Sermon November 27, 2005 : Judges 7:7
- Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda November 27, 2005
- Date: November 27, 2005
- Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA
In the Book of Judges, chapter 7. This is a word of the Lord evidently for our lives this morning.
Let’s go to verse 7 and we will go from there very quickly, jump over. I’m going to read it in English for the sake of time and our brothers and sisters there will read it in the Spanish version.
Judges 7, verse 7 on: “The Lord said to Gideon: with the 300 men that lapped I will save you, and give the Midianites into your hands, let all the other men go each to his own place. So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the 300 who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley, during that night the Lord said to Gideon: get up, go down against the camp because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Phurah and listen, listen to what they are saying. Afterwards you will be encouraged to attack the camp.
So he and Phurah, his servant, went down to the outpost of the camp. The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the eastern people had settled in the valley thick as locusts, their camels no more be counted, than the sand on the seashore. Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream.
I had a dream, he was saying, a round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, it struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed. His friend responded: this can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon, son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out: get up, the Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands. Dividing the 300 men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them with torches inside.
Watch me, he told them, follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp, blow yours and shout for the Lord and for Gideon. Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard.
They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars, grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets that they were to blow. They shouted: A sword for the Lord and for Gideon. While each man held his position around the camp all the Midianites ran crying out as they fled.
When the 300 trumpets sounded, the Lord caused that the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords, the army fled to Bethshittah toward Zererath, as far as the border of Abelmeholah, near Tabbath.”
Let’s leave it there for the moment. It’s a wonderful word for us this morning. God has recorded in his book all these mighty interventions throughout history and in times of trial of his people, the Israelites, because He wants us to learn spiritual principles that we can use when we find ourselves overwhelmed, outnumbered, in times of persecution, where the enemy seems to be taking over and be so much more numerous than we are, and everything seems to be against us. Those are the times when the Lord loves to show up and do His might work on behalf of His people.
The church of Jesus Christ needs to know that the way that God acted on behalf of the Israelites throughout history and all in these different texts that we have in Scripture, are for us to learn how to harness the power of the spirit, how to harness the dynamics of the spirit, to learn principles that we can apply for our own lives. I’d like to apply this word to the time that is being lived, right now, by the church, both in America and all the Western world, Africa, rather Europe, Australia, Canada, all these places where industrialization and reason have taken over, and the church finds itself outnumbered and finds itself in a defensive position, it finds itself sometimes irrelevant, it finds itself having lost many times its reputation, pastors used to be the most prestigious members of the community in all kinds of polls in America. Today that is not so any longer, we’re there probably with the lawyers and the cars salesmen. The church has lost so much realm as a result of what is happening to us spiritually.
Undoubtedly the church of Jesus Christ has lost a lot of its impact, a lot of its clouds particularly in the industrialized western word. In other places, in the two third world, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, there’s a huge revival. That is doing mighty things, because people are flowing in the dynamics of the spirit, but here in America it’s extremely different, the situation is very similar to what we find in the Book of Judges: Israel surrounded, its leaders demoralized, an enemy that is growing increasingly superior, its entire life disrupted and at the mercy of whatever the enemy dictates rather than being in control, being in peace, able to pursue its agenda proactively.
We find ourselves more or less reacting to the crisis that the enemy throws our way and simply putting out fires in isolated fashion, while the enemy keeps us distracted, and keeps us away from God’s true agenda, which is to conquer the land, which is disciple the nation, which is to penetrate society with the living and the values and the world, the view of Christianity.
When the angel comes to Gideon and approaches him and says: “God is with you, oh mighty man of valor”, Gideon is so demoralized that he can only think: well, I’m so small, I’m insignificant. If God is with us, well why is all this happening to us? I’m nobody, I cannot do anything. I’m the smallest of a small tribe in a small nation that is right now outnumbered. He was a symbol of the demoralized state of God’s spiritual people.
What we have done this morning is sort of jump sort of fast forward to the culminating moment of Gideon’s ministry. The Lord has dealt with him in certain ways and there have been some preparatory steps taken and now we see Gideon getting ready to engage the battle. God has called them, the enemy has gathered, everything is set, the whole scenario is set for a major confrontation.
As we see the principles and the manner in which Gideon engages the enemy and the way the battle is joined and what happens in this moment that we have looked at in the passage, we can glean certain principles that the church now needs to use against this numerous enemy, this powerful enemy, as God gets ready to confront the enemy. We are in that moment now.
There has been a lot of prophetic utterance going all over the world and all over this nation, about New England and about Massachusetts and even about Boston, more specifically, and these words have been ways of God saying: I am ready, I am getting ready to do it. Do not lose heart. Yes, I am going to do it, be ready for it, and now I think there’s enough prophesy to go around, God is going to do it and we have entered into that moment. I think we are in that moment where Gideon is looking at the armies that are raided against God’s army, and now we are in the position of aggression. We are, right now, in the proactive position. We are coming to the enemy.
You know this is the time of definition, this is the moment when all the preparation and all different things are becoming defined. You know God is defining His people. God is defining the enemy and God is defining those who are going to fight for Him as well and this is why there had to be a definition also in the army that Gideon was going to use. There were many people who said: yes, I will go, I’ll do this, but there was no definition. This is the moment of definition and God has used, I believe, this whole thing about marriage and you know, homosexual marriage and homosexuality, all it is, it’s simply God’s way of defining, of forcing definition, both of the enemy and also of those who will not fight on his behalf even though they say that they want to fight for him. People say that we are obsessed with homosexuality. We’re not obsessed with homosexuality. Homosexuality is simply a minor element in God’s consciousness, but we believe there is a war that is being represented by this, that’s all it is. It is a symbolic instrument that God is using to force people to take sides, to force to a definition.
God always separates things, in the moment of battle there has to be a separation and people have to identify themselves. What they believe about scripture? What they believe about God’s design? What they believe about God’s creative purpose? What they believe about human sexuality? What they believe about the word? Is it the word of God or is it some sort of utterance of men who lived 2000 years ago and who were, sort of, hostage to the circumstances and the knowledge of the time, or was it revelation from the Master who designed the entire universe now and forever. And these are things that need to be defined.
There are five things in Gideon’s specific strategy that he follows and I’ll just go through them extremely quickly: engagement is a principle that the church needs to use these days. Engagement.
Number two: anointing. Anointing is an important principle.
The third principle is prophetic discernment.
So we have engagement, anointing, the third principle, prophetic discernment.
The fourth element that we see in this text is visibility.
And the last principle is proclamation.
Engagement, anointing, prophetic discernment, visibility and proclamation.
Let’s take the first one: engagement. The enemy needed to be confronted. Scripture causes to identify and resist the enemy and the enemy assumes different forms and shapes throughout the history. He may come with a different garment, depending on the culture and the time of history that we are living. The church is called in each time of history, as it lives within a season of God’s plan to human kind, to identify the enemy, name those places of battle and to engage the enemy, to confront him in that place where he manifests himself. We need to confront the various elements that oppose Christianity in our culture.
In the state of Massachusetts, in the United States, some of these principles, we could call them rationalism, for example, or apostasy as we see so much of the church, of their spiritual rebelliousness, secularism, sexual license, spiritual pride, skepticism about God’s word. These are all spiritual forces, strong holes that have been unleashed upon this culture and this nation and the church needs to confront them. We need to name them and we need to go against them, in the same way that David went against Goliath. He named him, identified him, confronted him.
Many churches are afraid of sounding the alarm as brother Basil was saying, of taking proactive measures, for fear of seeming militant and hateful. Unfortunately we have fallen into the trap of emotional blackmail and have allowed our opponents to rag one victory after another, while he says to us, you know: don’t offend me, don’t say anything against me, you are hateful, you’re homophobic, you’re not loving, you’re self-righteous, and we have allowed all of that cursing to wash into our spirit and to render us into timidity, fear, quietness, reservation, conservatism and the enemy just continues taking over the land and taking hold of all the strategic places within the culture and the nation and this fear has entered into our hearts and we dare not confront the enemy.
He has used the spiritual word that he has uttered upon us, and we have not been strong enough to resist that word and so the fear of the enemy just as it took over Peter, when he was confronted as Jesus was being crucified, it was a supernatural fear because Peter was not a timid man, but many times the enemy will utter a curse upon our lives, upon the church and unless the church is discerning enough to swipe aside the intimidation of the enemy we will also fall into silence, into a supernatural fear that we cannot shake, a kind of a dream-like state of frozenness where we hear the voices but we do not act because we do not have the power to.
Gideon had to take a public stand and confront the idolatry, even though it was unpopular at the beginning. You remember the story God told him: go take the idol of Asherah, tear it down, destroy it. Gideon tried to do it at night not to be seen, but in the morning people knew that it was him, because God wants his people to be defined, you see? God wants his people to go and confront the enemy, the battle has to be joined, the enemy has to be identified. The war has to be engaged in, in order for God to do what He wants to do. God does not work in ambiguous, ambivalent scenarios. He’s a God of clarity, everything in Him is yes and amen, and the churches need to flow in that same decisive spirit that our Father flows in.
The church needs to confront the enemy. We need to adopt attitudes that will be unpopular at the beginning, but in the end, what did the people do? They joined him, you see. When there is definition and that definition has the seal of approval of God, the timid will then come and engage, they will take energy and courage from the decided ones. But unless we confront and we don’t have to do this in a hateful, self-righteous, accusatory sort of way, we can confront in the loving spirit of Jesus Christ, with the one of the most confrontative beings that I have ever seen, who said “ I have come not to bring peace but to bring the sword.”
We have been so demonic lied that love is what accepts all, indiscriminative. That unity is what does not discriminate between what is of God and what isn’t. We simply have just one big party and we invite everybody, even the demons can come and we can have unity, that is a demonic lie that we must understand has to be confronted.
We must speak the truth in love, in humility, grace, acknowledgment of our own brokenness, our own weakness, our own need for the grace of God. That does not prevent us from announcing what God has declared in His word. There is this demonic definition of unity and of love that is simply an amalgam of all the indiscriminative energies that want to be thrown into a denomination or into a church and somehow we take that in order to be loving and to be unified in our understanding. We simply say; throw the doors open and let everything come in. That is not love, that is not unity. Love affirms life, love is fiercely against anything that smells of death or the destruction of human energy, of human structures. Love stands fiercely at the door and says to the enemy: you shall not pass through here.
The enemy has to be confronted. The battle needs to be engaged, the church needs to define the battle and in a loving but firm way, it has to say: this is of God, this is not of God, and we need to prepare for the battle.
The second element that I see here is anointing. The anointing of God. Gideon did not fight with his own strength, he had no strength. You can see it right from the very beginning of his biography but the Lord looked at him, the angel looked at him, and I believe that in that look there was a commissioning as well, there was a transference of power. The angel said: go in this power that you have, in this authority that you have. I believe that that authority came from God.
The church cannot fight this battle with human weapons, institutional techniques, publicity from the world, great equipment and physical facilities, administrated techniques, leadership seminars and so on, I believe in all of those things, I bless God for each one of them, I’m a passionate advocate of all those things but that is not where the power lies. The power of God must be in our lives, in our churches, the anointing of the Holy Spirit must be there. The battle has to be fought in the power of God.
Gideon had that encounter with the Lord, because of that anointing he had the power of convocation. When he blew the trumpet, people gathered around him. The conflict has to be engaged at that level. The church must see the power of God, we must seek that power today. It’s not the human techniques as I have said, but they have their place, Jesus spoke of remaining in Him and He in us and then we would bare much fruit. We obtain the power of God through prayer, through consecration of our lives, through dwelling in the word and the principles of God’s word, through service, through giving, through holiness, through seeking the anointing, through fasting and in turning ourselves in the intimacy of God that we spoke about last Sunday. And as we stay and stand in the presence of God the power of God is transmitted to us and we move in that same power. But there has to be that intimacy, that dwelling on the mysteries of God’s revelation and that moving within that in order for us to receive the anointing to move against the enemy.
Churches that seek the power and pay the price will be blessed and used of God to carry out the victory that God wants, but we must dwell in the anointing. It is in the supernatural power of God that this battle must be carried out.
We have engagement, we have anointing. The third thing that we see is a prophetic discernment. Gideon we see him in constant communication with God. God is always downloading His latest instructions. We see God saying to Gideon over here: go down to the battle ground and go and spy, and hear what is being said and you will take courage. Because He knew that Gideon, despite the anointing, he was still, you know afraid, it was a major, major thing. So we see him all the time, God tells him: go and separate your army and only take the men that I will tell you. Go and destroy the idol of Asherah. We see in scripture God is a God of strategy. God gives a strategy to His people and they need to discern God’s voice in a timely fashion.
God is a communicating God. God communicated his word for all eternity but He actualizes his word. He gave his word but He also likes to give words to his people and so God’s people need to learn to flow in the prophetic flow. God needs ministries and ministers and churches and lay people who can hear from God because God wants to give us specific words for the battle, specific strategy on how to engage the enemy in this time. We face an extremely sophisticated enemy and the weapons that we need to use today are not the weapons that were used before, but this is a systemically thinking generation.
Reason has taken over. We are so sophisticated, secular man is more unified than ever and has more resources to stay in his demonic state for as long as he can. He has enough resources, his mind has been co-opted. There’s a steel bubble around the minds of this generation and we cannot penetrate them with the arrows of 200 years ago and so we need to hear from God very specific instructions and the church of God needs to flow in a prophetic way and listen, how are we going to wage urban warfare, western warfare, XXI century warfare for the church, so we need that tuning in into the divine realm that we were speaking about.
We need a church that can flow in the gifts of the spirit, that can tune in to the supernatural, that can move in the realm of healing and deliverance and discernment of the deep, deep dimensions of God’s word that are reserved for the last time, for the end times. We need a church that knows how to take people that are in bondage spiritually and mentally, broken in all kinds of ways and hear from God what it is that we need to do. We need to hear from God how to build powerful churches that have the energy of the spirit in them and that have enough of life to share with others outside, out of the excess of life that we can generate. By hearing from God, then that life we share with others outside, but if we have no life inside because we have not been able to hear from God, how to engender that life, we will not have it to be able to share with others.
God is using the humble, the weak, the economical disenfranchised, the politically powerless and those people cannot act with the weapons of the world because we do not have the weapons of the world, we have no choice but to go before the Father and use the power that comes from God, that’s why God is choosing the weak, that why God’s choosing the immigrants, that’s why God is choosing the ignorant because He wants them to learn the powers of the spirit so we can use those powers, those tools, so that the glory will be His and not of man. We do it because of all our big accessories, we would never give the glory to God. We need to flow therefore in the prophetic discernment.
I’m winding here down the fourth element is visibility. Gideon’s men placed themselves in visible positions, they went around, they strategically placed themselves in places when they would do what they had to do, they would be seen and heard and they would be present.
Many of our churches they are taking refuge in their elegant sanctuaries in suburbia and even in the store front of the inner city and we are there having our great parties and enjoying and worshiping and so on, but really the battle is out there. We come here to be energized, we come here to be equipped, we come here to be filled, we come here to receive strategy, we come here to be healed, we come here to be forgiven, we come here to be rejuvenated and renewed in our vision but then we go outside and we use that energy to do what God wants us to do. It has to be out there, it’s not here.
It’s great to be here, it’s great to celebrate, it’s great to worship, but if all we do is stay here and people are not coming to the Lord, if we are not having an impact on the structures of society, if we are not visible, if we are not felt, if we do not make a difference and none of what happens here makes any difference either.
We have to be out there, we have to be restless looking for ways. We have to be energetic, entrepreneurial, finding ways. How can I take the little talent that God has given me and invest it? How can we as a church, we must remain restless, the leadership of this church, all of us, Lord, how can we do more for you? How can we bring more resources into the kingdom? How can we be more active? How can we give more of our time? I wish we didn’t have to sleep or eat or rest, so just we could give all of ourselves to the Lord to the kingdom, because God needs that kind of energy, that kind of entrepreneurial attitude of the church, to be visible out there. We will not be pushed into the sea by anybody. We need to let the people know that the church of God is here to stay.
Just a couple of days ago I read in the Internet, here in Boston, there’s a tree that has been given by Nova Scotia for 50, 60 years in gratitude for a favor that Boston did in a time of a great fire in Nova Scotia, and the mayor with all respect to him, and some city officials, decided that the name Christmas tree was offensive perhaps to some who might feel that, you know we were somehow disrespecting their traditions, so they decided to change the name from Christmas tree to Holiday Tree because it was much more acceptable. Thank God that a group of Christians who were very vigilant about those things came forward and threatened to sew the city of Boston if they changed the name, and the city backed down and it is still a Christmas tree. Praise the Lord, because the church was visible, because the church was present, because the church was engaging, because the church was anointed, because the church was willing to confront the powers that are the antichrist spirit that is permeating this culture.
We need to be visible. We need to be active. We need to be proactive. We need to take the battle to the enemy. We need to be systemic in a way of thinking. We need to be coherent. We need to plan. We need to determine what is it that God wants us to do. We need to sit down and determine the agenda and take the agenda out there day by day, measure by measure, step by step, until God’s blessing is completely downloaded into the culture.
And the final element is proclamation. Gideon proclaimed God’s will through the weapons he chose. These were weapons of visibility and of power and of invasiveness. They made noise. They were seen in the middle of the darkness. They vibrated. They were shouts of God’s will. You see, this is where the power lies. Many times in scripture you see that when God wants to do something really mighty and destroy something that is overwhelming powerful, He uses proclamation. He told the people in Jericho, march around, let them see you for six days, let them wonder what are these fools up to. Let their minds be penetrated with the vision of who you are, and intrigued of what it is that you guys are up to. Get them psychologically upset for the a while. The church now is psychologically upset and we are receiving the enemy’s psychic warfare all the time. Now God says: now you bring that kind of psychic invasiveness into the psyche of the secular world. Use the weapons that I have given you of visibility.
The power of the church is in the full proclamation of the word of God, the mysteries of the word of God, the full revelation, without one little dot or comma taken out of it, because when we begin to compromise one little element of the word, we have entered into a pact with the devil, we have in a very implicit, a very powerful, diplomatic sort of way, acknowledged that it is not God’s word 100% and we have made a spiritual transaction. Many churches do not understand this and in their good desire to be politically correct, not to scandalize anyone, not to scandalize visitors, not to scandalize those who may be in process.
Many pastors in their good desire have taken big portions of the word of God that are scandalizing, offensive and controversial and have quietly laid them aside in their preaching in order to be decent and elegant and sensitive to the secret. But you know, this is the technique of Madison Avenue, it is not the technique that I find in the word of God, it is not the technique that the church has followed in 2000 years. The church does not wage warfare with carnal, rational weapons. We wage warfare in the spiritual realm because our warfare is against principalities and powers, that dwell in the spiritual realm. I prefer to pay up front and antagonize people and have them leave my church as much as I love them, but be faithful to the word and to the mysteries of the spirit because I know that if I do that, God will bless me, and God will bless the ministry and God will prosper us.
I believe that if God has blessed in any minimal way as a community, as a congregation, is because we have made a solemn pact to be faithful to the word of God. I don’t care who gets upset. I don’t care who stops giving us grants. I don’t care if the authorities of the city no longer look at us with good, positive eyes. I want serve and I want to please my Master, because men come and go, leaders come and go but the word of God stands forever. We must be faithful to the word of God. We don’t accomplish it all the time, but we must try.
When the Gospel is preached in all its power, in all its fullness it is scandalous. That is what Jesus Christ is, He is the stone of scandal. People trip against him all the time because He’s not every man for everybody. It’s well defined and we need to be defined as well. Praise the Lord.
We need to engage the enemy. We need to be anointed. We need to flow in the prophetic power of the Lord. We need to be visible and we need to proclaim the full Gospel.
If you want a covenant, that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s just covenant as a church and as people of God. We are going to do this, Father. We are going to engage the enemy. We are going to seek your anointing, Lord. We want to flow in the gifts of your spirit, Father. We cannot do it alone. We want to hear from you. We want your directions, Lord. And we will be visible. We want to be out there. Put fire in us. Make us restless, Lord and Father keep us chained to your word. We will not negotiate. We will not compromise. Father, help us to live, help us to incorporate your word. Help us to treasure every letter of it, every principle, Lord. We must flow in the fullness of your revelation. We thank you Lord. We covenant with you Holy Spirit today as a church as individuals.
Father will your people right now. Lord I send this prayer to every community, every church, every village, Father, in New England, in the name of Jesus Christ, Father, as we proclaim this word, we know that there are other air waves of the spirit, that You can take this anywhere you want. Father, we proclaim this as an agenda for your church today. We proclaim this for the spirit that is going to flow in your people today. Father, begin here, begin with me. Sanctify us, cleanse us, purify us, confront us, align us with you. Take away whatever is not of you and leave us completely purified, completely concentrated in your call to worship you, to serve you, to obey you, to wage war in your behalf in a loving, well defined manner, honoring your word, Father. May your people arise, may your people arise. May your churches arise. May your leaders arise. May your pastors arise. May your prophets arise, Father. May your Apostles arise. May the church, Lord , arise in the power of the Holy Spirit and proclaim that You are the same now, today and forever. Jesus you have not changed.
Just receive that word in your spirit. You are the Lord, Father. We declare this today, You are the Lord, there is no other Lord and we will not be pushed into the sea, Father. Oh, thank you, Lord. We receive your spirit, receive your newness of strength and your power today. Come Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit. Fill us. Come Holy Spirit. Fill us. Yes, ¡Alleluia! ¡Alleluia!
|Sermon given by Dr. Roberto Miranda November 27, 2005 in Congregation Lion of Judah (53 min.)||Listen|||||View (100K)|||||View (400K)|