The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
FAINT, YET PURSUING THEM (GIDEON Part 4)
- Sometimes we get tired living the Christian life. The Christian life is a battle. Last Sunday morning Bro. Knickerbocker preached about Nehemiah “building and battling” (cf. Nehemiah 4:17).
- Tonight I would like to draw your attention to Judges 8:4, “faint, yet pursuing them.”
- We cannot afford to give up. We must keep pressing on. Here is a poem I have up on my office wall:
When things go wrong,
As they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile,
But you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must,
But Don't You Quit!
Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up through the pace seems slow --
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup
And he learned too late, when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem the worst
That You Mustn't Quit!
- Bob Jones used to say the greatest ability is dependability. I agree and I would add that the second greatest ability is “stickability.”
- We need to keep at it – keep knocking on doors, keep supporting our church, keep supporting our missionaries, keep praying, keep reading our Bibles, keep pushing to finish our renovation work, etc.
- May the Lord help us to stick with it. Gideon and his 300 men were faint but they were still at it. They had not given up the battle.
- They wanted to see it through to the end. There was opposition, not only from the heathen but also from their fellow Israelites. (We have this same problem today as well!)
- The men of Ephraim gave Gideon a hard time (Judges 8:1), but Gideon handled them wisely and courteously (8:2, 3).
- “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Pro. 15:1).
- The Ephraimites were jealous. They thought that Gideon’s failure to enlist their aid at the outset of the battle was intended to deprive them of sharing in the glory of victory.
- Gideon answered them by stating that Ephraim’s mop-up work (7:24, 25) was even more important than what Gideon’s small army had done (Judges 8:1-3; cf. Phil. 2:3-5).
- GIDEON WAS RESOLUTE IN DEALING WITH THE MEN OF SUCCOTH (8:4-7, 13-16).
- GIDEON WAS RESOLUTE IN DEALING WITH THE MEN OF PENUEL (8:8, 9, 17).
- GIDEON WAS RESOLUTE IN DEALING WITH ZEBAH & ZALMUNNA (8:10-12, 18-21).
GIDEON WAS RESOLUTE IN DEALING WITH THE MEN OF SUCCOTH (8:4-7, 13-16).
- The men of Succoth (they were Israelites) refused to give food to Gideon and his men because they feared reprisal from the Midianites (8:4-6).
- These men of Succoth had no confidence in Gideon, even though he had already defeated the huge Midianite army with only 300 men (cf. 7:22, 23).
- By the scornful way they treated Gideon it seems that they may have been secretly allied with the Midianites (8:6). This would explain their stern punishment (8:7, 16).
- Gideon assured the men of Succoth that the LORD would deliver Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, into his hand, and that Gideon would then return to punish the men of Succoth (8:7).
- After capturing Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, Gideon “caught a young man of the land of Succoth, and enquired of him…” (8:14).
- Gideon went unto the men of Succoth, showed them the two Midianite kings, and then proceeded to whip the elders of Succoth with thorns and briers (8:15, 16).
- I quoted Proverbs 15:1 before in reference to the wise way in which Gideon appeased the angry men of Ephraim. The first half of that proverb applies to that situation, but the second half is illustrated in the way Gideon punished the men of Succoth and the men of Penuel. Their “grievous words” stirred up anger (cf. 8:6-9, 16, 17).
GIDEON WAS RESOLUTE IN DEALING WITH THE MEN OF PENUEL (8:8, 9, 17).
- After giving the elders of Succoth a good whipping with thorns and briers, Gideon went to Penuel and tore down their tower and slew the men of the city, just as he had promised (8:17).
- Gideon was carrying out God’s will against weak, vacillating Israelites who were compromising with the Midianites.
- Today there are many weak, vacillating Christians, compromising with the modern-day Midianites. They bring their pagan music into the church. They dress in their worldly dress styles.
- The Midianites represent the world, the flesh, and the devil. There can be no compromise with them.
GIDEON WAS RESOLUTE IN DEALING WITH ZEBAH & ZALMUNNA (8:10-12, 18-21).
- Gideon asked these two Midianite kings, “What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor?” (8:18). Zebah and Zalmunna revealed that they had killed Gideon’s brothers at Tabor (8:18, 19).
- Gideon told them that had they captured them and kept them alive he would not execute them, but now they must die (8:19).
- Gideon then instructed his oldest son Jether to slay them (which would have been humiliating to these two haughty kings), but the young boy was afraid (8:20).
- Therefore Gideon had to do the job himself (8:21). Scholars tell us that the Midianite ornaments were moon-shaped because the Ishmaelites (the Midianites were Ishmaelites; i.e., Arabs) worshipped the moon. They still do to this day. Allah is their ancient moon-god.
- So popular was Gideon that the people offered to make him king. Gideon refused their offer, reminding them that God was their king (8:22, 23).
- This is the first indication given to us in Scripture that the children of Israel wanted a king to rule over them. They will ask again and finally God will give them one, King Saul.
- I am stopping here intentionally. We are leaving Gideon at his finest hour. In our next study we will see the other side of.