Rev. Daniel Poon
Introduction: Be grateful for our identity, wealth, and family, and do not take them for granted. It is all God’s grace that we have everything. We feel dissatisfied and hurt because we think we should have these things, that is why we easily feel lost and offended. During the 40 years of “rest” (chapter 5), Israel did not learn from the problems of the past. Even though the judge Deborah was raised up, people were still stubborn and continued to indulge their desires. The most common mistake we make is to indulge in our own desires – venting our emotions. Have we learned to discipline our body and bring it into subjection in the presence of the Holy Spirit?
1. V1-10 People fall, and God Speaks
V1, the Israelites “did evil in the sight of the LORD”, and the same pattern appeared. People were not vigilant and did not know their own problems, nor did they have gratitude, so they suffered another seven years.
V2-3, during the 7 years that the Israelites were oppressed, they took refuge in the mountains and made dens and caves for themselves. When we encounter difficulties, it is easy to make a cave and hide inside, but God can find us from the cave. David once hid in a cave, where Saul went to attend to his needs. We feel safe to hide in the cave, but the world looks at it as a latrine. When we became cavemen, we felt safe and protected, but the cave is a smelly, dark, and humid place where bacteria thrived. We cannot see clearly in the dark, and we can only explore by feeling. The easiest thing for us to do is to dig a hole. The Israelites forgot that they had peace in their land for forty years not because of hiding in caves, but because God raised up judges and God protected them.
V4-6, when the Israelites wanted to improve the quality of their lives, people in the world came, the enemy would “encamp against them,” and the people were even more powerful. They prevailed the Israelites and left them no food. They brought their way of life to the Israelites because the Israelites had a different way of life. Their people and livestock were so numerous that they even entered and destroy the land of the Israelites. This is our situation. We want to have a share in this world in the end time, but we are robbed, oppressed, and there is no food left. “Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites”. It took them 7 years from the having everything to losing everything. They were blessed by God for the first 40 years, and the things they had helped them go for 7 years, but 7 years later they were utterly exhausted, so they cried out to the Lord. The same is true for us. We only call on God when we are desperate and helpless. “Crying out” means to pray fervently and bow down, but do we need to get to this extreme before thinking of God? In other times, we may just put God aside and see Him as the God that just existed many years ago. Have we forgotten how God has led our lives to victory? Do not forget how God has guided us to walk through high mountains and low valleys.
V7-10, when the children of Israel cried out for help, God sent a prophet to speak to them and let them see their problems. Many times when we come to church to pray, God does not immediately solve the problem, but He wants us to know the truth, so He shines His light in to make us see the darkness of our lives, so we can go out of the darkness into the light. God sent a prophet to speak to the Israelites saying, The LORD is your God, and you shall not worship other gods, but you have not obeyed God’s voice. This is our situation. There are so many problems and confusion in our lives because we do not listen to God, and we want to do things in the kingdom of God using our own way. Therefore, when we fall and cry for help, God will to us.
2. V11-27 God Calls but People Question
God came to speak to Gideon.
V12, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” When God tells us that He is with us, we should naturally feel extremely excited. However, we are not satisfied and happy when we are with our authority. I like to be with my authority, to listen to them, and work with them, because I cherish the fellowship with them, even if I just watch them how to handle things I am still satisfied. But many people feel uncomfortable with their authorities and do not think this is a grace. The Angel of the Lord called Gideon ” mighty man of valor “, telling him how God would see him. When our authority spends time with us nowadays, do we just feel that we are to be criticized, and fail to see God values us? God saw Gideon as potential and capable, a chosen man, whereas what Gideon saw was, “… if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?…” God was just talking to Gideon, no one else, but Gideon was talking about all the Israelites and asked God why they suffered like that. He blamed God for the problems they had encountered. He did not think he was a warrior or God had chosen him. All he saw were problems. Today, when we are with our authority, we must realize that we are chosen. We do not value what God and our authority have said to us, but we just feel that we have been criticised. All we saw was “waste”. We have not seen that God and our authority value us.
Gideon’s parents and ancestors told them, the Lord brought us up from Egypt, and now he has abandoned us. It seems that what the Israelites gave to the next generation was only a story from the past. They did not teach their children not to fear the gods in the land of Canaan, but to worship the LORD only. The Israelites not only refused to listen, but they also did not teach. We have the similar problems because we are afraid that people will not like us when we teach and fear that they will leave. The result was that the people of Israel gradually fell in the 40 years.
From Gideon’s response to God, we saw that he was not taught properly. He could not see why the Israelites had been suppressed. He only saw that the Lord had ignored them. They only regarded the Lord as their national God and did not have an intimate relationship with God. We often do the same with God and our authority. We may be like Gideon, with great power and gifts, but we do not really know God or our authority.
V14-16, when Gideon questioned God, God did not argue with him, for His way was different. God turned to Gideon and spoke of his potential-it is a miracle that you can attack the Midianites like this because I am with you. God constantly confirmed what His Angel had said in verse 12, ” The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor”-You do not see yourself as powerful, but I see you are powerful. You cannot defeat the Midianites, but I am with you. God saw Gideon as a mighty warrior with God’s presence, but Gideon saw only himself in the cave, only seeing the impossible. When our authority asks us to do something, our first reaction is often “no way”. In fact, it is not that authority is making mistakes, but that we need to learn to believe our authority. Our vision in 2021 is to align and cross over. Only when we have love and trust in our authority and see the same vision can we cross over all the impossible that the world and we say to ourselves. If we do not have love and trust in God and our authority, we will not be able to cross. Only with love will we be willing to sacrifice our desires and be willing to cross. When Gideon said that he was weak and insignificant, God did not directly comment on his words, instead He just said “I am with you” to bring him the truth. When others throw questions to us, we should not be misguided but bring the truth out and preach it to others.
V17-24, Gideon asked God for a lot of confirmation because he did not know God and had not experienced God. He even asked God where all His miracles were? If we already experience God in morning prayer every day and still go to ask for confirmation like Gideon, it means that you do not know God at all, and you have not experienced God’s presence and truth. We need to see God in a world full of hurt. Gideon has always relied on visible confirmation, but our Pastor has taught us to learn to find gold in the waste, seeing the possible from the impossible. Do we have fresh testimonies of signs and wonders to share with others? God is love, and His wonderful works are with us every day. Where are your miracles? When God calls us, we must believe and draw close to God every day. When our authority asks us to do things and we still ask for confirmation, it means that we have not yet known God, just like Gideon and the Israelites.
V25, God wanted Gideon to do things that he thought was impossible, which he did not believe that he had the ability to do. However, when Gideon was willing to follow, he could walk together with God and attack the Midianites. Sometimes we question our authority and do not understand why they want us to do certain things, but we must see that behind all this is the opportunity for ourselves to be raised up
3. V27- 40 People Respond with Doubt
Gideon did what God wanted him to do, but his faith was little, so he hid in fear. Later, instead of blaming him, his father spoke up for him.
V34, Gideon was no longer the Gideon he used to be. He tore down the altar of Baal, so the Spirit of God came upon him and he blew the trumpet. When we have the courage and power, are we willing to blow trumpets for God to gather people and attack the enemy?
V36, this is our situation. Although we have seen many testimonies, we still have many excuses for not believing that God will use us to fight. Even when we have done so, we may still be afraid and worried, then turn back to our old self. When God has chosen us and our authority elevates us, do we believe that God will use us to be fishers of men? When we step out to respond to His calling, God will be with us.
We should be grateful and not take our daily experience for granted. We don’t want to be like the Israelites to go through a peaceful and prosperous world and then forget about God’s deeds and enter a situation of oppression. Everything is the grace of God that we can be here today, and we are willing to see how God’s hand leads us in our life, relationships, family, and work through mountains and valleys. God sees us as mighty warriors, but we make many excuses and see the impossible and negative environment. We still don’t know God, so we try to find confirmation from our environment and the visible things. We pray that the Lord will help us get out of the immature stage, open our hearts, and humble ourselves, let the true light and truth shine into us, drive out the darkness inside, and when the authority speaks to us, we can feel the love from God. Let us not be afraid to respond to God’s calling to us through our authority, and willing to respond to God’s love with actions.
士师记 6 – 人虽软弱，神不放弃
V12，“大能的勇士，耶和华与你同在。” 当神跟我们说他与我们同在时，我们应该很兴奋。我们却没有满足和快乐的心与我们的权柄同在，我很喜欢跟我的权柄同在，听他们讲话，与他们一起工作，因为我很珍惜与他们的团契，哪怕只是听他处理事情，我就是很满足。但是，人不是这样，很多人跟权柄一起会浑身不自在，不觉得是恩典。耶和华的使者跟基甸说”大能的勇士“，神告诉他神如何看他。今天权柄花时间跟我们在一起时，我们是不是觉得自己被批评，没有看到神看重我们？然而神看基甸是有潜力的、有能力的、你是被拣选的。基甸看的是，”主啊，耶和华若与我们同在。。。“ 神只是与基甸相遇，没有其他人，但是基甸将所有的以色列人拉进来，问神为什么我们遭遇这一切的事情。他将遇到的问题怪罪于神，他不觉得自己是勇士，不觉得神拣选他，他看到的都是问题。今天我们与权柄在一起，要意识到我们是被拣选的。我们没有看重神和权柄跟我们说的话，却觉得被批评、被教训，我们看到的都是大便，没有看到原来神和权柄都看重我们。
我们从基甸对神的回应，看到他没有被教导，他看不到以色列人被压制的原因，他只看到耶和华不理他们。他们只当耶和华是 民族的神, 没有与神建立亲密关系。我们与神、与权柄也常常如此。我们可能好像基甸，有能力、恩赐，但我们不认识神，不认识我们的权柄。
V14-16，当基甸质疑神的时候，神没有跟他辩论，神的方法是不一样的。神看基甸，说出了他的潜力 – 你这样还能够攻打米甸人，是神迹，是因为我与你同在。神不断确认第12节使者讲的话，“大能的勇士啊，耶和华与你同在。” – 你不是大能的，但是我看你大能。你不能打败米甸人，但是我与你同在。神看基甸是有神同在的大能勇士，基甸看到的却只是那个在山洞里的自己，只看到不可能。当权柄要我们做事情，我们往往第一个反应就是不行。其实不是权柄看错了，是我们要学习相信权柄。2021年我们的异象是对齐与跨越，唯有我们对权柄有爱和信任，看到一样的东西，我们才能跨越世界和我们跟我们自己说的不可能。我们若对神对权柄没有爱和信任，就没有跨越。有爱我们才会愿意牺牲自己得的欲望，才会愿意跨越。基甸说自己的软弱和渺小时，神没有去直接评论基甸的话，只说”我与你同在“，将真理带给他。当别人给我们丢问题的时候，我们不要被打乱，要将真理带出来，传讲给人听。