God has a plan and an answer, and you are it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Judges 6:1 - 14

“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.  2. 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.  3. For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.  4. 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.  5. 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.  6. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.   7. When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites,  8. 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 bondage.  9. 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.”   

The Call of Gideon

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, sir, 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?” (ESV)

I want to point out in the beginning here of how fear can hold a person in captivity and stop them from moving on their own behalf.  The Midianites were the hostile people in the lives of the Hebrews at this time.  And I think that it is interesting that they didn’t even occupy the land of Israel.  In truth, they kept their homes in Midian. But when they wanted supplies, they would not labor in the fields for it, but would wait until the people of Israel did all of the hard work for them.  Then they formed very large raiding parties and came and literally stole at will what they needed. 

This shows me two things: first that when a society is lazy, and not willing to work for a harvest, they will always be full of manipulation and bullying.  And secondly, that they are able to do this evil because of the fear of man.  It may perplex some who read this, and I enjoy that kind of thinking.  For you see, if we dwell in the fear of man, how can we ever make the change that brings the Lord into staying with us?  Proverbs 29:25 states “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”  When we are involved in the fear of man, it always holds us captive in our thoughts and in our daily living.  And as this scripture tells us, in essence it stops us from trusting in our God!  We are to be a people who make a positive difference today not only in the church, but outside of it.  And when we refuse to be the element that makes a difference, we walk in a loss of destiny, of hope, and sometimes even having the knowledge that we have a great future.

Deuteronomy 6:13

“13. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.” (ESV)

It should also be noted here in our text at the beginning, that the people of the Lord were told not to fear the gods of the Amorites (verse 10).  That does not mean be afraid, but in truth, that they were not to give reverence to these false gods of other nations.  And yet, it is recorded here in Judges 6 that they did indeed leave the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for a false god. When we fall into the trap of idol worship, we can become disassociated with our True Heavenly Father.  And then, because our intimacy is vanquished, we are not hearing, seeing, or even obeying the voice of Holy Ghost.  And this is part of the problem with the people of God in the time of Gideon.

Now let us look at Gideon and his dilemma.

Have you ever considered what the scene must have appeared like with Gideon trying to thresh wheat?  When a farmer would thresh wheat, he would take the harvested grain to the top of a hill, and then he would beat the stalks of grain against the ground, or against a rock. Then he would throw the everything up with the into the air.  The farmer would use the wind to help him. The wind would blow the chaff of the harvest stalks away from the workings and the heads of grain would fall back down to the earth.  This was because the kernels were heavier than the chaff.  It was always done in the open as the process was indeed very dirty.

When a person would press wine, it was important to not have the air become contaminated.  If you were to press wine in the open air, the sweet aroma would attract insects.  Also, if the temperature were to get too warm, it would spoil the quality of the grapes.  So whenever you pressed wine, it was done in an enclosed area free from the wind, which would not allow for the bugs.  Also, man discovered that when you want to control the temperature of the room, it was easier to do when you went underground. 

And here in our text, we see that because of the fear of man, Gideon is hiding his harvest by going underground into the winepress.  Can you even imagine what it must have looked like?  With no wind to blow the chaff away, everytime Gideon would throw up the grain with his hands, it would all fall back down. And since the chaff was lighter, it would fall back down on the wheat.  It would almost seem pointless to continue with trying to complete the process.  Gideon would have to literally find each single piece of grain and then place it into a container.  For sure it would have to been a very tedious operation.

Now this next part that of the word of God is very inspiring to me.  Now remember, that Gideon is hiding his harvest from the Midianites.  He is not necessarily afraid as some have taught.  In truth, I do not read this here in our text.  So I do not look at him as a man who has ungodly fear.  But what I notice is that he is trying to outsmart the Midianites by hiding his labors.  And it is here in this moment, that the angel of the Lord speaks to Gideon.  I think it is interesting to read that the angel sat down by a tree and watched the activity of Gideon.  You know, angels do this very often.  They will observe what we are doing for quite some time before they will come and carry out the orders that are assigned them from the Lord of hosts.  I really have to think that the angel of the Lord was probably trying to figure out all that Gideon was doing in this moment.  He must have wondered at the activity that was happening, as well as the creating of a very big mess in the winepress.  Perhaps the angel was even desiring to make some sense of Gideon and his actions.

But finally the angel of the Lord addresses Gideon and calls him a “mighty man of valor.”  You know, it is very important to notice this phrase because often times we do not see ourselves as the Lord does.  We can get so caught up in the thinking of circumstances, that we miss out on the potential of what Christ in us wants to do.  And it can even cause us to doubt our destiny that the Lord has intended for us from when we were in our mother’s womb. 

Gideon’s response is very unique in that for many people, if an angel of the Lord came to them they would probably first of all scream or shout, then after seeing the angel, then perhaps they might think what is the angel here for?  But Gideon seems not to be surprised by the appearance of the angel.  If you look at this writing, you discover that we do not read anywhere that Gideon was surprised by this supernatural event.  Have you ever wondered about this?  I was wondering if in fact Gideon was dwelling on what he had heard of the old days and the mighty miracles that were done for the people and for the land.

But is this not what we hear from time to time today in the pulpits?  We may hear, “where are the Smith Wigglesworth’s, the John G. Lakes’, etc…?”  I tell you that they are here today and that you and I are them!  Yes, because that is the way that the Lord Himself sees us!  Just as in the book of Acts we read about the apostles and their miracles, we have that today as well!!  Yes, this is true!  God has chosen each one of us to be the messengers today and the executors of the teachings, signs and wonders, and movements of God by the ruling, leading, and direction of Holy Ghost. 

Again, please allow me to remind you that God always has a plan, and while we may not think of ourselves so highly, but “Daddy” does!  He has made us to be successful and to win in this time of life and even into eternity.  Our heavenly Father looks at us differently and He sees us larger than life!  This is why today He is asking for those who are in relationship with His Son, and led by Holy Ghost, to establish His culture now on the lands that we occupy. 

So the next time that you are hearing someone say, “where are the ones of today that can do the mighty acts of the Lord?”, tell them that you are one and so are the others standing in front of them.  And let Holy Ghost arise in you and take you forward.
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