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When the Good Goes Bad

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2015 6:00 am

When the Good Goes Bad

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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I wanted to begin this weekend by giving you just a quick preview about where we are going to go from here.

This is going to be our last week in our study of Judges before we take a little break. We'll come back to it during the summer, but I figure you had had enough gore and scandal at church for a little while at least. Starting next week, we're going to be doing a two-week series on the cross since that doesn't have any gore or scandal in it. But we are going to do that going into the Easter season. By the way, I think just about any weekend here at the Summit Church is a good weekend for you to bring a friend with you because we always try to make the message very accessible and to engage people with questions that they're asking. But I think especially there in the Easter season, you and I have a unique opportunity to reach out to people that it might be open to come to a church service, a place like this for the very first time.

You have an opportunity, like you saw in that video, to extend an invitation, which literally could alter somebody's eternity. So I hope that nobody will show up here on Easter Sunday alone. I hope that all of you will be bringing people. We're going to be baptizing people. It's going to be fantastic. This Friday, by the way, I got to mention this. Rosaria Butterfield, who was an English professor at Syracuse University, practicing lesbian, came to faith in Christ, is going to be here telling her story.

It's one of the most amazing things I've ever heard. Our college ministry is hosting that, but it's open to all of you. I would invite you to be a part of that if you want to. Right after Easter, we're going to get into a series called From the Beginning, in which we're going to discuss for a few weeks God's designs for relationships and sex. We're going to be looking at what kinds of sexual relationships give life and what kinds destroy it. This is a topic that a lot of people ask me about, and so we're going to address it for a few weeks. We're going to talk about everything from singleness to same-sex attraction to what it looks like to have a healthy marriage, sustaining marriage for years.

I've heard it said that if love is a dream, marriage can sometimes be the alarm clock, and so we're going to look at how does you not have that happen. Anyway, but this week, we are going to bring our study of judges to a conclusion temporarily, as we see the conclusion to Gideon's story and where the writer of Judges takes us from there. So if you have a Bible, I'd invite you to open it to Judges chapter 8. Judges chapter 8, I have to begin this weekend by recanting something that I said to you last week in telling you that Gideon was described as a tumbling loaf of bread. I said that no one would ever choose the biscuits as their team mascot, but lo and behold, I got about 40 messages after church telling me there is indeed a baseball team in Montgomery, Alabama called the Montgomery Biscuits.

It came complete with a t-shirt, so I feel like it was my responsibility to own that and to wear it here for you, so go Biscuits, go Biscuits. I think one of the worst experiences in life has to be when you take a big swig of milk only to find that it has gone bad. It happened to me not too long ago, I actually felt the lumps of the curdles before I tasted the taste. It is one of the scariest moments to me is when you are, you know, when the date is just a couple days past and you are bringing it to your nose to smell if it's gone bad because, I mean, you don't want to throw it out because milk's expensive. And so it's right before it gets up there to your nose. It's like that moment right before you get, they take blood.

It's like, I know it's not going to be that bad, but just please get it over with because I just hate this. If you are a parent, maybe you'll identify with this, when you find that lost sippy cup in the back of your minivan and you're not quite sure what liquid is in there. Is it water? Is it milk?

Because if it's milk, it's going to be the apocalypse when I open it. But anyway, we are going to look at a good leader this weekend who turns sour, who spoils. He never becomes an evil man per se. He just goes bad. He spoils and he's going to end up ruining his ministry.

He's going to end up ruining the people that follow him and he's going to spoil his kids in the process. We're going to see today three generations of judges that come off of the spoiling of Gideon. So here we go. We're going to do it part one, part two, and part three. Here's part one, Gideon turns sour. Gideon turns sour.

That's chapter eight. When we left Gideon last week, we left him on a high. Gideon had just pulled off what is arguably the most incredible upset in military history.

With only 300 soldiers, he had defeated a massive Midianite army of probably, scholars say, about 100,000 Midianite soldiers without even a single casualty on Gideon's side. You picture this scene of them carrying around Gideon on their shoulders and opening champagne bottles and chanting, go biscuits, go biscuits. But when he gets back to Israel, as often happens after a great victory, Israel is backbiting and bickering with each other, arguing about who should have gotten credit and who got snubbed and all that kind of stuff. So the next chapter opens up with Gideon in conflict with two different clusters of Israelites. The first cluster is Ephraim, which is a large, wealthy tribe in Israel. They seem really to have had their pride hurt because they got left out. Gideon only took 300 soldiers, and a lot of people weren't represented, and Ephraim had their feelings hurt because they were the biggest, baddest, most important tribe in Israel, and they weren't represented, and so they were miffed. The second group is a couple of smaller townships called Succoth and Penuel. Succoth has to be one of the worst names for a town in the Bible, but they just refuse to help Gideon because they just don't take Gideon that seriously.

They don't really think of him with that much gravitas. When you look at it, really the offenses of Ephraim and the thou, succoth, and penuel are actually pretty similar. They're both snubbing Gideon as a leader, but what is striking is how differently Gideon responds to each. To large, wealthy Ephraim, Gideon responds with flattery.

He tries to woo them back over because they're rich. To the smaller towns of Succoth and Penuel, however, Gideon responds with harshness. He actually goes so far as to torture the leaders of Succoth by wrapping them in briars and beating them, and he just levels the town of Penuel and kills all of its inhabitants.

His responses are inconsistent. They really seem based more on what is best for Gideon than really an ascertaining of what God wants in the situation. You see, Gideon needed the tribe of Ephraim because they were wealthy and because he knew he couldn't beat them anyway, so he flattered them to get them back on his side.

But Succoth and Penuel, they're small and insignificant, and they're weaker than he is, so he just wiped them out. Maybe the biggest point here is that in neither case did he consult God to ask what God wanted. Gideon simply did what Gideon felt like doing because Gideon had the power to do it, so now it's about what he does. What you're seeing is that something is happening in Gideon's heart. Fresh off this incredible victory over the Midianites, Gideon has already forgotten, it seems, whose battle it was to begin with.

Gideon has assumed that it was his strength that accomplished this, and his heart has turned inward, and it has begun to spoil. You see, Gideon used to say, success is just joining Jesus wherever he is. Now Gideon says, success is me doing whatever I want to do. Gideon used to say, I am so desperate for you that I can't go anywhere without you, Jesus, because it's your power, not mine. Now Gideon says, I'm a man of power, and I can do what I want to do. Verse 22, then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, because you have saved us from the hand of Midian. But Gideon said back to them, I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you, the Lord will rule over you. That was actually a great response on Gideon's part, because God had told Israel that Israel was not to have a king, because God would be their king.

So, so far, so good, but jump down to verse 30. Now Gideon had 70 sons, his own offspring, for Gideon had many wives. Gideon has a harem and 70 sons, which is pretty king-like, because only kings in those days had a wife pool like that. Verse 31, and his concubine, who was in Shechem, also bore him a son, and Gideon called his name Abimelech. Now, Abimelech in Hebrew literally means, my dad is the king.

What? Sounds like Gideon thinks of himself as king after all. Go back to verse 24, Gideon said to them, Every one of you give me the earrings from his foil. Now Gideon is collecting taxes.

That's also pretty king-like. Verse 27, and Gideon made an ephod out of it and put it in his city, and all Israel hoard after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. An ephod was the vest that was worn by the high priest into the presence of God when the high priest went in to make requests on behalf of the people.

God had given very specific instructions that it was only to be worn by the tribe of Levi and only at the tabernacle. Gideon has now created his own version of that. Gideon may not be trying to deny God altogether, but Gideon has put himself in the place of God, and Gideon has taken onto himself some things that belong only to God, and he's now directing people's attention away from God. What has happened to Gideon? Well, it seems that his victory has given Gideon a taste for glory, and that taste for glory leads him to blasphemy, and instead of being a blessing to Israel, the deliverer of Israel, he has become a curse to them. He has become a stumbling block that keeps them from having faith in God rather than leading them to faith in God. I will be honest with you, Summit Church, as your leader, this fills me with fear and trembling, because maybe there is no leader in the Old Testament who provides a better example for us of faith-filled, courageous leadership. Gideon leads God's people to do things they have never done before.

He pulls off the most incredible victories, but at the end, he sours, and he makes it all about himself, and he ends up leading people astray. You see, with Gideon, we see something that we have yet to see in the book of Judges. The people fall away from God while the judge is reigning, not after. You see, in every other case, the people fell away after the judge died.

Gideon's generation fell away while Gideon was in power and because of how Gideon used his power. And see, it makes me ask me, and I asked our pastoral team this week, what if I teach you, what if we teach you successfully to believe God for great things, and what if God does them? What if we really do plan 1,000 churches in our generation? What if we send out 5,000 people on mission all over the world? What if we change the religious, the spiritual climate of Raleigh-Durham, and we start rewriting the history here?

What if we transform our college campuses so that they become places where the gospel thrives? What if God gives us all that, and then at the very end, after we've had all that success, we make it all about us, and what if I, and what if your pastoral team become a stumbling block to you? You see from Gideon's life, you're gonna see some clear indicators that you have begun to make it all about you.

It never happens all at once, it just starts to happen. By the way, I'm gonna list those out for you. These kind of apply more to those of us that are in leadership. Usually I stand up here and I yell at you, and you wanna sit there and listen to me yell at me for a while, okay? So JD's gonna preach to JD, you just get to listen. Here are the signs that it's begun to become all about you, number one, infrequent prayer. Whenever it becomes about you, prayer becomes infrequent. Gideon at the beginning didn't have to be told to pray to God, he was desperate for God.

And so he would no sooner have gone anywhere without asking God what he wanted than he would have done it. Right, there are many of us who are leaders who pray as a discipline. Right, I mean we're just type A enough that we get up every morning and we do our time with God and it includes a prayer time. That's all, prayer as a discipline is great. Prayer as desperation is better.

Because when you really understand your dependence on God you don't need to be disciplined to pray, you do it. I describe it like breathing. The least disciplined person in here does not need to be reminded to breathe. I don't care who you, nobody has to call you and say hey, just wanna check in on you man and hold you accountable, you breathing today? I'm serious, you gotta do this, you gotta stick to this, you got the victory, just breathe right now, do it. Nobody has to have that happen, why?

Because your body craves air. When you understand how dependent you are on God nobody's gotta discipline you to be able to pray, you just do it because it's instinctive and you could not do it. One of the signs that you have begun to make it all about you and operate in your power is prayer becomes more of a discipline for you than it does desperation. Here's the second thing that happens, a failure to consult others. Not only does Gideon fail to consult God, he doesn't really consult with anybody. I've seen this so many times where you get a leader that begins to get successful and so all of a sudden he's on a different plane now, he doesn't really need to listen to anybody. He kinda thinks higher than everybody else, he's an island, he doesn't need to humbly listen to other people, he's the one that always knows best.

I have seen this more times than I can tell you and it always destroys. Proverbs 18 one, an isolated man seeks his own desire and he rages against all sound judgment. It has begun to become about you when you quit humbly listening to people as if you are wise and God is not even able to speak to you through other people and you just quit listening. Here's number three, when you begin to have resentment in your heart.

Number three, resentment. When it's all about you, you resent those who get in your way. You become harsh and cruel to those who challenge you. You fly off the handle at people, you lose your temper.

You can't forgive people who challenge or obstruct you because that's an insult to you and your leadership. Except for the rich people, by the way, like Gideon. You gotta flatter them, you gotta keep them on your side because you need them. Number four, materialistic excess is a sign. Gideon takes people's jewelry and makes a suit of gold for himself. Y'all know I'm not a poverty guy. I'm not a guy who feels like the only way you glorify God is by having the basest things that you can possibly have. God is a generous God, God gives us things he wants us to enjoy, but you can see a sign of a Christian leader that has made it all about himself when he or she begins to live excessively, on a different plane than everybody else.

And so what they drive and what they wear and how they vacation is just something so far above people because now they are taking from people and they said it's all about me, I'm the one who deserves the treasure. I don't have to name names for you. You can probably think of a dozen of them in your mind right now. Number five, constant worrying about your name. When it's all about you, you're always guarding your reputation.

Any chance you have to put your name forward, you're gonna do it. That's why you can't handle criticism. That's why you crave praise and you need constant affirmation because this is about the exaltation of your name.

Those are signs that it has become about you. And maybe you were a great leader and maybe you led God's people to do such great things, but at the end, you used that success to substitute yourself for God. You make an ephod so that people began to look at you and give you the attention that they, God gave you that success not to turn their attention to you.

God gave you that success simply so that you could point people to Jesus. In fact, the Bible describes it like a wedding and you think about this. I mean, the wedding, this is the bride, you are the bride of Christ.

As a servant of the church, that's all that I am as a servant. I'm a servant is never to take the attention off of the bride. It is between the groom and the bride and the best thing I can do is stay invisible as much as I can. John the Baptist compared it to a wedding.

He said he was like the best man at a wedding. I've used this with you before, but you've been to a wedding and you know that moment, the greatest moment of the wedding is when these back doors open and there she stands in all her resplendent glory, the bride who's gonna walk down the aisle to that groom. At that moment, every eye turns and looks at that bride, but as they're watching her walk down, this always happens, right?

I'm always up here and I'm watching it happen. Everybody kind of starts cutting eyes between the bride and the groom because they want to see if he gets a tear because if he gets a tear, that's a sign the wedding's gonna be awesome, all right? Or the marriage is gonna be awesome.

Like, is it gonna happen? Now, I told you, imagine in that moment, you got the best man who's standing right here beside the groom. Imagine that, you know, as she's walking down and their eyes are locked, he kind of leans over around the groom and he starts making eyes at her and he starts, you know, making kissy face with her or whatever. I don't know, however he's gonna flirt with her. And he's trying to steal her attention away from the groom onto himself. I've asked you, what would the groom do if you saw that? Well, he's gonna turn around and punch the best man in the throat. Why? Right?

Because the best man traditionally, all his role is is to make sure the wedding happens, to make sure the bride gets to the groom safely. Now, he is using his position to steal people's, steal her attention away from him onto himself. What a horrible offense that would be. What a horrible offense it is to God if I take you, his bride, and instead of knitting your heart in affection to Jesus Christ, I jump in the way and put on the ephod and say, you ought to pay attention to me too. What a horrible offense to God.

What a disservice to you. And God help me, God help your leaders that at no point if God gives us success should we ever stand in the way or ever try to direct your attention to us because you need to be in love with Jesus Christ, not us. So I will tell you what I said last week. This is what happens to Gideon. Gideon's success lets him, makes him, stand in the place of God. Christians most often pass the test of adversity. Gideon passed it.

It is the test of prosperity that we fail. You see, when Gideon was small and weak, he was dependent on God. It was when he got strong that he forgot God and made it about himself. Beware your strengths. Don't bemoan your weaknesses. Beware your strengths. Beware your prosperity because that is the thing that will woo your heart away from God. Let me give this to you one other way, one that may be even more applicable to you. Proverbs chapter 30 verse five. This verse has always haunted me.

Listen to this. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say who is the Lord or I'll become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.

You see what he's asking? God don't make me poor because if I'm poor then I might be tempted to steal. But if you make me rich, I'll probably forget who you are altogether and I'll just say who is the Lord? I don't really need him. Give me just enough for today so that I am dependent on you and not on how much money I have.

Now how do you apply that? Does that mean it's wrong for Christians to have savings accounts? Is it wrong to be rich?

Not at all. It's showing you something about your heart. It means that when God does prosper you, you have to plead with God. God do not let these things that you've given me take my heart away from you. God I want to be as dependent on you as I was when I had nothing. You need to make sure you are as surrendered to God when you were rich as you were when you were poor because when you were poor you're like God I don't know how I'm gonna feed myself tomorrow. What do you want from today? After God has given you wealth you say God it's all still yours.

I want to know what you want to do with it. I'm as surrendered to you now as I ever was. The other thing you should do by the way is give away extravagant amounts of it because there is nothing that will cure the love and trust of money like giving it away. Do not take the success that God gives you. Don't take his blessings and let it spoil you. Gideon is gonna do great things but at the end he's gonna lose his relationship with God. He's gonna spoil Israel and then his children are going to spoil after him. I do not want to be Gideon where the whole God gives me great success and at the end I lose everything that is precious to me.

Which leads me to part two here. Abimelech the tumbleweed. After Gideon's death Abimelech remember him he was the son that Gideon named. My dad is king y'all. Abimelech says I want to be king like my dad was without the name except I want to have the name.

So Abimelech goes out chapter nine and he hires a bunch of worthless vagabonds to be his posse and they ambush and kill all 69 of Gideon's other sons except for one named Jotham who escapes by hiding in a closet. Then Abimelech says well I guess I have to be king now since my dad has no other sons left. The leaders of Israel who know all of this go along with it and crown Abimelech as shechem king.

This was a terrible scandal. First of all as I told you Israel was not supposed to have a king God was supposed to be their king. Second when they do choose a king they choose a brother murdering scoundrel to be their first king and to top it all off this all goes down at shechem which was a holy place for the Jews because it was the birthplace of their nation. It was the place where God had given the covenant to Abraham and where God renewed it with Joshua.

One scholar said this would be like Americans re-instituting slavery at a meeting in Gettysburg or restoring the Jim Crow laws in Montgomery. Well Jotham the one brother who escaped comes out of hiding when Abimelech is away on a trip and he gets in front of Israel's leaders and he tells them a parable about a bunch of trees in a forest who are going to choose for themselves one tree to be king. So first he says they go to the olive tree and they say would you be the king over us because you're an awesome tree and the olive tree says no I don't really want to be bothered with that because I'm making too much money making all this olive oil and so I don't want to get involved in all the politics.

And so then they go to the fig tree and they say the fig tree would you be our king? The fig tree says no the whole fig newton thing just exploded and I got to give myself to that and they go to every tree eventually they go to the grapevine grapevine is not much of a tree but I don't know will you be our king and the grapevine says no I'm making all this awesome wine I don't want to be your king and so finally they go to tumbleweed and they say to the tumbleweed will you be our king and the tumbleweed says sure but first thing you got to do is I need you to cut down all the other trees and burn them to the ground and so they do that and the tumbleweed becomes their king and then Jotham says to the leaders of Shechem this is just what you've done in anointing Abimelech to be your leader. Now in that parable listen to this there is an implicit criticism of Gideon's other sons because evidently there were a bunch of them that would have been qualified to lead Israel but they were too self-interested to go away from their life of ease to get involved in leading Israel where do you think they learned that from? They learned that from Gideon who used his power to serve himself and now they don't want to be bothered with leading others because they're too rich but Jotham's main critique of Israel's leaders is of Israel's leaders for anointing an obviously worthless self-interested opportunistic politician to lead them and Jotham says this is going to come back on you sure enough that's what happens Abimelech turns out to be a terrible leader no surprise there Judges chapter 9 records a dizzying amount of scandal and sabotage and mass murder during Abimelech's reign eventually all those leaders in Shechem that anointed Abimelech realized what a scumbag he is and they revolt against him so Abimelech and his army attacks them and so the people there in Shechem flee to the city tower which in those days was like kind of like the last holdout they go up in that and Abimelech takes ironically enough a bunch of tumbleweeds and he packs it around the base of the tower lights it on fire so that he burns a thousand people alive in the tower then he goes on to the next city and he drives all the people of that city back into their tower but as he is about to light that tower on fire a woman in the top floor takes a moderately sized millstone which was a kitchen appliance used to grind flour and she drops it out of the top window and it lands on Abimelech's head it doesn't quite kill him but it smashes him up pretty bad and as he's lying there barely conscious with his head all mangled he says to one of his servants quick, kill me with your sword so that I don't go down in the book of Judges as yet another guy who got killed by a woman with a kitchen utensil and his servant obliges him and takes a sword and kills him and he dies now, aren't these stories so pleasant? you're like I need to read these to my kids at night before they go to bed yes you should chapter 9 verse 56 thus God returned the evil of Abimelech which he committed against his father in killing his 70 brothers upon his head literally verse 57 and God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerab-baal which was the other name of Gideon what is this teaching us? what does this generation of judges teach us? let me give you three three brief things here number one this story teaches you that God's judgment is slow it is sometimes subtle but it is always sure if you're reading the book of Judges you'll notice that when you get to chapter 9 God's name is noticeably absent in fact his covenant name is not used at all between the end of chapter 8 and halfway through chapter 10 but the narrator of Judges shows us in chapter 9 verses 56 and 57 which we just read that God has been at work the whole time even though he appears to be absent he's actually been like the invisible hand in the glove using sinful men as his instruments who have no idea that they're being used by God at all and what he is showing you is that it may seem for a while like evil is in charge it may seem like evil prevails but stories like this one show you that in the end God will indeed have the last word perfect justice will be served and God's purposes will be fully accomplished not one thing that God has intended will fail to come to pass every single thing that God has determined is going to happen I have heard it said this way the wheels of God's justice grind slowly but they grind finally now I told you a few weeks ago that in this life we may not see every wrong righted millstones don't get dropped on the head of every bad person that we know but every once in a while we record stories like this one to show you that what is not happening here on earth will indeed happen in eternity and the more important point listen is this you must not let the slowness of God's judgment you must not let his apparent absence lull you into complacency because the apostle Peter says that throughout human history mankind has repeatedly made the mistake of assuming that God's patience his long suffering and his subtlety and judgment equate with his absence and the example that Peter uses is Noah did you know that between the time God said there would come a flood and the time it came there was nearly a hundred years and then Peter says in Noah's generation they assumed that that hundred year gap meant that Noah was a fool and that God had not really spoken they said but the flood came upon them when they weren't even expecting it and they misused that time they thought that the Lord was slow concerning his promise 2 Peter chapter 3 it was not slow concerning his promise 1 day with him it was like a thousand years the reason he did it Peter said is because the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance he had given them that hundred year space to allow them to repent and they confused the sign of God's patience with the fact that he wasn't there in fact let me give you another cool thing that Genesis shows you, you know there is one other prophecy about the flood that people always overlook Methuselah, you know what the name Methuselah means in Hebrew? when he dies it will come if you add up the years Methuselah died the year that the flood came he was 969 years old the longest man scripture records living as a sign that God's patience is what holds history together and you must never confuse his space that he's given you to repent as the fact that he is not there you see Peter says this is what you do with the coming of Christ it's been 2000 years and many of you say well I got time so next week, next week will be just like this week tomorrow will be just like today, next year will be just like this year I'll get to this later and Peter says don't be a fool God has simply done this to give you a space to repent but in the moment you don't realize it's happening, the flood comes the coming of Christ comes your death comes and you will have abused what God intended for patience towards you when I lived in Southeast Asia I lived in this place where the tsunami came through in 2004 180,000 people I was gone before it came but I went back in 2004 just 3 weeks after the tsunami had come to visit that area and I talked to a guy that I knew there who told me the most remarkable story he said I was on the beach I spent the night on the beach with 8 friends of mine we were doing a camp out the night that the tsunami came it came I think about 8 o'clock that morning and he said that we spent the night there on the beach and he said something woke us up in the morning we knew what it was looking back now I realize it was the earthquake he said but we got ourselves up and we walked outside and we saw the most unusual thing the water, you've seen the pictures had receded back several hundred yards he said we'd never seen anything like that he said and so my 8 friends thought it was the strangest thing so they just went walking out on the ocean bed to see what was going on he said I felt like something was not right so I got on my motorcycle and I drove back to my parents house because I wanted to check on them he said that's the last we heard from any of those 8 friends he said I sometimes wonder what it was like for them as they got out there and then suddenly they see a 70 foot high wall of water that is coming that not only killed them but would destroy 180,000 people in our country you see the cross and resurrection of Jesus are like the receding of that water the cross and resurrection show you that God is indeed in charge that God is the judge and that God will one day return and God has given you a space to repent do not use this moment to treat it like a curiosity where you say well I'll get to this when there's time it assures you that it is coming that God's judgment is coming and he's giving you right now a space to repent don't confuse his patience with his absence God may not be as obvious right now but God is every bit as present and God is working history and he commands you to repent here is number 2 the second thing you learn from this story is that the problem is not out there our problem is in here you see this story is the first one in Judges where the actual oppression comes not from outside of Israel the oppression comes from within them it's one of their own people the son of one of their greatest leaders that is the oppressor this time and so finally in the book of Judges it is made clear that foreign nations are not Israel's problem Israel is Israel's problem as I've told you that's always kind of been the case but now you see it clearly in fact think about this there's really no special outpouring of judgment in this story is there there's no fire from the sky God just allows Israel to experience the results of their own sinful choices it is Gideon's self-centeredness and glory lust that produces a son who murders his brothers so that he can be king it is Shechem's disregard for God's commands and their self-interest that lead them to selecting an opportunistic man like Abimelech who will betray them it is Abimelech's treachery and backstabbing that lead to his downfall what does it show when you listen sin is its own curse it's not that God curses your family because of your sin you curse your family because of your sin C.S. Lewis said to those people who object to the idea of God's judgment I don't like God's judgment it makes God mean Lewis said in the long run the answer to the question to the answer to all those who object to God's judgment is the question what are you asking God to do are you asking God to wipe out people's past sins and to give them a fresh start are you asking him to offer miraculous help in their new life that is exactly what he's done to the cross are you asking him to forgive them they refuse to be forgiven are you asking him to leave them alone alas that is what I'm afraid he does in the end you see there are only two kinds of people those who say to God thy will be done and those to whom God says thy will be done sin is its own curse Israel is its own problem you wonder why doesn't God take everyone into heaven look at what this race of people have done to the earth God doesn't want heaven to become hell and he knows if he just takes us there the way that we are we will turn heaven into hell which leads me to number three we need a new king we need a better judge like the Israelites we come to God thinking we primarily need him to deliver us from some bad thing the Midianites of pain or broken relationships or a lack of money we need him to give us a new marriage or to fix our family and we might need those things but see that's not what we most need what we most need is freedom from our own heart because we are our own curse thus any salvation that fails to deal with the human heart is not a real or sufficient salvation think about it what if God cured all of the prayers of the human race what if he answered them all in kind of one fell swoop and gave us everything that we as a race have asked for what if we had prosperity do infinite amounts of money make people virtuous does the name Kardashians mean anything to you I saw a survey recently or a study that showed that drivers of luxury cars are less likely to stop for pedestrians at a crosswalk those people in higher brackets of wealth and education are four times more likely to cheat at a card game when any money is at stake so no money does not make people virtuous in fact it usually perverts virtue what if we were all educated would that take away evil Stalin and Lenin were the most well educated men of their generation so they didn't keep them from being two of the most evil murdering men that have ever walked the face of the earth what if we were all perfectly governed would good government guarantee goodness in people one of the best answers to that came from Alexander Solzhenitsyn who was imprisoned under Stalin Stalin thought that good government would make everybody virtuous if we made everybody equal well Solzhenitsyn and 20 million other dead Russians said that's not true then Solzhenitsyn who wrote the most remarkable thing in the gulag in the prison he said I entered into the gulag thinking that the communists were the problem if we could ever shake off communism then everybody would be okay if we could get back to democracy he said we always thought evil was somebody else listen to this if only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds then we could separate them from the rest of us and destroy them but the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being who is willing to destroy his own hearts you see we always think the evil is oh the evil is the communists no the evil is the capitalists the evil are the republicans oh no the evil are the democrats the evil are uneducated people no the evil is on wall street and God says no the evil is you the human heart has to be changed your heart needs to be changed which means that we need a savior who can deliver us not only from the curse around us we need a savior who can deliver us from the curse within us we don't just need a savior to fix our situation we need a savior who can fix us we need a king who would not only rule with love and justice we need a king who can make us more like him and that's why all these stories point us through their messiness and their disappointments and their failures to the ultimate king who would come the Lord Jesus you see Jesus in many ways would be the opposite of Gideon unlike Gideon Jesus had every right to demand service as a king and unlike Gideon he rightfully could wear the ephod because he was himself the tabernacle of God's presence on earth but unlike Gideon Jesus successfully resisted the temptation to rule over the nations when God had not appointed it so Jesus in the temptation said no to Satan and until the very end of Jesus life Jesus maintained that he did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many Jesus did not take our treasures to make a garment of gold for himself Jesus poured out his blood to clothe us in his righteousness and give us a seat at his table forever Jesus was definitely the opposite of Abimelech unlike the trees of the forest who were too self-interested to rule Jesus was more than willing to be our shepherd but when we chopped him down and killed him he didn't burn us to the ground in his anger he willingly took the fire of God's judgment for us and to himself in love so that we could be saved the millstone of God's judgment was dropped on his head not ours so that we could live he is the true king that we seek in every reform you think salvation comes from a better situation God says salvation comes from being embraced by the Savior for whom you were created you think that if God would fix your marriage that he would fix you God says nope I got to fix you before I fix your marriage you don't need a better situation you need to have your heart changed the problem is not this way the problem is between you and me and if you will come to understand Jesus as the king for who you have been seeking then he will change your heart so that you become like him which leads me to the conclusion of this whole thing which I will just cover very very briefly look at this this is a great way to put a bookmark in it and come back to it this summer you get introduced to the next generation of judges and all it says is this watch this chapter 10 verse 1 after Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola who was the son of Puah the son of Dodo which those are really tough names my daddy Dudu and his dad Puah Tola lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim he judged Israel 23 years then he died after him arose Jair the Gileadite who judged Israel 22 years he said well what possibly could we learn that's just a bunch of details no it's it's what's not said that you should learn from two things are not said there number one there's no mention of who the Israelites need to be delivered from you want to know why because that's irrelevant now they don't even mention the enemies anymore because the enemy is not the foreign nations the enemy is them the judge needs to deliver them from the curse here not the curse there the second thing that's not mentioned watch this do you see any reference in there to them crying out to God for help no they're not even crying out to God anymore yet God keeps saving them over and over in the book of Judges you are confronted with the fact that it's not that Israel is getting themselves into a shape where God then feels like he's going to come after them it's that God seeks them when they're not seeking him that God is chasing them he is pursuing them when they're running as hard as they can the other direction and what that teaches you is something that's probably the most important thing for you to learn in the book of Judges is that God is not waiting on you to get yourself in a shape before he comes to you God's like a father who's seeking you God came to you Romans 5 8 while you were a sinner while you were as far and as hard as you could the other way God was coming after you and he was saying to you come back come back I can tell you this weekend that if you're sitting here listening to me that in itself is evidence that God has been pursuing you you're like the people in the book of Judges you keep wondering and God's not like get yourself together and cut he's God's like I'm here I've turned my face towards you I pointed this out a couple weeks ago another place in Judges where this was taught it was in the first part of the story of Gideon you remember this I pointed out that when Israel had wandered from God God sent a prophet who told them about their sin and as we come to the end of the prophet's sermon we are expecting Israel to respond in repentance but I showed you that before Israel responds God starts raising up Gideon God starts working salvation before they ever say I'm sorry and I said you see there you see it it's that God is coming to us before we are even interested in him he is seeking I was like a father seeks a lost son or daughter that night at dinner I asked my family my two older daughters sit through the service and I asked them I said so what'd you get out of the sermon and my second daughter Ali she said dad I thought of something while you're preaching I said okay what is it she said you know that show that we like to watch the voice and I said yeah she said okay um she says here's what I was thinking you know that point that you made about how God comes after us when we're not even searching for him I said yeah she said so what I thought about was on the voice you know how like when you're singing the judges have their backs turned to you but if they like your singing then they turn around their seat and it says I want you in big letters across the bottom I said yeah she said it's like it's like God turns his chair toward us before we ever even start singing now when she was telling me that I kept thinking like she was going to say as a result of our pretty singing and I was going to have to correct her and then she said that I was like no you pretty much got it that's the gospel listen the gospel is that you were dead in your trespasses and sins long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bounded sin in nature's night thine eye diffused a quickening ray I rose the dungeon flamed with light my chains fell off my soul was free I rose came forth and followed thee it is because God has been pursuing you that you're here it is because God has turned his chair toward you and the judge has become savior and the savior reaches his arms out wide and he says I've been waiting for you the whole time it's not that you cleaned yourself up it's that I've come to save my chair is torn toward you and if you will recognize that I'm the father I'm the deliverer and I'm the king you've always been searching for I'll save you right at this very moment that's the most important thing for you to learn in judges is that God has pursued you and God wants to bring you back to himself why don't you bow your heads at all of our campuses this is where I want to end this part of our series there are many of you that need to come back to God right now I'd say dozens of you at all of our different campuses how do you come back to God it's a prayer like this one listen Jesus I'm sorry for my sin I'm sorry I have wandered away from you but I believe that you came to save me I believe your chair is turned toward me right now and I receive you as my savior just say it to me in your own words it's not a cute little prayer I'm giving you to repeat it's a cry of repentance from your heart Jesus I'm sorry for my sin and I receive you as my savior father I feel like your spirit has told me that dozens of people in these services in this moment are going to come home from wandering away from their father God help them to sense and to feel the reality of the love of the father in this moment I pray in Jesus' name
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-04 07:06:07 / 2023-09-04 07:26:32 / 20

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