No other gods – Part 1

7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the Midianites, 8 that the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of [b]bondage; 9 and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ ”

Judges 6:7-10

The book of Judges is full of stories about how the children of Israel walked away from God.  But in chapters 6-7 we see one man who listened to what God had to say. He was able to keep all of Israel focused on God for at least his own lifetime.  

At the start of Judges 6, Israel’s enemies are encamped against them.  The Midianites are taking all of Israel’s crops constantly. Israel is starving, but they have turned from God to Baal.  

We can take so much from these scriptures.  Many times in our lives things don’t seem to be working out.  We go to do something and it seems that it starts to work for a few days, weeks, or months and then it just dies.  It seems like we just can’t do anything that ever becomes truly successful. 

And just like Israel in this story, every time they would start to see results the enemy would come to steal it from them. Again Israel would be left starving. 

The Devil is a thief

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10 New King James Version (NKJV)

The devil (the enemy) doesn’t want us to succeed.  He comes just as the Midianites came in this story to try to steal, kill, or destroy. He takes all our crops or all the things in our lives that we want to produce.  

God is telling us here.  “I brought you out of Egypt – out of bondage.  I ran those who would oppress you away, and I gave you their land.” (The wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous [Proverbs 13:22]).

But the last part of these verses is the most important part.

“I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ ”

The Israelites settled in the land of the wicked, but instead of obeying “My voice” – the voice of God and turning from the wickedness around them they turned right to it.  They worshipped the gods of the Amorites.  

In the old testament many times we see Israel turn from God to serve Baal or some other god and we think that doesn’t apply to us because we aren’t building a shrine in our living room or worshipping some statue, but many times the idol we have in our life is not physical.  

A god is simply something we put before the Lord, and when we see it like that it becomes far easier to see where we all have failed at one point or another.  

God isn’t the Problem

But when we think life doesn’t seem to be going the way that we think it should, God is saying here that He is not the problem.  But that statement is not a popular one. Let’s look at the next part of the story.

11 Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order 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, you mighty man of valor!”

13 Gideon said to Him, “O [c]my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

15 So he said to Him, “O [d]my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

16 And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall [e]defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Judges 6:11-16

When we go astray, many times we have this crazy idea that God has left us. 

6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 New International Version (NIV)

God never leaves us but instead we leave Him.

You can not serve both God and other gods at the same time, but we see Gidian blaming God here as the reason why he was in trouble.  

There are two things we can see from these scriptures that are important ways to recognize when you have put other gods before Him.  

You blame others (God) as the reason for your problems

This is what Gidian started to do in verse 13, but we see just in the verse previous to that in verse 12 that the Angel calls him a man of valor – a man able to overcome any enemy in his life.  

This is us as Christians sometimes.  We focus on our problems and start putting other people or habits (TV, social media) or something else in a place of authority in our lives by not spending intentional time with God and we wonder why our lives look like a burned out wheat field that the Midianites have destroyed.  

Jesus already redeemed us from the curse of the law.  He separated us from the world and made us to live in it but not like it.  

He has made us a nation just like Israel. This nation’s king is God and its people are us as christians. What God said to Israel all those years ago still applies to us today.  

We have to check our hearts and see who is truly the God of our life, and one of the biggest red flags of that check has to be this question.

Who are we blaming for the fires and destruction or the unsuccess in our lives?

If we are looking at anyone but ourselves we are wrong.  Because if God is for you who can be against you? If you aren’t seeing the “God for you” part of the equation then you probably aren’t seeking God at all. 

You try to accomplish victory in yourself

In verse 15-16 it says.

15 So he said to Him, “O [d]my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

16 And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall [e]defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Gidian was looking to himself as his source of strength.  He was afraid because his mind and focus was not on God but on another god in his life.  

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

Zechariah 4:6

If our thoughts are not that it is not by our might or by our power that we will win the victory, then there is a good chance we are placing something above God.  Worrying about some aspect of life is in fact worship to that. When we give it a place in our lives, we are worshipping or exalting that problem above the name of Jesus.  

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