Judges 8:1-21 (Part 2) – On Judgment Day, Are We Really Going to Say, “We Tried to Work You In Jesus…”

Posted: August 27, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 8:1-21 (Part 2 of 4)
Gideon Kills Zebah and Zalmunna

Earlier this week, I wrote about “gimme that church!” The idea was that I would rather have a church of 50 people that are passionate, sold-out, all-in followers of Christ than a church of 3,000 that is lackluster and lukewarm about Jesus. Just what does a passionate, sold-out, all-in, no-holes-barred Christ follower look like in the context of church?

They are the ones that see church as a “get to” not a “got to”. These are the people that worship on Sunday with a passion and a thanksgiving and a freedom that is noticeable. When the music begins, they get lost in praise. They are consumed by the words and music of praise. They are the ones who raise their hands in praise (which reminds me of the Tim Dawkins talking about a hand raising church – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuRN2LL3fBs). They are the ones that are lost in praise to the Lord and they are the ones that that may even get so caught up in the moment that tears of joy come streaming down their face – even men. They are the ones that are full-on listening to the pastor, and may say amen here and there. The ones that discuss the sermon over lunch with their spouses. They are the ones that are prayerfully considered the message and the Bible verses that the sermon was drawn from. They are the ones that pray to the Lord to engage their heart and change concerning what was said in the sermon.

They are the ones that give of their time to the church because they believe wholeheartedly in their church’s mission in God’s plan. They are the ones that you can count on to do the extra things that need to be done at church. They are the ones who will accept leadership positions and make time for it. They will attend meetings without complaint. They will arrange their schedule around their church responsibilities. They want to serve. It is not some checklist thing to them. They truly do it because of their thanksgiving at their own salvation and feeling it an honor to serve the Lord. They are the ones who know what their fate would have been had they not encountered Jesus and accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. They are the ones who see their service at church as the least that they can do for their Savior and wish they could do more but are limited by the fact that they have to work to earn a living. They often daydream about what it would be like to be able to serve the Lord full-time and wonder how they could make that work and pray for God to show them the way to do that one day, but trust that God has them where He wants them right now.

They are the ones that give of their talents to their church. They may be gifted as carpenters, electricians, accountants, teachers, or whatever, but they give those talents to the church in some way. They serve in capacities in which the Lord has gifted them. Some have the gift of hospitality and greet people with the love of Christ every Sunday morning. Some have been gifted in finance and administration and serve the Lord in that way quietly in the background. Some are gifted in video and audio arts and serve the church by operating and directing the media for the church each Sunday. Some are gifted in compassion and serve the church by working in its outreach ministries to the community. Some gifted in the mechanical arts maintain the church itself. Some gifted in the ability to make Scripture come alive will serve in teaching ministries at the church. Some gifted in leading children in the understanding of God’s love for them will work in the children’s ministry. Some gifted in the law enforcement can use their talents to keep the campus secure during events and during Sunday morning services. Even in the smallest of churches there are many ways in which an all-in heart can serve. They do so because again it is an act of thanksgiving, a small way to show gratitude to their Lord and Savior, not because they want to be seen as being a servant but because they simply love the Lord.

They are the ones that give of their resources to the church. They are the cheerful givers. They are the ones that take it seriously that God commanded us to tithe. They do not get lost in the argument about Old Testament Law vs. the New Testament freedom. They know that Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. They know what Paul meant that we should not give out of compulsion but out of a pure and cheerful heart. They know that Paul meant that we should be cheerfully giving what God commands and then some on top of that. These are the people who have arranged their lives such that they can live on 90% or less of what they earn. These are the ones that have decided that it is less important how much stuff we have and how new that stuff is compared to the honor and privilege and blessing that it is to be able to tithe and then to tithe and give an offering on top of that. These are the ones that don’t call their tithe a tithe when it is not 10% of what they make. These are the ones that began making offerings at 1% then 2% and so on all the way up to 10% when they can truly use the word tithe to describe their giving. They are the ones who would give every dime to the Lord if they could. They are the ones the church can count on to give when there is special need. These are the ones that see their tithing and above as worship. These are the ones that can tell you of how God has blessed them with a new perspective on money by being obedient to the Lord in this area. They consider it a privilege to participate in financing the work of the kingdom just as the women who gave of their own means to finance Jesus’ earthly ministry in Luke 8:1-3. Giving is an act of praise, and act of adoration, and act of thanksgiving for God has done in their lives.

That’s what I thought of this morning as we read about the town leaders that refused to help Gideon because it might be inconvenient to step for the Lord in that way. Let’s read the passage now:

8 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” And they challenged him vigorously.

2 But he answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? 3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided.

4 Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it. 5 He said to the men of Sukkoth, “Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

6 But the officials of Sukkoth said, “Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?”

7 Then Gideon replied, “Just for that, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers.”

8 From there he went up to Peniel[a] and made the same request of them, but they answered as the men of Sukkoth had. 9 So he said to the men of Peniel, “When I return in triumph, I will tear down this tower.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?”

“Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.”

19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.

 

21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

In this passage, we see that in vv. 5-9 the leaders of Succoth and Peniel refused to help Gideon, probably fearing Midianite revenge should Gideon fail. After all, Gideon had a contingent of 300 men chasing an army of 15,000 men. They should have realized that victory was certain since God was with Gideon. However, they were more worried about saving themselves that they never thought about God’s almighty power to save. Because of fear for ourselves, we may not recognize in other people and therefore miss God’s victory. The we must face the often bitter consequences of failing to join forces with those God has chosen to do His work. Because God will prevail with or without you, be quick to join others who are engaged in His work. Lend support with your time, money, talent and prayers.

So many of us today do not join in the work of the church in spreading the gospel and in discipling up of the saints because it does not fit into their schedule. Church comes after our kids sports programs. Church comes after weekends at the lake or the beach. Church comes after our favorite college football team that we follow around the country. Church comes after our jobs. Church comes after. Church is often something we work into our schedule when it does not prevent us from doing the above. Church is one of a menu of things that our family is involved in. Church is a checklist. What will we say to Jesus on our judgment day? I tried to fit you in but we were too busy. I tried to fit you in when it was convenient to my schedule. We tried to fit you in when it was not in conflict with something our kids were involved in. Will we really say that?

Let us be a people that places our relationship with Jesus Christ above all other things. Let us be a people who will take risks for Jesus Christ. Let us be a people who will drop everything to serve the Lord. Let us be a people who are the rich young rulers who actually did sell all their goods, gave it to the poor and followed Jesus. Let us be a church of people that are sold out for Christ. Let us be a church willing to do whatever it takes to spread the gospel. Let us be a church that gives so freely that our church can spread the gospel in ways that it cant now. Let us be a church that gives so well that we can do three times the ministry that we do now. Let us be a church that is so willing to sacrifice for the Lord that we are planting gospel driven churches all over the place. Let us be a church that is sending forth ministers from its midst. Let us be a sending church. Let us be a church full of missionaries to foreign lands. Let us be a church full of men and women who see their interactions with the local community as an opportunity to share God’s Word. Let us be a church fully in, fully committed, fully willing to sacrifice to win the world for Christ even if it is a risk to do so! Even if it causes us to have live a different lifestyle. Even if it draws us out into the unknown. Even if it draws us into danger. Even if it draws out and trust in the Lord is the only thing we have to go on.

 

Amen and Amen.

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