Sermon – Fleecing God (Judges 6:1 – 6:40) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 6 of 10

Fleecing God

Tom Sweatman, Judges 6:1 - 6:40, 3 March 2024

As we continue our series in Judges, Tom preaches to us from Judges 6:1-40. In this passage we see Gideon’s time as judge -we see his interactions with God, his behaviour as God’s chosen judge, and what it all means for us today.

Judges 6:1 - 6:40

6:1 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.

When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”

11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”

19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

25 That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it 26 and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” 27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.

28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” 32 Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.

33 Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

The usualized did evil in the eyes of the lord. And for 7 years, he gave them into the hands of median nights because the power of median was so oppressive. That israelites prepare shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the israelites planted their crops the median knights, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples invaded the country.

They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel. Neither sheep nor cattle, nor donkeys, They came up with their livestock and their tents like swam of locusts. It was impossible to count them all their camels They invaded the land to ravage it. Media so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the lord for help. When the Israelites cried out to the lord because of median, he sent them a prophet who said, this is what the lord, the god of Israel says.

I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I rescued you from the land of the hand of Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. I said to you, I am the lord your god.

Do not worship because of amorized in whose land you leave, but you have not listened to me. The angel of the lord came and sat down under the oak in offer that belonged to the Jewish, the arabs where his son, gudin, was rushing wheat in the 1 press to keep to keep it from the median nights. When the angel of the lord appeared to Gideon, he said, the lord is with you, my dear warrior. Pardon me, my lord, She didn't reply. But if the lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?

Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said they know the lord to bring us up out of Egypt, but now the lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of median. The lord turned to him and said, go in the strengths you have and save Israel out of meetings' hand. Am I not sending you? Pardon me, my lord, she didn't reply, but how can I save Israel? My client is the weakest in Manasa, and I am the least in my family.

The Lord answered I'll be with you and you will strike down all the million nights, leaving none alive. He didn't reply If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it's really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offerings and said it before you. And the lord said, I will wait until you return. Gillian went inside, prepared a young goat and from an evil flower he made bread without yeast, putting the meat in a basket.

And is brought in a pot. He brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. The angel of god said to him, take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock and pour out the broth. And get in digso, then the angel of the lord touched the meat and the eleventh bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire fired from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread, and the end of the lord disappeared.

Longedia realized that it was the angel of the lord. He is claimed. A last sovereign lord, I have seen the angel of the lord face to face. But the lord said to him, peace. Do not be afraid.

You are not going to die. So Gideon built an altar to the lord there and called it the lord's peace. To this day, a standing offer of the Abba Azirite. That same night, the Lord said to him, take the second bull from your father's herd, the 1 7 years old. Tear down your father's altar to bail and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.

Then build a proper kind of altar to the lord your god on the top of this height. Using the word of the Asherah poll that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering. So Gidyan took 10 of his servants and did as the law told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. In the morning, when the people of the town got up, There was Bail's altar demolished with the Asura poll beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar.

They asked each other who did this. When they carefully investigated, they were told, Gideon, son of Joash did it. The people of the town demanded of Joash, bring out your son. He must die because he has broken down Bail's altar and cut down the Asher up hole beside it. But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him.

Are you going to plead Bail's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning. If bail really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar. So because Gideon broke down Bail's altar, they gave him the name Jarrod Bail that day, saying let Bail contend with him.

Now all the midianites, AmeloKites, and other Eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the valley of Israel. Then the spirit of the lord came on Gidyan and he blew a trumpet, summoning the the Abiyev's rights to follow him. He sent messengers throughout manasa calling them to arms and also into ASHA, Sebulan, and Natali so that they too went up to meet them. Gidians said to god, if you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised, look, I will place the wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is due 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.

And that is what happened. Gidion rose early the next day. He squeezed the fleece and wrung out the due, a bowl full of water. Then Gideon said to god, do not be angry with me. Let me make just 1 more request.

Allow me 1 more test with the fleece. But this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew. That night, god did so. Only the fleece was dry. All the ground was covered with due.

Thanks for reading that to us, Sarah, and, let's, let's pray as we come to this amazing story. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and the perfecter of faith. Father, we thank you for these remarkable stories in this book of judges, and, we love to learn about them, and we love the details. And they're so interesting, and there's so much we can learn from the failure.

Of these people, and there's so much that we can learn from the triumphs of these people. But father, we thank you that the best way these characters serve us. Is by riveting our eyes to Jesus by helping us to see the perfect deliverer that we need. And so we pray that as we look at Gideon, the first part of his story, that you would help us in seeing him, to see beyond him, to the lord Jesus. And that as we see him, we might be changed.

So speak to every 1 of us this evening. We pray in Jesus' name. Oh, man. Oh, man. Well, the, the movement and, we would have picked this up if we'd read chapter 5 as well.

The the movement from chapter 5 into chapter 6 of judges. Is jarring to say the least. You might imagine it a bit like 1 of those films or documentaries that you've just finished And, it's really moved you or it's made an impact on you. And what you want after watching such a moving presentation is just a bit of time. To emotionally process and to reflect upon and to digest what you've just watched.

That's what you want. But what you get is within a few seconds, the voice of mister 4 0 d coming on and telling you that love island is about to follow the show that you've watched. And if you wanna catch up with all the love island gossip, you can do so by watching love island plus 1. And, there's a and it's just jar it's jarring. Have you ever felt that?

You You've watched something that so moved you and you've been rushed onto the next thing and you think, no, ow, don't do that. That's painful. I don't wanna go on to the next thing. I want time to look at this thing. It it's jarring.

It reads a bit like that. The movement from chapter 5 into chapter 6. It's jarring. In chapter 5, you've got a musical masterpiece, which is celebrating all that yahweh has done for his people in delivering them. It's just poetic perfection.

All that God has done for his people. And again, you come to chapter 6 verse 1 after just finishing that masterpiece, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the law In chapter 5, you've got a celebration of all that god's people can be, and all that they should be, if only that they would just trust the lord and listen to their deliverer, things would go like that for them all all the time. But then you come to chapter 6 verse 2 and it is sad and it's pathetic in in equal measure, isn't it? Have a look at me at verse 2. Because the power of median was so oppressive, The Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds.

This is their land. This is their land. This is their inheritance. This is the possession that they have been given, and this was what was meant to happen to their enemies, not to them. And yet now, instead of having the run of the place, they've been driven into these cave systems.

And that's where they gotta live. I can't help but imagine an Israelite family somewhere deep within the caves hiding from the median nights. And the brother and sister snuggled down into their sleeping bags next to a dying fire, and they're listening to the drip dropping of water somewhere deep off in cave system. And as the fire dies, the sister turns to the brother and says, have we always lived like this? Is it always gonna be like this for us?

Is this is this what we are to call home? Is this what our ancestors would promise? And then every year, you've got the midianites coming into your land just at harvest time. When there might be an opportunity to collect something. And once again, they descend upon your land like a swarm of locusts They slaughter all of your livestock.

They ravaged your land. They plunder what you've got. They take your harvest, and there's nothing you can do about it. That's jarring, isn't it? Compared to chapter 5 when things were going so well.

And now look at them. It's pathetic. It's pathetic, isn't it? And yet if all of that is jarring to us, to our ears, how much more so to yahweh, to the covenant god, who has come through for them, time and time again, who's rescued them and delivered them and promised them so much if only they would but listen to him to see them in chapter 5 moving again into chapter into chapter 6. If it's jarring to us, it must be even more so to him.

And yet, as we can see in this chapter, once again, the lord is not ready to give up on his people. Even though their sins are many, his mercy is always more. And he's gonna come to the even now, and the stage is set for for Gidian, for Gidian, who's gonna come onto the scene. And this chapter is so is so action packed This is a bit of a dated reference, but it feels like an episode of 24, which which is a long time ago now, but that basically means it's busy. And it's full of action.

And so the way we're gonna look at this chapter, we're just gonna break it up into 5 big action flash points. And we'll see what's going on in the action. And so we're gonna see firstly the prophesying, and then we're gonna see the threshing, and then we're gonna see the burning then we're gonna see the demolishing, and then we're gonna see the fleecing. Yeah. That's how it's gonna go.

Okay. Proficine, threshing, burning, demolishing, fleeces So let's have a look firstly at the prophecy, and it starts in verse 7. You can see the lord sends a prophet to the people. And this is very interesting at this point because This is the first time in the book of judges, where a cry for help is not in the first instance met with divine deliverance. It's not he he sent he does something else before he delivers them.

He will go on to deliver them, but first he wants to speak to them. He is gonna rescue them, but first he needs to rebuke them. He brings a word before a rescue. That's what we see in verse 7. And so you can see that with me if you just look down.

When the Israelites cried out to the lord because of midian, he sent them a profit. He sent them a profit. Now why did he do that? Why did he decide to do that at this point? Well, the answer is in the text itself.

If you look down to verses 12 and 13 to that moment, where Gideon meets the angel of the lord. When the angel of the lord appeared to Gideon, he said the lord is with you mighty war here. Pardon me my lord, Gideon replied, but if the lord is with us, why has all this happened to And I reckon that was the question on not only his lips, but probably on many other lips as well. Pardon me my lord, but if the lord is with us, then why has this happened to us? Now what does that tell us about the stay Israel at this time.

It tells us that they are so far gone at this point. They don't even realize why what is happening is happening. They don't they They haven't put 2 and 2 together. They can't work it out. Why this oppression keeps happening to them?

What is the lord? Why is this happening to us? Interesting, isn't it? You see, look at how far Israel had descended at this point. Verse 6 look with me verse 6.

Here's what they do. They're so Mid and so impoverished the israelites that they cried out to the lord for help. So they cry out to him for help, hate what's happening. But then in verse 30, look what happens right towards the end of the chapter. The people of the town demanded of Joash bring out your son he must die because he's broken down Bail's altar.

And the Israelites mind, these 2 things are perfectly compatible. You see? We're crying out to the lord in verse 6. But we wanna keep our pop up bale shrines in verse 30, and we're furious that we might have to give them up and they might be destroyed. And in their mind, those 2 things can co coexist.

When really we know that to cry out into the lord verse 6, means to surrender bail and destroy Asherah that there is no authentic calling out to yahweh unless the idols are destroyed. We know that, but the people can't get it. They think those things go together. Why has this happened to us? Well, maybe because that's how you're thinking about god.

It's even ingredient. It's even ingredient's words. If you look down again at Gideon, he's the 1 who says this. Pardon me my lord, Gideon replied. But if the lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?

Now if anyone should know the answer to that question is him. He doesn't seem to realize that the reason this has happened is because in his old man's garage is a shrine to bail. You think he might have put 2 and 2 together. You think he might reckon wonder if it's something to do what dad and his mates are doing. You know, in the in the back garage, they they're so far gone.

They don't realize. So the lord sends them this prophet because he needs to expose what's actually happening. You see, it seems as if the israelites had started to treat god like 1 of those combination locks that you might lock your bike up with. All you have to do is manipulate the digits into the right position, and pop goes the lock, and you'll be free from slavery. That's how they're beginning to think.

It's no longer a relationship with Yairway. This is all ab this is manipulation now. Put digit 3 in place, sin, digit 4, don't like the effects, digit 5, cry out to the lord, digit 6, he'll send a rescuer. The lock will pop open and will be free. That's paganism.

That's paganism. That's nothing to do with covenant worship and covenant faith. And so the lord is sending a prophet to them lovingly to say to them, I will not have you treat me this way. I will not have you treat me like a robot rather than a person that you can just manipulate. And so he sends this profit them in order to expose and in order to rebuke.

The lord, our god, loves his glory way too much to allow his people to treat him like that. The lord loves us, his people, way too much, to allow us to treat him like that. And that's true in every that's true in every age, isn't it? You see in 1 sense, this this cycle of, sinning feeling the effects of our sin going back to god and asking for help. That cycle is actually the Christian life, isn't it?

We do that time and time and time again, mucked up again. I wish I hadn't. Now I feel rubbish. Say sorry to god. Please help me next time.

That is the cycle of life. But the warning here is against the kind of spiritual fickleness. A hypocrisy. That's what Israel had fallen into. They were going through those motions without any intention of surrendering the idols that had become so precious to them.

They just weren't gonna give them up. They were gonna say the right thing that they had no plans to actually give up Bail and Asherah. And so the lord sends a prophet to them and as Christian people, we too can expect something like that. Can't we? Isn't wouldn't that be a loving thing for a father to do?

If we've started to treat him like that, wouldn't we expect and actually want a rebuke of some form to wake us up so that we don't treat him like that anymore so that we treat him properly. I think Christian people would would would want that. Would want that. And that's what we see. That's the first action point.

That's the prophecy the prophecy. But secondly, we come now to the threshing. And let's look at this encounter here in verse 11. So the angel of the lord came and sat down under the oak in offerer that belonged to Joe Ash the Abizerite where his son, Gideon, was threshing wheat in a wine press to keep it from the Midian I So here is Gideon. And at the start of his call, he is threshing.

Now, this detail, was completely lost upon me until this week. But threshing, if you know what threshing is, basically, it's when that they would get the harvest And the farmers would go to an exposed place where the winds were blowing. And what they would do either by hand or with a tool, I think was to throw the harvest up into the air when the wind was blowing so that the wind would catch the light chaff that they couldn't use and didn't want and blow it away. And that which was precious and useful to them, the wheat would fall to the floor, and then they would be able to gather it in. Now in order to do that job properly, you did need an exposed windy place.

But where do we find Gideon doing that job? Where's he doing it? It's not a trick question. He's doing it in a wine press. He's doing that job in a wine press.

Which did not have to be exposed. In fact, couldn't be. It needed to be protected and cut into a a a rock or a home because you needed different channels, and it all needed to be safe and inside. Now why then is he doing the outside job inside? Why is he doing the public job in private?

Why is he doing that? Because he doesn't want the midianites to get hold of it. And what does that tell us about him? It tells us that just like everybody else, he was afraid. He was afraid.

And so when the lord comes to me in verse 12, there is surely a mixed chair of both humor and grace in his address. Isn't there? Here's the lord. What does he say to him? The lord is with you mighty warrior.

The lord is with you. Mighty warrior. Now in what sense is Gideon at this point, a mighty warrior. I mean, you could argue that towards the end of his life, He does become a mighty warrior of some kind and some sort, but here, it would be hard to label him. Mighty warrior.

Just look at the way he speaks to the angel of the lord. This is the angel of the lord. This is god himself in human form. This is Jesus before Jesus. And he's coming to Gideon, and he's gonna speak to him And what does Gideon say to the lord?

Well, he's cynical, isn't he? He's cynical about god's grace? He's forgetful about god's work and the deeds that god has done in history. I think there's every indication that Gideon was at least partly a pagan at this point. I mean, it would be unusual for the sons not to be involved in the household worship households normally did the same kind of thing.

And if his old man's profiteering off bail and asherah, it sort of follows or at least isn't inconsistent to think that he would be part of that. He's less than truthful in this account. He says, you know, lord, I'm the weakest. I'm the smallest. My clan is nothing.

You think, is that true, Gideon? Because in verse 27, How many servants has he got? He's got 10 servants. He has heard there are bulls. He clearly has a significant portion of land.

He's threshing, which means he's got something, and his family home is at the center of village worship. I don't think you would say That was the weakest and smallest and most nothing and insignificant clan in all of Vanessa. Certainly not in the sense that he means to convey here He's making excuses. Basically saying, Lord, couldn't you send someone else? Not my family, not my clan.

We're we're hopeless. Couldn't you send someone else? This is why lots of people compare him to Moses. If you know the story of Moses is cool, but really, when you look at Gideon here, I I think he's a lot further back than than Moses actually was. In fact, I picked up this quote from a commentary.

I've left my clicker on the table. I'm afraid Dan. So if you would would you mind clicking that on for me. Here we go. Thanks, buddy.

While this scene is especially reminiscent of the call of Moses, Gidion is no Moses. Like Moses, there is a problem with the will but in the case of Gideon, there are additional problems of perception of the presence of the lord and the reason for Israel's distress and faith. Gideon will have a much harder time with trust in Yahweh than Moses, as the narrative will show. And so, therefore, in what sense is verse 12 true. In what sense is verse 14 true?

I'm gonna go verse 14. The lord turned to him and said, go in the strength that you have and save Israel out of Midien's hand. Am I not sending you. In what sense are these things true? Well, here's here's a principle that we see all through judges and which are talks over the whole bible story, the grace of god makes us into what we're not by nature.

Isn't that right? It's the kindness of god, which makes such into what we're not by nature. That by nature, we are anxious, we are timid, we are unbelieving, We are arrogant, and yet in the gospel, the lord Jesus can make us into mighty warriors in his kingdom. He can make us into what we're not by nature. Isn't that what Paul says?

You know, brothers and sisters consider what you were when the lord called you. How many of you were of noble birth? How many were strong? How many were wise? How many were intelligent?

How many were full of faith? No. Did not god choose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Did not he choose the weak things of the world, the shame, the strong. He did.

He did. This is the story all through judges, isn't it? It's the most of god, which is the hero of this story, taking people and making them what they are not themselves. I mean, you think of the disciples. Right?

At the end of the book of Matthew, they're about to go off out into the world. They're about to be mighty warriors on the global stage. But some of them only started believing in Christ about 10 minutes ago They were doubting really until the resurrection, and they're huddled in their little prayer groups, not sure how they're gonna do this. But what does the lord say to them? Well, Matthew 28, here it is on the screen.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. That's mighty warrior task, isn't it? And surely, I am with you, always, to the very end the age. That and it's that truth there. If you look down at judges 6 first 16 with me, how is any of this gonna happen?

The lord answered. I will be you. I will be with you. Matthew 28, verse 20. Surely, I am with you.

That's weak people, arrogant, unbelieving, tempting, testing, people get turned into mighty warriors in god's work. I will be with you. I'll be with Fantastic, isn't it? So that's the prophesy, the threshing. Now let's look at the burning, and we'll we'll speed up a bit now.

And in verse 17, Gidian decides to, make this offering. And, in 1 sense, you know, again, he's he's a he's a very conflicted man. I think because if you look at his offering, it's actually very generous given that they're in times of needs and they're getting savage by the midianites all the time. What he offers is actually pretty generous. I mean, have a look at your footnote.

That is probably about 16 kilograms. He went inside, prepared a young goat and from, and from an efa of flower. So 16 kilograms. It's fairly generous. But just look at how he kind of couches that offering in Gideon style language.

I mean, it's just strange thing verse 17. Gidien replied, so here's the lord saying, I'll be with you. If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign. Give me a sign that it really is you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and say it before you.

And the lord said, I will wait until you return. Gideon went inside, he prepared a young goat, and from an e for you see all the language that goes with it. I'll give you this really generous thing, but I'm, you know, I'm I'm gonna I'm gonna need you to sort of prove yourself a little bit more in this offering. And I'm not gonna consult you, oh lord, about what offering you would like. I I I've sort of I've already I already know what you would like.

So it's all on his terms. And really for his own sake. And yet graciously, the lord condescends accepts the offering. There's this miraculous moment where it's bought, and the whole thing erupts in flame. And when the smoke clears, god is gone.

And, Gidian then says, doesn't he? In verse 20 was 22 if you have a look. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the lord, he exclaimed a last sovereign lord. I have seen the angel of the lord face to face, but the lord said to him, peace. Do not be afraid.

You are not going to die. So it's interesting because in 1 sense, you can understand Gidyan's response there, can't you? He suddenly realized in that moment is the sovereign lord, and he probably knows enough about his history to know that no 1 can look upon the face of the lord and live. That's curtains for me. In another sense, it's quite an irrational thing for him to say, isn't it given the lengths that god has just gone to to assure him of his with him and all that he's going to accomplish for Israel to now think the lord would change his mind and smite him down That's more what Gideon would do than what the lord would do.

And so it's an irrational thing for him to say, but then in verse 23 and 24, you you have this wonderful word of assurance from the lord. He's so gracious to Gideon, but the lord said to him peace, do not be afraid. You are not going to die. So Gidien built an altar to the lord there and called it the lord is Yahway Shalom. It's what that literally translates to.

To this day, it stands in offer of the advisor rights. And I think in this book of judges, which is just so full of conflict, an unbelief, and war, and horrible, nasty stuff. That verse there is like a just a breath of fresh air in this book, isn't it? Yahwe shalom. Yahwe shalom.

That there is even in this conflict, horrible book. There is a lord who loves peace and wants peace and makes peace and desires peace, and will give peace, to all who turn to him. It reminds us of that language that we looked at last time in colossians, doesn't it? But god was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, making peace through the blood of Christ shed on the cross that the cross is the altar. The cross is the place that we look to.

It's our breath of fresh air in this war torn world. It's where we look and We see the sign over the cross that says Yahwe shalom. The lord is peace. The lord will make peace. If you come by this altar, you will know peace with the lord.

So that's just a little lots of little ways these stories point us to Christ. And so that's the burning. 4 feet, let's move on. Let's look at the demolishing. Here's the demolishing.

This is a great scene. Verse 25. That same night, the Lord said to him, take the second bull from your father's herd, the 1 7 years old. Tear down your father's altar to bail and cut down the ASHA repull beside And so this really is gonna be the first big test for Gideon. This is the first big test for Gideon.

It's interesting because before he goes to the national stage, god wants him to clear up his own room. Before he goes to summon the tribes of Israel and lead them, he's gotta lead his own dad. Out of paganism. That's his first test. Can he do it at home before he does it on the national stage?

When you come into the new testament, and you look at the qualifications for an elder in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1. There's an interesting parallel here about these spheres of responsibility that the lord cares about because when elders are going to be appointed by other elders, before they take responsibility for the the people of god, what do they need to have shown over time? That on a smaller scale, they've been able to take gospel responsibility. He has to have a good reputation with outsiders. What do his colleagues think of him in that smaller sphere?

What do people think of him? Is he honest? Is he a person of integrity? Can he manage his household well? Can that sphere of response ability be seen to be there?

Is it there? Is he is he able to, not perfectly, but is he able to connect the gospel to the smaller thing, well, then he can connect the gospel to the larger thing. And that's something of what's going on here. The Lord is saying, well, let's see. Get You know, let's see if you could lead your old man out of paganism before you go to the national stage.

It's a bit like, you know, before you start in the champions league final, have you put in the hours of Bolton away on a rainy February each you know, it's that sort of thing. You gotta you gotta you gotta you gotta do it on the smaller scale before it goes to the big scale. But this is classic giddy in what happens next because he's kind of He's kind of going to do it, but he's going to do it in his way and on his on his terms. Okay. So just have a look at this 27.

What he decides to do? So Gidion took 10 of his servants and did as the lord told him. Well, that's great. But Because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. Very interesting, isn't it?

1, 1 author, compares him to, an office evangelist, who is absolutely committed to inviting 1 of his or her colleagues to the Carol service. But he hasn't quite got the courage to do it face to face, And he doesn't even really want to send them a text or an email. And so what he does is he gets to the office very, very, very early in the morning when no 1 but the caretaker there, and he just leaves an anonymous invite card on the desk of the friend and then runs back to his desk and waits to see what happened you know, has he invited him? Well, yes. I mean, in a in a way, but it's very different, isn't it?

Well, that's Gidyan. It you know, he's going to obey the lord, but it's gonna be on his terms. And he's not quite willing to part with some of the unbelieving bits of him yet. He's still afraid, and he's gonna take 10 servants, and he's gonna make sure that no 1 can find out it's really him. And so he's gonna do it.

He's gonna do it, but he's gonna do it on on his terms. Right? And when it happens, Look at verse 30. Here are the people. They're absolutely furious.

The people of the town demanded of Joash his father, bring out your son, he must die because he has broken down Bales' altar and cut down the Asher poll beside it. The people are absolutely furious about this. Even though they're crying out to Yahway, They want yahweh's help, and they love yahweh, but they're seething and spitting because they're asher and bale, sort of center has been has been destroyed, and they call for Gideon's execution, which is quite ironic, really, because the only capital crime being committed in this chapter is by them. Not him. They're the ones doing the thing worthy of execution prostituting themselves to bail in ASHA instead of yahweh.

That deserves death, not what Gideon's doing, but they call for his death. You see how far gone, the people actually were at this point, little insight into what Israel had become. But then look what happens to the dad, I love This is really good. Look at verse 31. But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him.

Are you gonna plead Bail's cause Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death my morning. If bail really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar. Now it would probably be too much of a stretch to call this a conversion. But it's the beginnings of something in his dad's life, isn't it?

He's starting to see holes in the philosophy and the religion that he thought was so watertight. He's beginning to argue against something which he had held peacefully up until now, and maybe there are the beginnings of a movement towards Yairway both in him and in Gideon. And just to it's not the major point, but just to apply this. If you've ever seen something like this in your own family, is really exciting, isn't it? When perhaps a mum or a dad, who has been unbelieving for many, many years and has held to atheism or a different religion or no religion at all.

When for some reason in life, maybe thanks to something that you're doing. Maybe thanks to your zeal. Something in them begins to crack, and the philosophy that they held, they don't do so quite so tightly. And there's there's there's the beginnings of what might be true faith. It's really exciting when that happens in a family, isn't it?

And you just wanna pray that they would go all the way. Become followers of the lord. Well, maybe something like that is happening in, in a Joe Ash's life. But then look at verse 32. This is a really significant moment, here, Gideon gets a new name.

So because Gideon broke down Bail's altar, they gave him the name, Jerabail. That day, saying let Bail contend with him. Let Bail contend with him. That's his name now. His old name, Gidian, means the 1 who tears down or the 1 who rips down or the ripper down, and we can see why that is.

His new name means let Bale contend with him. And that's a very interesting name because what that means is that for as long as Gideon remains alive, he is a sign of the impotence of bail. For as long as Gideon is alive, he preaches to the world. Bail is powerless. Bail can do nothing.

Bale can't kill me. Bale is a defeated no god at all. That's his name. Bale loses. Bale the loser.

Bail who can't fight for himself. That's Gideon's name. That's interesting isn't it when we become Christians when a person is born again? By the spirit of god. They get a name like that, don't they?

Satan couldn't kill this 1. That's your name, John. The demons won't have her back, Abby. We get a name, a name like that. It's a name of victory, a name that exposes the impotence of idols and false gods.

That's Gideon's new name. K? So that's the demolish Fifthly, we'll come to the fleecing. Just a few minutes left. Here's the fleecing.

So in verse 33 to 35, just to summarize this, the the midianites come again. This is another time. They're coming to destroy everything. And, Gideon, is assembling the people of god They're going to go to battle. This is it.

He's on the national stage. He is now clothed in the spirit of the lord. He is ready to deliver the people, or is he no, not really, not quite? Look at verse 36. Gidians said to god, if you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised, look, I will place a wall fleece on the threshing floor.

And you're just thinking, no. You don't need to do that. You don't need to do that again. You're Jerabail now. You don't need to do that caper anymore.

Just think of what God has done for you in the last 48 hours. He's spoken to you time and time again. He's put up with your unbelief. He's strengthened you in your moments of weakness. He's performed miracles in front of you many people would love to see but have never seen.

He's done the whole thing with your dad's altar. Even your dad looks like he's coming to Christ. The people have assembled. The spirit of the lord has come upon you. What more would any 1 of us ask for in terms of proof and demonstration?

Don't do that. It's just what would you expect to follow? Verse 33 to verse 35? I know they're cheap answer is verse 36. But what would you expect to follow verse 33 and verse 35?

Here they are. All the armies, you would expect a deliverance tech wouldn't you? But this is the most jarring contrast in the whole chapter. Verse 36 is the most jarring contrast. Here he is clothed in god's power with all of god's proof behind him.

And what does he say? If you were save Israel by my hand as you have promised. Look, I will place a wall fleece on the threshing floor And can't we be a bit like this? Even though as Christian people, if we were to sit down and make a list, we could probably think of hundreds of ways in which the lord has answered our prayers and provided what we need and given strength when we were feeling weak and forgiven us since how many times has the lord come through for you, even this week, and yet at the next moment of temptation, and fear we dither all over again. We need some new evidence that he really is gonna be alive and help us.

That's what Gideon's doing in verse 36 to 37 with the fleece. And the big thing to get with the fleece is This is not Gideon's way of discovering god's will. It's Gideon's way of having it confirmed. And there is a big difference between those things. It's 1 thing to do something like this to discover god's will.

And you might argue, given the size of the task that he's been given, it's sort of fair enough. To seek some move of providence, some something to discover whether this really is god's will, But that's not what Gideon is doing. Gideon is looking for yet another confirmation of what God has already said, and he knows He gives it away in his own words. I mean, look at verse 36. Look how look what he says about what he's about to do.

Gidian said to god, if you will save Israel by my hand, what does he say next? As you have promised. If you will, as you have promised, he knows he knows what god's will is, He knows the promised god has made him. He just wants more and more confirmation. Those 39, I mean, you can hear the guilty tone, can't you?

Then Gideon said to god, do not be angry with me. He knows how irritating he being, do not be angry. Just just just again. Just again. Just again.

And although god condescends to him over and over again, and although there isn't much moral commentary on what happens here, surely, we would have to say that the lord couldn't approve of this constant constant constant demand for confirmation surely it would be better to act on the promise of god's word and to trust him. And although the context is quite the same. It did remind me this point of those wonderful words in Romans Romans 8. Perhaps we can get those up Romans 8. 31 to 32.

Similar sort of argument, what then shall we say in response to these things? If god is for us who can be against us, he who did not bear his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things? You see, normally, the argument goes from the lesser to the greater, doesn't it? But this is an argument from the greater to the lesser. If god has already given you Christ Christian people.

If he has already bled out for you on a cross and died for your sin and risen again in victory and sent spirit to live within you. If all of that is done, do you not think that along with him, he would also give you everything else? That you need, those smaller things. Now that the biggest most beautiful thing is dealt with, Will he not also give you all things? Gideon is a bit like that.

He's had so much, and yet he doesn't quite believe God is gonna come through for him. And so Romans 8 verse 31 32 is a way of applying that to us in light of god's provision and word to us. In his son, Jesus Christ, if he's given Christ to you, will he not also take care of everything else that is needed for you in your life? And so that's the fleecing. And so I'll just wrap up.

There's probably a lot of stuff there. I'll just wrap up with this 1 question what do you think of this guy? What do you think of him? He's he's quite a conflicted character, isn't it? He's hard to know what to make of him, I think.

There are at points when he looks genuinely humble and meek, but then it quickly turns to sinful anxiety and unbelief. There are moments when he genuinely looks quite courageous, but then somehow it turns to arrogance and pride. There are moments when he really does seem to want to obey, but in the space of a sentence, it somehow turns into disobedient. And he's very conflicted, isn't he? And that's why, as I've looked at this chapter this week, I've actually started to quite like him because that reminds me of me.

I'm I'm like a big tangled ball of wires contradiction of a person as well. I trust that by god's grace, There is genuine evidence of the fruit of the spirit in my life. And yet, I can tell you it is so mixed up and muddled and shaken and third with all kinds of unbelief and all kinds of disobedience and all kinds of anxiety. It's there's some good stuff there. I trust but there's a lot of my old bad stuff there, and it's all just mixed in together.

And I'm a I'm a muddle of a contradiction like he is. And so it's good. I I like looking at Gideon, but I don't need Gideon, but I do need Christ I do need Christ because what I see in Christ is a deliverer who has the perfect personality, but without any of the sin that Gideon has. He has genuine meekness, but not a lack of courage. He has genuine courage, but without any pride, he has all of the perfect spectrum of a perfect person.

And therefore, he qualifies as the deliverer that I and that Gideon couldn't be. And that's why we started with those words from Hebrews 12. Although it's so good to look at these stories, what we need most is to look beyond these and to fix our eyes on Christ, the perfect man. So there's Gideon. What a character.

We've got prophecy you got threshing, burning, demolishing, fleecing, and all of that applies to us as we've seen, but points us onto Christ. And I'll say a prayer as we close. Father, thank you for all the things that we can learn from these amazing stories. We want to be challenged by them, and we want to, be encouraged to serve you more wholeheartedly. But to do all of that, we need the altar of the cross, Yahwe shalom.

We need peace. We need your help. We need your spirit. Help us to fix our eyes on Jesus. And walk with him.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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