Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Gideon: A deliverer for the People" Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending September 13, 2009

Purpose: To show that we can serve God even when we do not have all our questions about God's ways answered

Scripture Text: Judges 6:1-3, 7-14 (NRSV)

Judges 6:1-3, 7-14
(1)The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years. (2)The hand of Midian prevailed over Israel; and because of Midian the Israelites provided for themselves hiding-places in the mountains, caves and strongholds. (3)For whenever the Israelites put in seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east would come up against them.

(7) When the Israelites cried to the Lord on account of the Midianites,(8)the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites; 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 pay reverence to the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.” But you have not given heed to my voice.’

(11) Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites. (12)The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.’ (13)Gideon answered him, ‘But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, “Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?” But now the Lord has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian.’ (14)Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you.’

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

There are several reasons why I have always loved the story of Gideon; one is because I am a Gideon. The Gideon’s International is a group of Christian business and professional men that have elected to put bibles where the people are. As a result they have seen more people all over the world come to a relationship with Christ,

The other reason I love the Gideon story is because it gives everyone hope. Gideon was not a great follower of Yahweh, or the Jehovah God. In fact his father worshiped Baal and had even erected an altar to Baal on his farm. Gideon did not have any religious training or upbringing; he was simply tired of hiding and being chased by the Midianites and the Amalekites. Gideon had heard the old stories of how God had brought this group of people out of slavery in Egypt, but now it seemed that God had deserted them. The truth is they had deserted God, and started to worship the Gods of the land that God had given them. There was more instant pleasure in serving the fertility gods of Canaan, than obeying the laws that they had received from God and Moses.

Who are these people that are harassing God's chosen people? The Midianites descended from Abraham and Ketarah's (Sara's handmaiden) son Ishmael, who was the father of Midian, they would be the Arabians of today. The Amakekites descended from Esau, Jacobs’s twin that sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. All three families can trace their heritage back to Abraham.

The key verse from God's point of view is verse 10, the Israelites had not been faithful to God and they preferred to worship the gods of the Amorites. The key verse for Gideon is verse 13, when he speaks to God and shares his concerns, “if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” How many times have you ask that same thing of God? Since up to this point Gideon did not have any relationship with God, this was a genuine question that he thought needed answering. God's response is interesting, “Go and change it, if you don't like it” (my paraphrase). Then God gives Gideon a commission, not the great commission, he saved that for us. But the command is pretty much the same; don't like seeing the poor abused? Do something. Don't like seeing people go hungry? Do something. Don't like your life? Do something. It appears we have the ability, with God's blessing, to change those things that we would like to see changed.

About 100 years ago two Christians end up in the same hotel room, and decide every hotel room should have a bible. They did not whine and complain, instead they did something. Now bibles are in hotel rooms and other places all over the world. The story of Gideon highlights the fact that anyone can respond to God, you don't have to be a great theologian, preacher, missionary or evangelist, just see the need and do the deed.

During the depths of the great depression, Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of Riverside Church in Manhattan wrote the words to “God of Grace and God of Glory”

No comments: