Judges 8QUESTION: Arrogance and Decline - 1ANSWER:Judges 8 – Part 1
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
The last strands of music sifted up through the rafters of the warehouse church. The band had done things with an almost Bluegrass flavor that Sunday. The final song was a rousing rendition of the old standard, “I’ll Fly Away.”
Pastor Nathan Shepherd walked to the front of the congregation and leaned a haunch on the edge of the carpeted stage. “Some bright morning, when this life is over, I’ll fly away. To a land on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away. I like to sometimes think that celestial shore is a lot like the shore we are on right now. You all know how much I love these green waters of Florida Bay.”
Nate prayed, using part of Psalm 40, “I patiently waited on the LORD and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit. Thank You Lord Jesus for being faithful to us. Amen.
“Last week, before we jumped into Judges 7, I told you that we were asking everyone to stay clear of the area around the ‘Queen Eileen’. Again, I know that most of you are really looking forward to diving on the new mini-reef, but we really need to keep the site as pristine as possible.
“Reef Restoration Ministries has inked a deal with a group of Christian filmmakers who are going to do a documentary about the ‘Queen’. Their plan is to do a documentary where they recreate scenes from the life of Cyrus Sandbury and then parallel his dreams with the dreams of our own Reef Restoration Ministries. They’re going to tie it all together with a montage of Keys history – and RRM history – between the time the ‘Queen Eileen’ sunk and when we found it.
“Now, here’s the really cool thing: the production team already has the film on the schedule for the Sundance Film Festival which means it’ll get a huge amount of exposure. What about that?”
There was muted clapping and lots of quiet conversation. A few hands went up around the congregation.
“We’ll talk more about that at our 6:30 pizza bash tonight. For now, suffice it to say, we are super excited about what the Lord may be able to do with this unique find.”
Nathan opened his Bible and the rest of the congregation did likewise. The pages turning reverberated through the room like a rushing wind.
“Okay, we are in the third of three weeks of looking at the life and times of Gideon. I’ve gotten a lot of email this week from people who didn’t know that whole story. Many of them just knew about the fleecing. Well, you haven’t heard the whole story yet.
“Back in chapter 6, Gideon was found to be hiding. He was the classic chicken-whiner. In fact, in the ancient Hebrew dictionary, Gideon’s picture probably could have been next to the word coward. But, but, the Angel of the LORD – the pre-incarnate Jesus – shows up and Gideon becomes what Jesus calls him, a ‘mighty man of valor’.
“In chapter 7, we saw a humble and obedient Gideon listen to the Lord, against all earthly logic, and sustain a glorious victory for the children of Israel over the feared Midianites and their friends the Amalekites. 300 men went up against 135,000 warriors and, as we’ll see in chapter 8, the LORD caused 120,000 of them to kill each other. The other 15,000 men took off running, right into the men of the tribe of Ephraim. The Ephraimites killed two Midianite princes and that brings us to chapter 8, verse 1.
“The army men of Ephraim are mad at Gideon for not calling them to the battle in the first place. In verse 2, Gideon goes diplomatic on us. He says, in effect, ‘Hey, we are nothing compared to your great tribe. Our little band of 300 didn’t do anything. You guys got to do the glorious work. You were allowed to kill the princes, Oreb and Zeeb.’
“Verse 4 says that their anger subsided when he said that. This may be Gideon’s finest moment. You know, Ronald Reagan once said, ‘There’s no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.’ This is something we see a lot in healthy ministries. And, we need more of that in the body of Christ.
“But then we see Gideon starting to go sideways. Watch as we see him go to two villages, Succoth and Penuel, and ask for bread for his men as they pursue two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna. The leaders of these two villages refused to nourish Gideon and his band of 300 merry men. And, at both villages, Gideon gives them the big Arnold, ‘I’ll be bahk’ he angrily declares.Judges 8 – Read Part 2!