Judges 6 v18-40 Heavy Lifting When we read in the bible of people who do amazing things with miraculous power we might be tempted to think that it all seemed easy for them to operate in the miracle zone. Gideon’s Sacrifice (Judges 6 v19-24) Sacrifices can be costly. The account of the widow’s mite comes to mind (Luke 21 v1-4). Last time we talked about Gideon realigning his life with God – that was the point of this offering. When we reach out to God in a sacrificial way, God does something special. He sends fire! This isn’t just about money it’s about the orientation of our whole life towards the service of God and His kingdom. As Gideon pours out his offering, the angel touched it with the tip of the staff and the sacrifice is ignited! This is truly Holy Fire! So, we can make our sacrifice, but it is God who ignites it! Perhaps this period of ‘lockdown’ is a good time to reflect on our orientation towards God – whole hearted and complete. Tearing down (Judges 6 v25-32) Having made his own sacrifice, Gideon is now asked to do something scary, to go and tear down the altar to Baal and cut down the Ashera pole and make another sacrifice to the true and living God. This act was massively provocative. Gideon was, scared, so he did it at night. Heavy lifting indeed! What are the heavy lifting jobs that need to be done by the church today? Arguably the biggest challenge the church faces today is to proclaim Jesus as the only, the unique, the all-sufficient Lord of life. Why is this so difficult? Because it speaks to a deeply embedded part of our cultural life that values ‘tolerance’. I remember a colleague talking about a conversation he had when he went for a haircut. The young woman who was cutting his hair asked him what he did. “Oh, so you’re a vicar? Well, all religions are the same really aren’t they?” He replied “Well yes, you could say that, apart from Christianity has a unique God, the incarnation, different Holy Scriptures, and different world-view”. You get the point? The world around us wants to box Christianity in as being one of faiths all of which are equally valid. Christians don’t want to be intolerant and ‘non-conformists’ have a track record for upholding freedom of religious expression for all but that must include freedom to proclaim Jesus as the unique
saviour. (see Romans 1 v16) We experience an underlying, often unspoken cultural rule that it is ‘not allowed’ to speak of one faith as being truer than another. That’s intolerant! One way we can lift Jesus higher is to build a culture of invitation. You may not feel equipped to have the debate with your hairdresser, but you could extend an invitation to a church event - ‘Would you like to come with me?’ Heavy lifting? It’s part of the deal! Gathering an army (Judges 6 v33-40) The final ‘heavy lifting’ task that Gideon needed to attend to was to gather an army. With the trumpet he called the people to arms. The church is still in the business of calling people – not so much to ‘arms’ but to action. So who will respond? There are those of us who have already joined up! There are those brothers and sisters we can work together with in unity. Then there are those who are not yet Christians. People who are our friends, family and neighbours who will be part of the church of tomorrow! And what will be the call? Paul wrote (Romans 10 v14) “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Put simply – we have to let people know! Conclusion Gideon is still looking for reassurance so we come to the famous ‘fleece’. Many of you will have used the phrase ‘to put out a fleece’ to ask God for a sign that you’re on the right track. God understands our need for reassurance, and he is willing to give it. Things to take with us in the week ahead. · Let’s reorientate our lives towards the Lord and His purposes. This is our spiritual sacrifice (Rom 12 v1-2) Then let God add the fire! · We recognise that some things the Lord might ask us to get involved in are risky. Our biggest challenge is to lift Jesus higher. · We are in the business of gathering the people of God to serve together. Next time in the final reflection on Gideon’s life we will find that in God’s economy, small is beautiful.