Gideon (Part 2)

Gideon 1. Gideon is listed among the heroes of faith for the encouragement of our faith. HEB 11:32-34. 2. His account is in JDG 6-8. 3. The judges were called saviours. NEH 9:27. 4. Gideon was a judge and saviour by an imperfect faith compared to Christ, the Judge and Saviour of perfect faith. JOH 8:29 c/w HEB 11:6; HEB 2:13; LUK 23:46. 5. Gideon is a study of how even a little faith may be used of God and blessed with increase. MAT 8:26; 14:31 c/w LUK 17:5. 6. The story of Gideon shows God's blessing upon faith to the overcoming of impossible odds, a fact we should remember when striving against sin or when witnessing. 7. Gideon means hewer or feller, an appropriate name for someone who cast down idols, groves, foreign and domestic opposition. Judges 6 vs. 1-6. 1. As was the usual cycle in the book of Judges, Israel decayed from a season of godliness and liberty into one of sin and bondage. 2. The Midianites were inveterate enemies of Israel who once aligned with Moab to seek Israel's destruction. NUM 22:4, 7. 3. They were descendants of a son of Abraham. GEN 25:2. A. The church has ever had its share of grief from unspiritual sons of Abraham. GAL 4:29; REV 3:9. B. The church has only endured what the true Saviour experienced. JOH 8:37 c/w MAT 10:25. 4. The name Midian means strife, and comes from a root word meaning brawling and contention. This accords well with their alter-identity as Ishmaelites. GEN 37:25-28, 36 c/w GEN 39:1; JDG 8:24 c/w GEN 16:12. 5. Moses once fled to Midian for sanctuary and married a daughter of the priest of Midian who was a reluctant “convert” to the Abrahamic religion. EXO 2:15-16, 21; 4:25-26. 6. The Midianites were known for their use of camels. JDG 7:12; ISA 60:6. 7. They were once all but extirpated by Moses. NUM 25:17; 31:1-18. A. We should not be surprised if God's church has to fight again with what was once overcome. GAL 4:19. B. This should remind us that unless sin in our members is completely mortified, it is likely to return and oppress. COL 3:5-6; ROM 8:13. C. This also sets forth a basic truth about the superiority of Christ over Moses: what Moses seemed to bring under subjection was not necessarily destroyed. So also the Law could not do what Christ alone could do. ROM 8:1-3. D. Also contrast, “And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel...” (v. 2) with MAT 16:18. 8. Instead of fighting, Israel went into hiding. v. 2. A. Sin had dispirited them, even as they had been warned. LEV 26:36-37 c/w PRO 28:1. B. The condemned heart lacks confidence. 1JO 3:21. C. We dare not let the face of opposition deter us from our spiritual battles. JER 1:17. D. We are commanded to be strong and to stand against the wiles of the devil, not retire to the dens and caves of our fears and lusts. EPH 6:10-11 c/w HEB 13:5-6; 1CO 15:58. 9. “And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites...” (v. 6). Gideon 6-3-12 Page 1A. Israel was oft guilty of spiritual adultery, as here (vs. 10, 28) and adultery tends to root out increase! JOB 31:12. B. What God had given them, they had offered to Baal so God took it away. HOS 2:8-9. C. God is yet the Governor among the nations (PSA 22:28) and those nations which abandon Him, His Word and His righteousness will suffer. PSA 9:17. D. We likewise suffer spiritual impoverishment because of worldly corruptions, entanglements and disregard of God and His Law. HOS 4:6; LUK 8:14; PRO 13:20; 1CO 15:33; REV 3:17; GAL 4:8-9. vs. 7-10. 1. Israel finally “...cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites,” (v. 7). A. Interesting that they did not cry unto God because of their sins! Much suffering can be avoided by judging ourselves. 1CO 11:31. B. God might well have told them to call upon the gods they had chosen. DEU 32:36-38; JDG 10:13-14. (1) Quenching the Spirit may result in God withdrawing from us and turning us over to our own devices. EPH 4:30 c/w ISA 63:10; PSA 95:8-11. (2) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (HEB 10:31). 2. God did not send them a Moses or a Joshua, nor did he send plagues upon the Midianites; He sent them a prophet to rebuke them. A. They cried to God; God cried back by a prophet. c/w ISA 58:1. B. A faithful prophet was at least as valuable to Israel as a powerful military. 2KI 13:14. C. What God's church has always needed to stave off trouble is faithful ministers. 2TI 4:1-5. vs. 11-24. 1. In an act of pure mercy, though Israel had forgotten the covenant of their God, God remembered for them his covenant (LEV 26:45 c/w PSA 106:45) and called a savior. A. Gideon wasn't taking foreign occupation and oppression lying down. Although God had given the Midianites civil power over Israel, Gideon took measures to provide secretly for his family. v. 11 c/w 1TI 5:8. (1) Rather than censure Gideon for resisting civil power, the angel of the LORD said, “...The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (v. 12). (2) No authority other than God is absolute and we must obey God when obeying men means disobeying God. ACT 4:18-20; 5:29. B. Gideon was personally industrious and diligent even though he had many servants. v. 27. (1) God chose a diligent man to bear rule in Israel. PRO 12:24; 22:29. (2) Qualified N.T. ministers must be diligent. 1TI 3:1-7; 2CO 8:22-23; ROM 12:8. 2. This angel of the LORD appears to have been God Himself. vs. 14-16. 3. Mark that where Gideon was told, “...the LORD is with thee...,” Gideon's response was “...if the LORD be with us...?” A. One of the great lessons of faith is recognizing that God is willing to call one, or some, but not all of a class. God called Abraham ALONE. ISA 51:2. B. Sardis was a “dead” church wherein Christ eyed only a few. REV 3:1, 4. C. As in Elijah's day, God had reserved some who had not bowed their knee to Baal (ROM 11:4) and would use them to His glory. 4. Gideon seemed to think that the great miracles which attended the church's beginning should always be around (v. 13), an enduring misconception. 5. Gideon's objections in v. 15 seem to be born of humility more than reluctance. Gideon 6-3-12 Page 2A. God does give grace to the humble. JAM 4:6. B. Whether it be self-doubt, humility, weakness or reluctance, when God calls one to work, the answer ought to be “...Here am I; send me” (ISA 6:8). C. Resisting such calls is unwise. EXO 4:10-14; JER 1:6-8; 1CO 9:16. D. Oversight which God gives is expected to be taken. 1PE 5:2; 1CO 11:3. 6. Gideon sought a confirming sign and God graciously granted it. vs. 17-24. vs. 25-32. 1. God then commanded Gideon to cast down his father's altar of Baal, cut down its grove, take his father's bullock, and make an offering to God upon an altar he should build. vs. 25-27. A. God never even implied that Gideon should consecrate this equipment of idolatry to the service of Jehovah! B. This would be an affront to his father but discipleship sometimes means drawing such lines. DEU 33:8-9; 1KI 15:11-13; MAT 10:37. (1) Gideon's act of rebuke was in accord with the function of God's prophets. (2) Like Gideon (hewer), the prophets hewed sinners with rebukes. HOS 6:5. C. Grove here translates from the Hebrew asherah (SRN 842) which means “happy, asherah (or Astarte) a Phoenician goddess; also an image of the same: grove” and it compares with Ashtaroth (SRN 6253). (1) “The Baal, as the head of each worshipping group, is the source of all the gifts of nature; as the god of fertility all the produce of the soil is his, and his adherents bring to him their tributes of firstfruits. He is the presiding genius, patron or cause of all growth and fertility, and baalism, originating, probably, in the observation of the fertilizing effect of rains and streams upon the receptive and reproductive soil, became gross nature worship. Joined with the baals there are naturally found corresponding female figures known as Ashtaroth, embodiments of Ashtoreth. In accordance with primitive ideas which assume that it is possible to control or aid the powers of nature by the practice of 'sympathetic magic', the cult of the baals and Ashtaroth was characterized by gross sensuality and licentiousness.” (Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol.2, 14th edition, p. 834) (2) False religion does tend to be characterized by carnal happiness, a substitute for spiritual emotion: the joy of the Holy Ghost that comes from the knowledge of sin vanquished, not sin sanctioned. ROM 14:17. D. Gideon “...feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.” (1) Here was a fear of man which was not a snare (PRO 29:25) for it did not stop him from doing what God had told him to do. (2) Sometimes being wise as a serpent (MAT 10:16) means doing things by night. JDG 7:19; ACT 9:25; 17:10. E. Gideon was not a Levitical priest authorized by Moses to make an altar and sacrifice (neither was Elijah, 1KI 18), but he was here authorized by God to do so. (1) Recall that Gideon was a savior. NEH 9:27. (2) He was commanded to make the second bullock into a sacrifice. (3) In burning the wood of the grove, he took that which was their sin and made it into that which consumed an acceptable sacrifice (for bulls were acceptable sacrifices, HEB 9:13). (4) Christ our Priest and Savior (not from Levi) became our altar (HEB 13:10), was made sin for us (2CO 5:21), and offered Himself to God for us (EPH 5:2) as the Gideon 6-3-12 Page 3second Adam/man (1CO 15:45-47) because God likewise commanded it so. HEB 10:4-7. 2. The Baal-worshippers of the city called for the death of Gideon for his affront to Baal. vs. 28-30. A. The Law had been turned on its head! DEU 13:6-11 c/w ISA 59:14-15. B. Fools may think false religion to be benign but time will prove otherwise. 3. Gideon's father intervened on Gideon's behalf. In his religion, family meant more than his god. A. God does have ways of raising up helps for His faithful children from unexpected places. ACT 19:33-36. B. The depth of dedication that Joash had to his Baalism came out: he now says of Baal, “...IF he be a god, let him plead for himself...” C. Joash then called Gideon Jerubbaal which means “Let Baal plead.” (1) Baal means lord which means master, ruler. (2) In 2SAM 11:21 Gideon is called Jerubbesheth which means, “Let the shameful thing plead.” (3) The godly, upon reflection, will see their former sins which they served as shameful things. ROM 6:21. vs. 33-35. 1. The enemy had come in like a flood (JDG 7:12) and the Spirit of the Lord arose. ISA 59:19. 2. Gideon blew a trumpet. A. There were relatively few occasions in the Law where the trumpet was authorized but this would seem to have been a valid case for it. NUM 10:5-9. B. The sounding trumpet of war preparations underscores the importance of understanding. 1CO 14:7-9. 3. There seems to have been a dramatic change come over the men of Abiezer! c/w 1KI 18:39-40. vs. 36-40. 1. Gideon has been walking by faith but here tempts God by asking for further proof that God would attend his campaign and bless it. God in charity accommodated him. A. “...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (MAR 9:24). B. Saints sometimes need some help to perfect that which is lacking in their faith. 1TH 3:10. 2. Some have used this example of Gideon and the fleece as a basis for expecting God to supply them with signs or circumstances to enable them to determine God's will. A. Gideon's sign was not merely a circumstance; it was a miracle. Are you going to start asking for miracles to determine God's will? B. NOTE: Gideon did not put out the fleece to determine God's guidance. God had already told Gideon that He would use him to save Israel (JDG 6:14-16). Gideon was seeking confirmation. C. Gideon had already asked for a confirming sign and God had granted it. JDG 6:17-22. D. Thus, Gideon's putting out the fleece was really an expression of his reluctance to believe the call of God. E. That Gideon asked God not to be angry with him when he changed the sign shows that Gideon knew he was skating on thin ice with this. F. Even though God accommodated Gideon in this instance, we read later of God judging Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who sought a sign in unbelief. LUK 1:11-20. G. Examples like Gideon do not establish a precedent for us to follow. H. Scripture does not instruct or encourage us to seek signs from God to determine His will. Scripture itself is sufficient for that. 2TI 3:16-17.

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