Gideon and the three hundred men came to the Jordan and crossed it. They were exhausted but still in pursuit.
~ Judges 8:4 (CSB)
Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
~Sir Winston Churchill
Gideon did not aspire to be a leader; he was content with farming and feeding his many children. The man had seventy sons and I’m sure there were some females in the mix. Yes, he did have more than one wife. Gideon was not an ambitious man. When the Israelites tried to make him their king, Gideon said, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you: the LORD will rule over you.” When the LORD called Gideon into his service, Gideon was very reluctant but once he made the commitment, Gideon was relentless in his task. The LORD used Gideon to liberate the Israelites from the oppressive bondage of the Midianites. The task was not easy and it involved more than one battle. We all know how the first battle went. The Midianites were allied to the Amalekites and the Qedemites [a people from the East]. When Gideon attacked them at night, the LORD threw them into confusion and they began killing each other. Gideon recalled his reserves and dispatched them to clean up those who fled after the initial battle but he and his 300 pursued the Midianite kings Zebah and Zalmunna. The Midianite kings fled to the east and had crossed the Jordan. By the time Gideon and his 300 reached the river, they were tired and exhausted but they crossed the river and came to Succoth on the Jabbok river. They were tired but still in hot pursuit. Gideon asks the men of Succoth for bread and refreshment and they refused to help. Gideon threw up his hands and said, “I quit! Why should I risk my life for people who are afraid to take a stand.” If you know the bible, you know that Gideon said no such thing and he did not quit. He told the men of Succoth, “Very well, when the Lord has handed Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will tear your flesh with thorns and briers from the wilderness! ” This was a promise Gideon kept. Then he ask the village of Penuel for help and they too refused. Gideon told them, “When I return safely, I will tear down your ivory tower! ” Gideon kept this promise also.
What’s the point? Men of God are often called to difficult task and in the pursuit of that task, they face many obstacles and they get little encouragement from the very folks they are trying to protect. I entered the ministry at age 19 and was trying to serve as a pastor a year or so later. I knew there would be opposition; I knew there was an enemy and battles to win but I had no idea that my opposition would come from within the community of believers. When Gideon needed encouragement from fellow Israelites, he didn’t get it. He was liberating their sorry rear ends and yet they refused to help for fear of the enemy. Gideon could have resigned; he could have quit. The folks of Succoth were not worth saving: they were sorry and selfish but it was God who called Gideon and to God he answered. Weary, tired, exhausted, discouraged, he kept pursuing until the mission was accomplished. It takes this kind of tenacity to be faithful in the ministry. Woe to those who have the attitude of the men of Succoth, who discourage instead of encourage, who make the mission more difficult rather than easier. Preachers don’t get discouraged by the enemy as much as by those who are supposed to love and support them but don’t. Hebrews 13:17 comes to mind, Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
- The cheapest gas in North Alabama is in Danville at 1.94 per gallon. I filled my truck up last night for $27.00. Just a few weeks ago, it took $40 plus to fill it up.
- Great Children’s Christmas Production last night. I don’t believe you will find a better one in North Alabama. Hats off to Shohn and crew. Greg could make it in Hollywood and all the kids did great. I have no idea how Wheeler stood on that tiny bale of hay for 20 minutes. The listening device was a great help, I heard every word.
- June wanted to go to Ollie’s yesterday so we went from church to Huntsville and I talked her into stopping at Parkway Place Mall. I love that mall, especially at this time of year. I wish there was a way to have two Decembers and no January. I love the mall atmosphere this time of year. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving December 62 days and then go right to February. We could move Christmas to December 62.