A Bold Fool

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By living in a sin-cursed world, we tend to see God primarily as the righteous Judge, the ultimate Avenger, or the divine Ruler. And why wouldn’t we? The Psalmist states, “God hates the wicked and the one who does violence” (Ps 11:5), and “My sin is always before me” (Ps 51:3). God is constantly having to deal with sin and a world that is steeped in rebellion—people who by nature reject God, and whose righteous works are merely filthy rags (Rom 3:11, Isa 64:6). And yet, Scripture reveals the essence of God’s heart as being compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. He is a God whose love never ceases nor His mercies ever ending  (Lam 3:22-23).  The story of Gideon in the book of Judges highlight these heart responses when you least expect it. Following the heroic and theatrical drama of Gideon routing the Midianite horde in chapter 7, one would expect the narrative to simply continue its cyclical pattern in saying, “And the land had peace for X amount of years…” but this is not what we find. Chapter 8 unravels the disturbing character flaws of this Israelite judge who showed so much promise despite his weak-kneed trust in God’s plan of deliverance.  What the conclusion of Gideon’s life demonstrates so clearly is the folly of man and the faithfulness of God. Gideon’s popularity and status as a leader were direct results of God’s grace. The first Midianite battle was won by 300 men blowing some trumpets while God did all the work, “setting the sword of one against another,” and effectively ensuring a complete victory for Gideon. God compassionately and patiently met Gideon’s concerns and provided repetitive assurances that He would win the day. Unfortunately for Israel and the reader, Gideon’s timidity and trust in God (the little he had) were replaced with retributive hatred toward his enemies (Zebah and Zalmunna) and unjust treatment of his countrymen (the men of Succoth). The actions carried out by Gideon in the following saga fail to evidence any involvement or approval by Yahweh. His heart is driven by vengeance and personal gain, devoid of any patience or compassion. His dependence on God became a dependence on self-gratification. His goals and objectives were no longer aligned with the glory of God and the manifestation of God’s love. Even though the narrative focuses so much on Gideon’s failures, by contrast, the righteous impeccable character of God comes back into view. Yahweh does not forsake or give up on Israel or the raising up of future leaders despite how wayward they become. He graciously attends to their needs, enables them for the task at hand, and provides a way of deliverance and future blessing. In the end, Gideon lived the fool because he failed to guard his heart and to humbly seek the glory of God in all that he did. May we not trust in our understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge Him (Prov 3:5-6). May we seek our merciful compassionate Father when we do go astray (Micah 7:19). And may we exemplify His loving character as we reflect on the depth of love with which He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).  —Pastor Nate 

Sunday at Liberty

9AM: Zerubbabel Leads the Restoration–Ezra 3:8-13

10AM: Pastor Rory–A Bold Fool–Judges 8:1-27 (sermon notes)

11:45AM: Potluck

12:30PM: Annual Members Meeting

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