Faithlife Sermons

Dad's Table

Pastor Dusty Mackintosh
Judges  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:32
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The cycle continues: Israel returns to idolatry and God again delivers them to foreign oppression. Even as God convicts Israel of their sin, he is raising up their deliverer. Even as God speaks to Gideon in his ignorance and cowardice, God declares what Gideon will be. And so, to a young man hiding in a hole He says “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” This is pure gospel: We are more sinful than we ever knew; more loved than we ever dreamed possible.

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My Fort, Dad’s Table

Dad gave me the table. Dad gave me the fort. And I asked, but Dad told me not to use the table on the fort. I used it on the fort. And it rained.
The cycle continues: Israel returns to idolatry and God again delivers them to foreign oppression.
Even as God convicts Israel of their sin, he is raising up their deliverer. Even as God speaks to Gideon in his ignorance and cowardice, God declares what Gideon will be. And so, to a young man hiding in a hole He says “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” This is pure gospel:
We are more sinful than we ever knew; more loved than we ever dreamed possible.
Dad told me not to use the table on the fort. I used it on the fort. And it rained.
And I was a bit nervous for my Dad to discover it, because I knew I had done wrong.
And then he discovered it. And it was bad! It was SO much worse.
There was a reason my Dad was careful with that table. It was His Dad’s table, his Dad, Grampa Mackintosh, had designed and made that table. It was in his bedroom growing up.
It was so much worse than I knew.
My Dad just walked away… and down the street… and was gone for an endless time.
You will notice that my Dad isn’t hear today, he was still too upset about that table.
Inevitability of sin? Hopeless?
Where are the heroes of faith like in the days of the Judges?
You will notice that my Dad isn’t hear today, he was still too upset about that table.
Echoes exactly Gideon’s question.
Christianity is about sin and feeling bad about who you are. God says “You’re bad and I told you so.”
That is the second most upset I have ever seen my father. (The first was my sister’s fault).
God is love and isn’t it just all about love and acceptance? God says “You’re Great!”
I didn’t know how bad that would be. And that’s just the worse thing I remember! My Dad maybe could add to the list of my misdeeds. Jono keeps a numbered set of journals. Jono’s log: day 334… Dusty oppressed me again today! (He has forgiven much).
Don’t you just love that feeling of discovering that you have done something inexcusably wrong? Or you knew it was wrong, but now you feel the weight of having truly wounded and hurt someone with your actions.
God, if you knew me… you wouldn’t choose me.
Praying for nominations over these next two months.
When someone thinks you’re great… they are going to discover that you’re not. The fear of that… (fully known, fully loved).

Back Into Sin

Guess what guys? After the glorious victory with Deborah and Barak and Ja’el, after the land had rest for 40 years (does that number sound significant?) the Israel’s are back doing what they do best! Back into sin, back into oppression.
Judges 6:1–6 ESV
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.
Judges 6:1-
The Midianites were a people they had previously destroyed, they killed every male back under Moses’ leadership (200 years before). But they would come with uncountable number (like locusts), riding camels and just raiding and pillaging the land, taking everything.
They don’t realize their mortal perillous distance from God just because they are distant from God… until that is translated into temporal peril. They have cut themselves off from true life and food and Home, but it isn’t until that becomes physical life and food and Home stolen before their eyes, that is when they cry out to God.
That sounds like me.

I Told You So

And God sends a prophet to make sure they know the reason. They are bad and they should feel bad!
Judges 7–10 ESV
Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’ ” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp. And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’ ” So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian. Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. And they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. Then they pursued Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan. Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they accused him fiercely. And he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the grape harvest of Abiezer? God has given into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I been able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger against him subsided when he said this. And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing. So he said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” And the officials of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?” So Gideon said, “Well then, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will flail your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.” And from there he went up to Penuel, and spoke to them in the same way, and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. And he said to the men of Penuel, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.” Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about 15,000 men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East, for there had fallen 120,000 men who drew the sword. And Gideon went up by the way of the tent dwellers east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the army, for the army felt secure. And Zebah and Zalmunna fled, and he pursued them and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and he threw all the army into a panic. Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres. And he captured a young man of Succoth and questioned him. And he wrote down for him the officials and elders of Succoth, seventy-seven men. And he came to the men of Succoth and said, “Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are exhausted?’ ” And he took the elders of the city, and he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of Succoth a lesson. And he broke down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city. Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Where are the men whom you killed at Tabor?” They answered, “As you are, so were they. Every one of them resembled the son of a king.” And he said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the Lord lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.” So he said to Jether his firstborn, “Rise and kill them!” But the young man did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a young man. Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise yourself and fall upon us, for as the man is, so is his strength.” And Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the crescent ornaments that were on the necks of their camels. Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he called his name Abimelech. And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, at Ophrah of the Abiezrites. As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel. Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family, “Say in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem. When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ “Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved— for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, and you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother. Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. And the leaders of Shechem put men in ambush against him on the mountaintops, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way. And it was told to Abimelech. And Gaal the son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his relatives, and the leaders of Shechem put confidence in him. And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and reviled Abimelech. And Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Increase your army, and come out.’ ” When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. Now therefore, go by night, you and the people who are with you, and set an ambush in the field. Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city. And when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do.” So Abimelech and all the men who were with him rose up by night and set an ambush against Shechem in four companies. And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from the ambush. And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!” And Zebul said to him, “You mistake the shadow of the mountains for men.” Gaal spoke again and said, “Look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ Oak.” Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them.” And Gaal went out at the head of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him. And many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate. And Abimelech lived at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives, so that they could not dwell at Shechem. On the following day, the people went out into the field, and Abimelech was told. He took his people and divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. And he looked and saw the people coming out of the city. So he rose against them and killed them. Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, while the two companies rushed upon all who were in the field and killed them. And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt. When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-berith. Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. And Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do as I have done.” So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about 1,000 men and women. Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower. And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home. Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. And God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal. After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. And he judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir. After him arose Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Kamon. The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the people of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. And the Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.” And the Lord said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” And the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel. Then the Ammonites were called to arms, and they encamped in Gilead. And the people of Israel came together, and they encamped at Mizpah. And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said one to another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
Judges 6:7–10 ESV
When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”
Judges:
Fully known.
He knows their sin. They don’t know their sin, but He knows it fully. He points it out. Perhaps it is an implied call to repentance, but all we hear here is conviction.
We might be surprised by the depth of their sin, and they might be too, but God is not. They are fully known.

Mighty Man of Valor

Now we zoom in on one man: Gideon.
Judges 6:11–16 ESV
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”

Who is this Gideon kid?

Judges 6:15 ESV
And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Judges 6:
Judges 6:13 ESV
And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
A bit of a whiner. The “people of Israel cried out...” Gideon is one of them.
A bit of a whiner. The “people of Israel cried out...” Gideon is one of them.
Judges 6:11 ESV
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.
Gideon, summer child. We don’t know how old he is here exactly, but even if he is a teenager, he was born in plenty. The land had "rest” for 40 years after Deborah and Barak’s (and Jael’s) victory. So Gideon was born in a world of peace, and then the Midianites came like a plague… and the oppression continued for 7 years!
And he isn’t one of the heavy hitters. Manasseh isn’t one of the most powerful tribes, and Gideon’s family lives near the west bank of the Jordan not far from one of the best Northern passes. So the Midianite raids coming in from the wilderness to the south east are going to right through his lands.
They are at the Junction of I-25 an I-70. The Midianites are coming to town, and they could go anywhere from there, but they ARE going to come through there.
And maybe Gideon isn’t wrong. These are excuses, but they could well be true. In fact, in chapter 8, we learn that Gideon had two older brothers and the Midianites killed them! And his clan could be the weakest.
But what he is doing gives us more insight into who he is.
But what he is doing gives us even more insight into who he is.

Why a Winepress?

Judges 6:11 ESV
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.
Gideon 6:11
A winepress is a sunken area. Picture a small built-in pool or jacuzzi. You would smoosh the grapes by stepping on them, and the wine would run down a little channel into jars you set in an even deeper hole. A winepress indicates some former prosperity.
But he isn’t using it for whine, he is using it to thresh grain. The way you usually thresh grain is to bring the whole harvest and you would have a very large flat threshing floor. And drag a threshing sledge over it, probably drawn by an animal. That separates the grain from the stalks. Then you gather up the stalks and throw them away. Then you take a winnowing fork and you winnow… you scoop and toss it up and the wind takes away the chaff which is the light inedible protection around the grain.
(I know all this because I am an expert farmer.)
So Gideon isn’t doing that. He is hiding in a hole. Down in the pool. And he is hiding the harvest from the Midianites, but the other implication is that the harvest is pretty pathetically (or tragically) small. Because it fits in this little whole, instead of filling the huge threshing area.

Gideon the Coward

Why in the winepress? And what does that look like?
So we have Gideon. Sad little Gideon. Just the worst. Worst clan, worst family, worst family member hiding in a hole with his little sad harvest.
Gideon, summer child. (Born in plenty, now in oppression for seven years).
And as bad as that is...
It’s even worse. Because Gideon is ONE of those Israelites the prophet spoke of. Has Gideon heard the message of disobedience, of abandoning God all over again, of God saying “I told you so!” Don’t know, but he is certainly part of the sin, partaker in the idolatry.
More sinful than he even knows.

Check in - How are you feeling right now?

Is anyone feeling bad for Gideon right now? He’s kind of pathetic.
Is anyone feeling bad for themselves right now? ‘cause I get that.
My purpose isn’t to make you feel bad. God’s ultimate purpose isn’t to make you feel bad. My Dad’s purpose in giving me that table wasn’t to make me feel bad.
What we are dealing with here is a harsh and brutal truth. Gideon is a mess. And I’m a mess. And some of my mess is inherited from others or inflicted on me by others, but I’m a mess all by myself to. And the things I am most shamed by, that would have me hiding in a hole, I did those. That rose up in me. I did what I wanted and I didn’t want to listen and I hurt my Dad.
… or my friend … or my enemy … or my kids … and certainly my God. I did it. You did all the things. And oh yes, it is worse than you yet know.
The point isn’t to dwell upon this in order to make us feel bad. God convicts our spirits as necessary towards repentance. Dredging and drumming up feelings of pathetic-ness within us is not an act of holiness or righteousness but a kind of religious theater that is just as sinful as what we are trying to make ourselves feel bad about!
It isn’t (and church or worship or preaching) is never about manufacturing emotions of guilt and shame within ourselves. But we acknowledge a harsh and difficult truth.
We are more sinful than we ever knew we were.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Polluted garment = filthy rag = used maxi-pad. And in fact, the things you think are the best about yourselves… not so great! The best most-noble thing you ever did in your whole life was done with mixed-motives and is tainted by pride and selfishness and deception.
And in fact, the things you think are the best about yourselves… not so great! The best most-noble thing you ever did in your whole life was done with mixed-motives and is tainted by pride and selfishness and deception. Sin.
So much worse than we knew.

Mighty Man of Valor

and the angel says, to the man in the hole:
Judges 6:12 ESV
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
Judges 6:
And then God speaks into the midst of sin, into fear and cowardice. He speaks to the coward and he says, not in irony, “Oh mighty man of valor.”
And Gideon whines:
Judges 6:13 ESV
And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
And Gideon whines:

Coward and Hero

The angel doubles down on the “mighty man of valor” kind of irony.
Judges 6:14 ESV
And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?”
And Gideon doubles down on cowardice and excuses:
Judges 6:15 ESV
And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Judges 6:
The LORD speaks through the angel, the words that change everything everytime (though Gideon isn’t there yet).
Judges 6:16 ESV
And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
And the story goes on. The man proves himself a divine messenger by making a HUGE meal disappear in fire when he touches it with his staff. And the Lord then calls him to his first mission.
But before all of that, we simply have a coward in a hole.

Coward and Hero

Gideon seeks his first sign, he runs and makes a giant meal for this strange prophet/man/angel being. He makes it: Goat and fresh bread (maybe Hawaian rolls)? Sounds delicious. And he brings it back and the man treats it as an offering. He has Gideon place it on a rock, and touches the tip of the staff to the meat… and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes.
(and that man was Gandalf!)
And he disappears! And THEN Gideon perceives that he was the angel of the Lord.
Judges 6:22–24 ESV
Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
Judges 6:
Gideon’s older brothers killed by Midianites (chapter 8)

Coward and Hero

And this is the word of hope. Gideon? He understood none of that. He didn’t understand the theological landscape. He didn’t yet seem to know any of the things. And his cry was for the days of old:
Judges 6:13 ESV
And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Where is the LORD? Right there. Where is the wonderful deed? You are the beginning of it, buddy. You are the faithful servant, the leader being prepped and prepared to step in and rescue God’s people. You are the hands and feet!
This is the beginning of that story! asdf

Coward and Hero

Again the Israelites have sinned. Again! Are you kidding me? The pattern was old back with the first generation of Israelites, and then again with Joshua, and then again with the generation after that.
Rooted in sin. And God does the work to make sure they know. “I told you so.” It is conviction and it is HARD. And Justice could leave it there. You made your bed, now lie in it. Again and again, in your heart, you have abandoned and betrayed and walked away from God in large and small ways.
Judges 6:12 ESV
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
And then God speaks into the midst of sin, into fear and cowardice. He speaks to the coward and he says, not in irony, “Oh mighty man of valor.”
And then God speaks into the midst of sin, into fear and cowardice. He speaks to the coward and he says, not in irony, “Oh mighty man of valor.”
It is who God has made him to be and who God is making him into. He speaks prophetically, aspirationally, but no less confidently and no less true.
Gideon isn’t going to stay in that whole but be raised up as a Judge in Israel, to lead God’s people to triumph over the enemy, over the oppressor, and we are going to walk that journey with Gideon as Gideon becomes the mighty man of valor that God already declares him to be!
God loves his people and so He rescues and redeems His people and He raises up a judge to do it.
God loves Gideon and rescues and redeems Gideon, and raises Him up to be that mighty man of valor by being with him.
God transforms us by His love for His glory.
God loves us into the immortal and glorious beings he has created, does actively and ongoingly create us to be. So that He who sees the beginning and the end can say to a coward like me: you mighty man of valor. You can’t imagine the incredible things I am going to do through you.

Fully Known, Fully Loved

So both these things are true.
More sinful than we ever knew. More loved than we ever dreamed.
More sinful than we ever knew. More loved than we ever dreamed.
This is the beautiful gospel.
We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” - Timothy Keller
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
So maybe you have moments where it all comes crashing down, and you feel the weight of your sin and your flaws and all your mistakes. Don’t try to make it happen… but it does happen. And sometimes God sends that prophetic word from without or from the Spirit within to convict us of our sin.
And why love? The story doesn’t say the word “love.” But what is it that has God rescuing His people again and again?
And it is true: we are fully known. Fully exposed before God.
You are, right now, with all your things: fully known.
Deep-seated skepticism: fully known.
Questions that I can’t answer: fully known.
We are fully known… and yet, and let this truth penetrate to every facet and dimension of your being moment by moment: fully known and fully loved.

And this is the word of hope. Gideon? He understood none of that. He didn’t understand the theological landscape. He didn’t yet seem to know any of the things. And his cry was for the days of old:
There is nothing that can be done then to escape or cancel or remove that love. You are already fully known… and already fully loved.
Judges 6:123
Judges 6:13 ESV
And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Fully known in present sin, but fully known in future fulfillment.
Where is the LORD? Right there. Where is the wonderful deed? You are the beginning of it, buddy. You are the faithful servant, the leader being prepped and prepared to step in and rescue God’s people. You are the hands and feet!
This is the beginning of that story! asdf
Deep-seated skepticism: fully known.
Questions that I can’t answer: fully known.
Past mistakes. Current habits that if they only knew...
All the garbage: fully known. And if God sent his prophet, he would come up with stuff that you don’t even realize yet. You haven’t yet discovered the depth of darkness within you. You haven’t had opportunity yet to...
And in fact, the things you think are the best about yourselves… not so great! The best most-noble thing you ever did in your whole life was done with mixed-motives and is tainted by pride and selfishness and deception. Sin.
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Polluted garment = filthy rag = used maxi-pad.
So much worse than we knew.
THe point is not to dwell in that sinfulness. To dredge up guilt within ourselves. To talk ourselves into how horrible we are so that we feel bad. That accomplishes nothing.
God works in us to convict where conviction is needed.
And yet, God can say to a sinner like me: o mighty man of valor. O child of mine.
1 Corinthians 13:8–12 ESV
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
:
1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Psalm 139:1–6 ESV
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
This is a transformative truth. Let it speak into any shred of guilt and shame that may hide inside you. Let it cast light into secret darkness. Let it echo such that every time you discover yet more depths to your sin, that only drives you to praise God because “even this was known to you, oh Lord! Even before a word is on my tongue...” and yet you fully love me still and always.
Let’s reflectively listen to “Known” by Tauren Wells.
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