This content is part of a series.
NOTE: This sermon is part 13 and 14 of a 40 part devotional series. Two sermons outlines are included in this download.
Thirteenth Day (13 of 40)
Series: Lenten Devotion
‘‘Yahweh said, ‘Gideon, your army is too big. I can’t let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn’t have anything to do with it.’’’ Judges 7:2
To start with, the odds weren’t too good for Gideon. Sure, Gideon had a force of 32,000, but the enemy numbered over 130,000. One to four odds in a battle of personal confrontation doesn’t strike my fancy as very good. When Yahweh whittled Gideon’s force down to 10,000, the odds were one to thirteen. God still did not like those numbers. Sure, it would definitely be a stretch for them to win, but if they won with those numbers they would be proud of their heroic prowess, bravery, skill, and stamina. When Gideon was left with 300 men, God was finally pleased.
One man up against 433 was simply impossible odds. There was no way they could claim credit for a victory in those conditions. They did not have superior weaponry with which to mow down their enemies at a safe distance. They did not have modern air superiority or automatic assault weapons. In fact, they did not have the capability to even begin a battle. All they had was the opportunity to allow God to work through them and in spite of them.
Fourteenth Day (14 of 40)
Series: Lenten Devotion
‘‘Jesus asked, ‘What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and kill those renters and let someone else have his vineyard. You surely know that the Scriptures say, ‘‘The stone that the builders tossed aside is now the most important stone of all. This is something Yahweh has done, and it is amazing to us.’’’’’ Mark 12:9-11
When Jesus’ words sound harsh, they seem directed not at unbelievers, but at those who call themselves God’s people. They are the ones he criticized most strongly. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and other religious leaders were too comfortable with their standing before God. In hanging onto those things they held dear, they were forgetting about serving God according to God’s plans. They were overly focused on being right, on belonging, on holding onto a tradition, heritage, and promise.
Jesus did not mince words. He painted a bleak picture of those self-righteous religious leaders. It was not that they didn’t have a good set of answers. It was not that they didn’t hold to a good tradition. It was not that they didn’t claim the promises of God through the prophets. It was not any failure to offer sacrifice, worship as prescribed, or study and memorize God’s revealed word. It was that they did all these things to serve themselves, rather than God or those in need of God’s message.