June 23, 2019

A New Covenant 2019

A Covenant with Gideon



Last week I told you…. We live in the presence of the LORD. The Shekinah of the Mercy Seat now dwells in us. The Mercy Seat was the covering of the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord covers us with the mercy of his presence. The concept of the Spirit of God dwelling within those in the New Covenant is… cool? 

But… sometimes it doesn’t feel like it… 

--Sometimes… how you thought your life would be couldn’t be further from how it is.

--Sometimes… the people you love fuss with you.

--Sometimes… things are out of control or at least more than you can keep up with.

--Sometimes… it seems everything just fights you.

--Sometimes… your body fails.

--Sometimes… our enemy death makes its presence know.

Sometimes we are discouraged. “The presence of the LORD within us” is, at best, is just an abstract concept.  Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like the presence of the LORD is anywhere in the ballpark with us.  

Why is YHWH sometimes far from us?

Let me tell you a story of man who asked this same question.

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Judges 6:11-13 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah… Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor." And Gideon said to him, "Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian." 

An angel appears to Gideon and calls him a “mighty man of valor”.  Gideon asks… “Are you joking? The Lord is not with us. We haven’t seen the Lord anywhere around here, in quite a while. Why do you think I am in this stupid winepress? I’m not pressing wine. I’m hiding. Mighty man of valor… You must have the wrong address.” 

Gideon is at the bottom of the winepress. He is in the pits… literally. Metaphorically, he is also in the pits… at the bottom of the winepress.  Gideon asks the same question we… sometimes ask… Why is YHWH so far away?

Perhaps, some backstory will help understand why Gideon is in the pits. 

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A couple chapters earlier another angel appeared…

Judges 2:1-5 Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, "I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you." As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. (weepers) And they sacrificed there to the LORD.

In the time of the Judges, between Joshua’s death and the beginning of the kings, 400, or so, years… there are various judges. We would call them military leaders. There was a sad cycle… 

--They forgot the covenant… 

--They suffered consequences of persecution by some people group… 

--Then, they remembered the covenant and repented and called to the LORD…

--God would send a judge to deliver them from the people group…

--The covenant was renewed…

--Things would be great… until…

Now back to the story of Gideon. It is the step in the cycle were the people remember the covenant and want God back. Gideon is in the winepress. The angel is speaking…

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Judges 6:14-18And the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?" And Gideon said to him, "Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." And the LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man." And he said to him, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you." And he said, "I will stay till you return." 

Gideon is not going to take the angel’s word for it. Maybe, that is how deep in the pits he is. Sometimes, we feel so low even the word of God doesn’t help much. But, to Gideon’s credit, he is at least open to the idea that he might could get out of the winepress.

As we work through the Gideon story, we will watch for examples of how Gideon got out of the pits. Perhaps, there will be some lessons for us to imitate… sometimes, when we think God is distant.  I am not a counselor… These are just examples.

Pit Exiting Example #1 - Be open to the possibility of hope.

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Judges 6:19-24So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now, I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

Quickly note… Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant – v3.5

1) Covenants create relationships by giving identity. Mighty Man of Valor

2) The parties in the covenant are named; one superior and one inferior. An angel Makes a deal!

3) Valuable blessings are granted. I will be with you to deliver you

4) Oaths are given. Covenants are often renewed! 

5) A sacrifice cuts the Covenant. The food was fried. 

Subpoint… Meals are involved in covenants. Except it was fried. 

6) There is a symbol to remember. Altar that is still there, to this day, in Ophrah

7) Names and places are significant. Ophrah

Pit Exiting Example #2 – Watch for signs…maybe not angels frying food. Watch for the LORD’s clues that he is still in your life.

Pit Exiting Example #3 - Renew your covenant.

The story continues…

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Judges 6:25-27That night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down." So, Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.

Pit Exiting Example #4 – Do something small. Gideon sneaks out and pulls over a couple idols.

What happens next forces Gideon out of the pits. All the rest of the night Gideon sweats to see what is the consequences. 

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Judges 6:28-32 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, "Who has done this thing?" And after they had searched and inquired, they said, "Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing." Then the men of the town said to Joash, "Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it." But Joash said to all who stood against him, "Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down." Therefore, on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, "Let Baal contend against him," because he broke down his altar.

Pit Exiting Example #5 – Those around you may surprise you with their support. 

There is a fun word play on Gideon’s names. 

The name Gideon means – to hack down. 

Jerubbaal – means Baal contends

“Let Baal contend with the guy who hacks down things.”

But, then, the story turns dark.

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Judges 6:33 Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 

Pit Exiting Example #6 – Be prepared for opposition.

The bad guys aren’t going to let you out of the pits without a fight. The bad guys want you to stay discouraged. Satan is the adversary. He wants you to stay… distant.

But, then, we have the best verse in our story…

Judges 6:34-35But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.

Pit Exiting Example #7 – You can encourage others to get out of the pits. When you begin to focus on others and off your own self, you can powerfully step out of the pits taking others with you. 

That’s pretty good advice from a non- counselor.

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Judges 6:36-40Then Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said." And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, "Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew." And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

Pit Exiting Example #8 – Keep watching for God to give you signs. Keep watching…

The rest of the story you know…

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Gideon has an overwhelming response to his call to fight the Midianites. They were too many. He sent back all those who really didn’t want to be there… still too many. Watched them drink. Those who remain alert are chosen… 300. These 300 defeat the Midianites who were as numerous as locust. 

Judges 7:19-22So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled…

Pit Exiting Example #9 – Know the LORD can use you to accomplish spectacular victories.  Get out of the pits, so, the LORD can use your unique abilities to bring Him glory! 

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Sometimes, even in the New Covenant… we are at the bottom of a winepress… But, know the LORD is present in your life. Follow Gideon’s pit exiting examples…

Pit Exiting Example #1 - Be open to the possibility of hope.

Pit Exiting Example #2 – Watch for the LORD’s clues.

Pit Exiting Example #3 - Renew your covenant.

Pit Exiting Example #4 – Do something small.

Pit Exiting Example #5 – Those around you may surprise you with their support. 

Pit Exiting Example #6 – Be prepared for opposition.

Pit Exiting Example #7 – You can encourage others to get out of the pits.
Pit Exiting Example #8 – Keep watching for God to give you signs.
Pit Exiting Example #9 – Know the LORD can use you to accomplish spectacular victories. 

Let’s add a #10 – The LORD loves His people! The LORD loves you! 


Tim Stidham

June 23, 2019

Los Alamos Church of Christ

  hT