RIOT Sermon Feb 2020


Judges 6-8

6-7:23 first week

How many of us have ever thought something along the lines of “I wish I could know that God is real” that he’s on our side, loves us, has our back etc. I have. I think anyone being honest would say they have, right? Wether you don’t yet believe in Jesus, you wish you knew for sure. If you do, you wish you knew for sure. Like for sure. Sure.

Who wants to help act this one out? It’ll be purely for comic effect on this one.

Midian Oppresses Israel

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 themf 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.” 

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, 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. 

So first, God calls Gideon- you’re going to get rid of these people who keep tormenting God’s chosen people. The angel of the lord appears to him, you know, kind of a big deal. And he gets whiny- Let’s read that again, but imagine it in your whiny little sisters voice- sooo Eli, come on up and read this. 🙂

Then God starts cleaning House- hey, these people are worshiping dumb other non-real Gods. And if I’m going to rescue you all, I want them to know it was me. Go tear it down. “That your father Has” is a scary part in this next block.

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. 

But then the bad guys show up, it’s time to start the dark and forbidding music, turn the background dark- glad the townspeople didn’t kill him, because now it’s time for action… BUT

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. 

The Sign of the Fleece

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. 

Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 

So now the armies are piling up, building up for the great attack coming next week. But here’s the thing. He didn’t wanna get the army ready until he tested God again. And that’s what I want us to talk about tonight. 

Gideon being given a miracle to know that God is in control and his promise can be trusted

Then fleecing at the first sign of danger or testing. 

How I first heard about that when I became a Christian and what they thought. – that is that it bad to test God. But I really think that’s not it at all!

Now why they were wrong. What’s actually wrong with fleecing. It’s not about testing God, it’s about trusting in what he’s already shown you! At one point, you KNEW, you FULLY KNEW that God wasn’t just real, but he was really wanting to be your king, be the one who informed every decision you’d make, and all you did. But we let pride creep, take over piece by piece what we wouldn’t at camp, wouldn’t on a mission trip, and then eventually we find ourselves asking God, just show me! BUT HE HAS! We need to be the type of people who rely on what we KNOW already of God. Fall on that! We need to fully fall on the knowledge of those moments gone by when we absolutely KNEW the power of God and that he was active in our lives. 

Trusting God and relying on the times when you KNEW the truth of His love. 

Maybe you’ve never seen that moment when you KNEW that God was real. Maybe you’re wondering what you could ever see that would bring you to that point. I’m telling you, this is that moment! 

Let’s read a little bit from Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man

Look at this world around you- we can sense something about God just from using our eyes and ears- namely things like the fact that this universe is so much bigger than me, that to even pretend that I can comprehend it all with it’s complexities and nuance is lunacy! Wisdom starts with recognizing that God must be so much more than me! Look at the mountains to the bottom of the ocean- creation cries his name and shouts that he is a loving artist who expresses himself by showing us his goodness and power in this world around us. Your life can suck, your life and be great, but neither is anything in light of all that is and all that will ever be! So we start with something so much bigger than ourselves, powerful, loving and good.

Then- Ecclesiastes says that eternity is written on the hearts of men, and Genesis says that man is made in the image of God- we have to REVEL in the fact that unlike trees, rocks, fish or anything else in creation, we ponder life, and why we are here, how we came to be, and what it all means! God burned those questions into our hearts that we would look for the answers! So know this- whether you have seen directly the goodness and might of God, or not. YOU EXIST, in THIS AMAZING WORLD! What else could we need to see and know to avoid making our lives all about ourselves. Or will we be Gideon, asking over and over the question, already knowing the answer, but being afraid of what it means to follow?

Tonight in small group, talk abut that- HOW do you know that God is king in your life, what moment brought you to faith, and if you haven’t yet placed your faith in him, what would it take?