Many cars have a feature called “cruise-control”. Cruise-control allows the driver to establish a speed by pressing on the gas pedal and once pushing the cruise-control button will retain that speed until the break pedal is applied. You can let off the gas pedal and not have to press it again while the vehicle will continue at the same set speed. The benefit is relieving leg pressure, as well as maintaining a proper speed. In some sense, it enables you to coast with ease. The downside is when traffic obstacles occur you must re-establish manual control and keep direct attention to both the gas and break pedals.
There are points in all of our lives when we put on cruise-control.
- We coast and become complacent.
- We drift into disobedience.
EXAMINE Judges 6-8 Title: RiSK with unlikely resources
The book of Judges is a book of desperation. It shows the downward spiral of Israel’s national and spiritual life. It tells the story of disastrous consequences for those who fail to worship God and witness to the next generation.
The book gives its name for “judges” that God raised up as spiritual leaders for Israel. There are 12 judges and today we will look at the 5th one, named Gideon. Before we do, it will be helpful to gain a little more context.
In Joshua 24:14-18 we see a previous generation who desired to trust and treasure God.
Judges 2:6-10 tells of Joshua’s death yet Israel’s failure to pass on faith to the next generation.
Judges 2:11 states a phrase that will be repeated 7x in the book, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1). Another repeated phrase 4x “did what was right in their own eyes” (14:3, 7; 17:6; 21:25). Their actions are characterized in not following God’s instruction to remove all the Canaanites (1:27-36); intermarriage with other religions (3:5-6); their summary sin was idolatry and serving other gods (2:11-23; 3:6-7; 6:28-32; 8:33; 10:6; 18:4-31).
Judges sounds a lot like our world today. Tolerance trumps truth in our society. Moral relativism where a man can go to jail for a year for torturing dogs but another man gets only a warning for knocking out a woman. Fornication, Adultery, Pornography, Homosexuality, Greed, Gambling, Murder, Abortion and so much more abound as significant sins in our society. All over people are doing what is right in their own eyes while we seek to cover the all-seeing eyes of God.
This is the context of God’s judgment. It is also the context for some of God’s people experiencing faith risks. Today we will examine one judge – Gideon – who had unlikely resources yet experienced faith risks.
Faith risks lead us to repent of idolatry
God’s people were overtaken by the Midianites. The Midians would consume Israel’s crops, plunder their produce and swallow their meat supply. The Israelites were ravaged and needed rescuing. They were brought low (humbled) so they cried out to the Lord (6:6).
- Israel needed to repent of idolatry and placing themselves and false gods before the Lord.
- God calls Gideon to lead Israel’s battle against Midian. The first step was to pull down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah poles. Then he was to make a new altar for the Lord God (6:25-26).
- Sometimes God has to bring us to rock bottom before we are humbled and willing to repent. Psalm 116:1-6 1I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
- à Risk Repentance.
- Realize there is no reward in eternity for those who do not repent of sin.
- Realize your flesh seeks to stay in the darkness and run from the light; but it’s only through exposure to the light of the gospel can you see clearly and be spirit-filled.
- James 4:6, 10 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble… Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you.”
- à What are the high places of pride needing to be torn down and repented in your life?
- There is someone you have to forgive
- There is someone you have to speak an apology
- There is someone you need to pray for and pray with
- There is an area of your life needing confessed and changed
- CHRIST GIVES PARDON FOR SIN AND POWER FOR CHANGE
Faith risks lead us to rely on God and not ourselves
God calls Gideon to save Israel from the hand of Midian (6:14).
Gideon’s calling is ironic.
- Gideon is poor. He’s first seen beating out wheat in a winepress. Grapes are crushed in a winepress, which would have been a confined area for the liquid to stay in one place. Wheat would have been threshed in an open area for the wind to blow away the chaff. Gideon is beating wheat in a winepress because he’s hiding food from the Midianites. Also shows that he doesn’t have a lot of wheat since its in a confined area holding a winepress.
- Gideon is called “mighty man of valor”. Yet, Gideon’s life lacks courage and strength to lead.
- “Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my father’s house” (6:15).
- Gideon did not have all the answers; in fact questioned God why He allowed Israel to suffer; Gideon felt forsaken (6:13)
- Gideon lacked confidence – “How can I…?” (6:15)
- Gideon lacked faith… “show me a sign” (6:17; 36-40)
- Gideon was too afraid of the men in the town to tear down idol altars in the day so he does it at night time (6:27)
- Gideon is too afraid to fight with his army of 300 against the multitude of Midian (7:10-12).
- Gideon cannot rely on the 32K number of his army but on the might of God (7:1-7).
- “the people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’” (7:2)
- God limits the army by removing those who are fearful and trembling, so 22K left
- God limits army by removing those who lap the water like a dog by kneeling down to get water rather than bringing water up by cupped hands, so that number was decreased by 21,700; leaving 300 men.
- “the Lord said to Gideon, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand” (7:9)
- Hudson Taylor “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” “I have found there are three stages to every great work of God: first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”
In all, Gideon had to learn to rely on God’s presence not his own power
- “I am least… But I am with you” (6:16)
- “the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon” (6:34)
When Gideon does risk and rely on God his relationship is that much more rewarding. God reveals Himself, meeting Gideon face to face, and eating with Gideon. Gideon then builds an altar of worship to God (6:17-24). Likewise, later God will appear again to Gideon in 7:10-15 to confirm the promise of victory over the Midianites. When Gideon hears of this he worships. Altars of worship are essential.
- You cannot have a legacy without an altar
- Altars are places where God grabs your attention and reveals Himself and His purpose
- Altars alter your life
- Altars made out of rocks, showing God wants to use the hard places of our life.
- Have you found your altar? – last week’s message
- Where is the step of faith to move from the pier to the water… the sideline to playing field…
- What is something you would do if you believed you wouldn’t fail or you wouldn’t lack for resources?
- What is something that you could not accomplish and finish on your own without a large group of people and ultimately the hand of God?
- Relying on own resources could be
- Wisdom – As if you don’t need to ask a question or for help making decisions.
- Emotional – As if you don’t need to ask for prayer.
- Spiritual – As if you don’t need to be Member of Church, participant in a Bible Group, serving in a ministry…
- Relational –
- As if you don’t need marriage enrichment
- As if you don’t need friends… isolation leads to affliction (not meant to be alone)
Faith risks lead us to reproducing godly generations (Judges 8:22-35).
After Gideon leads Israel to defeat the Midians they seek to make him king. Gideon’s character has some flaws and isn’t full of faith. He wisely refuses to rule but he foolishly requests self-accolades. Gideon asks for the gold earrings from the army’s spoil. They respond generously giving earrings, ornaments, pendants, and garments with the weight of gold being around 50-75 pounds; representing the expanse of their spoil in victory as well as their esteem for Gideon. Gideon was a national hero and a spiritual leader for Israel. And yet, this last season of his life becomes an epic disappointment.
Gideon creates an ephod, some sort of ornate garment. The people worshiped their spoil rather than God, their Savior. They “whored” and became idolatrous rather than faithful to the One who rescued them.
Gideon fed his own fame rather than form faith in others to grow future godly generations. Instead of leaving a godly legacy he, and Israel, put on cruise control only to result in crash after crash.
- It is much easier to pour time, effort, and resources into positions and possessions rather than people. Israel sought the position of a ruler rather than God the king. They put their affections in possessions of gold and ornaments rather than the people of their nation. Their treasure only lasted for a time and they were left without a legacy.
- SPBC, one of our core values is other people… but we betray that value when we choose fulfilling selfishness over serving others. There are opportunities for fellowship, encouragement and service but we have to be willing to see and meet needs because God’s love spills over into compassion for others.
We see faith risks results in reward.
God reveals Himself… we grow in relationship and greater faith.
à If you want greater faith then perhaps God is calling you to step out of comfort zones through trusting Him with increased areas or levels of your life.
We see no righteousness.
In Jesus we see He is all our righteousness.
Jesus is our mighty and merciful judge who offers grace for our sin and guidance for our confusion
à If we believe Jesus is our everything then why do we worry and pursue peace & purpose in other places?
à We are tempted to live according to what is right in our own eyes. Repentance is necessary to say that only Christ is our sufficiency and righteousness.
– – – Only Christ is “mighty to save”