Sermon by Frank Shayi based on Judges 7:1-12 “Fear”
The preacher this Sunday was one of our mission partners, Frank Shayi, the Principal of the International College of Bible and Missions in Johannesburg. He spoke on Gideon – the passage that was read was Judges 7:1-12, but he also referred to sections of chapter 6 and later sections of chapter 7. The title he chose was ‘fear’.
- Are there any things that you are afraid of? Has your fear ever prevented you from doing something you would have liked to do?
The book of Judges is set in the period after the death of Joshua. Following the period of 40 years in the wilderness after Moses led them out of Egypt, the Israelites have now settled in their own land, but with no clear pattern of leadership. There is a recurring cycle during this period of a time of peace (typically lasting 40 years) being followed by the Israelites forgetting God and worshipping other deities, this in turn led to them being over-run by neighbouring nations and eventually calling out to God to rescue them. In response, God raises up a leader who overcomes their enemies and leads them into a time fo peace – only for the cycle to begin again.
- It is easy to wonder how they could have been so stupid and why they did not learn the lesson. Can you think of parallels in your own life or in the life of the contemporary church?
Read 6:1-16. We see the characteristic cycle repeating itself – with God choosing Gideon as the one to rescue Israel. The angel of the Lord addresses Gideon as a ‘mighty warrior’ (v12) but it isn’t how Gideon feels.
- What fear lies behind Gideon’s response to the call?
- Read 6:25-27. What fear is present in this incident?
- Read 6:36-40. To what extent does fear lie behind this well known story?
- Do you identify with any of these fears?
- Why is it important that Gideon does not go into battle against the Midianites with 32,000 men.
Gideon says he does not want men who are afraid – and more than two thirds of them stand down. There are still too many men, so he is told to take them to drink from the river. Of the remaining 10,000 men, all but 300 of them place their faces in the water and drink like dogs.
- Do you think there is any significance in the fact that the people who were chosen to stay with Gideon drank by scooping the water into their hands? (NB This is an open question – some people suggest that it showed that they would have been more attentive to what was going on around them – it would be interesting to see whether this suggestion comes from the group, and if so what they think about it and whether it has anything to teach us).
Although Gideon has dismissed 22,000 men who were afraid, it is clear from v10 that he has his own fears – and that God is aware of them. Frank suggested that many Christians acted as if God was not aware of our shortcomings and deficiencies.
- What are the consequences of Christians – particularly those in leadership – acting as if God did not see into the heart of our lives?
- How does God propose that Gideon overcome his fear?
Frank challenged us to think about whether there is a ‘Purah’ in our lives. This could be to deal with our fears – but it could equally be to address other areas of weakness.
- What are the benefits of this kind of relationship?
- Are there experiences in the group of people who have been helped by having such a figure?
- What can make it difficult to establish such a relationship?
- How could we go about finding a Purah and trusting them to help us to grow in our effectiveness for Christ?