Gideon – “I trust you will show up again!”
I have never had this happen to me before. About two weeks ago I stopped at one of those automated car washes. I have run my car through a car wash many times without any drama until this time. My kids were with me but sitting in the back. This car wash has the track where you pull in and the person motions you to come forward lining up the left side of your car. I pay for my car wash and then you must follow two strict rules – do not touch your steering wheel and put your car in neutral. Have you heard those two rules before? Well, everything is fine. We are slowly making our way through the wash. Water is sprayed onto the car – soap is applied and then the big giant brushes start doing their magic and everything is great until the big brush comes from the right side of my car to the driver’s side and at that moment my steering wheel turns on its own and drives out over the track and boom – my car stops moving. I figured the whole machine would stop running, but it doesn’t. And low and behold I see in my rearview mirror the headlights of another car fast approaching my car and I’m thinking. “He’s gonna stop. If the driver’s blonde I may have a problem.” Just teasing! Certainly the attendant is going to notice that I’m not moving. But no one does notice, so I honk my horn, but still nothing and since the car behind me has no way to stop I decide to break both car wash cardinal rules. I grab my steering wheel and turn my car to the right and I move my gear shift from neutral to drive and I give my car a little gas and boom again – we drop back into the track and I just drive out of the car wash! I pull around and poke my head out my window to talk to the attendant. He’s some college guy. “Dude, my car went off the track. He says, “Seriously, you should have honked?” I said, “I did honk!” “Well that’s strange. Let me send you through again!” And he does and this time everything goes as it should.
When I read the Bible a common theme stands out to me. It’s so easy for the people of God to get off track! Whether it be Adam & Eve, the Israelites or folks from Central Ohio – it’s just easy to get off track spiritually. Here are two examples. “My greatest fear in life is that maybe I am not really a true Christian at all because while I look and sometimes think and feel like a Christian, my sin and doubts are horribly inconsistent with Christianity.” The 2nd example is found in Hebrews 11:32. Right now would be a perfect time to ask for a Bible if you need one. Also – if you are in need of prayer – fill out this yellow prayer card and drop if off in the baskets as you leave today. We will pray for you! Today we conclude our “In God We Trust” series, but we will spend this entire year scripturally studying the implications of Psalm 56:3 which says, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
For the past five weeks we’ve looked at faith examples like Rahab, those that walked around Jericho, and those that walked through the Red Sea. We’ve seen the faith of Moses and Moses’ parents – Amram and Jochebed. This has taken us on a journey through parts of Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua. Well, today we now make our way to the book of Judges. And here’s why. Let’s read Hebrews 11:32. These first four names are all found in Judges. Let’s remember then and now. I judge then and now was a person in authority. NOW: I instantly think of people like Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown! A judge then was a bit different than a judge today. A judge today is a high ranking court officer. A judge supervises court trials, instructs juries, and pronounces sentence.[i] A Bible Judge THEN was a Jewish warrior leader. A “savior & a ruler. A spiritual and political deliverer.”[ii] Gideon is Judge #5. Barak is Judge #4 even though Deborah the prophetess is the one who urged Barak to go and fight. Samson is Judge #12 and Jephthah is Judge #8. Turn in your Bible to Judges Chapter 2. Joshua ends his book with his life verse: Joshua 24:15: But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Find Judges 2:8. The book of Judges is summarized in verses 10-16. Those judges were – go to chapter 3:7. Now to 3:12. Go to 4:1-2. One more – chapter 6:1. Do you see how easy it is to get off track spiritually? Gideon is going to get the children of Israel back on track again! But first – HE has to get back on track! An angel should do the trick, right? Drop down to Judges 6:11. Now why is Gideon doing that? Verse 3 tells us. (3&4) Gideon is hiding food for his family. He’s using a winepress to crush grain to make flour for bread. This is what they will eat to stay alive. I bet that just bummed him out. They have noting else to eat. The vegetables are gone. There’s no steak because the cattle are history – just bread! That’s like going to Chipotle and eating just the tortilla. You can get really disillusioned when you go from here to here! But that’s about to change. The angel speaks! Find verse 12 in Judges 6.
Don’t you think that would perk him up? “God’s with you Gideon – you are a mighty warrior!” And Gideon’s response is “BULL!” Well, not exactly. But you can feel his frustration in verse 13. Have you ever felt that way or were tempted to believe that? God I believe in you. I just want you to show up. I would have loved to see the look on Pharaoh’s face when you turned the Nile River into blood. OR when you brought the people out of Egypt and they walked through the Red Sea as on dry land! That’s fabulous and I don’t doubt it happened – it just happened so long ago. Do something for me now so I can know for sure - you REALLY are with me! From what I can see - you’ve completely abandoned us! Have you ever felt abandoned by God? “We were going to have a baby and then suddenly the baby died. The doctor’s diagnosis – cancer – is not what I wanted to hear! If I hear “over qualified or not qualified” from one more employer I think I’m going to scream. God, I believe in you – just show up in my life!” Now if I were that angel – I would have been tempted to remind Gideon of the past and the present. The past is Judges 6:1. I know Taylor Swift sings “You belong to me.” But God said it before she sang it. We belong to God. Verse 9 is the present. A prophet speaks to the Israelites. They must be asking themselves. How did we get here? This ELEPHANT is looking for a little help. (Horse too) How did the Israelites get here? They slowly, but steadily walked away from God. I have to own up to my part. Sometimes it appears God is nowhere to be found and that’s because I pushed him away! Other times it appears God is absent because we live in a world where other people sin and we suffer the consequences of their sin. I think this bumper sticker is hilarious. I'm just driving this way to tork you off.[iii] People “tork” us off but God gets the blame. “Geez, God what’s with this dude?” We had a family in our church this past week whose house was robbed – ransacked is actually a better word. Somebody took their stuff. Some of those things can’t be replaced. God says do not steal and when we do, we not only disobey him, but create pain & insecurity for others. The angel doesn’t point out verse 1, but he does say this in verse 14. (Read 14-16) This angel’s determined response shows us how we can either stay on track spiritually or get back on track.
The angel keeps repeating and reminding Gideon. “The Lord is with you!” And God is with you too. That realization keeps us on track. But Gideon’s not convinced. He needs three signs from God to confirm in his mind that God is with him. The first was a meal offering which the angel flames up before him. Now what is Gideon famous for? Putting out a fleece. Even then he was not convinced God was with him! What would it take to convince you? A Jesus pancake, cross cloud – smiling birds? For me hearing my kids sing praise choruses, seeing my wife’s smile, the warmth of the sun or the innocence of a new born baby all reassure me of God’s presence, but – the greatest sign you’ll ever need is the cross – the cross is proof that God is with you! There’s a 7 year old little girl in our church named Charlotte Bender. She came home from church with her Dad (Tony) carrying her "sermon notes." Lydia, her Mom, posted her notes on Facebook and I asked if I could share them. They are typed exactly as she wrote them on the back of the bulletin: my liFe By Charlotte - I Like To go to Chrch. - i like to wrshap god - i like to pray to god. - god has the pawr. - to chandch pepls - LiFE even min.
God does have the power – the only question is – do we have the faith! Why is Gideon in Hebrews 11. He rerouted his doubts. He accomplished something for God strictly by faith! Gideon defeated the powerful Midianite army with only 300 soldiers. What might God do through you by faith? The reason Hebrews was written was because people were wavering in their belief. When my car went off track at the car wash I had to do something. What do you need to do today to overcome any doubts or nagging fears? Put your trust in God!
[i] Encarta Dictionary, Judge
[ii] Boa & Wilkinson, Talk Through the Old Testament, 61