Troubled Hearts: Alarm or Assurance – (Judges 6:1-6)
Alarm or Assurance (Judges 6:1-6)
Fear has many forms. In Judges 6:2, we find the Israelites living in makeshift dwellings in mountains, caves, and strongholds. They were living in the “caves within the caves.” These were natural locations hollowed out by rainwater. What would cause such mighty people to relocate in places virtually uninhabitable? Fear. Judges six is filled with the aroma of alarm: they are hiding (6:2), they are fearful (6:10), Gideon is underground (6:11), felt abandoned (6:13), weak and young (6:15), and was maneuvering under the cover of darkness (6:27). Fear has many forms.
Here is one thing we know, hiding never fixes your problems. The covenant people of Yahweh obscure themselves with the hope that their threat will go away. But, the Midianites did not go away. They came to plunder and steal crops, sheep, ox, or donkey (the big three of economic self-sufficiency). It would be like someone watching you go to the atm, taking your cash, stealing your debit card, and then taking your checkbook for good measure. Despite their hide-and-seek routine, the Israelites became poverty-stricken. They became small: both economically and emotionally.
So, friend, if you feel like you can hide from your problems and they will go away, hiding never fixes your issues; it only causes more alarm.
Read 6:7-12. I am eternally thankful for [you have] a Savior who is not content to let you hide. First, Yahweh sends a prophet with a powerful message: do not fear, but the people don’t listen (6:10). And yet, Yahweh’s compassion led him to act again. Next, he sends an angel. The heavenly messenger finds Gideon hiding from the enemy. Threshing, the process of separating the wheat from the chaff, is best conducted on a hilltop. This would allow maximum airflow, and the result is a better yield. But Gideon is not on the hilltop. He is in the bunker. This lets us know several things: Gideon has a small crop, is afraid of raiders, and is not the most likely hero if you want to change society.
The comedy is that while Gideon is hiding from the view of outsiders, the angel has been watching for a while. The angel’s greeting might be more ironic than his view, “The Lord is with you, [the] valiant warrior.” The word valiant simply means “noticeable.” The angel noticed the one who was in hiding.
If you are living in fear, listen to what the Lord said to Gideon: valiant warrior! We tend only to see ourselves as we are, based on our flaws, sins, and situations. Yahweh sees you as you could be. Only a sovereign God would look at a man hiding in a cistern and call him a fearless warrior.
2 Cor. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! If you are in hiding today, there is hope, and his name is Jesus!
Read 6:13. Now, Gideon responds to the messenger's divine interaction: “Why has all this happened.” Something has changed. The young Israelite raised in Ophrah under harsh, oppressive conditions matured into an alarmed, angry, and skeptical young man. In essence, Gideon retorted, “If God is the rescuer (6:9), why has all of this happened?” Gideon feels abandoned, and indeed, if things were going wrong, they must be the Lord’s fault.
Ever felt like Gideon? He knows that his world is broken, and he finds the right words to describe his pain difficult. To him, Yahweh may have worked long ago, but the God of Israel no longer cares, and faith has lost its relevance to the present situation.
Gideon rightly sees the chasm between him a Yahweh, but he wrongly blames God for the distance and ignores personal responsibility. In a moment of authenticity, Gideon openly verbalized his hurt.
God never instructs you to suppress your pain but direct it to the only place where you can find healing. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18. Hiding pain never heals your hurt.
Read 6:14-16[we will look at the signs of God to Gideon next week]. Undeterred, the Lord promises to be with him and is not frightened by Gideon’s anger or his excuses. Adonai doesn’t let your anger or hurt determine his loving-kindness toward you.
Next, Gideon makes excuses, “our family is weak, and I am the youngest.” First, Gideon’s justifications are not accurate, as we will later see. His family has at least ten servants, and his household is the town sponsor of the local Baal cult site. At best, Gideon’s claim to be the weakest link in a weak chain is exaggerated.
Aren’t you glad for a Savior that doesn’t let your excuses have the last word? Listen to Yahweh’s response, “I will be with you.” The promised presence of the Lord is all and everything you need.
Read 6:25-29. The Lord commanded Gideon to clean house, starting with his home first. For the people of God and us today, there will never be peace and shalom with the God of the universe if you remain divided in your loyalties.
Yes, Israel’s immediate problem was oppression by the Midianites and enslavement that kept them in constant fear and alarm. However, the root of their problem was not Midian, but their addition to evil, sin, and self. The Lord would not deliver Israel until they renounced their sin and turned back to God. Repentance is always a necessary condition of the Lord’s deliverance and salvation in your life.
True worship and sin can never stand side by side. So for Gideon, and us today, repentance has to start where it is the most difficult—at home and in your heart.
Don’t expect the Lord to transform your world if you refuse to let him transform your house first.
What idol is the Lord asking you to smash today?
Responding with our heads, hands, and heart
Everyone has reasons to fear and be alarmed. Fears can be physical (covid, health concerns), spiritual (sin, lack of trust), positional (weakest, nobody cares about me), stature (most diminutive), emotional (pain, hurt, trauma) or irrational.
Fear can be caused by a lack of trust.
Fear can be caused by other’s sins.
Fear can be a produce of disobedience.
No matter the root, in Jesus Christ, you have the answer to fear. The assurance of faith by the blood of the lamb is the antidote to earthly alarm.
1 Tim. 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
Listen to Gideon:
Fear causes you to hide as a way to cope with your life. Faith causes the Spirit to dwell with you. God doesn’t hide his presence from His children. Fear hides, faith dwells.
Fear causes you to panic, but Christ brings peace and shalom. The sweetest words you will ever hear are Judg 6:23, “Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace. Fear brings panic; faith brings peace.
Fear cries out, “woe is me, I am poverty-stricken” Covenant faith reminds, “I bought you out, rescued you, drove them out, and speak to you.” Do not fear. Faith cries out; fear comforts.
Fear says, “I cant.” Christ says,” You are.”
There are only two lasting answers to alarm:
- First, place your hope and trust in Jesus Christ for the first time.
- Rekindle your faith and assurance in the Messiah again. 2 Tim 1:6 Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Which do you need today?