About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 6

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Gideon (ch. 6:1 - 40)         


Chapter 6 is roughly about 200 years after the first judge that we saw in the book of Judges.


The cycle of sin, God's judgment, repentance, and then sin again, carries on here in verse 1.  We need to see that God handed Israel over to her enemy.  This handing over is God's judgment.  As I have said before, if you read Romans 1, Paul teaches on this very subject.  If an individual or a nation wants to continue in sin bad enough, God will hand them over to that sin  That is to say, He will step back from the individual's or nation's life and let them sin.  That sin gets worse and the individual or the nation gets consumed by the sin. They actually become what God views as His enemy.   This is what Israel did time and time again.  Instead of killing their enemy off, Israel became what their enemy was. 


The example that Paul gives of this in Romans 1 is homosexuality.  Men and women wanted the gay lifestyle, so God handed them over the that lifestyle.  God just stepped back and let men and woman practice this lifestyle until it became predominant in the society.  The predominance of the gay lifestyle is then actually God's judgment.  I know this is far from politically or socially, or even religiously, correct these days, but that is what the Bible says.  I believe that God has handed the western world over to homosexuality and that is the reason why the gay lifestyle has become what it is. It is actually God's judgment.


The enemy of Israel here in chapter 6 was Midian.  You will remember Midian from the days of Moses.  It was where he escaped to and found his wife there.  He lives in Midian for 40 years. 


The Midianites came through the lineage of Abraham's wife, or really, concubine, name Keturah. This might tell you that even though men like Abraham had concubines, it wasn't necessarily the will of God.  In this instance the children descended through Keturah became Israel's enemies.


You see in verses 2 through 6 how fierce the Midianites were.  They were tribal herdsman who were always on the move.  They weren't interested in acquiring land, just food.  This put fear into the hearts of the Israelis.  Note the word "impoverished" in verse 6.  This shows us how devastating the Midianites were when it came to Israel.  This is what God's judgment can do.  It can impoverish an individual or a nation.  I believe that the western nations today might be on the road to impoverishment.  All of our economies are not in good shape, and I do believe we are in the beginning stages of God's judgment.


We see in verse 7 that Israel cries out to God in what appears to be repentance, so God sent a prophet to them.  God spoke through the prophet and told the Israelis how He had delivered their ancestors out of Egypt and brought them to the land of Canaan.  Who this prophet is, we don't really know.  It is important to know that this was not a reminder.  These people for the most part were so far removed from the knowledge of their God that they did not know these things so they had to be taught all over again. The western world is fast becoming like these Jews.  Recently I encountered a young person who had never heard of David and Goliath.  Just a few short decades ago, that would not have been possible, even among non-Christians, but today, there is beginning to be a real famine of the Word of God in our nations.


In verses 11 and 12 we see the call of God on the life of Gideon.  I believe that he was the prophet spoken of in the last few verses. 


Note the phrase "angel of the Lord'.  Most scholars understand this term to be pre-incarnate Jesus.  The angel of the Lord told Gideon that He is with Israel.


Verse 13 is Gideon's response to the Lord.  He said, "If the Lord is with us, why has this happened to us"?  This is a natural question, because if the Lord was with Israel , why was He not stopping all these bad things.  I heard the same question being asked after 911 and after Katrina, that hit the southern coast of the United States.  Over the years I've heard the same response to those to whom suffering has come about in their personal lives.  


In verse 14 the Lord answers Gideon's response, but He didn't answer Gideon's exact statement.  We know why all the bad things were happening to Israel.  It was God's judgment, but Gideon didn't know that, because he grew up in a society that did not educate people on these matters.  The same applies to us in the western culture today.  I believe that 911 and Katrina was either God's judgment or a warning of God's judgment to come.  The problem is that we have not been educated to know this.  That is the failure of the church.


Gideon responds back to God in verse 15.  He is basically saying that he and his tribe aren't anything special.  He and his tribe is weak.  This is often who the Lord calls.  He often calls those who are weak and foolish, as the apostle Paul often says, in order for the glory of God to be seen in a weak vessel and not the strength of one who is a strong vessel.


Note the words "the Lord" in verse 14.  "The Lord " here refers to the angel of the Lord as seen in verse  11.  In this case, "the angel of the Lord" is "Yahweh" Himself.  Is then the "angel of the Lord" pre-incarnate Jesus in this instance?  Is "Yahweh" Himself pre-incarnate Jesus here?  Is Jesus Yahweh incarnate?  I do believe in the Trinity, so to speak, but I also believe that God is beyond fitting into a precise theological human structure.  I also know that Jesus was God, or Yahweh, in human flesh.  I also believe that the present day existence of Jesus, that does differ from His existence while on earth, is Yahweh is a glorified body, as it is often called.  I think I can safely say, "as Yahweh was in Old Testament times, so Jesus is in New Testament times".   The name "Yahweh" is always associated with the Old Covenant.  Jesus is associated with the New Covenant.        


Verse 16 tells us how a weak vessel like Gideon can actually defeat Midian.  The Lord will be with Gideon, and as history shows us, when the Lord is with Israel, they defeat their enemies.  When the Lord steps back from Israel, they are defeated by their enemies.


In verse 17 through 19 Gideon wanted to make sure who he was talking to was really the Lord.  So Gideon asked the Lord to stay, and the Lord said that He would stay.  So Gideon made a large meal out of a whole goat and about a half bushel large loaf of bread.  He expect that the Lord would eat this meal. 


The idea of a meal like this was cultural for his day, both in Judaism and in the Canaanite religions.  In order to gain favour of the gods, people would offer a meal to the gods.  This meal obviously was never eaten by the gods.


In verse 22 and 23 Gideon put the meal on a rock because of a request by the angel of the Lord.  The angel of the Lord then touched the meal with His staff and it exploded into fire and the angel of the Lord suddenly disappeared.  At this, Gideon knew for sure that this was no human.  It was the Lord.


Gideon says, "ah, Sovereign Lord.  I have seen the angel of the Lord".  In Hebrew this is "I have seen Adonai Yahweh", I have seen "the master, who is Yahweh".  This appearance thus appears to be Yahweh Himself in some human likeness.  Again, many scholars would claim this to be pre-incarnate Jesus, yet some suggest that in this case, the angel of the Lord is not pre-incarnate Jesus but an incarnation of Yahweh.  That being said, I tend to see Jesus Himself as He lived on this earth, as an incarnation of Yahweh. 


Anyone who has seen Yahweh incarnate into a human likeness as did Gideon would surely be convinced of His existence and that he has actually met the Almighty.  This should be the same with any of us who have given our lives to Jesus.  In a spiritual reality sense, we have seen the Lord.


In verse 23, after the angel of the Lord disappears, He still speaks to Gideon.  The visible sense of Yahweh may have disappeared but Yahweh Himself hasn't disappeared.  Gideon obviously felt that he might die because He saw Yahweh, but Yahweh assures him that he will not die. 


In verse 24 Gideon does what most people would do in that culture after such an experience.  He built an altar to the Lord.  This altar was to be a memorial to this event.  This reminds me of something similar found in the New Testament.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain and He was transfigured, that is, transformed into some kind of angelic type being, along with Moses and Elijah.  This was a powerful experience for these men as well.  Peter responded by saying that he would build three memorials, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, just as Gideon did here.  Peter, James, and John, were just doing, or wanted to do, that which was culturally acceptable in their day.  That being said, Jesus was now introducing a new culture and those memorials were never built.    


In verses 25 and 26 Yahweh speaks to Gideon again.  He tells Gideon to cut down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole that was beside it.  Baal is the male fertility god while Asherah is his counterpart, the female fertility god.  The wood from the pole, as well as an adult (NIV says second) bull would be burned on the altar to God.


The important thing to understand here is that Yahweh shares nothing with other gods.  Gideon could not erect an altar to Yahweh that would be right beside the altar to Ball and the Asherah pole.  The pagan gods must go.  Again, what is happening among certain Evangelicals today in 2012 is blasphemy.  They are attempt[ting to unite Christianity with paganism, and the Lord hates such an attempt.


Gideon obeys the Lord but he does so at night for fear of his family and those in town.  We see the weakness of Gideon here, even after seeing Yahweh in human flesh and speaking with him.  He is like Moses and many other people who God calls.  He is weak, and that might be why God called him in the first place.  It appears to be a principle of God.  He takes the weak things to confound the wise and mighty, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. 


Note that Gideon had ten servants.  Gideon was not a poor man in a poor family if he had ten servants, and, along with these servants would be families to support.


In verses 28 to 30 we see that when morning came, everyone saw that the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole had been totally destroyed.  After investigating the matter, they knew that Gideon had done this.  They wanted his father Joash to bring Gideon to them so they could kill him.  You can certainly see how important these idols were to the people of this town.  They were willing to kill one of their brothers because of this. 


I would suggest that today, when God chooses men or women to expose similar sins in the church, there will be much opposition to him.  It's my thinking that we do not realize, like Israel did not realize, that we are so far removed from the way of the God we claim to serve.  Like Israel of old, we think we are in God's will, but much of what we call church is pagan.   


In verse 30 the men of the town wanted Gideon killed for breaking down the altar of Baal.  Again, even in the Evangelical world, we have our altars that need to be broken down, but when one attempts to break them down he is looked on in a negative light.  The prophetic message is seldom taken seriously.


In verses 31 and 32 Gideon's father refused to bring Gideon out to the hostile crowd.  He basically said that if Baal was a real god, then Baal could deal with Gideon however he wanted.  Baal could destroy Gideon if he were a real god.  Joash was putting Baal and his followers to the test.  He was standing up to the hostile crowd, something Christians today should not be afraid of .  If we trust in the Lord, we should stand up for Him and defend Him, no matter the cost, and there will be a cost.


Note another name for Gideon in verse 32.  Jerub-Baal means "Baal fighter".  It's clear why Gideon got to be called Jerub-Baal.


Note in verses 33 to 35 the Spirit of the Lord comes on Gideon, and what does he do?  He calls his people to battle.  We see the same thing take place as we've seen all along.  When the Lord raises up a judge, He puts His Spirit on him in order to lead the people into battle.  The people of God should always be ready to fight the battle, not alone, but with the Spirit of God.  Things have not changed for the Christian in New Testament times.  There are battles to be fought. We know, as the New Testament teaches, the real battle for us is in the spirit world.  That is why we need the Holy Spirit.


Note here that the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon. There is a difference between the Spirit of the Lord coming on someone, and the Spirit of the Lord living within someone.  Since Acts 2, the Spirit of the Lord comes to live within the believer.  Even then, the Spirit of the Lord can still come upon the believer, even though He is also in the believer.  When the Spirit of the Lord comes on the believer, something dramatic normally happens.  Other terms for the Spirit of the Lord coming on the believer are, being filled with the Spirit or having the Spirit poured out on the believer. There is more to the Holy Spirit than one body can contain.  That is why He can be in us and still come upon us.


Gideon felt that He needed proof that the Lord would be with him in battle.  Apparently the Spirit of the Lord coming on him wasn't enough.  Gideon battled with doubt.  So one night he put a wool fleece out on the ground.  He requested of the Lord that the fleece be wet with due and the ground be dry.  The Lord honoured his request.  Then the next night, he asked the Lord with the hopes He would not be angry that the opposite would happen.  The next morning God granted his request.  The fleece was dry and the ground was wet.  This proved to Gideon that the Lord would be with him. 


While growing up in the Evangelical church as a child I often heard people "putting out a fleece", so to speak.  It wasn't a literal fleece like Gideon's fleece.  It was some other type of situation that the people would use to prove what the will of the Lord was.  For example.  It this happens then something is God's will.  If this doesn't happen, then this is not God's will.  I personally don't believe that fleeces are a New Testament practice.  What you see in the New Testament is that God, through His Spirit speaks in one way or another His will to us.  If we have to use a fleece, that tells me we are not hearing from the Lord well.  I'm not saying that a fleece won't work in New Testament times.  I'm simply saying that is not the way New Testament people of God should determine the will of God.


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