- Sermon Notes
Your Very Present Help
Intro – Need a hand?
This morning we pick up in Judges chapter 6. The people of Israel have been oppressed by a people from the land of Midian (the Midianites) for 7 years. This oppression caused overwhelming fear. In their despair, they would move to the mountains and hide themselves in whatever caves, or protected areas they could find.
Prior to the 7 years of oppression, there was a period of 40 years of peace. The nation had been undisturbed for 40 years after being delivered from the Canaanites, yet, they turned away from the Lord, allowed pockets of Canaanites to remain, and found themselves overtaken and dominated by that which was not removed. The Lord had delivered them time and time again, yet, the people would continually lose sight of all He had done, turning away, and toward the gods of the world. The pattern would be repeated for more than 400 years, yet, whenever they cried out to God, He was faithful to deliver.
Though they had failed to listen to the Lord, pursue His ways or keep Him at the center and foundation of their nation and lives; the Lord never failed to listen when they cried out to Him. They had turned away from Him, but still, He was their very present help in their time of trouble and responded to their cry for help.
Read Judges 6:1-16
The situation the Israelites were in is an important one for you and for me personally. They had continually turned away from the Lord. At the end of chapter 5, we see that they had 40 years of peace in the land after the Canaanites were defeated, and then in verse one of chapter 6, they again turned away from God, doing evil in His sight.
Things were going well for them in their times of peace, so well it seems, that they thought they could do it on their own. But the reality they would come to, and an important conclusion for you and me, is that we simply can’t.
But what is true for Israel is true for you and important to understand in all that you do and go through.
Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Perhaps this morning you are in a situation like the Israelites. Perhaps you find yourself without. Perhaps it has been an extended season. Stuck in a cycle, hiding out because you feel you have no other answer, or you are believing a lie that God will not hear or listen after all times He has given, and you have turned away. You must know who God is, He is a very present help in trouble, and the One you can run to.
I. Cry Out to the Lord
- The oppression the Israelites were experiencing was extreme. From verse 2 we understand that is was so extreme that for seven years they spent times in caves and dens in the mountains.
- In verses 3 to 5, we see a picture of the difficulty they were in, which was particularly difficult and troubling during harvest time.
- What would happen is the Midianites and Amalekites would let the men from Israel do all of the farming and all of the harvesting and then come and take the harvest.
Illus. Winnowing Grain.
- A similar equivalent today would be if on payday, someone took your check…and they continued that for 7 years…and there was nothing you could do about it.
- The Midianites, along with the Amalekites and the people of the east would come against them each year.
- They would take and destroy all the produce, they would leave no living thing in their land: sheep, cattle, donkeys would all be taken.
- Verse 5, The number of people who would come against them were too many to count.
Judges 6:6, So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord.
- It took 7 long years of overwhelming, fierce and devastating oppression before the Israelites cried out to the Lord.
- For the Israelites, prayer was their last resort instead of their first resource.
Illus. I’m fine.
- It is so often that we want to work things out in our own way, and in our own strength.
- “I got this…” and after days, weeks, sometimes years we finally find ourselves crying out to God.
Psalm 34:6, This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
Psalm 3:4, I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.
- After 7 years of oppression, the Israelites cry out to God, He is their help and their only hope, and the Lord answers them.
- They cried out to God, and He reminds them of who He is by giving them a sample size of some of what He had done throughout their history and He had gotten them through difficulty previously.
- And He showed them what He had done, He gave them a reminder, they did not need to fear. They had not obeyed Him, but He was still God, He was still their present help.
- No matter what choices you have made, past mistakes, times you have turned away, God is your very present help today.
James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Jeremiah 33:3, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
- Remember, you have not been forgotten
- The Israelites called to God and He provided a prophet to speak to them.
- Not only did he provide a prophet, he sent an angel of the Lord, to Gideon.
- The Lord had much to say, and He was going to show them how again He alone could and would make a way, but they would need to listen to and lean upon Him.
Judges 6:11, Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites.
- Gideon who happened to be threshing wheat in a winepress in order to save it from the Midianites.
- He winnowed his grain cleverly, but less effectively and full of fear. It was there that the angel of the Lord called out to Gideon:
Judges 6:12-13, And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.” Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.”
- Gideon’s response, was “pardon me, my lord” …”If the Lord is with us, then why has all this happened to us? And where are all his miracles?”
- It seems Gideon had concluded that the Lord had abandoned Israel. That they had been forgotten by Him. But it was not God who had forgotten them, they had forgotten God.
- You have not been forgotten; He is mindful of you. He knows your story, past, present, and future.
Psalm 139:1-5, O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
Psalm 139:8, If I got up to the heavens, you are there; if make by bed in the depths, you are there.
- Gideon had come to the conclusion that God had abandoned them, other translations say forsaken, which is a word that means to leave, quit on, abandon, or desert.
- Gideon said, “if the Lord is with us, then how come I don’t see the miracles we heard about from our father’s. Where’s God now?
- Far too often this can be our reality…We turn away from God and then wonder why things aren’t going so well…It is there that we need to remember who God is, all He is done…where we went wrong, and know that though we at times leave out, or forget God in our lives…we have not been forgotten…
- Gideon thought that all of God’s miracles were behind them, but the Lord knew the situation, and the truth was that there was much He had in store, there were many miracles ahead. And the same is true in our lives.
Illus. Praying for revival.
Habakkuk 3:2, Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
- Gideon said, “if the Lord is with us, why is all of this happening?” Interestingly, the Lord answered Gideon’s questions with a commission…He didn’t answer, He simply pointed Gideon to the plans He had in store.
Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
- Know who you are in His hands
- Many things you don’t grow to, you grow through.
- And when you are going through it, passing through the waters, He will be with you (Is. 43:2)…He is your very present help!
- The Lord had called out to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
- Gideon was anything but a valiant warrior at the time.
- “My family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
- God’s answer is indicative of His plans for Gideon, “Surely I will be with you, and you will defeat Midian as one man.”
- The Lord wasn’t concerned about who He had been, He knew the plans He had in store and addressed Gideon accordingly.
Illus. God gave Simon the name Peter, which means “rock,” while he was still a fisherman. He would continue to tell Peter that He would build His church upon that rock.
- God knows who you will be, and he addresses you according to who you will become.
- He is looking for those who will rise up to their calling. Inadequate but willing to trust Him with their tomorrow.
2 Chronicles 16:9, The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (NKJV)
- Gideon declared that he was a nobody, how could he save Israel? His family was the least and he was the least in his family.
- God wanted to turn Gideon’s eyes to who he would be, despite his autobiography.
- It is not about who we are, but who He is.
- Gideon tells the Lord about his resume, that he is a nobody, the least of the least and the Lord reminds him, “it’s not who you are, its who I am, I will be with you, that’s all you need!”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, God chooses and uses the foolish and weak things…
- We should be encouraged when we see so many examples in the scriptures that God delights to use those who are weak to demonstrate the greatness of His glory.
- Let us not allow our insignificance (real or perceived) to keep us from what God has called us to do.
- The Lord addressed Gideon as a valiant warrior before he was one, and against the odds, God would ensure that Gideon would be exactly that!
- Like Gideon, it’s not who you are, its whose you are. In God’s hands, He was a valiant warrior.
Illus. The path to battle.
- In Judges 7 we see the battle take place and the Lord made sure Gideon recognized that the battle could only be won with the Lord’s power.
2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Judges 6:16, Surely, I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian…
- Many times I hear people say, “I know who I am,” and I think we think we know ourselves so well, that we are unwilling and unable to see who we are when our life and future is firmly in God’s hands.
Illus. God says different!
Illus. Published facts about lefties.
- These “facts” are not a real promising vote of confidence for those who are left-handed. But they aren’t the “facts” that I base my next steps on.
- I prefer God’s narrative for my life.
Ephesians 1:1-8, Blessed with every spiritual blessing; chosen, holy, and blameless before God; redeemed and forgiven.
- We may be prone to all sorts of things, but are overcomers through his grace and mercy.
Isaiah 41:10, Do not fear, for I am with you…do not be discouraged, for I am your God.
Psalm 46:1-2, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Therefore we will not fear.
Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord handed them over to Midian for seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For whenever Israel had sown, the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the people of the east and march against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel, nor a sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts in number, and both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to ruin it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Now it came about, when the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of Midian, that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I rescued you from the hands of the Egyptians, and from the hands of all your oppressors, and I drove them out from you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live.” But you have not obeyed Me.’” Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under the that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior.” Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.” And the Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this strength of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” But he said to Him, “O Lord, how am I to save Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” Yet the Lord said to him, “I will certainly be with you, and you will defeat Midian as one man.”