God with us: The mystery of God's presence. Judges 6:1-21
God with us: The mystery of God's presence
This morning I am going to engage you in a topical study of concerning the presence of God in our lives.
One of the great promises of Christ to us- who are his followers- is that He will be with us and never leave us or forsake us
(Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20) One of the names of Jesus - Emmanuel (which means 'God with us')- drives this
home. (Matthew 1:23)
There is something of a mystery to our experience of God in our lives. Sometimes the presence of God/Christ in our lives is so
evident, at others times we wonder where God is or has gone or even if our previous experience of Him was genuine. Such is the
weakness of our faith.
In Judges 6 we are introduced to a man named Gideon. God used Gideon to deliver His people from the hands of the Midianites. To
Gideon, God made this incredible declaration "I am with you"
When the angel of the LORD first said this, his words did not resonate with Gideon-- this we are going to examine as we consider the
general topic of the presence of God/Christ in our lives.
READ JUDGES 6:1-21
Because the Israelites had abandoned God by purposefully disobeying His commands and had embraced the false gods of the nations
around them, our text tells us that he gave them into the hands of the Midianites-- for a purpose.
For 7 years the Midianites oppressed the Israelites. Every year at harvest time they would cross the Jordan en masse and camp on
the land-- ruining the crops, killing and taking all the livestock, and harassing and killing the Jews they could get their hands on.
Finally, things got so bad that the Israelites began to call on the name of the LORD for help. Hearing their cry and having compassion
on them, God sent a prophet to them who reminded them of what God had done for them, of His commands, and of then rebuked
them for how they had abandoned God.
Shortly after sending a prophet to the people God sent an angel called "The Angel of the LORD" to Gideon.
Our first look at Gideon finds him threshing wheat - not on a threshing floor- but in winepress (for fear of being discovered
by the Midianites). To him the angel of the LORD said "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior/great man of valor and
What an interesting thing to say to a man who is in hiding threshing wheat!
"The LORD is with you, mighty warrior/great man of valor and courage"
Some side thoughts on the call of Gideon
There is a mystery to God's call in a person's life.
1. Why did God choose and call Gideon as his instrument of deliverance?
-we have no indication at all that Gideon was following the LORD before the angel of the LORD appeared to him
2. Why did God reveal himself to Gideon and not another?
Gideon's clan was the weakest in his tribe and he was the least in his family
3. Why such a strong compliment to one who is in hiding, who later proceeds to obey God but only under the cover of darkness?
God saw what Gideon was to become by HIS power and presence.
God's calling of Gideon ought to make us think of our own calling.
Our calling, our forgiveness, our peace with God, our being the children of God and co heirs of Christ has nothing to do with merit,
ability, or some other distinguishing mark on our parts. It's all about God's grace, God's mercy, God's love, God's glory, His delight in
taking weak and broken vessels and making His power evident. It's all about Jesus.
After the angel of the LORD tells Gideon that the LORD was with him, Gideon raises an objection to God's assertion
(something many people have done) v. 13
"But Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?" Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they
said, "Did not the LORD brings us up out of Egypt?" But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
The Bible doesn't shy away from asking tough questions. Every tough question people have about God, suffering, evil, creation,
the purpose of ones life, all these questions are expressed by people in the Bible. The questions that the skeptics ask- as if they
thought up the question, have already been asked in the Bible-- asked and answered.
Here in our text, Gideon raises a question that millions ask all the time "Where is God when it hurts? Why is there suffering in the
world? Why does God allow His people to suffer?
It's not hard to identify with Gideon's question "If you are with us, why all this suffering and pain. Where are you God?"
Interesting: While Gideon asked a question many asked, the answer for their troubles had already been given-- illustrating how we
struggle so often with spiritual blindness
Thoughts on the presence of God in our lives and how to practice and experience it
1. It's grounded in a relationship with Jesus Christ
The Spirit of Christ indwells every believer- serving as a seal, as a deposit, as a guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14)
The presence of God in a person's life is specific. God said to Gideon that He was with him, He didn't say He was with the entire
nation (for they had abandoned him and were worshipping false gods)
When Jesus said "And lo I am with you always to the very end of the age" His is not a general statement to all people-- it is a
specific statement to those whom he called and made his disciples
The presence of Christ/God in a persons life begins when they are born again/when they commit there life in faith, trust, and
repentance to Christ.
2. God's presence is real and He evidences it
God is not just a God of wonders past v.13
He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. Sometimes we get discouraged in our present situation and then someone
seeks to encourage us by mention of the wonders of God-- and then we object "that was a long time ago" or "That miracle was for
them, where's mine?"
After Gideon questioned God about His being with him, he looked for some assurances that God actually was with him-- and God
gave them to Him
How God reassured Gideon that He was with him
a. His offering was consumed by fire v.21 (pre figuring Elijah's showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and settling who
was the true God"
b. He kept him alive after He tore down the altar to Baal and Asherah (though the town's folk wanted to kill him)
c. When he blew the trumpet and called men to his side to fight against the Midianites, they came
d. When he asked for assurance by having a fleece wet and the ground dry and vice versa on the next day, God did it
e. When wondering if he and 300 men could really triumph over 135,000 Midianite soldiers God had Gideon overhear a conversation
two midianites had about a dream and Gideon gaining the victory Judges 7:13-14
How God evidences His presence today
Answered prayer, circumstances, miracles such as Bruce, speaking to our hearts, the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, supplying
our needs, through other people, through the created order (which declares His glory)
3. WARNING: Intentional and habitual sin will interfere will our sense of HIS presence
Psalm 32 and other Scriptures warn us that unconfessed sin blocks/hinders/interferes with/distorts our experience of the presence
and power of God in our lives.
Confess your sin. Keep short accounts with God. Repentance is a good word- not a shameful or dirty one.
Further things that interfere with our sense of His presence
a. A husband mistreating his wife (1 Peter 3:7)
b. Selfishness, lack of faith, an unforgiving heart, filling our hearts and minds with garbage (sex, violence, occult material, etc)
4. To experience God's presence God bids us to draw near to Him
In James 4:8 it says "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you"
What a wonderful promise
a. In praise and worship (for God inhabits the praises of His people)
b. In willing obedience
c. With a heart given to gratitude
d. By honestly dealing with the sin in our lives (so says James 4:8 "Wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts"
e. Through the mediation of God's Word
A few years ago we did a DVD course called "God is closer than you think". Some days the sense of God's presence will be
overpowering, on other days we will have to keep a sharp eye out-- for if we look we will find him. (Such is very similar to the
where's Waldo book-- on page 1 Waldo fills the page, on the last page he's hard to find, but he's there-- the same is with God and
our sense of Him at times)
Isaiah 41:10 says; "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will
uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
2 MORE VERSES TO THINK ABOUT AS WE CLOSE
God: "Go in the strength you have... " v.14 (Because when we look to him, God will supply the rest! No good thing do we lack in
Such reminds me of Philippians 4:13 which says; "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
God: "I will be with you." v.16 This is Christ's promise to us-- a promise we to hold on to by faith