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Gideon: Seeing God’s Strength (Part 1 of 2)

Judges 6:1-40
Program

When life is easy, we sometimes stop listening to God and start relying on ourselves. Study along as Alistair Begg explores the strange predicament of God’s people and their reluctant leader, continuing the ‘Encore 2022’ series on Truth For Life.

From the Sermon

Gideon: Seeing God’s Strength

Judges 6:1-40

Series: Encore 2022

Sermon Includes Transcript 48:25 ID: 1958

Undeserving Servants

Undeserving Servants

And [Jonah] prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster…’ And the Lord said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’

When children do something wrong, they often seek their parents’ forgiveness, receive it, and then say, “I know I was wrong, but… there was a perfectly good reason that I was doing what I was doing.” We see something similar with the prophet Jonah. God had forgiven him, picked him up, and put him back on track, and still he tried to justify his previous disobedience. He was simultaneously feeling angry, arguing, and praying—which is not an easy feat!

In Jonah’s arguing, notice how many times the personal pronoun “I” pops out. There was a bit too much “Jonah” in his speech—and therefore in his heart—as he presented his case as a matter of his word against the Lord’s. He foolishly supposed that his way was better than God’s.

Jonah’s complaint was also rooted in a double standard. Though he had recently been the recipient of God’s compassion and mercy, he found fault with God for displaying that very same mercy to those who Jonah felt should be beyond redemption.

The big issue for Jonah was God’s sovereign grace. He was angry at God for acting in a way that he did not understand or approve of. But the Lord had long ago declared, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19). Divine grace towards sinners can never be explained. It does not have a reason; it simply reflects who God is.

In response to Jonah’s reaction, the Lord did not ask him if he was angry but whether he had a right to be angry. That was the core matter: did Jonah—a representative of a people whom God had favored even when they’d gone astray, and who in his disobedience had personally known the saving hand of God—have any valid grounds to object to God’s compassion toward others? The answer is clear: no. Neither do we have any right to challenge God on how and to whom He extends His mercy or how He directs all things in order to save His people and glorify His Son.

If we find ourselves angry with God and complaining about the way He has chosen to go about fulfilling His purposes, it is because we have forgotten just how undeserving we are of receiving God’s grace. Here is the danger: that we become so tolerant of our own disobedience that we think we are entitled to God’s favor and blessing. But all is of grace, every day. Only when we have been gripped by grace will we be able to rejoice in the abundance of God’s mercy that is lavished upon His undeserving saints.

head heart hand Going Deeper

Jonah's Anger and the Lord's Compassion

1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,1 and he was angry. 2And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

5Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6Now the Lord God appointed a plant2 and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.3 So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

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Footnotes
1 4:1 Hebrew it was exceedingly evil to Jonah
2 4:6 Hebrew qiqayon, probably the castor oil plant; also verses 7, 9, 10
3 4:6 Or his evil

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.

Present Possession

Present Possession

… Ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the spirit.

Present possession is declared. At this present moment we have the firstfruits of the Spirit. We have repentance, that gem of the first water; faith, that priceless pearl; hope, the heavenly emerald; and love, the glorious ruby. We are already made new creatures in Christ Jesus by the effectual working of God the Holy Spirit. This is called the firstfruit because it comes first. As the wave-sheaf was the first of the harvest, so the spiritual life, and all the graces that adorn that life, are the first operations of the Spirit of God in our souls.

The firstfruits were the pledge of the harvest. As soon as the Israelite had plucked the first handful of ripe ears, he looked forward with glad anticipation to the time when the wagon would creak beneath the sheaves. So, brethren, when God gives us things that are pure, lovely, and of good report, as the work of the Holy Spirit, these are to us the indications of the coming glory. The firstfruits were always holy to the Lord, and our new nature, with all its powers, is a consecrated thing. The new life is not ours that we should ascribe its excellence to our own merit; it is Christ’s image and creation and is ordained for His glory.

But the firstfruits were not the harvest, and the works of the Spirit in us at this moment are not the consummation—the perfection is still to come. We must not boast that we have attained, and so reckon the first sheaf to be all the produce of the year: We must hunger and thirst for righteousness and long for the day of full redemption. Dear reader, this evening open your mouth wide, and God will fill it. Let the blessing in present possession excite in you a sacred greed for more grace. Groan within yourself for higher degrees of consecration, and your Lord will grant them to you, for He is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

1 Samuel 7

1And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Samuel Judges Israel

3And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

5Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. 7Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.

12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen1 and called its name Ebenezer;2 for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

15Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

1 Samuel 8

Israel Demands a King

1When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

Samuel's Warning Against Kings

10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men1 and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

The Lord Grants Israel's Request

19But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

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Footnotes
1 7:12 Hebrew; Septuagint, Syriac Jeshanah
2 7:12 Ebenezer means stone of help
1 8:16 Septuagint cattle

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self1 was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free2 from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Slaves to Righteousness

15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,3 you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Footnotes
1 6:6 Greek man
2 6:7 Greek has been justified
3 6:16 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface (twice in this verse and verse 19; also once in verses 17, 20)

Judgment for Idolatry

1The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Judeans who lived in the land of Egypt, at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Memphis, and in the land of Pathros, 2“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, 3because of the evil that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers. 4Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ 5But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods. 6Therefore my wrath and my anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, and they became a waste and a desolation, as at this day. 7And now thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant? 8Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? 9Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their1 wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers.

11“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. 12I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. 13I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, 14so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.”

15Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16“As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you. 17But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” 19And the women said,2 “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands' approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?”

20Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: 21“As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them? Did it not come into his mind? 22The Lord could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. 23It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the Lord and did not obey the voice of the Lord or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.”

24Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. 25Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows! 26Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that my name shall no more be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord God lives.’ 27Behold, I am watching over them for disaster and not for good. All the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end of them. 28And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs. 29This shall be the sign to you, declares the Lord, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm: 30Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and sought his life.”

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Footnotes
1 44:9 Hebrew his
2 44:19 Compare Syriac; Hebrew lacks And the women said

Psalm 20

Trust in the Name of the Lord Our God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

2May he send you help from the sanctuary

and give you support from Zion!

3May he remember all your offerings

and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

4May he grant you your heart's desire

and fulfill all your plans!

5May we shout for joy over your salvation,

and in the name of our God set up our banners!

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

6Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;

he will answer him from his holy heaven

with the saving might of his right hand.

7Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8They collapse and fall,

but we rise and stand upright.

9O Lord, save the king!

May he answer us when we call.

Psalm 21

The King Rejoices in the Lord's Strength

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,

and in your salvation how greatly he exults!

2You have given him his heart's desire

and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah

3For you meet him with rich blessings;

you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.

4He asked life of you; you gave it to him,

length of days forever and ever.

5His glory is great through your salvation;

splendor and majesty you bestow on him.

6For you make him most blessed forever;1

you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

7For the king trusts in the Lord,

and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

8Your hand will find out all your enemies;

your right hand will find out those who hate you.

9You will make them as a blazing oven

when you appear.

The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,

and fire will consume them.

10You will destroy their descendants from the earth,

and their offspring from among the children of man.

11Though they plan evil against you,

though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.

12For you will put them to flight;

you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!

We will sing and praise your power.

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Footnotes
1 21:6 Or make him a source of blessing forever
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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