The altars of Baal and Asherah are missing in Gideon’s town. Who could have done this (wink, wink)! Somebody is going to pay say the towns people!!!
We are told how “all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east” (verse 33a) have been taking everything from Israel for seven years. During this time the people were worshiping Baal and Asherah instead of God. But they called out to GOD to save them from this hoard of people and God answered!
When God answers His people the first thing He requires is that they give up the false gods. The gods that had no power to save them. The gods that lay in ruins on this auspicious morning. He started this ‘grass roots movement’ in a little town in the territory of Manasseh with the “weakest clan” of Abiezrites.
This was Gideon’s clan and this morning they are all up in arms because their altars have been torn down and a sacrifice has been made on top of the ruins. How disrespectful! The people are determined to find out who did this and punish them!
I can almost hear the anger and passion of the people as they go about the town interrogating everyone. No one is above suspicion! They are determined to get to the bottom of this. Not only are they going to find the perpetrator but they are going to kill him because their gods would demand no less!
One of the servants Gideon used that night probably broke and gave Gideon up as the one responsible for this act. “Gideon ordered me to help him! It’s not my fault! He is my master and I have to do as he says.” After learning this, the town’s people show up in mass at Gideon’s front door. They are enraged and demand restitution be made, by blood!
We don’t know what kind of upbringing Gideon has had. Was his family faithful to God all along? What set him apart as a man God would use? What empowered his father, Joash, to stand up against the town for him? Yes, I expect a father would protect his son but the ‘crime’ he was accused of was serious in the people’s eyes. Did God’s Spirit speak this answer through him?
“Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down” (verse 31b). In other words, “If Baal wants to take up this fight let him do it himself. The TRUE God of the universe can contend for Himself so if Baal is really a god let’s see him prove it.”
Now we KNOW the truth of that contest! Baal and Asherah are wood and stone. They have no more power in them than does an asphalt roadway or a stick of furniture. They are created things NOT creating beings! And so ends the thirst for justice for their altars being destroyed. Besides that, now the people have something else to focus on.
The invaders are back! What little produce they were able to plant, harvest and hide is in danger again. But this time is going to be different! The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is once again in His place; at least in this little town and clan.
I have no doubt that once his life was no longer in danger Gideon told the people about his encounter with the angel of the Lord. He shared the story of being directed to tear down the altars AND the proof he was given by the angel. The people were amazed! “The Lord has heard our cries! He has chosen to save us! We will follow wherever He leads. Let Baal contend for himself. He has no power here or in our hearts. We return again to the God who can save!”
THAT’S a prayer I would like to have heard! THAT’S a prayer I would like to hear TODAY! Our world is in a MESS and only God can save us. But the people are not calling on His name. Many are but not most. Even some of those who are aren’t calling on Him as God of their lives but as the god they want Him to be. They are calling for help while refusing to give Him their hearts. He WON’T rise up in your life until the other altars are torn down. He won’t share His throne. And that includes the “altar of self.”
God is ready to move on behalf of the people in our story. His Spirit comes upon Gideon and gives him confidence. It’s time to do something about the invaders! Gideon blows the trumpet and calls his little clan to rise up against their oppressors. And they follow him! They are also so encouraged by the change they have seen that they send to the other tribes of Manasseh and call them to follow. This grass roots movement is growing by leaps and bounds as people flock to Gideon’s call. The exuberance of moving the Lord moving on behalf of Israel compels them to call for their brothers from Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali too! THOUSANDS come to fight in the Lord’s battle. FINALLY deliverance is on its way!
I want some of that ‘fire’ today! I would LOVE to see a ‘grass roots movement’, that TRULY served God, rise up. Not one fueled by hate but love. One that would point to Him instead of their own agenda. One that would praise Him for all He has done and cling to Him in whatever may come.
I don’t know if we are coming to the time of Jesus removing His people or not but while we are here we need to call out IN LOVE to those around us. YES, the idols have to come down in our hearts so we can hear Him but even a ‘toe hold’ is a place of beginning.
When all those thousands of men rushed to help Gideon, their towns still held the false idols in them but their hearts were seeking God’s salvation. Could it be that there were that many men throughout these territories that HADN’T bowed down to the altars, or was it that their hearts were opened to the truth of Who God is and they were ready to exchange the impostors for the Real?
Father God, my world is in SAD shape! There is hate spreading like wildfire throughout the land. As I was speaking with my son the other day, he expressed the concern that he didn’t know how we could come back from this. My answer to that is to turn to YOU. Man has no way back on his own. Only You can bring peace. Only You can supply hope. YOU ARE THAT HOPE AND PEACE!
I’m GRATEFUL that not everything is hate and destruction right now. “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will” Abraham Lincoln (and Pollyanna). I choose to focus on the good! I choose to focus on You too. People may call me a Pollyanna and that’s ok with me. I want to see the good in people. I want to hear about answered prayers. I want to know how You are moving in people’s lives for their good instead of hearing about all the hate and violence going on around the world. Let YOUR love conquer ALL Father! I know it will in the end. Help me hold on until then and help me bring as MANY ‘friends and family’ along as I can. Light of the World shine in our dark time!