Sunday – February 9, 2014 Judges 9:22-49 “Payday is Someday”

Sunday – February 9, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship
Judges 9 verses 22 to 49 “Payday is Someday” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – February 9, 2014 Download / Print

Judges 9:56-57
Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. Also God returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came upon them.”

I love precision, not because I am precise in everything that I do, but because I get great pleasure watching others do their tasks with such skill and accuracy. It is one of the reasons why I love watching the Olympics so much. But it is more than sports; it might be the gardener who knows exactly what to look for to fix my sprinklers or the doctors who treated me in the hospital last year. They waste little time and material, and they make their work look so easy.

The Book of Judges illustrates the precision with which our God goes about His work in this world. The obstacles and difficulties are many but God is at work through different kinds of men and women, few of whom are godly, or even wise. The goal of God’s work is the preservation of His people, the fulfillment of His covenant promises, and the punishment of those who have played a part in the slaughter of the 70 sons of Jerub-Baal (Gideon). And the punishment must be meted out in such a way as to destroy the guilty, and yet secure the safety of those who were not involved in the evil committed against the sons of Gideon. The skill and efficiency of God are entirely consistent with His character, but it is still a wonder to behold.

Our text is an excellent demonstration of the fact that God is not only able to execute justice in such a way that the wicked get exactly what they deserve, He is also able to judge in such a way as to protect those who are innocent. Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem perish for their treachery in the murder of Gideon’s sons who were Abimelech’s rivals. Gaal, his relatives, and the people of Thebez were spared because they had no part in this evil. I take great encouragement when I realize that God’s timing and His work of deliverance and destruction are always done with great precision. There are no accidents in what God brings to pass, His ways are perfect.

When I read the newspaper or watch the news on television, the world appears to be in chaos. Do not despair, as though no one is in control. The Scriptures teach us to view the chaos of our world differently than we often do, as the unseen hand of God, bringing about the fulfillment of His plans and purposes. Our passage wonderfully demonstrates the awesome truth of the sovereignty of God. God is in complete control of everything that happens so He can fulfill the curse of Jotham in such a precise way. So do not fear, there is no question that God’s plans and purposes will come to pass as He providentially and more visibly governs the affairs of men.

Sunday – February 2, 2014 Judges 8:33 – 9:21 “When Government is God’s Judgment”

Sunday – February 2, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Judges 8 verses 33 to 9 verse 21 “When Government is God’s Judgment” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – February 2, 2014              Download / Print

Judges 8:33-35
Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel.”

Before we are told of the evils of Abimelech and of leaders of Shechem, we first are told of the evils of the Israelites, evils which were the reason for God’s judgment upon the nation. This is a judgment that came from within, rather than from without. It was Gideon who created the ephod which the Israelites worshipped. But as bad as this worship of the ephod was during Gideon’s lifetime, we see things went from bad to worse when Gideon died.

But upon Gideon’s death, the Israelites plunged “full speed ahead” into their idolatry. We are told that “they made Baal-Berith their god.” We are very familiar with the term Baal, but the expression “Baal-Berith” is new to us. In the Hebrew text, the term “Berith” means “covenant,” and so the Israelites made “Baal-Berith” their god. Or perhaps we should say the Israelites entered into a “new covenant” – not the Mosaic Covenant, and most certainly not the “New Covenant” of the New Testament – but a covenant with Baal as their new god. The Israelites are not worshipping the God of Israel and also some Canaanite god; they are worshipping a Canaanite god as their only god. They have rejected their covenant with God and have entered into a new covenant with a heathen god, exactly what God had warned them not to do.

Many Christians today, including me, bemoan the fact that our government has become more and more corrupt, so that people of both political parties have become cynical about the motives and actions of politicians. Can anyone deny the decline in morality and justice in government which has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent days? Homosexuality is not merely tolerated by our highest officials; it is praised as something good. Abortions – most of which are really murder – are accepted, praised, encouraged and all too often financed by our government. Our passage in Judges declares to us that our government, corrupt as it is, is precisely what we deserve. God has given the people of our country what many have wanted, as well as what we deserve.

How tragic it is to see that the people of Shechem put their faith in the wrong person. First they trusted in Abimelech, and soon they will trust in Gaal. There is only One who can deliver Israel and us today, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is worthy of our trust and of our praise and looking elsewhere for deliverance will only lead to our destruction. May we pay attention to what is happening in our lifetime and turn to the Lord Jesus.

Sunday – December 15, 2013 “When More is Less” Judges 7:23-8:28

Sunday – December 15, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

“When More is Less” Judges 7 verse 23 to 8 verse 28 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – December 15, 2013 Download / Print

Judges 8:22-24
Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”

We are not told exactly when it was that the men of Israel asked Gideon to be their king, but it would seem that it was not long after the victory over the Midianites. What they are really proposing is that Gideon accept the position of being their king and that his ruling over Israel would result in a dynasty. This would assure the Israelites of a strong military leader as well as a continual line of succession. One cannot read this request without thinking ahead to 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites demanded that Samuel appoint a king for them, a man who would go before them into battle.

On the surface, it would appear that Gideon (rightly) rejected this offer. He seems to do this in very plain words: “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” The right words for the right time. And so we continue to think of him as a hero, looking at his recent conduct as a momentary lapse in conduct and character. But in just a moment – just a couple of verses, actually –  our optimism regarding Gideon will go up in flames when we read that he created an ephod that he then set up in his home town as an object of worship. Obviously, something bad happened to Gideon after the miraculous victory God achieved using Gideon and this negative change in Gideon persisted for the rest of his life, nearly forty years.

Gideon’s refusal to be Israel’s king is the right answer theologically speaking but that, in reality, he hypocritically lived a king’s life. For all intents and purposes, Gideon had a harem. The average Israelite certainly did not have many wives and concubines. Not to mention the tax and contributions from each of the soldiers’ collected spoils of war. He may not have taken the title of king but he certainly acted like a king. All the right words were spoken but all the wrong actions were taken.

Gideon reminds us how easy it is to stumble and fall and how few there are who truly “finish well.” That is what makes me so sad when I read about Gideon – he did not finish well. And we should be warned when we realize that many of those who once did well did not finish well. This would include people like David, his son Solomon, and Hezekiah as just a few examples. It does not get easier and easier to live the Christian life as you get older; it gets harder. How important it is to recognize our weakness and to cling to our Lord throughout our lifetime, so that we may finish well.

Sunday – December 8, 2013 “When Less is More” Judges 6:36-7:23

Sunday – December 8, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship

When Less is More Judges 6 verse 36 to 7 verse 23 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – Sunday – December 8, 2013 Download / Print

Judges 6:36-38
Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.”

Now let’s be honest with one another. Isn’t Gideon’s unbelief something that is familiar to all of us who have come to trust in Jesus as our Savior? We believe in the Lord Jesus, and we know that we are eternally saved, safe and secure in His keeping. We believe that God’s purpose is to proclaim the good news of the gospel throughout the entire world. We believe that God is going to bring many to faith. We even believe that God may bring revival to our country, and perhaps even to our neighborhood. But we have our doubts when we consider the possibility that God intends to accomplish these great things through us. God may use a Billy Graham but surely He will not use me in any significant way! That is what this test is all about. Gideon wants God to confirm His promise to achieve Israel’s deliverance through him.

It seems to me that in this “test,” there is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that Gideon is reluctant to take God at His word. He knew what God had said; he just didn’t quite believe it. The good news is that Gideon is not proud, arrogant, or confident in his own abilities. Gideon is scared to death and clinging desperately to God. That is a far better place to be than confident in one’s own abilities. Or is it? Our culture says otherwise, and so many Christians think otherwise. Much like the secular world, we think that those most likely to succeed are the ones who have great intellect and healthy self-esteem, are good looking and aggressive. In God’s world, it is the weak and helpless He uses to achieve His purposes. Or, putting the matter in the terms of our sermon title: “Less is More.”

God’s deliverance comes to men because they are desperately helpless to save themselves. That was true of the Israelites of old. It was not because those who were needy did something great to win God’s favor; it was because God is gracious to those who cry out for His help. This is still true today. Everyone is a sinner, in bondage to sin and unable to save themselves. In His great mercy, God sent the Perfect Deliverer, Jesus Christ. He came to save those who were helpless and hopeless. Just as Gideon was not intended to get the glory for the deliverance of his fellow-Israelites, but only God, so it is only God who should get the glory for our salvation, not us. Have you acknowledged your bondage to sin and your helpless state? Have you cried out to Jesus for the salvation He alone can give? If you have, give Him the glory He alone deserves.