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A Reversal of Fortunes
Judges Chapter 6
To those of us who sometimes feel overwhelmed, outnumbered, under siege or just hopeless, I want to remind us today of a repeating cycle that has been more or less a constant in man’s history. The ebb and flow of prosperity and poverty, of liberty and tyranny, of honor and dishonor as well as any number of other polar opposites, provide us with the drama that marks the skirmishes of two kingdoms warring over the destinies of mankind.
It all started in the Garden of Eden and will culminate when our enemy is exiled to the pit of Hell with his demon armies.
Between now and then, it would be wise for us to familiarize ourselves with a cycle seen throughout the scriptures and (if we’re honest) in our own lives as well!
As the old saying goes, “fore-warned is fore-armed.”
Human beings tend to endlessly repeat this cycle and God is waiting just as endlessly to help us break it!
There have been numerous writers and commentators who have described this cycle in various terms over the years, but all recognize a similar bent in human nature borne out through history. We tend to keep repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different result!
The following is a simple generalization of the process (this happens to individuals, families, organizations and even nations. And tends to follow in this general order:
This phase seems to gain momentum in conjunction with a compulsion to “fit in” with the culture of the times.
We can see the evidence of this “cycle” at work in the people Joshua had led into the “Promised Land.” It was theirs to enjoy, but they continued moving toward the down-side of the cycle. God had used both Moses and Joshua to teach them how to “occupy” and fully “inherit” the blessing He intended to give them.
Vs. 2-5… As a direct result of their disobedience, they made themselves vulnerable to the previous occupants of the land. They put themselves into an even worse kind of slavery than their ancestors had escaped from down in Egypt! Their own resources and labor were now going to feed their sworn enemies. They became slaves in their own land!
“People don’t change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing.” Dr. Vern McNally
Vs. 7-10… The Lord sent a prophet to convict them and call for repentance. He clearly reminds them of where they went wrong and the consequences, they had actually brought upon themselves.
Vs. 11-12… The Angel of the Lord came to deal with the situation.
Looking back at verses 2-6 we notice the complete demoralization God’s people had experienced…
“The wicked flee when no one pursues,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Vs. 11-20 Let’s take a look at the psyche of the man the Angel recruits to deliver his nation and return them to their God-given estate:
Gideon is truly a picture of his culture and to an increasing extent ours as well. He appears to be very disillusioned and skeptical of the great stories of the victories of their past. He may very well be questioning the virtues of having deposed the former residents.
We could assume a lot of things but for sure he had a very wounded spirit that initially was not even overly responsive to the Angel of the Lord!
But even in this atmosphere of defeat and shame, the Lord brings a nation back to it’s intended destiny. When all was said and done the Lord patiently worked with Gideon who through a series of “obedient” actions was exhibiting signs of the “mighty man of valor” the Angel had identified. Then, in verses 33 and 34, when things seemed to be about to spiral out of control “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon” this powerful phrase actually translates …“the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon”…
This reluctant hero was literally used to ignite a nation and the rest, as we say, is history. 135,000 armed warriors against 300 impoverished Israelites armed with pitchers and torches. Yet, when they obediently did as instructed, The Lord turned each of the swords of the invaders against their fellow invader. As they slaughtered each other they started fleeing the area.
Gideon sent word to the rest of those who had gathered to him and perhaps 30,000 came back out of hiding to pursue and destroy virtually the entire fighting force that had tormented them for far too long!
This incident is not meant to just be told in Sunday school and be treated as more legend than truth. It is meant to instruct us and put steel into our backbones right up until the Lord returns for His church…
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
1 Corinthians 10:11