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Judges 6-8:25: A Snare for You and Your Family

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Introduction

Our teaching today comes from Joshua chapters 6-8. While you're turning there let me tell you a story.
There was a man who traveled the world, speaking on the mysteries of Christ and winsomely engaging with critics of Christianity to bring them to understanding the glories of God. He was respected and known by intellectuals and laymen. He was, by all accounts, a wonderful example of a godly man. This man died a few years ago and new accounts of his conduct began to spread across the internet. These testimonies said that he had actually been engaging in sexual relationships with women across the world and coercing them into staying quiet. After an investigation into his personal phone and emails these allegations were found to be correct.
“Abraham had two wives and he was a godly man,”
“You are God’s gift to me for all my service to him”
These were just a few of the things he said to get his way. This same man who taught the Scriptures to believers and cynics alike was twisting those same Scriptures to abuse his perceived authority in order to receive sexual pleasure. Once the investigation was completed and the truth was known, this man’s daughter who had followed her father into international apologetics, had to close down the apologetics work of his ministry because who would take her or her Gospel seriously with his name on the organization? His sin was a snare, not only to himself but also to his children. The man I am speaking of is Ravi Zacharias.
It is easy for us to look to something like this and only see the negative outcomes of the story, but we don’t do that for stories in the Bible. Thanks to the moralistic teachings we have embraced in Evangelicalism for so long, combined with the generally low biblical literacy of American Christians, we have been taught to primarily look for the good things to learn from a character in a story and take that as a moral lesson instead of looking for the original author’s intent and understanding what the meaning of the story really is. As we continue to study Gideon I want us to set aside all ideas of his faithfulness to God and how we are to emulate that. Instead, let’s look to the text of Scripture and allow it to tell us what the point really is.

Gideon’s story:

We’ve covered a portion of Gideon’s story already so I’m going to move quickly through these first few steps of Gideon’s story.

1. Midian oppresses Israel and steals their crops (Jg6:1-10)

The people cry out for deliverance from God and God hears them
God sends them a prophet to tell them that He hears them but they are rebelling against Him

2. Gideon was chosen by God to deliver the Israelites (Jg6:11-16)

An “angel” comes to visit Gideon and tells Gideon he has been chosen to lead the battle against the Midianites

Gideon asks for signs

Not the same sign as the fleece. This time it was burning up a sacrifice.

Theology 101: Theophany - an instance when God appears to a human

Something that is clear in other instances of theophany is that the person who interacted with God would then build an altar to God, which Gideon does in verse 24.
That angel was actually God (vv. 6:23, 25)
Something interesting to notice here in the text is that it is made clear that this angel that visits Gideon is actually Yahweh God. Anytime you see the word LORD or GOD (in all caps), it is a stand in for “YHWH”, the covenant name of God told to Moses. After the signs were given, the narrator stops calling this being “the angel of YHWH” and calls Him simply “YHWH”.

3. Gideon shows fear (many times) (Jg6:15-23, 27, 36-40, 7:9-12)

As David taught last week, Gideon was a man who was full of fear. No fewer than five times in the three chapters is he directly or indirectly shown to be fearful.

4. Gideon is given the nickname Jerubbaal by destroying idols (Jg6:28-32)

The first task the LORD gave to Gideon was to destroy the local altars for Baal and Asherah.

The Israelites had clearly turned to other gods (describe the gods)
Gideon, in fear, does what the LORD commanded at night.
YHWH is showing His dominance over the other gods.

Read (Jg6:28-32)

Judges 6:28–32 (ESV)
When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.”
Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.
The people want to kill Gideon for destroying their idols
Gideon’s dad says Baal can fight for himself if he’s a god
Gideon gets the nickname Jerubbaal (“let Baal contend against him”) and it starts to get used more and more as the story progresses

5. Gideon tests God(Jg6:36-40, 17-21)

He again tests God
“Let not your anger burn against me” Why?

6. Gideon gathers an army (and God subsequently sends most of them home) (Jg6:33-35, 7:1-8)

Gideon gathers an army of about 32,000 men to go against an army of 135,000 and God says it’s too many. Why? (Jg 7:2)

Judges 7:2 (ESV)
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.’
Through a series of tests God eventually gets the army down to 300 men and with this army God will defeat the 135,000

7. God defeats Midian and Gideon pursues the Midian Kings Zebah and Zalmunna (Jg7:19-8:12)

Gideon and his little army defeats the Midianites in the most God-ordained way possible
Gideon then pursues the two Midianite kings to capture them
On the way, Gideon stops at Succoth, an Israelite city and asks for bread. They refuse because Gideon still hasn’t proven himself to have won by beating the kings and Gideon promises revenge.
He stops at a second city, Penuel, and the same thing happens.
Gideon catches up to Zebah and Zalmunna, defeats what’s left of the army, and captures the kings

8. Gideon takes revenge on Succoth and Penuel (Jg8:12-21)

Gideon returns to Succoth and Penuel and exacts his revenge, flailing the elders of Succoth and killing the men of Penuel
In doing this, Gideon goes further than what God ordained and shows himself to be just like the Canaanite kings

9. The men of Israel want Gideon to begin a kingly line (Jg8:22-23)

The men of Israel then go to Gideon and ask him to begin a kingly line from him to his descendents
Gideon refuses, saying, “I will not rule over you… Yahweh will be your king”
This seems like a great answer, but we have to ask if it was genuine because Gideon names one of his future sons Abimelech in v. 31, which means “My father is the king”

10. The idol destroyer makes an idol (Jg8:24-27)

Immediately after that interaction Gideon gathers gold from each of his men and creates a golden ephod (the high priest’s garments) and set it up in his city
He may have had good intentions in doing so (to create a symbol for the people to know that Yahweh is their God), but the people worshipped the ephod instead of Yahweh
Don’t miss this last phrase of verse 27, “it became a snare to Gideon and his children”
Jerubbaal, Gideon, the idol destroyer, became the idol maker and ensnared himself and his children because of his sin

Application

1. You’re not the point (and that’s a good thing)

2. Your sins will become a snare for you and your family

Gideon is generally named “Jerubbaal” in contexts where the author wishes to highlight his role in (at first) attacking Baal worship and (later) causing the people to lapse into idolatry; that is, the name offers increasingly ironical commentary on a particular theme in the narrative

Are you setting up Snares for yourself and your family?

Ways to remove snares:
Prayer
Accountability
Family Worship

3. The true and better “theophany” to come

Communion

Isaiah 53:3–12 (ESV)
Communion is for anyone who has trusted that Jesus is the Christ, the one of whom this prophecy speaks. It is a symbolic act where we Christians partake of bread and the fruit of the vine in order to remember the sacrifice of Christ when His blood was shed and His body was broken for us. It is also a symbolic act that brings us into unity with one another as the Body of Christ. If you are a Christian, take a moment to meditate on this and to take communion in reverence. If you are not a Christian, we ask that you refrain from taking communion out of respect.
Prayer of thanks for the bread and the cup
1 Corinthians 11:23-24
Ask everyone to prepare the bread
“Take and eat.”
1 Corinthians 11:25-26
“Take and Drink”
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