"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 9, 2012
This week will conclude the series on Gideon. Gideon and his army of 300 men defeated the massive enemy of Israel. And they did it using trumpets and empty jars with torches inside.
The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us -- you, your son and your grandson -- because you have delivered us us from the hand of Midian."
But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you."
It would be difficult for a lot of individuals to turn down an offer such as this. Pride would want them to accept leadership positions and all the honor, respect, and prestige that comes along with it. Perhaps Gideon realized that God had not called him to rule over the Israelites, and in doing so, he would be acting in his own pride and not with the favor of God upon him. He also wanted the people to not follow a man, but to allow God to rule over them. Perhaps he knew if he were to rule over them the people would be looking to him instead of God.
Had Gideon stopped there, he would have been fine, but like most of us, he went one step too far. "I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder." They agreed, so spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it. The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, not counting the ornaments, the pendants, and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and the neck chains that were on the camels.
Gideon made an ephod out of it, which is a garment worn by a high priest, which he placed in his city. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
Wow, how soon man can allow greed to ruin his life! Gideon had shown humility just prior to this incident when he spoke with the men of Ephraim about their deeds being greater than his own in battle, and then when he refused to rule over the people. But now he saw his chance to get a share of the plunder taken from the enemy. He may have felt that he deserved it since he was the leader who had led the Israelites to victory over the Midianites. And he may have felt that it wasn't fair that the others get their share of the plunder and he not receive anything for himself. God never instructed him to do this or to make the ephod. Gideon placed it within his home town, and people began worshiping that instead of God. This fleshly act of Gideon ensnared him and his family. There was a price to pay for Gideon's greed and I'm sure he regretted his actions many times.
God can bless us and meet our needs and answer our prayers. We may be grateful and promise to always trust Him and be faithful to Him in all situations. Then something will happen and we react in our flesh. We may try to convince ourselves that we deserve it and that God won't mind. But there is a consequence to sin. If we're not careful, it can become a snare in our life that traps us. Satan can make things look enticing and convince us that we've earned it and that God likes us to have nice things; but when we become greedy and act in the flesh, it will entrap us and we will have regrets.
God did bless Israel with peace for the next forty years, during Gideon's lifetime, and they were not bothered by their enemy the Midianites. Even when we fail and disobey God, He is willing to forgive and give us peace.
After defeating the Midianites, Gideon went back to his house to live. He had seventy sons, for he had many wives and concubines. Gideon lived to an old age before dying. Not sure what to comment here; Gideon was a busy man and had a huge family!
No sooner had Gideon died, than the Israelites again played the harlot with the Baals and began worshiping idols. They did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies. The Israelites also failed to show kindness to the family of Gideon for all the things he had done for them.
How soon we forget what God has done for us. We can hear stories of miraculous answered prayers for our parents or other family members. That legacy can be passed down to us and we can be raised to worship the one true God. But too often, future generations forget what they've heard and been taught. They somehow think what they're dealing with is much harder than what their parents and grandparents had to deal with. They think no one understands how difficult it is for them to remain faithful to God. It's easy to forget what God has done in our family and how He has protected and blessed us. And we forget those who have shown kindness to our family.
We can learn from the life of Gideon, from his victories and his failures. We all make mistakes and fail, but that doesn't mean we should give up and not try. God called Gideon for a specific job, Gideon obeyed even when it likely didn't make sense, and the outcome was Israel's enemy fleeing and forty years of peace. When God asks us to do something, He will equip us to do it, even when it doesn't make sense and we don't understand. If we will be obedient, then we will be amazed at what God can do.
Gideon had a concubine, that lived in Shechem, who bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech. After Gideon's death, Abimelech began scheming. He went to his mother's brothers and all her her clan and talked to them. He told them to ask all the citizens of Shechem, "Which is better for you; to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal's (remember this was the name given to Gideon when he tore down Baal's altar) sons rule over you, or just one man? Remember, I am your flesh and blood."
When his uncles repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelech. They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelech used it to hire reckless and worthless men, who became his followers.
Then he went to his father's house in Ophrah, and killed his seventy brothers who lived there. But Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon, escaped by hiding.
All the men of Shechem and Beth-millo assembled together and crowned Abimelech king.
When Jotham was told about this, he stood on the top of Mount Gierizim and lifted up his voice and called out. "Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you." He went on to speak a parable to them. He concluded with these words, "Now if you acted honorably and in good faith when you made Abimelech king, and if you have been fair to Jerub-Baal (Gideon) and his family, and if you have treated him as he deserves -- and to think that my father fought for you, risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian (but today you have revolted against my father's family, murdered his seventy sons on a single stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave girl, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is your brother) -- if then you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today, may Abimelech be your joy, and may you be his, too. But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you, citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech." Then Jotham fled and hid because he was afraid of his brother, Abimelech.
After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem. God did this in order that the crime against Gideon's seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who helped him murder his brothers. The men of Shechem set an ambush against Abimelech on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed everyone who passed by them on the road, and Abimelech found out about it.
Another man, Gaal, and his brothers moved into Shechem and the citizens put their confidence in him. Gaal began stirring up the people against Abimelech and wanted them to get rid of him. The governor of the city heard what Gaal was saying, and sent a message to Abimelech advising him to attack Gaal and his men. So Abimelech and all his troops set out at night and took up concealed positions near Shechem. The next morning Abimelech and his soldiers came out of hiding. A battle ensued and Gaal and his brothers were driven out of Shechem. Abimelech then pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and sowed salt over it. Abimelech continued his attack against other peoples of Shechem that had escaped and against other cities.
Abimelech went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women -- all the people of the city -- fled. They locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can't say, 'A woman killed him.'" So his servant ran his sword through him, and he died. When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home.
I find it a bit ironic that the last thing Abimelech was concerned about was his reputation and pride. He didn't want people commenting that he had been bested or killed by a woman! Apparently she either called out or showed herself to him as he looked up to the top of the tower as or after the millstone had been dropped on his head, because he knew that the act had been done by a woman. It was of great importance to him that his armor-bearer hurry and run his sword through him, thinking it would look as if the sword had killed him and not an act by a mere woman. Abimelech had no idea that the truth would be revealed in scripture for millions of people to read.
Judges 9 ends with these words, "Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham, son of Jerub-Baal (Gideon) came on them."
We may often think that evil is winning, but the day will come when those who are evil and do acts of wickedness will pay for their sins. But it's not our responsibility to dole out their punishment. God will take care of it, in His own time and His own way.
Deuteronomy 32:35 says, "It is mine to avenge (or Vengeance is Mine); I will repay."
Romans 12:17 tells us, "Do not repay anyone evil for evil." Verse19 continues, "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."
Hebrews 10:30 says, "For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge His people."
When we try to get our own revenge, we end up hurting ourself as well as others. Our attitude of retribution and acts of getting back at someone will cause us to react in a way that is displeasing to God. The hardest thing to do at times is to walk away, forgive, and leave it in God's hands. But we are assured in the Word of God that He will take care of it.
Hopefully, these three weeks as we've studied the story of Gideon you have been challenged to obey God, even when it doesn't make sense, and be amazed at what He can do. Also, to be reminded that when people do acts of evil, that we need to allow God to take care of the situation, as we step back and let Him take control. God uses us to accomplish good, not evil.
When we read about Gideon, the time between Jotham's curse and the first signs of it coming to pass was about 3 years. Too often we expect God to act right away. Three years might only take one or two verses, but the people probably had three plowing seasons, had three growing seasons, had three harvests, enjoyed dozens of feasts and holidays, had children, lost family members, attended weddings, and forgot about the curse.
God is patient. When a nation turns away from Him, He doesn't punish them right away. It's easy for us to think that we must not be stirring up His wrath, since He isn't doing anything against us. "It's been months since we've had a bad tornado, so we must be doing something right."
But it can be hard for us to be patient when the one we think needs punishment goes years down the wrong path. We may think God is waiting for us to take care of it. But, vengeance is His, even years later.
12 pieces string cheese (Mozzarella)
12 egg roll wrappers
Oil for deep frying
Place a piece of string cheese near the bottom corner of one egg roll wrapper (keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp paper towel until ready to use). Fold bottom corner over cheese. Roll up halfway; fold sides toward center over cheese. Moisten remaining corner with water; roll up tightly to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and cheese. In an electric skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil to 375. Fry sticks, a few at a time, for 30-60 seconds on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with marinara sauce.
It is humorous to hear kids perspective of things. Jax, my 3-year old great-nephew, is now old enough to attend a Sunday School class instead of being in nursery. One Sunday, his mom asked him what his lesson was about. He told her, "Jesus riding in a helicopter." We still haven't figured out where he got that! I've wondered if perhaps the lesson wasn't about Jesus living in heaven, which is really high in the sky; and in Jax's mind the only way you can get really high in the sky is by riding in a helicopter. Who knows!
Shortly after Easter, my nephew, Brian, his wife and their two kids were sitting by a fire they had built out in their yard. On the way outside, Nicole had turned her ankle and sprained it. She asked Winston and Lillian to pray for her and reminded them that we are healed because Jesus was beaten and had lots of boo-boos. Brian began to review the Royal Ranger lesson from the previous Wednesday night with Winston, and was asking various questions about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Brian said, "Winston, when Jesus was in the grave where did he go?" Winston said, "To hell." Brian said, "Yes, to defeat Satan and what else?" Lillian piped up and said, "His mother!" The answer Brian was looking for was "death". Winston knew the answer, but couldn't couldn't figure out why Lillian thought Satan had a mother.....
God wants full custody, not just a weekend visit. (from church sign sayings)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon