Today’s reading: Judg 8:1–9:21, Phil 2:12–18, Ps 67:1–7
Today’s theme: Working it out
Today we learn about working out our salvation through faith, obedience and walking in holiness before God and men, rather than the treacherous slope of hypocrisy, compromise and idolatry. God is the one who is working in us to give us the holy energy we need to live faithfully, for the rise of His fame.
Don’t be unmerciful
And he took the elders of the city, and he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of Succoth a lesson. And he broke down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city. Judges 8:16–17 (ESV)
Gideon, now full of confidence through the victories he has won, has unfortunately forgotten where he is coming from and so has become unmerciful and vengeful.
When he came to the people they refused to help him and his men, making reference to the kings they were pursuing, knowing that if Gideon failed they would come under attack. Gideon should have understood this doubt and fear because he had them too when God first called him, but God was merciful and patient with Gideon.
Jesus spoke about the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35, as we grow in the Lord, we must not let our victories go to our heads making us puffed up, proud and unmerciful. We should remember that this is a walk of grace and so show grace, mercy and forgiveness to others. See Ephesians 2:5-8 and Ephesians 5:8
The crescent moon god
Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise yourself and fall upon us, for as the man is, so is his strength.” And Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and he took the crescent ornaments that were on the necks of their camels. Judges 8:21 (ESV)
Despite claims to the contrary, the god of Islam is not the same as Yahweh (The true God of the bible shared by Christianity and Judaism).
One of the major symbols of Islam is the crescent moon. In the Ancient Near East the moon was worshiped by many people, known as “Nannar” (light giver) by the Sumerians or “Sin”(lord of wisdom) by the Akkadians. Crescent ornaments were also symbols of the goddess Astarte.
Allah is another name for these moon gods. The ancient Arabs had many gods, one of their most important deities was the moon-god called Ilumquh by the Sabeans, Wadd by the Mineans, ʿAmm by the Qatabanians, and Sin by the Ḥaḍramautians.
These gods are the root of the Islamic god Allah, the crescent moon god.
Give God the glory
And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. Judges 8:27 (ESV)
Gideon shows us two pitfalls here, one is hypocrisy, the other is him becoming a stumbling block.
In verse 23, Gideon had his theology (thinking about God) right and he resisted the obvious temptation to rule over the people, but he succumbed to the more subtle temptation of hypocritically not giving God the glory that He deserved. The men said that Gideon delivered them, when it was God. We must always give God glory in all we do and achieve (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In verse 24 Gideon took the next step in stealing God’s glory; he asks the people for monetary contributions, these are not for the tabernacle or society, these are contributions for Gideon himself, he saw an opportunity in the people’s adulation of himself and he took it. We must avoid this type of egocentric manipulation of God’s people (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Finally Gideon takes the final inevitable step of becoming a stumbling block, he sets up his own form of idolatry which becomes a snare to him and the people (1 Timothy 4:16).
Do not compromise
and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel. Judges 8:35 (ESV)
Hypocrisy and compromise will never bear the fruit of faithfulness, so we should never be hypocritical or compromising in order to bring people to or to keep people with Christ. When the scaffolding of compromise is removed the people will simply fall away.
Working it out
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV)
“Work out” in verse 12 is the Greek word ‘katergazomai’ which means: working at, and finally accomplishing a task, whereas in verse 13 where it says “God who works in you” is the Greek word ‘energeō’ meaning: to cause to function, grant the ability to do, bring about, produce or cause to be.
Summarising the Greek: God gives us the energy so that we have the energy to work for Him. This passage is encouraging us in our walk of sanctification, we need to humbly serve and grow in grace.
Living out the inner transformation that God has graciously granted. We work because we are saved, not to be saved. This passage is expounded further here
Spread God’s fame
that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Psalm 67:2 (ESV)
God blesses us to be a blessing, our ultimate goal should be to spread God’s fame and glory throughout the earth, this is the heartbeat of missions.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on Philippians 2