feels forsaken and hopeless. The New Testament warns that in the last days many will mock the second coming of Christ. They will echo the attitude of Gideon here, in saying that they have heard it said all of their lives that Jesus is coming, but, “where is He?” In an hour that they think not, in an hour that they’ve given up hope, He will appear. Those who are prepared and waiting for Him will be delivered from judgment, and those who have abandoned their faith will endure the wrath of God on Earth.
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?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
God Chooses Gideon. God brings victory through a doubtful and unqualified man. God chooses him in spite of himself, in order to prove that He is the deliverer of Israel, that He cares about them and will keep His promises to them. He doesn’t need Gideon, but He will use him to illustrate that He can save