Read Judges 6:11-16; 6:25-27; 6:33-35
The book of Judges has a repetitive cycle that we see. It goes a little like this:
The people of Israel commit to God.
Israel is tempted and abandon God. (Idolatry) (They did evil in the eyes of the LORD)
God allows Israel to suffer the consequences of their actions.
The people cry out to God and repent.
God hears them and supplies a judge who saves them through the power of God.
The people recommit to God.
This goes on for centuries, from Joshua right through to the establishment of the Israelite monarch. Some may even say beyond.
One of the temptations that would cause the Israelites to stumble was the Canaanite false gods. God had instructed Israel to totally remove all Canaanites from the land that God was giving them. But they didn’t, the outcome was negative (Judges 2:1-3).
What we read in Judges is how the Canaanite false gods would tempt the Israelites and draw them away from the worship of the one true God. There were two Canaan false gods that the Israelites would worship, which we regularly read about in the Old Testament.
Baal – This was thought as the god of rain and storms. He was viewed to be the most important god because rain was required for so much of life in this area of the world. No rain, no grain. This meant the worship was seasonal.
Asherah – There is not a lot known about Asherah worship. She was said to be Baal’s mother, and the goddess of the deep sea. Her worship involved a pole (of some description that historians don’t know a lot about) being placed in prominent places.
What we can glean, is that Gideon’s family history involved Baal and Asherah worship. They, like a lot of people in Israel, were covering every base, with a… “Just in case Yahweh won’t provide for me, I will worship these other local (false) gods.” This never works out well. There is only one true God, who wants our full attention. He doesn’t want to have to vie for our attention, especially with supposed gods who don’t exist.
Look at what God says to Gideon: “Mighty man of valour.” And “I will be with you, so you can strike Midian.” This is something that perhaps you need to hear. This is how God sees you also. You are a might person of spiritual valour, not necessarily because of what you have done but because of who you can be if you are obedient to God. You too can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Phil 4:13). He is with you, when we live in obedience to Him, we can achieve great things.
What was it that Gideon had to do out of obedience to God? What is that we can do to make this the year of overcoming? Gideon did two things which I want to look at.
Smashed the idols
Gideon was instructed to smash the idols that his family and community worshipped. These were idols that created separation, or a chasm, between them and God. This action broke the yoke of bondage that was on him and started him on the path to be that Mighty man of valour.
This is the step that we need to take as we head into a new year. Assess and identify what it is in our lives that might be creating a chasm between us as God. Then we need to smash it down and remove it.
We all need to make the commitment to remove the things that separate us from a healthy relationship with God. Its only when we smash these things down that we will ever start to move on to the stage of overcoming.
Face the foe
Gideon then went out to face the foe. Overcoming can only occur when the issue is confronted. The issue for Gideon and Israel was that the Midianites were moving in to attack.
2019 will not be the year of overcoming for you if you do not face your foes. You cannot be passive. We need to be warriors that are prepared to go into battle, not just roll over when the trials and struggles come but meet them head on.
You may not even know what it is that you will need to meet at this stage. What you need to know is what your tools of warfare are.
Obedience – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Prayer – Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Faith – James 1:6 (NIV)6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Word – Psalm 119:9 (NIV)9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
To be able to use these tools we must train with them, not just wait for the battle to pull them out.
Maybe you feel like you didn’t have a good 2018. Maybe you struggled last year. Maybe you felt that you went from battle to battle and never defeated anything. Maybe you had a great year and nothing seemed to confront you, or create any hardship. Whatever it might have been in 2018 this is a word for this year.
2019 will be a year of overcoming. For every situation that we overcome our character will grow to be known as a mighty person of valour for God. People will see you as a person of persistence, resilience and strength. With victory being your experience.
However, there is a caveat, a qualification that needs to be applied for this to come to pass. Firstly, we need to smash our idols or those things that create a separation between us and God. This needs to be taken seriously and dealt with aggressively. Secondly, we need to avoid being passive. We need to confront our foes. We need to meet our issues head on and with Godly obedience.
When we do this, we will witness God’s power in our life to make 2019 a year of overcoming.
In faith, hope and love
Steve and Cass Abram