January 8, 2021
Rev. Daniel Poon
Gideon did not believe in God. He did not believe in God until he saw God had met his requirements. Our attitude toward our authority is often the same. We do not see God choosing our authority, but only listen to them after they have met our standards. God has been helping Gideon since he was chosen, but Gideon’s heart did not turn to God, and he did not see that all his victories came from God.
1. V1-21 Not Walking in the Calling of God
1A. V1-3 Not Letting the people of Ephraim see God
The tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Manasseh, to which Gideon belonged, were brothers of the same family and of the same mother, but they did not fight together, thus seeing the distance between Gideon and his brothers. When facing Ephraim’s condemnation, Gideon did not testify before them and give glory to God – it was God who let the enemy kill each other to make Gideon triumph. Gideon did not exalt the Lord but exalt himself and others (v2 -“What have I done now in comparison with you?”). Gideon had done nothing for it was all done by God. He gave the credit to himself, he also brought God down and exalted the people of Ephraim. He used human methods, just like how we want to build a good relationship with others and praise others. We only see what people do and not what God does. Gideon did not bring people to God but to himself and make people think he was good.
1B. V4-17 Not Exalting God in front of the People of Succoth and Penuel
Gideon and his 300 people crossed the Jordan, “exhausted but still in pursuit” of the Midianites. Then he went to ask for food from the men of Succoth. People in Succoth were from the tribe of Gad of Israel. It seemed that Gideon had a bad relationship with other tribes, and his reputation was poor. He was not recognized in the group. When he went to the tribe of Gad, instead of witnessing the mighty power of God with them, he said that they were hungry. He let people know how hard he was working, and he needed help. God chose Gideon’s three hundred warriors to save all the twelve tribes of Israel, so that every tribe could see the Lord God, to show that the battle was not won by people. But Gideon did not testify to Ephraim and the tribes of Gad what God had done and the destiny God gave him. Facing the tribe of Gad, he said he was tired from all the hard work and needed food. Similarly, we often do not see God’s deeds, but only see how much we are doing, and we feel tired, wronged, and pitiful, so we did not exalt God and glorify Him.
V9, Gideon told those who did not support him that he would hurt them, and that he would tear down their tower when he came back. He was hurt when he was rejected by others. He felt that what he had done was not recognized, and people did not give him what he wanted. There was a lot of anger in him, so malicious words came out of his mouth. When we are doing our own things, we easily feel tired, be angry, and sin. But Jesus said that His burden is light. God wants us to trust in Him and exalt His work, not for people to see our weariness and needs. Are we proclaiming positive and encouraging words, or do we make people see we are tired and hungry when we follow God, and we need others’ approval, but when others disagree with us, we will be angry? Our need for people’s pity was Gideon’s problem, as much as ours.
V13-16, when Gideon returned from victory, he found out 77 elders of Succoth and punished them with thorns and briers. The reason for his revenge was his feeling of injustice. Gideon was hurt because he was not recognized, so he also hurt others. He cared about how he felt and whether he was recognized by others.
V17, Gideon did not come to witness how God used the three hundred warriors to win, so he used his own way to hurt others, and even killed the whole city of Penuel. How damaging are our feelings when we hold them high! We did not think it was our own fault, but we thought it was the fault of others. Are we grateful in the church and in the workplace, or do we radiate our bitterness and make people stumble? Only by proclaiming positive words of gratitude to others can we align with God and overcome our weakness. This is the true sacrifice.
3. V18-21 Not Exalting God before Children and Enemies
V19, The two Midian kings tried to get mercy from Gideon, so they described Gideon as “the son of a king”. The brothers of Gideon’s mother were from the tribe of Ephraim, not the Naphtali people who had been killed. However, Gideon made up a grand excuse that he had to kill the two kings for his brothers.
V20, He called his firstborn son, a boy, to kill the two kings, and the child was afraid. So Gideon was not a good father, he distorted the facts in order to make others respect him.
V 21, Even the two kings of the enemy could not bear to see what Gideon had done. We see the life of Gideon here – he did not exalt the Lord, did not walk in the calling of God, and could not do the work of judgment.
2. V22-35 Duplicity
V23, the Israelites wanted to make Gideon king. Gideon’s reply was that only the LORD could rule over them. He made it sound like he was exalting God.
V24-27, Gideon requested the Israelites to give him their plunder and made an ephod. This ephod was a sacred clothing worn by the high priest when he entered the sanctuary. It was attached with Urim and Thummim to inquire of God, who had told Moses that Joshua should come to Eleazar the priest to inquire of God about everything (Num 27:18-21). Gideon made an ephod to make people see a tangible thing to worship, hence they were misled to focus on the results that ephod can give, rather than to know that behind all this it is God who is giving people answers through ephod. Therefore, it is God that we should worship and get close to, not something tangible made by human hands.
V30, Gideon had many wives. Although he said he was not a king, he lived the life of a king.
V31, the son of his concubine was called Abimelech, which means “my father is king”. Gideon told people that he would not be king, but his child was called by this name. He was not a humble man who exalted God, but some one of duplicity.
V33-35, In those 40 years of peace he led in Israel, he did not make good use of the influence and honour God gave him. 40 years later, what he brought out was that people still did not know God but followed the people of Canaan to worship Baal. Let each of us magnify the Lord, exalt God, and glorify Him in the presence of people.
Thank You Lord for letting us see though Gideon experience great grace, power and gifts from God, his life gave us an alarming lesson. In our life we also value all our abilities, what we have, and the approval of others, the glory we get from the world, but we forget about God. We do not see grace, we only see our own hard work, pain, and hurts, giving glory to ourselves, leaving complaints to others, failing to make good testimonies, even turning testimonies into negative ones, and forgetting the mission given to us by the Lord and God’s calling. We pray that Lord You will help us remember the first love and Your calling for us, help us be grateful at all times, be grateful for being able to serve, and exalt God all our life!
士师记8 – 自以为是
- V1-3 没有让以法莲人看见神
以法莲人与基甸所属的玛拿西支派是同一个家族、同一个母亲生的兄弟，但是没有一起争战，以此看到基甸和他兄弟们的关系疏远。面对以法莲人的责难，基甸没有在他们面前讲见证，把荣耀归于神 – 本来是神让仇敌自相残杀使基甸得胜，结果基甸没有高举耶和华，反而高举自己和别人（v2 – “我所行的”&“你们所行的”）。基甸并没有行过什么，是神行的。他归功于自己，他将神降下来，高举以法莲人。他用人的方法，就像我们想跟别人搞好关系，高举赞美别人一样，我们只看见人所做的，没有让人看见神做的。基甸没有将人带到神那里，而是带到他那里，让人觉得他不错而已。
2. V4-17 没有在疏割和毗努伊勒人面前高举神
3. V18-21 没有在儿子和仇敌面前高举神
V 21, 他这样做，连仇敌的两个王都看不下去了。我们看到基甸的生命光景，因为他没有高举耶和华，没有走在神的呼召中，无法去做判断的工作。