No claims of absolute originality are made for this material. As one man said, "I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter." Please use these sermons as the Lord leads, but nothing on this site may be used for profit without my expressed, written permission!
THE HIGH COST OF LOW LIVING
Intro: As we move through the book of Judges, a clear pattern has emerged. The children of Israel would serve the Lord as long as they had a strong leader. When that leader passed from the scene, they fell back into their sins.
When they sinned, God used the pagan nations living around them to chastise Israel. He allowed their enemies to afflict and oppress Israel to show them the high price of low living.
In chapter 6 we are introduced to a man named Gideon. His name means “he who cuts down”. When Gideon appears, he is an unlikely choice to be a deliverer. He is hiding out of fear for Israel’s enemies, v. 11. Gideon was guilty of fear and faithless, but he was God’s choice to be the next judge of Israel, and God used him in a wonderful way.
Just before we look into the life of Gideon, we are going to consider the text that lies before us today. These verses set the stage for the ministry of Gideon in Israel. They also hold some powerful lessons for our lives as well.
These verses serve as a parable that speaks about The High Cost Of Low Living. They teach us the truth that disobedience to the will of the Lord in our lives carries a price higher than we would ever want to pay. Let’s notice the lessons that can be gleaned from these verses, and how they can be applied to our daily lives, as I preach on the subject, The High Cost Of Low Living.
I. v. 1a THE SIN THEY EMBRACED
· The Bible simply says that “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.” We do not know what their sin was, but we can assume that it was the same sin they had been guilty of in the past, Judges 2:19; 3:5-7. They were prone to walking the same foolish pathway. They were guilty of falling into the same trap.
Israel was surrounded by pagan nations who worshiped false gods. They were surrounded by people who were continually trying to draw Israel away from, God and into their own wicked way of life. As long as Israel had strong leadership, they were able to live clean. When that leadership failed, they wandered away from the Lord. Israel was a weak, vacillating people who had trouble staying on course with the Lord.
· Let’s not be too hard on them. I am preaching to a group of people who have the same problem. Everyone of us deals with certain areas of weakness. There are areas in our lives where we seem to be in a constant struggle for righteousness. The book of Hebrews refers to these areas as “the sin which doth so easily beset us”, Heb. 12:1.
The words “easily beset” mean “to skillfully surround”. Our flesh loves sin. Our enemy, Satan, is a shrewd enemy. He knows our weaknesses. He knows who to entice us and draw us away into evil, Ill. 2 Tim. 2:25-26. Satan lays the trap for us because he knows what makes us tick, James 1:12-16.
· Every person here has those areas of life that cause you trouble. There are areas where you are weak. Some have problems with their language. Some have problems with stubbornness and submission. Some have problems with gossip. Some have issues with sexual sin. Some have a pull toward alcohol and drugs. People struggles in many different areas.
You know the areas where you are weak. You know, that given the right circumstances, you will have trouble overcoming temptation.
If you want to succeed in the fight with sin, there are a few definite steps you can take.
Ø Do not play near the trap. If you know there is an area of danger in your life, stay away from that danger. (Ill. Joseph – Gen. 39:12; 2 Tim. 2:22; Eph. 4:27.) Satan is out to get you, so keep your distance, 1 Pet. 5:8.
Ø Look for the avenue of escape, 1 Cor. 10:13. God will make a way out of our temptations, but it is up to us to use it!
Ø Learn to consider yourself dead to sin and its influences, Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:3-5.
Ø Determine in your heart to serve God and Him only, Rom. 6:13; 1 Cor. 6:19-20.
· Sin is a constant problem for every saint, but it does not have to dominate and control our lives. We can have victory through our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 6:7, 14.
I. The Sin They Embraced
II. v. 1b-6 THE SUFFERING
(Ill. These verses chronicle the terrible price Israel paid for their foolishness in sinning against God. What they suffered serves to remind us that we do not get away with sin! We might think we can hide it. We might think no one will find out. The truth is, God knows, and in His time, He will expose it for what it is, Num. 32:23; Luke 12:1-3. Let’s examine what Israel endured because of their sins. As we do, let us remember that the same judgment, or worse might be upon our lives, if we fail to live for the Lord.)
A. v. 1b-2a They Suffered Invasion – Israel was oppressed by the Midianites. The Midianites were the descendants of Abraham just like the Israelites were. They descended from a man named Midian. Midian was the son of Abraham and Keturah, Gen. 25:1-6. Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died.
The Midianites appear from time to time in the Bible. Moses married a Midianite woman named Zipporah after he fled from Egypt, Ex. 2:21. In Numbers, the Midianites were counseled by Balaam to seduce the Israelite men and turn their hearts toward idols. It worked and over 24,000 Israelites died as a result, Num 25.
The word “Midian” means “strife”. The Midianites are a clear picture of the conflict the world around us has with the truth of God we are to believe and obey. They are a picture of a corrupt world and its desire to draw the people of God away from God.
The only reason the Midianites had power of the people of God was because the people of God were unfaithful to the Lord. Their sin lowered the wall of separation between them and the world. Israel got into trouble because they refused to walk with the Lord.
(Ill. When we refuse to stay close to the Lord and live according to His Word, we also open the door of affliction in our lives. Often, our troubles arise directly from our foolish decisions. Our sinful translates into weakness. Our weakness invites the enemies of righteousness to attack us. Our weakness often results in our being invaded by, attacked by and overrun by the world.)
B. v. 2 They Suffered Imprisonment – The oppression of Israel by the Midianites resulted in Israel losing its will to fight. They ran away and hid in the mountains while the enemy overran their land. Their sin made them weak. It caused them to lose their will to fight. It left them utterly defeated!
(Ill. When we allow sin to reign in our lives, we will find the same thing is true. Sin robs us of our character. It leaves us unwilling and unable to fight. When we allow sin to rule in our hearts, we become listless, lifeless and lethargic in our Christian life. Sin causes us to hide in fear while the enemy takes everything we value!
There are people in this room who have been imprisoned by your sins. You have allowed certain actions and ways of living dominate you so long that you have lost your will and ability to fight against them. You are a prisoner in your own life and you hide in fear from actions you think you cannot control.
The fact is, Jesus has the power to set you free, John 8:36. But, you cannot hide in fear of your sin and enjoy the Lord’s freedom! If you would be free, you must deal with your sin! You must confess it, Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9. You must repent of it, Luke 13:5. You must forsake it. You can be free, but you must be proactive. It will not simply happen by itself.)
C. v. 3-6 They Suffered Impoverishment – Verse 6 tells us that Israel was “impoverished”. This word means “to make slack or feeble”. It comes from a root word that was used to speak of “a bucket dangling from the end of a rope.” It is a picture of helplessness and hopeless. It is a picture of a people at the very end of themselves.
Israel was everything they love taken away from them. They planted their fields, v. 3, and their enemies came and took away their crops. They saw all of the livestock taken away, v. 4. They were left with “no sustenance”. They were literally made “weak”. They were literally “at the end of their rope”. Everything they valued was taken from them. Everything they needed to sustain life was gone. They were left with nothing!
(Ill. That’s what sin does! It strips us of everything we value and everything we live for. It leaves us slack, weak, at the very end of our rope. If you choose to live your life under the control of sin, do not be surprised when you look around and see the things you value taken from you.
Some people have chosen sin over a spouse and their marriage is gone. Some people raise their children to be the best, have the best and do the best, but they fail to raise teach them to love the Lord. Often, those parents see their children walk away from the Lord. Some people live for material things, forgetting that this material world is transient. When they end this life, they have nothing! Some people are caught up in getting their own way all the time. They forget that they must step on the feelings and needs of others to get there. There may come a time when people like that will look around and find that they are all alone!
I don’t know what you are investing in today, but I do know that investing in anything but Jesus pays dividends you do not want to reap, Gal. 6:7-8. I do know that investing in Jesus pays off in dividends that are eternal, Matt. 6:19-21. Where are you investing?)
I. The Sin They Embraced
II. The Suffering They Endured
III. v. 7-10 THEY SECURITY
(When the oppression of Israel become too great, they called on the Lord again. God heard their cry. By the way, isn’t God gracious to us? No matter how many times we fail Him; no matter how many times we turn away into sin, He is always there to forgives, receive us and restore us, when we repent and turn back to Him in faith. That is His promise to His people, 1 John 1:9. Thank God for His grace, faithfulness and mercy!
God heard their cry, but He did not give them a deliverer immediately. God sent them an unnamed prophet instead. He sent them a man of God with a word from Heaven.
This prophet’s message was designed to remind them of who they were. It was a message designed to confront their failure in light of God’s faithfulness.
The prophet’s message was designed to remind them of how good the Lord had been to them. It was designed to remind them how they should have been living because of their relationship with the Lord. Let’s examine that message for a few moments.)
A. v. 8b-9a They Are Reminded Of God’s Deliverance – God had moved in supernatural power to deliver Israel from their bondage in Egypt. God gave them a deliverer named Moses. God demonstrated His power of the Egyptian gods through the plagues that fell on the land. God brought them out in great power, parting the Red Sea, and allowing them to walk over on dry ground. If for nothing else, they should have been faithful to God because of His grace and salvation in their lives.
(Ill. God’s grace has been even more real in your life and mine! He has never parted a sea for me. He has never sent plagues for me. But, He did give His Son on a cross for me! He did put me in His plan before the world began. He did love me in spite of my sin. He did save me when I wasn’t even looking for Him. He did change my life just because I called on Him by faith. For that reason alone, He deserves my faithfulness, my love and my devotion.
I should not have to be coddled to get me to come to church. I should not be upset when I don’t get my way all the time. I should not whine, gripe and complain about my lot in life. I should not have to be begged to get me to serve the Lord. I was on my way to Hell when He saved me by grace! He should have my absolute, undivided attention!
Think back to how the Lord saved your soul! Does the fact that He saved you mean anything to you? It should mean everything!)
B. v. 9b They Are Reminded OF God’s Deeds – Not only did God deliver them from Egypt, God went with them every step of the way. He drove out their enemies. He led them. He fed them. He never failed them, even when they failed Him. He gave them a good land and blessed them far beyond what t hey deserved. They should have been faithful to Him because of His blessings on their lives!
(Ill. Look around! Look back! Look up! Look within! All around we can see the evidence of God’s blessings on our lives. He has been good to us! He has blessed us materially, physically, financially, and best of all, spiritually. He has been faithful to us and He has given us the best! I believe that we ought to be faithful to Him out of gratitude for all the things He has done for us! I wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for the Lord! Every good thing in my life has come to me through His hand, James 1:16-17.
Look at your blessings. Name them one by one! Hasn’t the Lord been good to you? Doesn’t He deserve your best in return? What if He took it all away today? I would still have to say that I am blessed. He has been good to me!)
C. v. 10 They Are Reminded Of God’s Demands – God reminds them that He, not the gods of the pagans, is their God. His words here remind us that He is a “jealous” God, Ex. 20:5; 34:14, Who will not allow those He has redeemed to go after other gods. Israel is made to see that they are suffering because they failed to keep God in first place. They have allowed other things to come ahead of Him and they are paying a high price for their low living.
(Ill. God has not changed! He is still a jealous God. If He has chosen you in Jesus, saved you by grace and entered into a saving relationship with you, He expects you to live for Him alone. He does not expect that you will live for yourself. He does not expect that you will live for your things. He expects that you will walk with Him, love Him and live according to His will. When you do, He will bless you greatly. When you don’t there is a price to pay. If you belong to the Lord, you can expect to pay a high price when you live below His standards, Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6-12.
Look at your life right now. Who is first in your life? If it is anyone other than Him, you are headed for trouble!
Conc: Low living carries a high price! What will your disobedience cost you if it continues? What price are you willing to pay for your sin? Whatever it is, your sin is not worth what it will cost you in the long run!
If the Lord has spoken to your heart about any area of life, bring it to Him right now. Are you saved? Are you living close and clean? Are you faithful to Him? Are you reaping the whirlwind in your life? Come to Him right now and deal with the areas of your life that He has spoken to today!