Connect the Dots-Gideon, Isaiah, Paul and the Messiah

Recently, a well known American minister told his congregation,  the early “Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures,” and that “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.”

His sermon was an attempt to make the gospel more palatable to those who have walked away from the faith. This pastor continued his argument by saying, “Jesus’ new covenant, His covenant with the nations, His covenant with you, His covenant with us, can stand on its own two nail-scarred resurrection feet. It does not need propping up by the old covenant.” 

A long time ago, in a passage from the New Testament, written by a first-century doctor named Luke said;

“Now these Jews were nobler than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
Acts 17:11

What scriptures is the book of Acts referencing? The new messianic Jewish converts in Thessalonica searched the Tanahk, (old testament) to learn the gospel. They examined the Bible (before the New Testament) to confirm the gospel accounts of Yeshua. 

If the Jews of Thessalonica repeated this practice, it’s possible to for us to learn from their example. Let consider the Story of Gideon. Gideon’s army surrounds the Midianite army, armed with clay pots, torches, and trumpets. If you are a jew from Thessalonica what is happening in your head at this moment? Where do you look in the bible to understand how Gideon connects to the Messiah? 

The story of Midian is a theme running throughout the Tanakh. When it appears in scripture is usually called the Day of Midian. Its connected with the coming of the Messiah. Rabbi Paul demonstrated this type of interpretation of the Tanakh in the book written to the Corinthians.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 
Corinthians 4:6-7

Paul quotes a passage from the Tanakh. He then mentions treasures in clay pots. On the surface, this doesn't look like the Gideon story is connected here. However, a diligent study of scripture reveals the link Paul is interpreting in light of the Messiah. Paul is drawing on old testament passages to portray a truth he understands.

First, where is the idea of treasure and clay pots? The Gideon story does not imply his jars contained treasure. However, the book of lamentations sheds light on Pauls thinking. 

“The precious sons of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold,
how they are regarded as earthen pots,
the work of a potter’s hands!”
Lamentations 4:2

The preciousness of the believer in the Messiah Yeshua, at least in Paul’s head, was a concept he understood in light of the scriptures. Not in spite of the scriptures. However, does this connect the Gideon story to the Messiah? The Thessalonica jew would not stop there. Rabbi Paul quoted another passage of the bible.

“A light shined out of darkness.” 

Numerous passages refer to the light. God said let there be light. John says the light shines in the darkness. Moreover, Isaiah mentions the light shining in the dark.

“The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.”
Isaiah 9:1

So often do students of the Bible stop at what they think is a proof text without reading it in its entirety. This passage of Isaiah is famous for the prophecy of the promised child who rules the world from the throne of David. 

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this”
Isaiah 9:6-7

 What does this have to do with Gideon? When we take the time to read the text before the prophecy of the promised son, Isaiah does something strange that Paul understands. He connects the birth of the Messiah to the defeat of Midian.

You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
Isaiah 9:3-5

To paraphrase, the light shines in the darkness; the nations rejoice, its compared to a harvest (think Jesus and the wheat fields and Gideon and the wheat harvest), the rod the oppressor is broken like the Day of Midian or the day of clay pots! Even the battle imagery in the poem should remind the reader of the revelation of Yeshua. The defeat of the oppressor connects to clay pots, lights, and a trumpet blast. Does this sound like the New Testament theology? 

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16


“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Evens Paul’s theology has a direct connection to the Gideon story. He mentions this “surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Compare this to Judges 7:2:

YHWH said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.”

The power of the resurrection belongs to God. The power of salvation belongs to God. The same grace that saved Gideon on the day of Mideon is the same power that promises our ultimate victory over evil at the resurrection of the dead. Now, with all this in mind, reread the passage from Corinthians. 

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 
Corinthians 4:6-7

Gideon, Isaiah, Paul and the Messiah appear to be a very hitched concept directly from the Jewish scriptures.


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