Signs of Supper, Stones & a Sheepskin

Treaties, Compromise & Deliverance  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:30
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Sign seeking reveals doubt in the power of God's spoken Word.


polytheism of tribes


This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Over the last few weeks we have noticed a few significant themes in the book of Judges. Historically the book falls in the flow of the Scripture story revealing how badly mankind is desperately in need of a Messiah. I find at least 3 themes that we need to internalize if we are to be the Christ followers that God intends.
1. Left to himself, mankind will always rebel against God.
I can cite 3 simple examples of what it looks like when humans throw off restraint and act pridefully: obscene dancing, public drunkenness & arrogant politicians (on both sides) lacking respect for fellow man.
2. God uses unexpected ordinary people to intervene in man’s brokenness.
3. Ultimately, only Messiah Jesus can totally remedy humanity’s sin problem.
Today’s text will press into that 2nd theme of unexpected ordinary volunteers. I’m attempting in the next 30 minutes to get you to ask yourself 2 question: 1) If not you, then who? And 2) Has God really spoken?
The first question is not particularly a faith question. It has been asked in folk music by artists such as Dr. Hook, Bob Dylan and George Harrison. But it is asked by the Lord.
Isaiah 6:8 ESV:2016
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
The second question is one that was asked by the Serpent in the Garden, it continues to be asked by “enlightened” Americans.
I asked Google “Did God really say” and was provided with nearly 1.7 Billion hits in ½ of a second.
I guess it is a popular questions which was asked by Gideon when he repeatedly asked for signs to confirm what the Lord had already said.
Transition: Join with me in Judges 6 as we will see you are not the first person to ask these questions.

Conflict with the Cousins (Judges 6:1-10)

Judges 6:1–10 ESV:2016
1 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord. 7 When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”

Who Were the Midianites?

1. The people of Midian are not found outside of scripture, possibly because they never possessed a land of their own.
They were like a modern gang or a band of pirates who sustained themselves by preying upon others.
2. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham via his 2nd wife, Keturah (Gen 25:2)
3. The Midianites were viewed positively in Exodus – Hosted Moses when he was in exile from Pharoah, Moses married a Midianite (Ex 2); They camped among the Midianites when God gave the Torah (Ex 19)
4. By Num 25 co-mingling with the Midianites becomes a problem and by Num 31 they are at full-scale war.
5. By the time we get to Judges 6 the problem is described as “Seven years of Midianite terror had a devastating effect on the Israelite economy and emotion. Like locusts, their innumerable hosts devoured every green plant in sight, leaving the land devastated, with nothing left over for the Israelite flocks and herds.”[i]
Just like the story of the “Little Red Hen”, nobody is around when it is time to plant the grain, or weed the grain, but when it comes time to eat the grain they showed up in full strength.

A Stern Lesson (vv.7-10)

1. With the previous cycles of disobedience and deliverance God had just provided a deliverer when they were in distress.
2. This time God takes advantage of the teachable moment to explain why they keep finding themselves in situations of distress by sending an anonymous prophet.
Transition: Even if God is frustrated by their repeated rebellion, He does not leave them without a Deliverer.

A Call signified by Supper (Judges 6:11-24)

Judges 6:11–24 ESV:2016
11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, 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.” 14 And 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?” 15 And he 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.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17 And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. 18 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.” 19 So 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. 20 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. 21 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 meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22 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.” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24 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.

The Characters

1. An angel or The Angel? 7 times in these 14 verses we read “THE angel”
a. “Since this angel has the authority of God Himself and was actually willing to accept worship, it seems likely that this is a theophany, a visible manifestation of God on earth”[ii]
2. A fearful Israelite
a. Due to the marauding Midianites, Gideon in threshing in secret.
b. “Ancient people threshed their grain by beating the heads of the cut stalks with a flail, discarding the straw, and then tossing the mixture of chaff and grain in the air, allowing the wind to blow away the chaff while the heavier kernels of grain fall to the floor. This is normally done on hilltops to take advantage of the wind. Because this would have aroused the attention of the marauding Midianites, Gideon resorts to beating the grain under an oak in a sheltered vat used for pressing grapes.”.[iii]
3. You (singular) or Us (plural)?
· Notice the singular in v.12, but the plural in Gideon’s response.

The Similarities to Moses

1. Just as God recounted how he delivered His people from Egypt by calling Moses (v.8), He calls Gideon in a very similar manner.
2. Like Moses (Ex.3), he received his call while he was in hiding from the enemy, doing menial work to keep his family alive (11). Like Moses, he was told that the Lord was sending him on a mission (14). He protested, as Moses did, that he was inadequate for the task (15). He received the same promise as Moses received, ‘I will be with you’ (16), and, like Moses, he received a sign to confirm his call (17). Finally, miraculous fire signalled God’s presence (21), as it did in the call of Moses[iv]

Supper or a Sacrifice? Hospitality or Worship? (v.20-21)

1. Even though the Angel speaks specifically and directly to Gideon, he shows his doubt by seeking a sign.
2. I believe Gideon is looking for the cowards way out.
3. All Gideon needed to know was v.16, but he felt like he needed to verify credentials.
4. I think I agree with the commentators who point out that Yahweh’s sacrifices are rarely boiled. By boiling the meat and presenting it with broth and bread, I think Gideon is offering a hospitable meal.
5. By asking it to be placed on the rock and consuming it with flame, God turns Gideon’s hospitality into a sacrifice because as God He is worthy of worship.
Transition: The supernatural sign is followed by a specific call to obedience.

A Challenge Signified by Stones (Judges 6:25-35)

Judges 6:25–35 ESV:2016
25 That 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 26 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.” 27 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. 28 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. 29 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.” 30 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.” 31 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.” 32 Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar. 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. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35 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.

Exclusive Worship

1. The Hebrews in this time appear to have bought into the myth that there is a hierarchy of gods. The idea that there was a Grand God – the Hebrews knew Him by a name that they never spoke – YHWH. Under Him could be national gods, tribal gods and even personal gods who influenced affairs that are beneath the High God. (similar to our President, Governors, Mayors, and Aldermen)
2. It was this form of polytheism that Gideon’s father, Joash, had accepted. Polytheism had no problem with a row of gods each with their own altars and sacrifices. Apparently, Joash had yielded to the superstition of his employees and allowed an altar to Baal along with Asherah.
3. But YHWH had said in Ex 20:3-4 that there were to be no other gods and no graven images. So, the Lord instructed Gideon to use a work bull to flatten the altar, then to arrange the stones in a proper altar, use the wood from the Asherah and offer Joash’s expensive 7-year-old stud bull as a sacrifice.
4. Gideon obeyed at night because he was afraid of the townspeople, and rightly so. Because the next morning the townies are furious that the altar to their tribal God had been destroyed.
5. Joash, in an attempt to protect his son’s life, catches the townies in a contradiction. If they truly believed their god was so powerful, then he ought to be able to take care of himself and exact his own revenge.
Joash basically told the townspeople that the beef between Gideon and Baal was “Not their Circus, and that the condition of Baal’s altar was not their monkeys”.
6. They label Gideon with a nickname and go on with their lives, while Gideon begins to amass a fighting force.

A Subtle Nuance (v.34)

Judges 6:34 (KJV, NIV84, NASB) — Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.
Judges 6:34 (ESV:2016) — But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.
Judges 6:34 (CSB:2017) — The Spirit of the Lord enveloped Gideon.
1. This is a Hebrew idiom that only appears 2 other places: only in 1 Chr 12:18 and 2 Chr 24:20[v]
2. “the Hebrew reads “The Spirit of Yahweh put on Gideon,” suggesting that the Spirit “wears” Gideon; that is, the Spirit is inside him, rather than that Gideon “wears” the Spirit as an external force.”[vi]
Transition: This chapter is a study in contradiction. The Lord said in v. 16 that He would be with Gideon. He was promised in v.23 that he would not die. V. 34 says the Spirit of the Lord is filling Gideon like a hand in a glove. Yet v.36 still has an “if”

Confidence Dependent upon a Sheepskin (Judges 6:36-40)

Judges 6:36–40 ESV:2016
36 Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 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.” 38 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. 39 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.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.

Clear Calling (v.14)

God had clearly called Gideon to deliver the Hebrews from the Midianites but he is looking for every possible way out.
a. He has questioned WHO was talking to him. And God confirmed with fire from the rock.
b. He has questioned His Own lack of influence. And God had protected him from the wrath of his whole village.
c. Now he proposes a third sign—done twice.

Confirming Signs

1. Wet cloth, dry ground – this was a quickly and poorly conceived test. If there was a heavy dew of course the fleece would retain moisture, even If the sun quickly dried the stone around it. But just to make sure there is no quibbling—there’s enough water to fill a bowl.
2. Dry cloth, wet ground – The second test involved both the dew of the 2nd night on the ground and the fleece would have to resist the 2nd night of dew AND remove all the existing moisture from the first night that wasn’t wrung into the bowl.
3. God responded by passing every test without a shadow of doubt.
Transition: Next week we will see that God proposes His own test for Gideon. To test if Gideon is trusting in God or his own resources.


We’ve seen in Judges 6 how Gideon asks the two questions from my introduction. Now I want to bring those 2 questions back to you.
1. If not you, then who? Judges 3-6 has shown us repeatedly how God has used unlikely people for His purpose (a younger brother, a left-handed warrior, a farmer, women, and now the least of the household in the weakest clan of the tribe of Manasseh). My friend, you are just as likely to be used by God as any of these biblical characters!
2. Has God Spoken? – God’s call on each of these Judges has been precise and timely. What has God asked of you? What is that temptation that God has asked you to trust Him for victory? What is that act of obedience that you have failed to take because of your fear? Who is that person that God has laid upon your heart to speak to?
Before our final song I have a 4-minute video that I want us to watch together. As we watch ask yourself, “What is God asking ME to do?
I want to give you a chance to respond to whatever God is calling you by saying “Yes” to whatever God is saying to you. In this song we give God permission to lead us where He wants us to go.
[i] Daniel Isaac Block, Judges, Ruth, vol. 6, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 253.
[ii] John T. McMath, “Judges,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 371.
[iii] John H. Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 153.
[iv] Barry G. Webb, “Judges,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 271–272.
[v] Daniel Isaac Block, Judges, Ruth, vol. 6, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999).
[vi] John H. Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 155.
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