Submission, Sacrifice, And Victory

Joshua 6:1, 25-26

6:1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

6:25 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that [is] by it:

6:26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.

My Wife and I were listening to the Bible together this week, we enjoy doing that.  It was in the book of Judges concerning the life of Gideon.  God’s Word is so wonderful. No matter how many times that you’ve read it, there is always something new in it.  We both knew the life of Gideon, I had preached on it, and she had taught about him.  However, we enjoyed seeing something that day that we never remembered seeing before.

God told Gideon to take the second bullock, not the first, and to sacrifice it.  He was to do this, after the idolatrous altar had been destroyed.  Gideon was to tear down the grove also, and to use the wood to burn in the sacrifice.  A question came to mind that I never remembered asking before.  Why the second bullock, why not the first?

In Gill’s Exposition, he pointed out that the bullock was the same age as the number of years of Israel’s oppression.  Think of it. On the very day that God used Midian to woo Israel to return to Him, He caused this calf to be born.  Seven years. In the midst of the Midianites taking their harvest, God kept this bullock alive.  He knew that this animal, born on the same day as the start of oppression, would mark the end of the trial, and the beginning of Israel’s deliverance.

It is my belief that God doesn’t do anything through coincidence, so I feel it was no accident that Ashley and I saw this together.  Today, July 25, 2014 is our Fifth Anniversary, and this week we sat listening to this Scripture together.  Why is that wonderful?  Because of the journey that brought us here.

There is almost a ten year age difference between us.  I had intended to marry a girl at eighteen, or at least by twenty, before I reached thirty. God had a different plan.  For years, loneliness invaded my thoughts.  “What was wrong with me?”  “Why did every girl I dated end up marrying someone else?” Ashley had her share of question too.  We both fought this battle for years.  We never realized that, like so many things in life, it was simply a matter of timing.

The Lord purposely never revealed His plan to me or to my Wife.  He would use others to encourage us both along the way, but it was important that we didn’t find out until it was time.  Why?  Had we not spent years coping with the pain and loneliness of walking through life alone, we would not have fully appreciated together.  While, we are both far from perfect, and looking back, at times we’ve argued over the stupidest things.  However, the two of us are not only madly in love, we are each others biggest supporters.  No one is more in her corner than I am, or vice versa.

The Lord took what ruled over us, fear and loneliness, and turned it for our good.  We were in bondage to our own loneliness, and fear of never finding the right person, for years.  Now, we cherish those times of loneliness, not in spite of the pain of them, but because of it.  We learned to appreciate each other, to treat each other with love and kindness.

Again, we’re far from perfect, and we work on things daily.  However, ask anyone that knows us, and they will tell you that we cherish each other.  We give, and we take, because Ashley and I know how wonderful it is to compromise.  Oh, we don’t enjoy giving in, but we do adore the fact that the love of our life is on the other side of listening to the other person’s music, or watching a special on the foods of Europe.

As Gideon sacrificed that bullock, God was saying, “What you were submitted to will turn to a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”  He would save Israel, He would reunite them with their God, their Husband, and their King.  No longer would Israel watch as the harvest left their coast.  They wouldn’t have to again hide in caves and dens for safety, wondering when deliverance would arrive.

No more do Ashley and I spend our days wondering if there would ever be another hand to hold.  Another person to share lonely dinners with, or to share our hopes, and our sorrows.  Every day, every night, we see the very real face of that person we had convinced ourselves didn’t exist.

Like Israel, we didn’t get there on our own.  Our Pastor, Denny Livingston, his Wife “Sis” Alonna Livingston, and Ashley’s Best Friend Brittany Livingston Potter brought us together.  It may seem unimportant to those who read this article, but we also learned from Israel’s treatment of Gideon to cherish those who made your victory possible.

So whatever your situation, whatever your struggle, take heart.  The bullock was prepared before your oppression began.  Midian had attacked Israel for seven years, but the gestation period of cattle is nine months.  Before the sword was raised, the calf was prepared.

God’s not only waiting to listen, but to lead you out.  I know, because I’ve been there.  I’ve heard the clash of the sword.  I’ve felt the pain of the battle, but I’ve also experienced the freedom of deliverance.  Gideon’s name means just that, “To cut down, or tree feller”.  God has not only prepared the vehicle of your deliverance, He’s prepared the driver of that vehicle.

Your hope is out there, God secured it, and the means to take you to it.  Your dream is still alive, don’t give in, and don’t give up.  This doesn’t mean that it will be easy, but it will be worth it.  Like Gideon, you may have to tear down some things that block your way.

God instructed Gideon to build an Altar.  Your problem is real, no one is denying it, nor attempting to diminish it.  I’m simply saying that your victory is just as real as your dilemma! Talk to God about your loneliness, your pain, and your problem.  An one day you’ll kneel in a prayer, not to ask for victory, but to thank Him for it!