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Series: The Book of Judges
Sun am 1 November 2015 – Justus Swart
Judges 6:11-31, 34-40; Luke 11:28-29; 1 Cor. 1:22-23;
Even though God reveals himself to someone, they may still chose to go through life without Him, but God will always get your attention one way or another. God hears and responds to the cries of Israel and He does so by reaching out to Gideon (Judges 6:11-25). Gideon does not have much confidence in himself. Even though God says, “Mighty warrior!” he still says, “But sir …” This response is typical from us when we hear God speaking to us. We can all relate to Gideon’s honesty because he had a good question which many of us ask from time to time, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13). Gideon takes the facts and appeals to God. God replies with almost the same question back to Gideon. God sees that everything is a mess, but says “am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14). God arrives on the scene to commission Gideon to make a difference. He says, “But sir…” yet again (Judges 6:13 & 15). Gideon is totally unaware of who he is talking to at this point and starts to belittle himself and his entire clan. He does not even have a shred of self-worth. We are all guilty of responding to God by first listing all the reasons why we cannot do what He asks of us. Yet God chooses us as we are, even though we are broken and we are not perfect. The question remains, will we choose God?
After more convincing Gideon finally realizes that he is having a conversation with the sovereign Lord and he becomes afraid. The Lord told him not to fear and then Gideon built an altar and called it “the Lord is peace” (Judges 6:23-24). These are like the conversations we have with God. We constantly have conversations with ourselves in our own head about our lives, our futures and our self-worth, about our relationships and jobs, and then we are surprised when we realise God has something to say to us. We are surprised as if God is not totally interested in our future; as if God is not totally invested in the next step we are about to take. Why does it take us so long before we draw God into the conversation? Suddenly we realize the living God is inside of us and is talking to us. When we have a conversation with ourselves, it usually breaks us down. God wants to draw us into a place of peace in our conversation with Him.
God is always talking to us but we sometimes ignore what He has to say because we are too busy talking to ourselves. We make excuses instead of living in the peace he has to offer us. We have to be drawn into His peace and into the awareness that He is part of the conversation.
Then God gives him an exact and direct instruction (Judges 6:25-31). This is a different kind of discussion with God, where God comes and gives clear instruction. God asks him to re-use the material from the pagan statue. He again becomes afraid, this time of the consequences. Fear is a natural part of life; it is only when it becomes a hindrance to our faith that it becomes sin. Under the cover of darkness he went and destroyed the altar of Baal. This was not the cowardly thing to do but actually the smart thing. It was a truly bold act that he did in spite of fear. God comes to us and gives us explicit and direct instructions about things. Usually we are too fearful of the consequences and we end up not acting on it.
We constantly ask God to speak to us yet God is constantly talking to us. Before God sends us out He wants to take the centre place in our life, and to do that He has to first remove all our idols. There is going to be fear involved when God asks us to do a difficult task. Idols do not always take the form of an altar under the guise of Baal. Finances or your job could be your idol; relationships or pride could be your idol. Before God sends you out to change the world, He wants to be right in the centre of your life. He will not share that space with any of your idols.
We must take note that when God speaks to us, are we actually listening to what He wants? Instead of coming with all the questions, the challenge is to find what is blocking Him from taking centre stage. So we wait for an instruction for the future, while God is trying to deal with something in our lives right now. We have to learn to listen to what God is saying.
Gideon was set up as a leader for destroying Baal and leading the people away from it, and starts to get ready to go to war with the Midianites. Before he does, he wants to double-check with God (Judges 6:34-40). He wants assurance and confirmation which in itself is not a bad thing. We read the phrase, “Gideon said to God” (Judges 6:14, 17, 23, and 25) whereas before it was “God said to Gideon” (Judges 6:36 & 39). Some Christians will innocently look at this story and see a man who is just double-checking what God said. I do not think this is a practice Christians should follow today. This was a discussion that Gideon had with God because he had weak faith and because he was once again afraid. Gideon admits that God had already promised him what he was asking confirmation for (Judges 6:36). He knows that God had already spoken to him about this. Gideon received the answer the first time but had the audacity to ask again. Gideon asks God not to be angry with him because he knew that he was on dangerous territory and it was not the way to operate with God. Yet God still did what Gideon asked. This shows that God is merciful and completely gracious and compassionate towards us when we are weak. Gideon does not stay that way, he actually progresses. We should not aspire to be where Gideon started. We should track his story and see what he became. Scripture always says that those who demand signs are people of weak faith. He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:28-29); (1 Cor. 1:22-23). There is no doubt that when God has spoken to you, there is no holding back, there is no questioning it, there is no triple-checking, but blessed are those who hear the word and obey it. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22). He wants us to be able to build on the foundation of His Word, not to always come back unsure. He has spoken to us, and today you have a fresh opportunity to obey.