Gideon: Moving Towards a Surrendered Life – Part 1

In chapter 6 of the book of Judges we meet an unlikely hero named Gideon.  When we first meet Gideon he is hiding in fear of an oppressive enemy, the Midianites.  Yet, this fearful young man God would use to deliver His people. In chapter 6 we see the call of Gideon towards a surrendered life.  Throughout this chapter we see God intentionally move Gideon past four major fears he had. These four fears are very relatable and similar to fears we also have in moving towards a surrendered life.

The first fear is a Fear of Our Circumstances. To overcome this fear God needed to move Gideon from crying out in Remorse to crying out in Repentance.

The Cycle of Judges

As the story opens up today, we find ourselves jumping right back into the Cycle of Judges. If you recall, every judge that we meet in this book, in some way, shape, or form follows a similar pattern of the people falling into sin, then Lord handing them over to oppressors until they cry out to the Lord, whereby the Lord raises up a deliverer.  Right out of the gate in this chapter the people of God jump straight into that first spoke, they rebel. Read with me verse 1.

Judges 6:1 (ESV) 6 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.

They Cry Out to God For Help

The story that is told in these opening verses is of a people that are not just under political vassalship, but are under such repressive economic sanctions that they can barely provide for themselves and their families. As the scene unfolds we learn that every year the Jews living in the land would produce food for their communities and their families, and every year at the harvest time the Midianites would swoop in like a swarm of locusts forcing God’s people to flee to the mountains and hide in caves and dens. While they hid their land was exposed, and each year the Midianites would raid their harvest and their cattle, and lay waste to the land. This was a dictatorship of an oppressor who didn’t just want to rule over God’s people, but wanted to demoralize God’s people. This was a tactic designed to strip away all hope. Their circumstances were such that everything around them seemed hopeless. And it’s right into this context that they do what any person in this situation would, they cry out to God.

Judges 6:6 (ESV) 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD.

God’s Discipline Creates Dependence on God

There are times in our life when the weight of life is so burdensome on our shoulders that it feels as though our circumstances are hopeless. You literally cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. There can be many reasons for this, for some (like these Israelites) it might be the Lord’s discipline. Sometimes our sin is so bad that God allows us to enter a season under a divine spank intended to teach us how to surrender to him. Maybe that’s you today. For others it might be circumstances that are out of your control, and you have been the victim of other’s failures and sins. Maybe it’s a little of both.

God Sends a Prophet to Point to His Word

Into this hopelessness, God sends a prophet to his people (God’s always pointing us to His Word). This is interesting. Based on our cycle up there, the next step should be that God raises up a deliverer, but in this case first he sends a preacher. Let’s read the message of this preacher together:

Judges 6:7–10 (ESV) 7 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, 8 the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 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. 10 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.”

The Prophets Sermon Elicits Repentance

Short sermon but to the point. God is pointing them to their sin. This little sermon has one goal in mind, and it is to bring about conviction of their sin, to make them turn to repentance. Now, that is a bit strange, because it seems like they have already “cried out.” Haven’t they already repented? So why this word from God?

Remorse Defined

It seems that God’s people were Remorseful but not Repentant. Remorse and repentance are easily confusable. Remorse is what everyone feels when their life is hard, when circumstances are less than ideal, especially when those circumstances are a result of your own foolish actions. Remorse is when you look back on the bad decisions you’ve made and you wished you would have done them differently. Remorse places you at the center of your universe and is concerned primarily with your circumstances. God’s people are full of remorse.

Illustration – Kid’s Saying “I’m sorry!”

I see this in my children all the time. In our house when the children are deliberately disobedient we often use a timeout to let them know their their actions were disobedient. Especially with the younger two usually what follows is this: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Now here’s my question, “Are they sorry for their actions disrupted our relationship of father and daughter, or are they sorry for their consequences?” The way I know they are only sorry about their circumstances is that oftentimes as soon as the consequence is over they are back to the old actions.

Repentance Is Different

Unfortunately more often than not we do the same thing to God. We just want new circumstances. We’re crying out in remorse, but God wants to move us to repentance. Repentance is all about God. Repentance is grieves over the assault of our actions on God’s name. Repentance is less concerned about our particular circumstance, and is more concerned about the glory of God and how our actions detracted from the nation’s clear vision of the glory of God through our relationship with God. These people of Israel were intended to be a city on a hill, a city so in communion and relationship with God that the nations would come to their doorstep and meet God through them. They were a missional community. But their sin had muddied that mission, that is what the lamenting ought to be over be over.

Application

When you sin, are you more concerned with your consequences or how your actions impacted the glory of God? Repentance always moves us closer to a life of surrender to God’s Spirit. Repentance says, “My soul concern is not with me and my circumstances, but with God and His glory.”

Listen to the Original Sermon

Helpful Resources

Chisholm, Robert B., Jr. A Commentary on Judges and Ruth: Commentary. Kregel Exegetical Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2013.

Keller, Timothy.  Judges for You. The Good Book Company. 2013.

Written by Raef Chenery

I'm a pastor in Chicago at Park Community Church - South Loop. I'm a husband to my beautiful wife Sara and a dad to three sweet girls, Ruth, Joy, and Mira. I'm blessed to be surrounded by a number of men and women who love to think about the ways that our faith interacts with our culture. This blog is as much for me to get my thoughts in order, as it is for those who might benefit from it and engage in the conversations as well. I would love to get your feedback through the comments on each post.

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