Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | February 22, 2015

Prickers and “Preservation of the Saints”

Today’s devotion comes from Judges Chapter 8.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+8&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“1 Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they contended with him vigorously.  2 But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you?  Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?  3 God has given the leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb into your hands;  and what was I able to do in comparison with you?”  Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.

4 Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing.  5 He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me, for they are weary, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”  6 The leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give bread to your army?”  7 Gideon said, “All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about 15,000 men, all who were left of the entire army of the sons of the east;  for the fallen were 120,000 swordsmen.

22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.”  23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”  24 Yet Gideon said to them, “I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.”  (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)  25 They said, “We will surely give them.”  So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil.  26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.”  Judges Chapter 8:  Verses 1-10 and 22-27.

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We walk through the wilderness of life and prickers attach to the bottoms of our pants, and we must pick them off one by one.  At best, they are only an irritation as we pick some of them off skillfully and easily without a problem.  At worse, they are painful as some of them prick us bad and maybe even draw a little blood.   

Although Gideon was in the middle of a miraculous victory, we read about the prickers that Gideon encountered in today’s Scripture.  

In verses 1 to 3, we first read of those jealous prickers, fellow Israelites, who rather than be thankful for what Gideon had done for them, they “contended with him vigorously”.  They were only a source of irritation, and Gideon, with a few flattering words, plucked them off skillfully and easily without a problem.

In verses 5 to 8, we read of lazy, non-helpful prickers, the leaders of Succoth, who rather than easily provide some bread to Gideon and his 300 men, withheld it on the flimsy excuse that Gideon had not yet won total victory.  They were more of a problem.  Gideon rebuked them and left, but later he had to come back and discipline them.

In verse 10, we read of straggling enemy prickers, the 15,000 men (“all who were left of the entire army …  for the fallen were 120,000 swordsmen).  They were more of a problem;  Gideon had to chase them and ambush them and pursue them more, but he did rout them.

In verses 22 to 27, we read of the totally unexpected pricker, the ephod, which came after the victory and was made from the spoils of war, but yet “became a snare to Gideon and his household.”  This was the biggest problem.

In summary, we may think that everything is going well for us.  We are close to God.  God is giving us the victory.  And yet, we still have to deal with the prickers of life.

But, there is hope! 

There is “Preservation of the Saints”, the “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.  Here is some of what the Canons of Dordt teach about “Preservation of the Saints” in FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints.

Article 3.  By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength.  But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.  

Article 8.  Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings;  which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen;  but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated. 

Article 9.  Of this preservation of the elect to salvation, and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers for themselves may and ought to obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith, whereby they arrive at the certain persuasion, that they ever will continue true and living members of the church;  and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last inherit eternal life. 

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