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So again the rest for forty days but then in chapter six,
AND the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: because of the Midianites the children of Israel made themselves dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds. And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; and they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till they are come to Gaza, they left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass. And they came up with their cattle and their tents, and as multitude, they were like grasshoppers; for both they and their camels were without number: they entered into the land to destroy it. And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD. And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said to them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, I brought you forth out of the house of bondage; I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, out of the hand of that oppressed you, I drove them out from before you, I gave you their land; I said unto you, I am JEHOVAH your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice ( Judges 6:1-10 ).
So the situation of this particular apostasy, turning their hearts away from God, God brought now the Midianites against them, tremendous number of people along with the Amalekites. And Gaza is about the southern most point along the Mediterranean. So by the time they got to Gaza they had gone through the entire land. Coming from the east, clear on over to the coast, south to Gaza. Whenever the people would plant their crops, at harvest time here would come all these people and just rip them off. They would, you know, you got your wheat harvested then they'd just come in and just rip them off from all their wheat and barley and all of their harvest, and then next year back again, harvest time.
And so they took away all the sustenance of these people and a tremendous multitude of them. The people finally cried unto the Lord and the Lord answered with a prophet who told them the reason for their dilemma was the fact that they had forsaken God who had given them deliverance out of Egypt and had brought them into the land.
So, there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak tree which is at Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite: [and the son] and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites ( Judges 6:11 ).
So here was Gideon hiding from the Midianites as he was threshing the wheat because if the Midianites had caught him they'd take the wheat. And so he was out by the winepress threshing wheat and here was an angel sitting under an oak tree.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with you, you very brave man. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my LORD, if the LORD is with us, why is all of this calamity befallen us? Where are all of the miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? Now the LORD has forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have I not sent thee? And he said, Oh my Lord, how shall I save Israel? behold my family is poor Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house ( Judges 6:12-15 ).
Now as I was mentioning this morning, God often times has trouble getting people to respond to his call. God calls us; that's the beginning of it. As soon as I respond to the call of God then God lays out what He wants me to do and then I resign "Lord, I can't do that. How in the world can I do that, Lord?"
God called Moses and said, "Go in and stand before Pharaoh, tell him, Let my people go." "Lord, how can I go before Pharaoh? I'm not eloquent in speech." The Lord said to Jeremiah, "I have called thee to stand before kings" "Lord, how can I stand before kings? I'm young, no one's gonna listen to me." God said to Gideon, "Go in this thy might, and deliver Israel out of the hand of the Midianites" "Lord, how can I deliver. I'm-my family's nothing. I'm the least of my father's household. You've got the wrong man. Better check your address papers. Not me."
The LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee ( Judges 6:16 ),
There's the key of any successful service for God: "I will be with thee." Now, it's an interesting thing that many times we endeavor to do a work for God not directed by God. And this is why we so often get just overwhelmed when God tells us what He wants us to do because we've already tried to do so many things on our own hook and utterly fail. So the Lord comes along and tells us to do just the thing we've been trying to do and failed. We say, "Lord, I can't do that. I've tried to do that." But God gave to Gideon the key of success, "I will be with thee." That's the key of success, the Lord working with us, learning to work together with the Lord.
The disciples had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. And in the morning Jesus stood on the shore and He said, "Children do you have any meat?" And they said no. And he said, "Cast your nets on the other side." And when they did immediately the nets where full of fish. They began to draw them in until the boats began to sink with the multitude of fish.
You see, there's a difference between just serving and serving at the direction of the Lord. When the Lord is in it, He can fill the nets. When the Lord is in it, He can make it prosperous. You can do the same thing in the same way and apart from the Lord. You're gonna pull up empty nets all night. But as soon as the Lord joins with you, it makes the difference between the nets being empty and the nets being full. The key and the secret to all successful Christian service is in this verse, "I will be with thee," to recognize my total need of the Lord being with me. To recognize I can't do it myself and to depend upon that presence of the Lord with me in all that I endeavor to do for Him.
"How can I deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Midianites? Lord, my dad is nothing and I'm the least of my father's household."
"I will be with thee" the Lord answered.
And thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And so Gideon said, Look if I've found grace in your sight, then show me a sign that you've talked with me ( Judges 6:16-17 ).
He thought, man, I'm dreaming. This is wild. If you really chose me than give me some kind of a sign, Lord. I need a sign. Now Gideon was the kind of guy who was careful and he wanted to make sure. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think that God respects honest doubt. I think there is a dishonest doubt that no one respects. There are some people who come up with a question and just the way they ask the question you know they don't want an answer, they just want an argument. They're not ready to listen to the answer when they hear it. There are other people who come up and the question is genuinely sincere, they are searching for an answer. Those kinds of questions are worth answering. The other kind I have no time for.
God is concerned with honest doubt. If you really are honest in your doubt, God respects that and God will confirm His word to your heart. "Lord, are you really speaking to me to do this?" And it is wise to make sure it's God speaking. A lot of people have gone off on half-cocked ideas because they had some feeling or some vision or premonition and they've gotten into all kinds of miserable situations because they really didn't search out to see if it was really God speaking. Now if you've got some wild task that you feel God is calling you to make sure God has spoken to you. Don't just go out and put your house up for sale, for sale and take off with-unless you're really sure that God has spoken to you. Make certain of that.
And Gideon wanted to make certain, "Show me a sign that you really have talked to me." He said, "Wait here, wait here. I want to go fix you something. Will you wait here until I get back?" He said, "I'll wait here until you get back."
So Gideon went into the house, and there he made ready a little goat, some unleavened cakes, a bushel of flour: he put the flesh in a basket, put the broth in a pot, and he brought it to the angel under the oak tree, and presented it to him. And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them on the rock, and pour out the broth. And so he did so. Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up a fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord disappeared out of his sight. And when Gideon perceived that it was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! Because I've seen an angel of the LORD face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace [Shalom]; fear not: thou shalt not die. So Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and he called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah this altar that Gideon built ( Judges 6:19-24 ).
Now, it is interesting, he called it Jehovah-shalom. He's about ready to go into one of the biggest battles of his entire life, I mean he is facing warfare and an enemy and conflict, God has called him to deliver the children of Israel from the oppression of Midianites but he calls the altar Jehovah-shalom, "God our peace." For he is looking beyond the battle to the peace that God is going to bring. And so by faith really, the altar is named Jehovah-shalom, "the Lord our peace" because he's looking beyond the conflict to the peace that God has promised to His people. It's really very beautiful. And we too can look beyond the conflict to the peace that God has promised. And maybe you're in conflict and turmoil tonight but He is still to you Jehovah-shalom, "the Lord your peace" and He can give you peace even in the midst of the conflict. Jehovah-shalom. One of the beautiful compound names of Jehovah.
And so it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Now take your father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the grove that is by it: And build an altar unto Jehovah thy God upon the top of the rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer it as a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down ( Judges 6:25-26 ).
Now, Gideon's dad was an idolater. Gideon's dad had his own place of worship, a grove with the altar of Baal or an idol of Baal there where they worshipped in the grove. And so God says "Now take a second bullock, make another altar, cut down the grove that your father has his place of worship. Throw down the altar of Baal, build an altar unto God and offer the second bullock using the wood of this grove as the fire and all."
And so Gideon took ten men his servants, and he did as the LORD said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it at day time, so he did it by night. And when the men of the city rose up early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. And they said to one another, Who did it? And they inquired and asked, and they said, Gideon the son of Joash did it. And so the men of the city said to Joash, Bring out your son, that he may die: because he has cast down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the grove that was by it. And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will you plead for Baal? will you save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death while it is yet morning: if he is a god, [let him plead] plead for himself, because one has cast down his altar ( Judges 6:28-31 ).
Now, here the men of Israel are actually gonna do Gideon in because he threw down a pagan god. Joash, when they said you know, "Send your son out. We're gonna kill him. He knocked down the altar of Baal." And he said, "Are you pleading for Baal? For a pagan deity? Truly the men who are pleading for him ought to be the one that are put to death. If he's a god let him defend himself. You don't have to defend god." Now, how many times we find ourselves in the awkward position of trying to defend God against the attacks of His enemies, trying to prove the existence of God, trying to defend God? God is able to defend Himself, perfectly, complete. I don't have to defend God. God is able, quite well.
So, they called Gideon from there on Jerubbaal, which means "let Baal plead for himself."
Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and they went over, and they pitched in the valley of Jezreel. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him. And he sent messengers throughout all of Manasseh; who also gathered after him: and to Asher, and to Zebulun, and to Naphtali; and they came to meet him ( Judges 6:33-35 ).
These are all of them tribes in the northern part of the land. South of Manasseh was Ephraim, Benjamin, Judah and Simeon; they were not brought into this battle, nor where the tribes on the other side. But these tribes that were around the area of Megiddo, Jezreel is the same valley of Megiddo is also known as Jezreel. This is where the Midianites had encamped, some a hundred and thirty-two thousand of them.
And Gideon said unto God, If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said ( Judges 6:36 ).
Now again, Gideon is still questioning his call of God, wants to make sure. So tell you what, I'm gonna put a fleece wool out on the ground tonight and in the morning let the ground be dry and the fleece wet. Then I'll know. In the morning when Gideon woke up he wrung a cup of water out of the fleece and the ground was dry.
And he thought, "Well, maybe that was just, who knows maybe fleece gathers moisture at night when the ground doesn't. "Lord, let's reverse the process just to make sure. Tonight, I'm gonna put the same fleece out there on the ground. Let the ground be all wet with dew, let the fleece be dry." So in the morning he came out again and so the ground was all wet with dew, the fleece was dry and so he figured that it was the Lord.
Now, because of this there are many people who seek to discern the voice of God by offering some kind of a fleece before the Lord. And so you've heard of a person offering a fleece before God. "Lord, if they call by ten o'clock tomorrow morning then I'll know" you know, and you set up some kind of a fleece before God, some kind of a condition for God to meet so that you'll know that it's really God speaking to your heart.
I really don't know about fleeces today. I don't know how valid they are for us as the children of the Lord to seek to ascertain the will of God by a fleece. In the period of the Old Testament there were many methods by which they sought to ascertain the will of God. One of them was by casting of lots.
And even carried over into the New Testament when Judas Iscariot died, Peter said to the disciples, "We've gotta get someone else to take his place and so let's cast lots to see which one God has chosen. Whether it be Barnabas or Matthias." And so the disciples cast lots to ascertain the will of God. But all of this was prior to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the church. After the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the church we do not read of anywhere where they cast lots or where they used fleeces to ascertain the will of God. But it seemed that once the Holy Spirit had begun to direct the activities of the church, there was a greater certainty in the ascertaining of the will of God just by the direct leading of the Holy Spirit.
So Paul said, "And it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us. We were determined to go to Asia but the Holy Spirit forbade us. The Holy Spirit said separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work that I have called them to do."
And the Holy Spirit was directing in such a positive way there seemed to be no need of setting up a condition for God to fulfill for them to ascertain or there was no need of casting lots or trying to discern the will of God in some type of an ambiguous way.
Paul, after fourteen days on that ship driven in the storm on the Mediterranean, stood up and said, "Men and brethren, be of good cheer. Last night an angel of the Lord stood by me and told me that though the ship was gonna be wrecked there would be no loss of life." And the angel of the Lord directed Paul. It wasn't a fleece kind of a thing, it was a lot.
So I don't about fleeces today. I know that some people set out, you know, conditions for God to fill and that I suppose is all right. But I just don't know about them. I personally don't try to fleece God. I'm just not certain about that practice. Though it was done in the Old Testament, I'm not really certain about it today. But each person, I guess, to his own. Whatever method that you have devised to really discern. The way I feel, if it works great. You know, whatever you've got as long as it works, that's tremendous. And people, we all relate to God in our own individual styles. God doesn't really, you know, follow patterns. You can't really set God into a pattern. And I sort of like it that you can't. I like the diversities with which God deals with people's lives because we're so diverse from each other.
And so Gideon used his fleece to ascertain the will of God. I don't know if you would set out a piece of wool tonight. I would think in the morning that the wool and the ground would all be wet. Then whatta you do? You pray. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12