Faithlife Sermons

Misunderstanding Rescue

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I saw a video a couple weeks ago that I thought as a great representation of what Israel is doing throughout the book of Judges. [show video of Sheep being rescued and falling back into a ditch…
That is so fitting for what Israel is doing in this book that we’re studying… every time they get out of the ditch, they fall right back in again...
And if we’re honest, it’s a great representation of how we live our lives sometimes.
[Series Vision - no goals]
The quickest way to fall back into the cycle sin is to stop seeking God… like that sheep, it’s to not even LOOK at our rescuer… and just return to your own ideas…
We fall back into the cycles of sin when we lose sight of what God rescued you FROM… and to go right back to it.
We lose sight of WHY we were rescued and WHO rescued us… and we go back to what we were doing before… what WE think we should do next.

Big Idea: Don't misunderstand the Lord's rescue: it's about him, not you.

[Explain Rebellion/Rescue Cycle]
God miraculously rescues Israel by the hand of Gideon who only has an army of only 300 men... he had whittled down their army so that ONLY HE would get the credit… and what happens next????
The Israelites TOTALLY misunderstand the Lord’s rescue. They view it PURELY from a human, fleshly perspective… And that perspective is FIRST REVEALED by a fight over who gets the credit…
Fearful, timid Gideon went into the battle with 300 men… it’s hard to say that they even fought… really, they just blew trumpets and broke some jars and held some torches…
and the Midianites fought each other in confusion.
We learn later that 125,000 men killed each other in that so-called battle...
And so now Gideon wants to finish the job.
He calls up the tribe of Ephraim to track down and defeat two major leaders of the Midianite army: Oreb and Zeeb… and they do.
But Ephraim gets their feathers ruffled a little bit that they weren’t called to the battle sooner.
Read 8:1-21: [Explain in the text]
Anger... rage... vengeance… is an indication that we are not getting what we think we deserve... in this case honor… and so we feel like we need to even the score.
This whole part of the story is about who gets the credit for this battle. And here’s what we can learn:

1) Don't misplace the glory - the Lord is the Deliverer. (8:1-21)

Whether we are thinking about tearing down some idol in our life and seeing the Lord’s victory… or we are thinking about enduring opposition as we take our next steps in following Jesus… don’t misplace the glory when you see some victory.
Don’t start your own personal pursuit of getting glory for yourself…
Let me give you a somewhat trivial example of how we do this:
Illustrate: [day off illustration] (happened a number of times)
What started out as a simple desire to serve... where I thought I was pure in my motives… turned into a vengeful pursuit of my own glory.
Apply: When God leads you in some step of obedience… or he rescues you from some pattern of sin... do you ever seek some of the glory for yourself? Do you ever use what GOD has done in your life as a stepping stone to get the glory that you wanted in the first place?
Do you ever serve others, but then not get the recognition you wanted or the appreciation you thought was warranted… and so you get angry?
Sure we say things like, "Oh, it wasn't about me..." but then (just like Gideon) our anger betrays us…
Our actions clearly demonstrate: you thought it WAS about you.
Do you ever see some point of victory over sin in your life… some area of growth… and you rightly celebrate it… but then use it for your own personal agenda?
Maybe you step out in ministry and use your spiritual gift (which is WHOLLY from the Spirit)… and it goes well… but then you think you deserve some honor or status or position for that…?
Maybe you confront someone about the way they sinned against you… you are being obedient to not harbor bitterness and to seek growth in your brother or sister…
And so the Lord provides some... but it wasn’t the growth YOU wanted… and so you say things to manipulate them to do what would benefit YOU?
Maybe you endure suffering or opposition for a season… and the LORD is seeing you through… but then you reach a point when enough is enough… and you start sinfully taking matters into your own hands to destroy that suffering or opposition...
TRUTH: Any victory in your life is a work of God. He gets ALL the glory. HE gets to determine the scope of that victory… HE gets to receive all the honor from that victory.
Every time you are faced with taking your next step forward in following Jesus… whether it’s repenting of a sin pattern or being obedient to God’s call… very practically here are two steps you can take:
BEFORE you take that step, ASK the Lord to glorify himself. Pray YOUR KINGDOM COME… YOUR WILL BE DONE… HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME.
The AFTER you take that step and you see the victory, THANK the Lord for the work HE did.
When we VERBALIZE our thankfulness to God, we place the credit in the proper account…
Don't misplace the glory - the Lord is the deliverer. - His rescue is about HIM… not you.
Gideon ALMOST appears like he has this concept down in these next verses… but in the end he misses it… look at verse 22.
Read 8:22-35 [Explain In the Text]
The Lord delivers the Midianites into Gideon’s hands… he PROVIDES for his people… he SUSTAINS them through and through… and then they worship the benefits rather than the giver of those benefits.
Here’s what we can learn:

2) Don't misuse the spoil - the LORD is the Substance. (8:22-35)

Think about our salvation… our rescue: we were under the oppression of Satan, sin and death… we were without God and without hope in the world…
But Jesus Christ won the victory over the enemy of our souls by living the life we could not live, dying the death we deserved to die, and rising again to new life. And he brought us into right relationship to our God through faith in him alone.
He is LORD! He is the GIVER OF LIFE! HE is the ultimate reward of our salvation.
But so often, we take the life that he gives and we worship the gift rather than the giver. We treasure the benefits… the spoil... of salvation… rather than the substance of salvation.
We turn the spoil of our rights as children of God into a Golden Ephod to worship.
Illustrate: Let’s think a little bit about some ways that we do that… think about some of the benefits of God’s rescue in our lives:
Forgiveness/Freedom from Guilt
We take this idea of forgiveness and treasure it as an end in itself.
We can think, “Because God is a forgiving God, I can do whatever I want and not feel guilty! I can pursue whatever my heart desires!
It’s just a little way to indulge myself... it doesn’t really matter because God will forgive.”
It does MATTER! God doesn’t forgive us so that we can keep on indulging ourselves… he forgives us so that we can have FREEDOM to LIVE FOR HIM!
Relationships in the church
By rescuing us, God makes us a part of his people, the church...
He reconciles us to one another.
But it can be so easy for us to worship the relationships… the feeling “part” of something… the good friendships that come out of God’s reconciliation… and we value them more than the one who rescued us in the first place.
Assurance of Heaven
We can take this idea of heaven and all of these great things that will happen there… Seeing our passed loved ones, walking streets of gold, having all our questions answered, not having physical pain… not to mention escaping the Fires of Hell...
We take this idea of heaven and we act like it’s THE POINT of salvation itself.
We need to understand that heaven is the EXPERIENCE of salvation, not the PURPOSE of salvation.
The PURPOSE of salvation is that God might be glorified in his infinite mercy and grace and wisdom…
And the central activity of heaven is bringing glory to God… and the rest is just the enjoyment of God THROUGH his blessings.
It’s so important that we put those things in the right order.
I love these lyrics by Sam and Becca Mizell sung by Natalie Grant:
Help me want the Healer More than the healing Help me want the Savior More than the saving Help me want the Giver More than the giving Help me want YOU, Jesus More than anything
Apply: Do you treasure the benefits of your salvation more than the Substance of salvation (God himself)? Do you spend more time thinking about what you GET from your salvation than the God who saved you?
Whether it’s forgiveness or relationships or heaven…
Maybe it’s your spiritual gift or your ministry…
Maybe it’s your sense of self-worth or purpose in life…
Maybe it’s the KNOWLEDGE that comes from reading the Bible… and you just LOVE to get all of those juicy details that God gives us so that you feel smart…
Maybe it’s the rest and peace that Christ promises his people…
Those are all the BENEFITS of salvation… they are the SPOIL of God’s victory… not the substance itself… THE LORD is the Substance.
HE is to be treasured above all things.
Whenever we treasure the spoil more than the Substance, we misunderstand our rescue.
That’s what happened in Israel… and it had long-lasting effects.
Read 9:1-57 [Explain in the Text]
All of this destruction came from the fact that the people misapplied the authority that RIGHTFULLY belonged to the Lord… they wanted a king they could see… and they were willing to settle for thorns that destroyed them.

3) Don't misassign the authority - the LORD is the King. (9:1-57)

We have to watch out: after the victory is won… after there is a period of rest in our lives… THIS is the moment we are most likely to misassign authority to someone other than the Lord.
We think: OK… things are finally going my way… things are going well… NOW I need to either maintain this peace myself or find someone else to maintain it for me.
And so we usurp that role of King for ourselves or assign it to someone else… and the end will be destruction.
The problem with Shechem is not that they want a King… it’s the fact that they want a WORTHLESS KING whom THEY appoint.
The Torah made provision for a King whom GOD would appoint: a King who was worthy… a King who REPRESENTED HIM to the nation.
He would eventually do this through the imperfect King David… a man after God’s own heart...
And ultimately he would do this through the perfect King Jesus. JESUS is the ONLY WORTHY AND SUPREME KING.
But too often, we assign authority of our lives to those who would draw our hearts AWAY from Jesus instead of toward him.
Too often we allow WORTHLESS things... and WORTHLESS, vainglory people... to usurp the throne of Jesus in our hearts.
Sometimes we do this by trying to take control of our situations… and the people around us… we assign authority to ourselves that is not ours to take.
So we make sure that everyone is doing what WE want them to do and everything is going the way WE want it to.
That was Abimilech… he didn’t want his brothers ruling over him… HE wanted to rule!
Sometimes we misassign authority to someone or something else...
That was the people of Shechem… they didn’t think God was enough to rule over them… they needed a flesh and blood ruler to keep their peace.
This is the teenage girl who gets out of one abusive boyfriend relationship only to think that another boy is going to fix the problem.
This is the worker will do ANYTHING FOR their boss… even MORALLY WRONG things… because they believe their boss controls their destiny through their paycheck.
This is the elder team who allows their senior pastor to abuse the congregation because his preaching brings them in.
This is the addict who allows a drug or substance or pornography to rule their life.
If that is you… let me take up the role of Jotham here proclaiming from the mountaintops: THAT’S NOT HEADED ANYWHERE GOOD!
Abimilech’s problem was that he was the EXACT OPPOSITE of a King who would point Israel to their TRUE KING… the LORD!
And anything or anyone in your life that is not pointing you toward the perfect authority of God... demonstrated through the person and work of Jesus Christ… is something you need to remove from that throne.
You need to put that person or thing in its rightful place.
You must TURN and WORSHIP JESUS as the true KING!
Jesus came to PROVE that HE is the perfect King… not just a representative ruler for God… but GOD HIMSELF in the flesh!
HE is the only one worth of your dependence and devotion...
HE is the one who could rescue you from the enemy of your souls… and if he has truly done that in your life, then HE is the one for whom you were rescued.
Any time we try to take ultimate authority for our lives… or assign it to something or someone other than God… the end is destruction.
And make no mistake: it’s in the wake of the victory… when the dust has settled and the peace feels so good and the testing has resumed...
It’s in those moments that we are tempted to misassign authority.
It’s after we have come to Christ and publicly declared that… that we are tempted to go back to the things that used to rule us.
It’s after we see some victory over some sin pattern in our hearts… that we are tempted to replace it with another.
It’s after we take a step of obedience to God that we are tempted to say, “OK… that was hard… let’s sit back and live for myself now.”
And it’s in those moments that you must devote your heart to honoring Jesus as King.
Apply: Have you assigned ultimate authority of your life to someone other than God?
It does not belong to anyone but him. The LORD is King.
Jesus… the Creator of all things… came to rescue you out of your sin by his powerful grace...
And like we heard earlier in the book of Titus, Jesus rescued you… he SAVED you... so that you would renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and become part of a people for his own possession.
He did not rescue you from the oppressor of your soul so that you could assign authority to someone else or assume it yourself.
And we all need to recognize the Lord in his rightful place. JESUS IS SAVIOR AND LORD OVER ALL!
And if you’ve never confessed that… today is the day to come to that realization...
To understand that Jesus wants to rescue you… for HIS NAME’S SAKE!
And if you HAVE confessed that… today is the day to live like it is true.
You do not have ultimate authority… neither does any other person...
NO ONE compares to the Lord ALMIGHTY… NO ONE.
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