Show Me a Sign

Sermon from CCM:Kingsway

LISTEN

This sermon was preached by Claire Biggs at the CCM Kingsway site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 7th October 2018.

SERIES

 

This message was part of the ‘SERIES NAME’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Burnage in EARLY/MID/LATE YEAR. The full series included the following sermons:

BIBLE VERSES

This sermon was based on Judges 6 & 7.

Midian Oppresses Israel

1The 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. 2And 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. 3For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4They 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. 5For 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. 6And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.
7When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, 8the 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. 9And 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. 10And 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.”

The Call of Gideon

11Now 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. 12And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13And 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 Lordbring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14And 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?”  15And 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.” 16And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” 17And 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. 18Please 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.”

19So 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. 20And 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. 21Then 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. 22Then 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.” 

23But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24Then 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.
25That 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 26and 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.” 27So 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.

Gideon Destroys the Alter of Baal

28When 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. 29And 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.” 30Then 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.” 31But 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.” 32Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.

33Now 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. 34But the Spirit of the Lordclothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35And 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.

The Sign of the Fleece

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

Gideon’s 300 Men

1Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
2The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.'” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

4And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” 6And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 

8So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.
9That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. 11And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp. 12And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. 13When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” 14And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.”
15As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” 16And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.'”

Gideon Defeats Midian

19So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.

 23And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.
24Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. 25And they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. Then they pursued Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.

KEY POINTS

What is a Sign?

  • In life we use signs to tell us where we are, which way to go, what’s coming up, to warn us of danger or prevent us going the wrong way.
  • Signs from God are similar. They can redirect us, show us where we are or demonstrate something about God’s character.
  • When we ask for signs what are we really looking for? What do we expect? What would we accept as being a sign?

Relationship

  • Prayer is an ongoing conversation with our heavenly father.
  • God wants to speak to us and we can learn to recognise his voice.
  • Prayer both deepens our relationship with God and transforms us to become more like him.

How do we pray?

  • Pray acknowledging God – recognising not just his existence but also his importance.
  • Do not be conformed, be transformed. Know that as we become more like God the decisions and choices we may make will be more like his and less like those of people in the world around us.
  • Pray examining your heart. What are our motivations for wanting to do things, we need to be willing to allow God to reveal them to us and change them if necessary.
  • Step out! Often we need to make decisions and do things rather than waiting for God to give us signs. So many times its after we step out that God then gives us the confirmation we need. We have to take a step first.
  • Get to know God’s voice. Each of us hear from God in different ways and we need to invest time in finding out how God speaks to us.

MORE SERMONS

 

To see more sermons from Christ Church Manchester, you can visit our sermons page, or why not consider subscribing on iTunes.