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Closing up the Judges Series, pastor Dylan explores the life of Gideon and challenge us to reflect that merely crying out for help doesn't signify repentance; it requires action. The takeaway: address sin seriously, remembering a cry for help necessitates repentance; proclaim and disciple in the strength of the gracious and powerful God.

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Dylan Flood


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good morning church before we get into the word this morning I've been reminded to let you know that for Christmas day it's it's a time to celebrate but there's also some people within our church within our community good that don't necessarily have somewhere to go on Christmas Day and if that's you then I just want to direct your attention to Pete and krie Kirby they're going to be hosting on Christmas Day after the service a lunch for those who don't have anywhere to go for Christmas day or people to spend it with and there's a sign up sheet in the foyer um so M make sure if that's you go and speak to them um sus out what's going on and make sure you sign up because they need to know numbers for that if you've got your Bibles there can you open up we we'll be looking over judges 6 7 and 8 today as we draw to an end this series on judges and within these chapters we're going to be looking at the judge of Gideon but because we're concluding our series on judges we're not only going to be looking at Gideon but we're going to be tying in a bit of an overview of Judges as a whole and so if you've been following on from the beginning or you've been joining us periodically throughout this series you'll know that quite frequently we've been referencing this photo which is from the Bible project and they do it's coming I promise it's from the Bible project and they do an amazing job there it is at illustrating the cycle that we see in judges and we've talked about it regularly about how Israel seems to continuously move from peace to Sin from sin to oppression oppression to repentance repentance to deliverance and then back to peace and so it begins again and yet as I Was preparing for this morning as I was looking through the story of Gideon the Lord Drew my attention to this topic of repentance and the Oxford dictionary defines the word repent the core of repentance to feel or Express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin you may have heard it before that repentance is a complete turning away it's a 180° pivot if we were focused here then to be repentant would be for me to change from this direction to this direction and as I looked at this definition and considered the judges that we've spoken about I couldn't help but wonder whether we need to amend this diagram slightly because from my observation over the last couple weeks there's been but one instance where Israel actually repented and so my suggestion this morning is that we change this diagram slightly from repentance to a cry for help you'll recall that a couple weeks ago now pastor Dave preached on the judge jeffa and he's the exception see we see this cycle continuing through all the judges but when we came to jeffa which actually comes after Gideon we got these words in judges 10 verse 101 15 and 16 said and the people of Israel cried out to the Lord that's been pretty standard right they receive the oppression things get uncomfortable they cry out to the Lord and here's what blew me away God heard their cry and he said you've been following foreign Gods cry out to them for help I'm not going to help you and Israel realized their sin they said to God we have sinned do to us whatever seems good to you only Deliver us this day so they put away the foreign Gods from among them and they served the Lord here we get had a very clear depiction that Israel who were serving the foreign gods they recognized their sin and they repented they put their gods their Idols away and they turned back and they served the Lord last week we heard about the judge of Samson and I don't know whether you picked it up because there's so much detail in the chapters which depict Samson's story and yet something critical is missing nowhere in Samson's account does it say that Israel cried out to God for help and nowhere does it say that they repented there's an absence there when we consider oel ehad and Deborah we get this phrase which happens again and again and again the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help but that's all we get they were uncomfortable in their circumstance they cried to God for help but were not told that they actually turned from what they were doing we're not told that they repented and I want to suggest that if they had if they had repented properly the Book of Judges would probably be a lot smaller and it's in this position that we begin looking at Gideon judges 66 says and Israel was brought very low because of Midian and the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord they cried out for help and so if I'm putting forward this suggestion what I'm going to make very very clear this morning for us church is that a cry for help and a cry of repentance are two very different things they are not one in the same see repentance requires an action and it requires a commitment to change we see in St contrast the judge jeffa the people of Israel at that time they put away their foreign gods and they turned to the Lord and they served him so much so that the Lord became impatient with the misery that they were in and he delivered them and yet here before we introduce to Gideon we see that Israel was following these pagan gods and in the midst of all this they're being oppressed by the midianites and they go who else can we call upon because this really isn't working oh that God the god of Israel hey God can you help us but they don't repent they don't change their ways they don't turn see repentance requires an immediate action and an ongoing commitment not to turn back and that's where the people of Israel during the time of jeffa fell short they did the first turn well and yet over time they turned back they didn't continue to commit themselves to God they didn't continue in their repentance they turned back and so the cycle repeats and you might be sitting there going yeah but Dylan H how can you tell that their hearts weren't repented how can you tell in this situation the Israelites have cried out to God for help surely there's got to be something happening where they've repented well we can think so but as we read on through the call of Gideon in chapter 611 and onwards we see that the first thing that Gideon is instructed to do is to break down the altar of ba and ashir his first action that God set him to do as the judge of Israel at this time was to get rid of the altar to the other Gods Not only that we're told in verse 27 Gideon took the men out of his servants and did as the Lord had told him but because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day he did it by night now why is it that the judge of Israel at this time the person that God has chosen to work through and to deliver Israel is too scared to go to the Israelites and break down the foreign God's altar in daylight because Israel hadn't repented see Israel was focused on the foreign gods and in their suffering in their pain they're like what else will work maybe I'll call on God hey God can you help me but I'm just going to keep this here I don't want to actually turn to you completely I'm going to stay focused here but if you can help me that would be fantastic a cry for help is not the same as a cry of repentance we see the unrepented heart of Israel because Gideon was faithful he tore down the altar he did as God had commanded him and when the town's people woke up the next morning they were outraged I want to encourage you throughout the week read through these three chapters but from this first Glimpse we see that whilst is Israel cried to the Lord they did not repent they did not want to change they did not recognize that they were the reason that they were in oppression why did this happen Point number two is we've seen over and over again week after week as we've gone through the Book of Judges that Israel is quick to forget and slow to remember God we see that when they cry out in judges 68 to10 God sends a prophet he sends a mouthpiece and he says to the people 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 God says I I gave you clear instructions and you've turned from me Israel was quick to forget about God we see this in the cycle that it takes them so many years of Oppression before they cry out to him for help God is their last resort not their first they're quick to forget and slow to remember their God see the implication of Israel's forgetfulness is that the vital information of how to actually relate to their God was lost we get this generation that's not discipled we get this generation who knows head knowledge about God but personally they have no idea who their God the god of Israel actually is they're so consumed with all these other pagan gods that Yahweh their God just Falls in as another name and we see the effects of this for fness we see the effects of this information not being passed on in the call of Gideon we see in chapter 6 verse 12 that the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and he said to him the Lord is with you oh mighty man of Val and Gideon said to him please my Lord if the Lord is with us why then has all this happened to us and why are all his wonderful Deeds that our fathers recounted to us where are they did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt but now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian the forgetfulness of Israel has given Gideon half information he goes I know my forefathers they they told me of the great works of this God and yet if he was here why are we under the oppression of the midianites if God is really with us then why are we suffering his logical explanation he's concerned for his people and he's concerned that God has left them and yet he hasn't realized that that is a consequence of them first turning their their backs on God we see this continue to develop see Gideon he was a great man of Faith it's he's recorded as one of the couple in Hebrews 11:32 as a man of great faith and yet as we read through chapter 67 and8 of Judges we see that whilst his faith was great it was also inconsistent why because Israel was forgetful he hadn't properly been taught about who God was and how to relate with him and so he navigates it for himself he doesn't fully trust unless God can make him sure and sure and sure and sure again we see in judges 6 36-40 that Gideon has to test God see in that earlier interaction Gideon knew that God was with him we see that in verse 22 of chapter 6 Gideon perceived that this was the angel of the Lord and he said alas oh Lord God for now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face Gideon knew that he had been given direct instructions from God he knew that he had been called to be a judge he knew that God was with him and would go before him and yet he doubted his faith was strong but it was inconsistent and so we see that when God directs him to go and and do what he's called him to do getting goes if you're really going to do this God just give me give me some some sign put me at ease see the this fleece I'm going to put it out if you make sure that when I wake up the Jew has just saturated it and the ground is completely dry then I will believe and I will go and I'll do everything that you've told me to do and sure enough when he wakes up the fleece is saturated with du and the ground is dry but his faith is inconsistent and so he tests God again he goes God I know I said this but I still don't quite believe you I still don't quite trust that you're going to do what you said you're going to do maybe I made it too easy this could just be a coincidence so I'm going to put the same fleece out and can you just make sure that the whole ground around it is wet with Jew and the fleece is dry then I'll do what you asked me to do and sure enough he wakes up the next morning and that is what has happened and then after he has been assured that God is with him Gideon goes out and does what God has commanded him to do see Israel was forgetful and in that forgetfulness they forgot to disciple the next Generations and that then meant that even Gideon someone with strong faith had inconsistencies in his faith he wasn't fully sure that when God God said that he would be with him that God would actually be with him he felt the need to test God again and again and again and yet through that we see a third thing that God is gracious and God is powerful see when Gideon wanted to test God when Gideon wasn't quite sure whether or not to believe God when Gideon said hey I know that you proving yourself but can you prove yourself again God didn't say you little faith I will use someone else God knew the Frailty of Gideon's faith and he was gracious God chose to confirm himself to Gideon in every way that Gideon wanted God chose to do that not because it Ben bened God not because God couldn't have used anyone else but because he was gracious he chose to strengthens Gideon fa Gideon's Faith so that he might be a part of what God was going to do and as we read on in chapters 7 and 8 we see how God uses Gideon in Mighty ways to deliver Israel from the midianites and we see that God is sure to remind both Gideon and Israel that it is him and his power that delivers them and not their own see after Gideon had tested the Lord after God had graciously confirmed his call and his presence with him Gideon goes off and begins to do what God has commanded him to do he goes off and he gathers an army an army of 32,000 men and I love it chapter 7 verse 2 God steps in 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 God knew the hearts of the Israelites God knew that with 32,000 people people that they would be tempted into going we didn't actually need God we called out to him and he sort of spoke to that Gideon fellow but we didn't actually need him we had 32,000 troops we destroyed the midianites how great are we God knew that that was their Temptation and so he directed Gideon to K the Army from 32,000 men to 300 men from this massive force to be reckoned with to a small handful of troops God removes any thought that Israel can do this in their own strength and he reminds them that he is their strength that he is their power and that he is the one who will deliver them from Midian as I was reading through it during the week I went wouldn't it be so nice if the story just stopped there because we see that God does miraculously use Gideon and these 300 men he delivers the Israelites from Midian how good would that be but we have to remember a cry for help is not the same as a cry of repentance Israel had not committed to changing their hearts Israel had not committed themselves to be holy and solely God's people they were distracted whilst they were still here they were looking at Gideon and they were seeing what God was doing but they hadn't repented and we see that coming through as the last part of chapter 8 very much much acts as an anticlimax it undo the amazing work that God had done through Gideon we're told in judges 8:27 that Gideon made the gold from the plunder the gold nose rings which they had plundered in their overtaking of Midian he used that gold and made it into an EOD which he placed in offer his town all Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there and it became a snare to Gideon and his family what was probably done with decent intentions right because they hadn't repented because they were here they had seen what God had done Gideon makes an effort he makes an idol something which the Israelites then start to bring closer and closer and closer to their pagan gods and they worshiped that rather than remembering God and the reason why it was made it became a snare to Gideon and his family and we know that Israel didn't repent we know that they were just distracted because they're here and we're told in judges 8 33-34 Israel's here they're still their hearts are still after pagan gods and yet they've been distracted by looking at what God's doing and by Gideon and no sooner had Gideon died then the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the BS and they set set up balth as their God and did not remember the Lord their God who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side their hearts never changed their gaze saw everything that God was doing and and yet they came back to sin we see it happen at the end of gide and we've seen it happen all the way through this series on judges that this cycle continues because Israel continues to look back to sin and yet I also want to suggest that the cycle only continues also so because God is gracious right if Israel moves from oppression to a cry of help then if God doesn't intervene then it's possible Israel could be wiped out but God is gracious he said you are my nation I will keep you you will be an example to the rest of the world and so not because they deserve it but because he chooses to God continues to step in we see it through the book of judges he continues to preserve the Israelites and so what's this mean for us today if a cry for help and a cry of repentance are not the same thing church can I encourage us we have to deal seriously with the problems of sin in our life we can't just slap Band-Aids on it we can't just be distracted so often we can be facing this way and the pressures of Life can come down on us and we can go oh nothing else is working hey God can you intervene in this and we change our gaze and God may or may not intervene he may or may not deliver us and yet we're still looking there so when we stop seeing him we turn like Israel back to sin church we have to deal seriously with the sin in our lives we have to repent and repentance is both an individual initial act it's that act of recognizing that it is sin and turning away turning to God but it's also and don't forget this it's an ongoing commitment not to turn back it's an ongoing commitment to go God each and every day I am going to choose you and not this snare number two we need to be quick to remember God slow to forget God committed to proclaiming him and all he's done and intentional about discipling the Next Generation see Israel's Israel's cycle continued and continued because they forgot who God was they forgot what God had done for them and they chose not to continue in Repentance they kept turning back we see through Gideon the consequences that forgetfulness has on future Generations Gideon was strong in his faith but he was inconsistent because he didn't have a solid foundation on which to stand he had to make that as he went along he had to trust that God would confirm that and reveal himself so that his faith would grow we need to be quick to remember God let's learn from judges let's not make God our last call let's not try to deal with it all over here and then when everything fails go hey God can you help let's make God number one quick to remember and if you're anything like me you're probably sitting there going that sounds easy enough to say but sin's tempting it's hard to repent and to continue to commit to repentance it's hard to remember God some days it's okay when I'm in the discipline of my usual schedule but when I go on holidays the B's the first thing that I forget to read because I've got other stuff to do you might be sitting there going this is nice to say and I wish I could do it but it seems impossible remember God is gracious and Powerful he invites us to do it in his strength and not our own and this side of the Cross we have the gift of the Holy Spirit right we literally have God indwelt in us and God says that sin that thing that you're struggling to repent against he says that forgetfulness you coming to me last and not first let me help you he says just ask and I will help and church when we take that offer when we come to God when we lean into his strength his power he is gracious and he helps us he will guide us so that we can deal with sin seriously he will build our perseverance to repent against those sins and he'll remind us of who he is what he has done and who we are to share that with would you pray with me heavenly father as we've journeyed through this series on judges there have been times where it's been so easy to recognize the continual cycle of Israel and there have been times where we've been able to also recognize that our lives can be somewhat similar and Lord God we pray that you would help us to learn from your word we pray that you would help us to deal seriously with sin to repent and to commit commit to following you to commit to that repentance of turning away from our sinful nature would you help us to remember you first in all that we do and Lord God would you graciously and powerfully help us in our journey and our walk with you we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen