June 28, 2015 – July 4, 2015
“Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.” Joshua 24:31.
Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 543-548
“The Israelites yielded only a partial obedience to the command of God [to drive out all the inhabitants of Canaan], and for many generations they were afflicted by a remnant of the idolatrous nation.” The Signs of the Times, January 13, 1881.
1 THE COVENANT RENEWED AND THEN FORGOTTEN
- At the end of his days, how did Joshua exhort the people to remain faithful to the Lord? And how did they respond to his exhortation? Joshua 24:15, 16, 20–26.
Note: “God had placed His people in Canaan as a mighty breastwork to stay the tide of moral evil, that it might not flood the world. If faithful to Him, God intended that Israel should go on conquering and to conquer. He would give into their hands nations greater and more powerful than the Canaanites.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 544.
- However, what did they do after the death of Joshua? Judges 2:7, 8, 11, 12; 3:5–7.
Note: “The disregard of the Lord’s restrictions on the part of those who came in possession of Canaan sowed seeds of evil that continued to bring forth bitter fruit for many generations. … By their sins the Israelites were separated from God; His strength was removed from them, and they could no longer prevail against their enemies.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 545.
2 “THERE WAS EVER A REMNANT”
- What term does the Bible use for the reformers of this period of church history? What word is used to describe the reformatory work of these servants of God? Judges 2:16, 18.
- Describe the depth of backsliding that the people of God experienced? Psalm 78:58–62. Due to His remembrance of the covenant promises to Abraham, how did God work to deliver His people from their enemies? Psalm 78:65, 66.
- No matter how many may turn away from God, what assurance do we have that the truth will never be left without faithful standard bearers? Isaiah 1:9; Romans 11:1–5. What suggests that God will also use a faithful remnant to reform His people in the time of the end? Ecclesiastes 3:15.
Note: “He [God] did not utterly forsake His people. There was ever a remnant who were true to Jehovah; and from time to time the Lord raised up faithful and valiant men to put down idolatry and to deliver the Israelites from their enemies.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 545.
“The great Head Who moves in the midst of His candlesticks will never be without a church. …
“If we refuse to let our light shine for the Master … others will do that very work which we might have done and could have done, but refused to do.” The Review and Herald, June 7, 1887.
“Many who have had great light have not appreciated and improved it. … They will deny the principles of truth in practice and bring reproach upon the cause of God.
“Christ declares that He will spue these out of His mouth. …
“The Lord will give His message to those who have walked in accordance with the light they have had, and will recognize them as true and faithful. … These men will take the place of those who, having light and knowledge, have walked not in the way of the Lord, but in the imagination of their own unsanctified hearts.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 421, 422.
“In the hour of the church’s greatest danger most fervent prayer will be offered in her behalf by the faithful remnant.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 524.
3 ISRAEL’S CRY TO GOD OUT OF DESPERATION
- Mention some of the deliverers from among the faithful remnant that God raised in the early times of the judges. Judges 3:9, 15, 31; 4:4, 6. After these heroes, who was called to break the yoke of the oppressors? Judges 6:11–14.
Note: “To Gideon came the divine call to deliver his people. … He sadly pondered upon the condition of Israel and considered how the oppressor’s yoke might be broken from off his people.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 546.
- Why did Gideon request a sign from the One who was speaking to him? Judges 6:17–21.
Note: “Gideon desired some token that the one now addressing him was the Covenant Angel, who in time past had wrought for Israel. Angels of God, who communed with Abraham, had once tarried to share his hospitality; and Gideon now entreated the divine Messenger to remain as his guest. Hastening to his tent, he prepared from his scanty store a kid and unleavened cakes, which he brought forth and set before Him. But the Angel bade him, ‘Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth’ (Judges 6:20). Gideon did so, and then the sign which he had desired was given: with the staff in His hand, the Angel touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and a flame bursting from the rock consumed the sacrifice. Then the Angel vanished from his sight.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 547.
- What assurance calmed Gideon after he had set his eyes on Christ as the Angel of the Covenant and became afraid for his very life? Judges 6:22, 23.
Note: “These gracious words were spoken by the same compassionate Saviour Who said to the tempted disciples upon the stormy sea, ‘It is I; be not afraid’ (Mark 6:50),—He who appeared to those sorrowing ones in the upper chamber, and spoke the selfsame words addressed to Gideon, ‘Peace be unto you’ (Luke 24:36).” The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1881.
4 THE FIRST WORK—A REFORMATION IN THE HOME
- Where did Gideon start the work of reformation in Israel? Judges 6:25, 27, 28.
Note: “Gideon’s father, Joash, who shared in the apostasy of his countrymen, had erected at Ophrah, where he dwelt, a large altar to Baal, at which the people of the town worshiped. Gideon was commanded to destroy this altar and to erect an altar to Jehovah over the rock on which the offering had been consumed, and there to present a sacrifice to the Lord. The offering of sacrifice to God had been committed to the priests, and had been restricted to the altar at Shiloh; but He who had established the ritual service, and to Whom all its offerings pointed, had power to change its requirements. The deliverance of Israel was to be preceded by a solemn protest against the worship of Baal. Gideon must declare war upon idolatry before going out to battle with the enemies of his people.
“The divine direction was faithfully carried out. Knowing that he would be opposed if it were attempted openly, Gideon performed the work in secret; with the aid of his servants, accomplishing the whole in one night.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 547.
- The next morning, what was the reaction of the men of the city when they saw that the altar of Baal had been destroyed? Judges 6:30.
- How did Joash, as a prominent man in the city, stand in defense of his son, and what did he say to the multitude? Judges 6:31, 32.
Note: “Great was the rage of the men of Ophrah when they came next morning to pay their devotions to Baal. They would have taken Gideon’s life had not Joash—who had been told of the Angel’s visit—stood in defense of his son. [Judges 6:31 quoted.] If Baal could not defend his own altar, how could he be trusted to protect his worshipers?” Patriarchs and Prophets, 547, 548.
5 QUALITIES NEEDED IN CHRIST’S SOLDIERS
- What lesson should the soldiers of the cross learn from Gideon? Romans 15:4; I Peter 3:15.
Note: “The Lord is willing to do great things for us. We shall not gain the victory through numbers, but through the full surrender of the soul to Jesus. We are to go forward in His strength, trusting in the mighty God of Israel. …
“The Lord is just as willing to work through human efforts now, and to accomplish great things through weak instrumentalities. It is essential to have an intelligent knowledge of the truth; for how else could we meet its wily opponents? The Bible must be studied, not alone for the doctrines it teaches, but for its practical lessons. You should never be surprised, you should never be without your armor on. Be prepared for any emergency, for any call of duty. Be waiting, watching for every opportunity to present the truth, familiar with the prophecies, familiar with the lessons of Christ. But do not trust in well-prepared arguments. Argument alone is not enough. God must be sought on your knees; you must go forth to meet the people through the power and influence of His Spirit.
“Act promptly. God would have you minute men, as were the men who composed Gideon’s army. Many times ministers are too precise, too calculating. While they are getting ready to do a great work, the opportunity for doing a good work passes unimproved. The minister moves as though the whole burden rested on himself, a poor finite man, when Jesus is carrying him and his burden too. Brethren, trust self less, and Jesus more.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1003, 1004.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 When the Jews were established in Canaan, what happened after the death of Joshua?
2 What assurance do we have that the truth will never be left without faithful standard bearers?
3 Where did Gideon start the work of reformation in Israel?
4 How did Joash try to calm down the anger of the people?
5 What lesson should we learn from the good work of Gideon?
© 2014 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.