Judges 6 v7-12 Living through a time of crisis – Gideon These are anxious days. The community that Gideon (Judges 6) was part of was also a community in ‘lock down’ under the Midianite bandits. Last time we looked at how Gideon and the Hebrew people started to react to the crisis – we found that the Spirit was still speaking to us through these ancient accounts. - The Coronavirus isn’t a curse sent by but it is part of the brokenness of the world that we all share in. - God has salvation on His heart, not condemnation. - Isolation, in our current time, is a selfless and godly thing to do. - To cry out to the Lord is a humble and right response to a crisis. Please read Judges 6 v7-12. “When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, He sent them a prophet” (Judges 6 v7) 1. God was not silent This prophet is not named and interestingly didn’t have something new to say. What the prophet actually did was to rehearse the wellworn story of the Israelites and God’s rescue of them… - I brought you up out of Egypt - Out of slavery – I snatched you from the Egyptians - I gave you a land - I said to you ‘I am the Lord your God, worship me and no other’ This was all familiar, nothing new but the hammer blow comes in v10 -“BUT YOU HAVE NOT LISTENED TO ME”. This is a time for listening to God! It’s worth pausing for a moment and asking what prophecy is in the Christian era? That’s a big topic, but just a couple of points. - Prophecy is an expression of what God is saying at a particular time, at particular times. - Prophecy is not like scripture (God’s Word to his people at all times and in all places) but is what the Spirit seems to be saying to the church and through the church at this time and in these circumstances. - Prophecy needs to be checked out in the light of the bible (1 Thess 5 v21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good”) Scripture itself is often the bedrock of what God is saying. Part of the role for the church today is to be God’s mouthpiece and, like that prophet, what the church has to say will be the well-worn; God given message of Jesus. The voice of the church will challenge injustice, call out prejudice and racism, stand up for the weakest, voiceless and those at the margins of society. Yet the prophetic voice of the church is overwhelmingly good news. In Judges the prophet says ‘I brought you up out of Egypt’: Jesus says, ‘I have given you a way out of your sin and brokenness’ (Atonement – at-one-ment) The prophet said ‘I snatched you from slavery in Egypt’: Jesus says ‘I have come to set you free’. The prophet said ‘I gave you the promised land’: Jesus says ‘I will be with you always’ and ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’. The prophet said ‘I am the Lord your God worship only me’. Jesus says ‘Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest’ and He says ‘Follow me - build your life on the rock’ You see? The essence of the Good News is that on the cross Jesus bore our sin and brokenness. When perfection (holiness) is out of reach, Jesus offers us a way to fix our relationship with God by receiving His gift of forgiveness and starting a whole new life (the Christian life). The
bible puts it like this: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5 v21 The way in which we communicate this good news will change, but the message is the same. While we can’t meet due to the Covid-19 epidemic, Christians are finding all kinds of ways to stay connected to God and to one another. - Online worship - YouTube Channels - Zoom - Facebook live - The humble telephone - Writing cards and letters Last week a number my extended family used an online app for a family quiz! This current crisis will create all kinds of opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus’ love for a broken world - the prophetic voice of the church. How might you make good news known? In acts of kindness; not being ashamed of leaning into your faith; trusting God in new ways and letting people know you do; offering to pray for people Christians and those who don’t share our faith. Being ready to explain the essence of the Good News in just a few words. So, someone asks you – “How can you believe in a God of love at a time like this?” What might you say? Something like..… - The bible shows us that God created a good world and that ‘God is love’. Humankind has messed it up and we now struggle in a world that is broken (like this Coved-19 disease) - Jesus being born into the world is a sign to us that God has not abandoned the human race. - When I believed, I trusted that what Jesus paid, through His ordeal on the cross, was enough to set me free, to bring complete forgiveness and open the door to eternal life. - Now I don’t want to die soon, but I now trust that even death can’t separate me from the Love of God. So, you see, even though I am afraid sometimes and I face the same dangers and problems as everyone else, I have this relationship with God that helps me to be anchored and firm in this uncertain thing we call life. The great thing is that this faith can be just as much yours as it is mine. It’s just a prayer away”. You might ask your friend “Does that help? I expect you have a million questions”. You might have an opportunity to tell the story of how you came to believe or what God has been doing in your life recently or prayers that have been answered. This is how the voice of God gets out! Through you and me in the real conversations we have in our ordinary daily lives. 2. Mighty warrior. Gideon is the hero of the account, but he isn’t a very convincing hero. We find him (Judges 6 v11) threshing wheat in a wine press to keep it from the Midianites God is still calling reluctant heroes – you and me. “The Lord is with you mighty warrior”. Here’s the key Immanuel - One word meaning ‘God with us’. If Jesus is with us, all kinds of possibilities open up for us to be God’s mighty warriors. Being consistent in prayer - Be kinder - More forgiving (especially those you live with?) - A servant heart - Practical help for a neighbour in need There are many Christians working in the NHS today alongside their colleagues doing vital jobs. Christians bring with them something of the resources of heaven to bear on the task and so can we all in whatever we do. What encouragement can we take from the Gideon account? - The voice of God will not be silenced and we are His mouthpiece. - The good news of Jesus doesn’t change, but the way we share will be different. - God is still calling reluctant warriors!