Gideon, Judges 8 by Pastor Don Moore

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gideon, Judges 8 by Pastor Don

Pastor Don began the Bible study by pointing out that the fruit produced will depend on the seed planted. Negative seed produces negative fruit. We can’t get a positive seed from negative fruit.

My teenagers, because they are off from school were at the Friday afternoon Bible Study and pastor Don started talking to them about strategies for success because he knows my oldest is going off to college.

Pastor Don told us we minister to the self by our conversation. If we monitor our self-conversation and thinking, we can begin to see what we plant in our brains is played out in our life. What we say to ourselves will determine how well we do in life. We have to look at our attitudes. To succeed in high school does not mean you will succeed in college. Without self-drive and self monitoring you will not succeed. Talk will not get the work done and you can fail in college.

The greatest thing we can do is be teachable. Love is the greatest value we can have. We can’t be anything unless we are teachable. When you go to college, you are not going to learn new subjects, you are going to learn how to learn. Learn how to apply yourself to a difficult subject. With a positive attitude and good application you will do well.

Pastor Don then directed us to Judges 8 so that we could see how things wound up with Gideon.

Gideon was teachable so God could use him. He listened and obeyed the word of God even though the circumstances seemed to imply that such obedience was foolhardy. Gideon did lay out a fleece, and even today the church is still looking for that extra word from God.

The Body of Christ needs a WORD FROM GOD, we don’t need a fleece.

God was patient with Gideon, and he got beyond the fearful stage and won a big battle. When they blew the trumpets the enemy was vanquished.

At times politics are important in church. Gideon was in a difficult situation. He got a God idea to beat the enemy, but vanquishing the enemy caused problems for Gideon.

Pastor Don first took us back to Judges 7:17-20 to get everyone caught up with where we are.

Judges 7:17-20 And he said to them, “Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: “When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers–they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing–and they cried, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!”

Remember, God reduced the number of fighting men by a selection process to three hundred, to go against a vast enemy. The rest of Gideon’s fighting men were sent home. In this battle, the winner was the LORD. Pastor Don asked us why these words? And we examined the text and saw in verses 13 & 14 that Gideon sneaked into the enemy camp to overhear what the enemy was saying, and he heard one of the enemy soldiers talking about a dream that he had which he interpreted to be ….verse 14 “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.” God led Gideon to overhear this to give him courage, so that Gideon could take that step of faith insanity. To do what seems illogical, but was a God idea.

Gideon heard a Word of the LORD from the enemy, sometimes we too hear a Word of the Lord from our enemies. Gideon needed to know the mental set of the enemy, then he could line up his faith with God’s plan, and could conquer the enemy God’s way.

To often we judge the vessel who delivers the message, and do not judge the message. Words of wisdom from God can come out of the mouth of a child, an idiot, the enemy, a donkey, your spouse, whoever. On the other hand, a church member can give you a message from the pit of Hell. We have to discern the truth of the message and how it lines up with the Word of God.

In Judges 7:9-11 God tells Gideon to go to the camp so he can hear what they say. Gideon needed to hear a word from the Lord. Sometimes God speaks to you out of unusual sources. You have to believe that God will speak to you and you will hear a Word from the Lord whether it is an answer to a need, or for God to bring something to our remembrance.

Pastor Don said, the more I humble myself before the LORD the more he reduces the message so I get it. If I act puffed up and think I am so smart, God sometimes serves up a word that is so complicated I have trouble interpreting it. God wants us to approach him with a teachable spirit and in humility, and then we can hear more clearly.

We have to examine our foundations and make sure they are in line with God’s Word.

Judges 7:21-25 And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath. And the men of Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh, and pursued the Midianites. Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the mountains of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites, and seize from them the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan.” Then all the men of Ephraim gathered together and seized the watering places as far as Beth Barah and the Jordan. And they captured two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued Midian and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of the Jordan.

Gideon sent soldiers from the other tribes to rout out the remaining enemy. He won the battle and the enemy scattered. Gideon knew where the enemy was going, they would go to where the water was. He know that an army needs water and Israel is a desert country, so he positioned the other men by the wells so when the enemy scattered because of the 300, there were soldiers at the wells to take care of the stragglers. Then Gideon was able to win against the 120,000 that had come against Israel.

Pastor Don said there is a spiritual message there, at our watering holes, where we hear and learn about the Word of God, is where we need to meet the enemy. The Word of God is the water. Remember how Moses met the enemy at the water. That is the blessing of Bible Study, as we learn the Word, we learn how to beat the enemy. At the same time, where we are being fed the Word of God, the enemy is going to try and come in and poison the water, so we have to be discerning and beat back the enemy. We need to stand on good, solid Bible doctrine, not stand on visions and dreams that are not supported by the Word of God.

When the enemy tries to sneak back to the watering hole and plant poison, we have to say, “That is not what the Bible says.” You can tell them, “That is heady stuff, but it is not really in the Word.” Not all dreams and visions are from God. Unless they are backed up by God’s Word, they are not accurate. The devil is slick in the way he establishes his lies. He puts in little drops of poison, not flagrant lies.

Here are some of the lies going around the church these days:

1. The Church has replaced Israel; The Nation of Israel will not be saved; God only causes Jews who are part of the Church to be saved. 

 We need to know the Word of God, to know the truth, to know what THUS SAYS THE LORD.

The devil tries to cause havoc, lying and telling us that our political view of a situation supersedes Scripture. For example, see the poor suffering Palestinians, why can’t the Arabs and the Jews get along together? When we know that the Arabs have no intention of keeping a peace treaty.

2. Theologically, Israel will be forced into a peace agreement by lies, but the enemy will not keep it, and this agreement will lead to the temporary destruction of Israel. Biblically the outcome will be death in the streets of Israel.

3. Tolerance – Everyone is pushing for tolerance, which supersedes morality. They are tearing apart parts of the Bible to make us peaceably accept a morality that God does not condone. God does not condone sexual immorality of any sort, from homosexuality to premarital sex to adultery to pornography. If you like the wrong, fine, but do not try to convince the world that wrong is right.

Gideon won the battle, but his victory would be short-lived if he did not have a sense of good politics. Remember that only 300 fought with Gideon and won the battle – this was at God’s instructions. Now the men who were sent home were upset. Gideon handled them very politically.

Judges 8:1 Now the men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?” And they reprimanded him sharply.  They thought Gideon was grandstanding, and were upset.

Judges 8:2 So he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? A very political answer telling them how important their battle was in comparison with Gideon?

Judges 8:3 God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.

The Lord told Gideon what to do. They did not see or accept God’s plan, so they labeled Gideon from their perspective. The Church does this too, not everyone gets the vision for the church. We think truth and integrity will win the day, but if there is a flesh problem in the church, truth and integrity may not win the day. It is an “US” problem, “WE” do not get the whole victory. Gideon did what he did to obey the Word of the LORD. Gideon saw the big picture, but US did not look at the big picture or hear from God. The US part was hurt, thought they were entitled to something that God did not give them. They wanted glory, but the Glory belonged to God. Gideon was able to give an answer that satisfied their egos, and still God got the glory. Church leaders also have to be careful how they share the vision God gives them, and there is politics even in the church.

He could have told the people, “The truth is the LORD spoke to ME, in my integrity. I must tell you the truth, your self-centered focus could have cost us the victory.” That would have hurt the cause of God and Gideon.

Wisdom from God is to be used with truth and integrity. It wasn’t Gideon’s might, it was God’s glory. Gideon gave the credit to God, did not need to take the glory for the victory, so he was able to give an answer that satisfied the egos of those who confronted him. Gideon did not boast in himself. If Gideon had not given this answer the program would have stopped. Love won the day. Love has a higher motive and action than boasting in truth and integrity.

Only when we realize that there is a higher goal than US, can there be a victory of the saints, and the battle can then be fought with truth and integrity.

Politics is in order for the church at times. Telling the people what they need to hear to get the job done, so that they do what God wants them to do. They may not be ready for the whole vision, or what God has shown you for years down the road. God will direct what is to be shared and not shared.

When Moses told the people what to do, he told them what they needed to know. He did not tell them all that God showed him in the mountaintop, just what God told him to tell the people. Pastor Don said that the most frustrating thing for him as a pastor is that God does not give him the whole map. God shows him the next step, and the next step, but not the complete picture.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

God gives us the next step and we are led by our Spirit to take the next step. When God gives us a step we need to get moving,. God says you follow me, to here, then there. He doesn’t give us the map to show us where the rest stops, the detours, and the troubles are. We just are to follow God.

Pastor Don says that sometimes God has him taking steps, and in the midst, even though Pastor Don isn’t quite sure where God is leading with these steps, he has to put on a face of confidence. He knows that if he truly is a servant of the Lord, God will not give him a map, He will give us a Word to sustain us until the next direction.

People do not always realize what true success is because they do not realize that it is trusting God and taking the next step even when the outcome is uncertain.

Gideon had administrative skills.

Judges 8:4 When Gideon came to the Jordan, he and the three hundred men who were with him crossed over, exhausted but still in pursuit. They were on their last legs.

Judges 8:5-6 Then he said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.” And the leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?”

Oh, Oh, the men of Succoth insulted the Sword of Gideon who was appointed by God.

Judges 8:7 So Gideon said, “For this cause, when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers!”  Gideon will keep this promise.

Judges 8:8-9 Then he went up from there to Penuel and spoke to them in the same way. And the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. So he also spoke to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come back in peace, I will tear down this tower!” 

Somebody needs to know, to open their eyes and see where the Hand of God is. To figure that it is not right to mess with these guys, because the Hand of the Lord is upon them.

Judges 8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East; for one hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword had fallen.

The three hundred men of Gideon won against 120,000 men. All that were left were the armies of Zebah and Zalmunna.

Judges 8:11 Then Gideon went up by the road of those who dwell in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah; and he attacked the army while the camp felt secure.

Gideon has become the mighty man of God that God prophesied earlier, secure enough to attack a camp that felt secure.

Judges 8: 12-14  When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued them; and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed the whole army. Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle, from the Ascent of Heres. And he caught a young man of the men of Succoth and interrogated him; and he wrote down for him the leaders of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.

Even without the help of Succoth and Penuel, Gideon and his men were victorious.

Judges 8:15-16 Then he came to the men of Succoth and said, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you ridiculed me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your weary men?’ ” And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.

The people were not plugged into what God was doing. In our lives people won’t understand our faith and our believing God, especially when circumstances seem contrary to our beliefs. Gideon was speaking faith in verse 7 when he said “WHEN THE LORD HAS DELIVERED…” but he was talking faith to people who had no faith, they were trying to get by with their own understanding of the situation.

God can handle our unbelief if we confess it to him, like the man with the demon possessed son who said to Jesus, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” God can work with us if we can put our minds into neutral, for nothing is impossible with God.

With a God idea, even when famine and disease is rampant, God can provide.

Judges 8:17-18 Then he tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city. And he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?” So they answered, “As you are, so were they; each one resembled the son of a king.”

Now Gideon will deal with the remaining enemy. First he questions them.

Judges 8:19-21 Then he said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives, if you had let them live, I would not kill you.” And he said to Jether his firstborn, “Rise, kill them!” But the youth would not draw his sword; for he was afraid, because he was still a youth. So Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise yourself, and kill us; for as a man is, so is his strength.” So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.

Victory.

Once the victory was won, the people wanted Gideon to rule them, and Gideon handled it correctly.

Judges 8:22-23 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.”

He did not want to rule over them, he was a Judge, and he knew that God would rule over them. But then Gideon made a mistake, doing something on his own, not directed by God, and this would cause future problems.

Judges 8:24 Then Gideon said to them, “I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the earrings from his plunder.” For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.

Ishmaelites were the enemy of Israel.

Judges 8:25-27 So they answered, “We will gladly give them.” And they spread out a garment, and each man threw into it the earrings from his plunder. Now the weight of the gold earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around their camels’ necks. Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.

An Ephod was a garment the priest wore, and Gideon was not a priest, he had no business creating an ephod. As time will tell, the ephod will be a bone of contention, and a snare to Gideon and his household.

Judges 8:28 Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon.

Gideon did what God wanted him to do and there was peace in the country. In the next verses we will see some of the problems the ephod caused. But God will call Gideon by his spiritual new name, Jerubbaal.

Judges 8:29-35 Then Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. Gideon had seventy sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. Now Gideon the son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-Berith their god. Thus the children of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal (Gideon) in accordance with the good he had done for Israel.

And if you continue to read, you will see that the Ephod becomes a bone of contention and becomes an idol that is much sought after. The ephod takes the people’s attention off of God.

Earrings were used in Deuteronomy too, Deuteronomy 5:8-9 You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children in the third and fourth generations of those who hate me.

Pastor Don thinks that if Gideon could, he would have taken back the construction of the Ephod. For he provided the very thing that pulled the people away from God and back to idol worship. And idol worship hurt the nation Israel. This law was put in place to protect us, and to help us keep the focus on God.

There was peace for 40 years, and then they slipped back to the old ways. The good news is that God is a covenant keeping God. In spite of idols and foolishness, God will keep covenant with His people. If He says He will save us, He will save us. If He says He will deliver us, He will deliver us. If He says He will be our God, then He will be our God.

God wants us to be foundational. If we stray from the foundation that God has set for us, we need to get back to that foundation.

It is because God is true to His word that He hasn’t wiped us off the face of the earth. We are given another shot when we miss the mark.

God will save the Jew. The Book of Romans says so. God has a plan for us. Line up with His plan.

Hoping you have a blessed day.

Heather

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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