Sunday, March 7, 2010

A recap of all points learnt from story of Gideon

{For full listing of all articles in this series, click here}

It was quite amazing the way God had dealt with Gideon – the favor He gave to Gideon, and His tolerance of Gideon’s antics. As such, it is good we try to learn the good points of Gideon that pleased God. I list again, by chapters, the points we have noted, albeit, in slightly more shortened form:

Chapter 6

1. A sincere heart of wanting to understand the ways of God. I believe the Word exhorts us to seek and hold onto the knowledge of God, the ways of God, wisdom or discernment. God looks at the heart of men. Men may not know the meditations of our hearts but God knows {through the Holy Spirit}. I believe when Gideon asked the questions in Judges 6:13, there was no bad insinuation in his heart.

2. Humility is a likeable trait to God. The opposite of being proud is being humble, not neutral. I leave my quote for you to ponder, “We need to be humble, if we were to be used positively by the Lord.” (The Pharaoh of Egypt, who was proud, was used by the Lord, but negatively.). Gideon was really humble (Judges 6:14-17).

3. Learn about our faith heritage. By this I do not mean just knowing the Word of God, as in, ok, I need to know what I must do and what I must not do, full-stop. I believe it pleases God if we try to know the “full works”. It takes time; nonetheless we need to be actively learning the full works. It is important that this learning include the past and present dealings of God with man. If we truly believe God is the same yesterday, today and forever, how can the past dealings of God be not relevant? There is much to learn in those dealings. There are 2 mistakes that we can make. First, is to ignore the Old Testament dealings of God with man, thinking that they are no longer relevant to us. Second, is to ignore God’s dealings with man outside the Bible. We should not ignore the dealings of God with man post-completion of Bible writing. A lot of Christians missed God’s blessing because they ignored what happened post-Bible completion. What was/is happening around the world with regard to God’s dealings with man is relevant to us.

4. Give pleasing offerings. Don’t be stingy with God. Yes, obedience is better than sacrifice. But it does not mean there is no need to sacrifice. If you truly love God, you embrace both. There are other motivations for both obedience and sacrifice, but I believe the correct motivation that pleases God is the love for God. Obedience can be motivated by fear of punishment but that is not what God is after. Jesus said if you love me, obey my commandments; he who obeys my commandments loves Me (John 14:15 & 21). What does the “famous” John 3:16 says? Yes, God so loved the world that He gave {sacrificed} His one and own begotten Son …… Pleasing sacrifice is not based on some code of honor of some secret society, or fear of embarrassment or grows out of a desire to stroke one’s ego, or so that we can leave a name for all posterity. Pleasing sacrifice flows from love. Sacrifice to God, therefore, to be pleasing to God, is one that flows from love for God.

5. Obey God. When we look at the burnt offering asked of, by the Lord, and Gideon’s doing as instructed, we find both obedience and sacrifice, the manifestations of love (of Gideon for God), at work. That seven years old bull was a prized possession (sacrifice). At the same time, the performing of the offering could bring a lot of problems for Gideon, could even cost him his life (obedience).

6. Trust God and be courageous. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Obviously what Gideon did concerning the desecration of Baal altar and Asherah pole was expected to come to light. Gideon trusted God to take care of things, and it was courageous of him to go ahead to do as instructed by the Lord. To be courageous is not necessarily to be without fear. To be courageous is to do the right thing despite fear.

7. Inquire of the Lord before going to war. God and Satan are at war. When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have chosen side; we are sided with God. We are at war (The Apostle Paul said in 2 Tim 2:3, endure with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus). For whatever role that we have been assigned for the season, we are to be battle-ready (there are many battles in a gigantic war that stretched over time). We are also not to be a “stray soldier”, going to a battle without checking with our Commander, the Lord.

It appeared that a sign was not an uncommon way to ask for confirmation from the Lord in the olden days. I believe God still give signs to people as confirmation.

Chapter 7

1. In service for Lord, one must be attentive to God. This was the attitude of Gideon. Even after a double confirmation (with unmistakable signs of the fleece) from the Lord to fight the powerful Midianites and her alliances, with the promise of the Lord going with him, Gideon was still attentive to God, to what God wanted him to do to accomplish his mission. Gideon was working with God; he catered to God. That is what we must also do, cater to God. Many church liturgies leave no room for this, sad to say!

2. Victory is meant to glorify God, and God alone. Whether we meant it or not, it is best for us not to use the word, glory on ourselves. Glory, presently, belongs solely to the Lord. All must be ascribed to the Lord; no one is allowed to take any of it for himself. God reduced Gideon’s army strength to 1% so that all glory might be ascribed to Him and Him alone.

3. Without faith you cannot glorify God. The Scriptures directly said without faith it is impossible to please God. I believe without faith you cannot glorify God, too. The Scriptures does, in fact, talk about doing things without element of faith at all as sin; and if it is sin it obviously cannot glorify God. Going to battle with 1% army strength really required faith, in absolute numbers it was 300 men against 135,000!

4. It is ok to be afraid but we must be courageous. God knew Gideon was afraid, who wouldn’t be, at the thought of fighting a battle with only 1% of the original strength. Yet we can say that Gideon was courageous. I believe the courage, in the Bible, was about doing what was right despite being afraid.

5. Be humble and be humble. In the last Chapter we have already discovered that Gideon was humble, and that was a likeable trait by God. We see here again Gibeon was humble before the Lord; had he not being humble and admit that he was afraid, and had he put up a bold front before God, he would have missed the sign given by God through the dream of one of enemy’s men about the loaf of barley bread crashing the enemy at her camp.

6. Know our faith heritage to know what to do. This again is a repeat of one of the points in the previous chapter. It is just that I paraphrased it differently. Gideon knew what to do, to get to the enemy’s camp, to blow the trumpets, to shout, and to smash the jars to let the fires of the torches to come forth, all because he probably knew the significances of the available resources from his understanding of the faith heritage.

7. Faith must be followed by actions consistent with the faith. Faith without action is dead; the Book of James tells us that. Gideon acted consistent with his faith in God. God said to take only 1% of the army strength and to go into the enemy’s camp of 135,000, he acted on it! Do we really believe God is good, God is in control, and He has our interest at heart, too? If we do, there should not be lack of actions consistent with that faith in our lives.

Chapter 8

1. Love peace, and be gracious as the Lord has been to you
Many of us have a mindset of being very hard up for things, wealth, status, and even power and authority. Worse still, some of us are having this mindset despite already having and are being blessed with much by the grace of God. The relentless pursuit of these things, without the blessing of God inadvertently leads to strive, and peace taking a back seat; and enmity will arise, or made worse. We saw that Gideon was not like that. Very clearly God had raised Gideon, from the weakest clan in the Manasseh tribe, and the least in his family; yet we saw how he dealt with the sensitive issue between the sub-tribes of the house of Joseph. Some people grew up from poor and deprived families, and when they achieve successes in their lives, they are very grateful and thankful, and compassionate towards the poor and needy, and the marginalized and afflicted; while some of them, despite coming from such backgrounds, are not at all gracious to those who are struggling. It is sad to observe the latter.

Gideon was not hard up at all; he just concentrated on doing the things that God wanted him to do. I believe he knew what mattered was how God looked at him. In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul talked about serving, and he put it in this way: Serve righteously, and serve in the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, in that way, our service will be pleasing to God, and our service will also gain the approval of men. Such had been the attitude of Gideon, and we read that at the end of the war, when finally the entire enemy had been subdued, the people still wanted Gideon, and his descendants, to be their king, despite that the war was over, and his letting the Ephraimites to take some of the choicest credits.

2. Can one sit on the fence? Apparently not
A man is never sitting on the fence. By The Fall of Man (an article is coming up), the unregenerate man is on Satan’s side. The only choice for man is either he remains on the side of Satan or he crosses over the line or the fence, into God’s side. Jesus Himself said that those not with Him is against Him (Matt 12:30a, Luke 11:23a). What is even more startling to know is what He said, for the second part, that those who do not gather with Him, scatter.

If you are not on God’s side you are on Satan’s side; Harsh it might seem, but that is the reality, although I believe in most cases, if not in all cases, God does provide a chance for one to choose. When it is the time to choose, and one does not choose, one is actually not sitting on the fence; he has made a decision, and that decision is that he has opted to ratify his existing position of being on Satan’s side.

In this Book of Judges, there are 3 examples of men or cities not taking side with God. These examples did not show that the parties went against God, but only that they were not with the Lord (just like Jesus said it in the New Testament), and they would not gather with the Lord. In all 3 examples, punishments were meted out.

3. Don’t play, play, the words from the mouths of favored men of God can be powerful
The declarations or prophetic words of favored men of God can, very well be honored by God, and be made to come to pass, just like what had happened to Succoth and Peniel in Judges 8.

4. Any form of idol worship is abominable to God
Gideon made a golden ephod with the gold melted down from the gold earrings from the spoil of war. This ephod was placed in his hometown and was being worshipped by the Israelites; and this was recorded for us as a snare to Gideon and his family.

This is not an isolated case, and I believe if we are not careful, we, men, tend to do these things – instead of worshipping God, we end up worshipping or giving the due reverence to a thing (making it an idol) rather than the Giver, who is God Himself.

5. Always be on your guard (be watchful) so that you may finish well
Few men of God, recorded for us in the Bible, finished well. The Apostle Paul had repeatedly called believers to be watchful, to keep our eyes focused on the finishing line, and to press on, and to run the race in such a way as to finish the race, wining the prizes. His motto for us is to run to win the prize God has in mind for each one of us, in Heaven.

Gideon, it looked to me, could not be absolved from blame for the worship of the golden ephod he made and installed, unless the worship was started only after his passing on.

6. Again, without a judge, after the death of Gideon, the Israelites went back to pagan worship
History repeated itself for the Israelites in this area - a consistent failure over the Judges period. Look at ourselves honestly, is there an area in our lives, we consistently fail the Lord?

7. Be kind to the family of the servants of God
Despite Gideon’s installing of the golden ephod leading to people worshipping the ephod, God still have it recorded that the Israelites ought to have been kind to the family of Gideon after he passed on. The point to be made is that we should be kind to the family of the late servants of God.

Anthony Chia - Lord, there is much to learn from Gideon’s life; help me to learn them well so that I may please you, always.

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