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WEEK 2 -MARCH 24-30

LESSON 4

TURNING FROM TIMIDITY

LESSON TEXT:

JUDGES 6:1-6, 11-24, 36-40; 


MEMORY VERSE
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV


KEY TERMS
Conditioned—Adapted, modified, or molded so as to conform to an environ­ment.
Corroboration—Evidence that confirms or supports a statement, theory, or finding; confirmation.
Timidity—A lack of courage or confi­dence; being easily frightened.


SUGGESTED EMPHASIS

In his final epistle, the Apostle Paul shared a breathtaking truth with Timothy when he wanted to strengthen the young pastor's resolve. Paul reminded his protégé in 2 Timothy 1:6 that an anointing had been conferred upon him during his ordination. Then the apostle specifically mentioned what that anointing did not include: a "spirit of fear" was not part of the transfer. It is interesting that Paul didn't use the Greek word phobos (which is best translated "terror") but instead used deilias (which is best translated "timidity"). He was not warning of the emotion that suddenly grips us in a moment of crisis or danger; he meant the conditioned response of wariness and reluctance that accompanies a wounded psyche. A timid nature is a quagmire for a servant of the Lord, so we will discuss in this lesson how to extract ourselves when we're sinking in the quicksand of fearfulness.

Emphasis 1: Thrown into a State of Perpetual Fear

In Judges chapter 6, we find the Israelites again facing punishment for breaking cove­nant with the Lord. This time, rather than occupation or enslavement, a foreign adver­sary engaged in a pillaging campaign, conducting raids on the farm land like a plague of locusts (Judges 6:5). The Midianite forays into Israel were designed to menace the people, not just steal from them: "they entered into the land to destroy it." Their ac­tions were purposely terroristic, and they left the inhabitants of the countryside feeling helpless and jittery. The persistent nature of the threat must have inflicted PTSD on the populace: how else do we explain Gideon's predicament, threshing wheat in a wine press? Obviously, that task should have been performed on a hilltop, so the wind could assist the separation of the chaff from the grain; Gideon was willing to make the chore many times harder to avoid detection by the Midianites. Israelite fear was so oppressive, they were making irrational choices. This is evidence of conditioned fear or timidity.

Emphasis 2: What Mighty Man of Valor?

While engaged in his futile labors, Gideon was visited by an angel, who addressed him as a "mighty man of valor" (Jdg. 6:12). He certainly didn't look valorous in that wine press, but we know God "calls those things which do not exist as though they did" (Romans 4:17). The appellation "mighty man of valor" was prophetic. Before too long, Gideon would be defying his own clan by hewing down the idolatrous altar and groves on his father's property (Jdg. 6:27) and then leading a vastly outnumbered band against the confederate might of the Midianites, Amalekites and desert dwellers ("the children of the east," Jdg. 7:12, KJV).

Indeed, this buried layer of boldness was first evident when he contradicted the heav­enly visitor. Agitated as he was by the Midianite threat, he couldn't bother to be fright­ened of the angel. He openly debated whether the nation was truly blessed, given their recent troubles (Jdg. 6:13), and argued that his origins were too lowly to merit the assignment as a deliverer (Jdg. 6:15). His argumentative behavior required at least a measure of courage

Emphasis 3: The Remedy for Timidity

When the angel persisted in asserting the call on Gideon's life, our protagonist made a wise choice: he asked for corroboration. He asked the angel to provide his "creden­tials" to convey this message (Jdg. 6:17). Like a presage of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, Gide­on prepared a sacrifice that he then drenched, and he waited for the heavenly envoy to summon a supernatural blaze to consume it (Jdg. 6:21). He looked for proof from "the God who answers by fire."

On the strength of that sign, Gideon carried out the aforementioned destruction of his father's idols to Baal and Ashtaroth. Later, though, he was still struggling with his call, and so he resorted to requesting more confirmation. Famously, he invented the test of the fleece: He put a sheep-skin throw on the threshing floor one night and prayed God soak the fleece with dew while leaving the ground dry. When the Lord answered that test, Gideon followed up the next night with another test: this time he asked for the ground to be wet and the sheep-skin dry. Because God performed the two miracles, the matter was settled for the erstwhile warrior.

Some people believe that seeking corroboration of a prophetic word is evidence of a lack of faith, but such super-piety is unwarranted according to Scripture. Remember how God rebuked Ahaz for not choosing a sign to confirm His promises to him (Isaiah 7:10-13)? The Lord is intimately aware of our proclivity to doubt. He wants us to seek confirmation to drive fear and doubt away. It is His tool to help us meet His demands on our lives.


MISSION APPLICATION QUESTIONS

What had prompted the timidity in Gideon's nature? How did it threaten his God-given mission?
Why should believers who are given a prophetic word seek corroboration of it?
Is there ever an instance when God would not approve of our asking for a sign?

WORLD MISSIONS PRAYER POINTS

Let us pray that our will becomes what is truly the Father's will.
Let us pray for the boldness to step out to fulfill our purpose in Him.