Have you ever done something you were told to do but had no idea “why” you were doing it? I’m sure Gideon had a bit of that going on when God told him, among other things, to “pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it.”
What do we see here? Gideon didn’t question God but got to work on the requested task. He did wait until the dark of night so he would go undetected. Gideon was pretty sure that this plan would cause a big stir and may have even feared for his life. Yet, he listened to God. That’s my takeaway from today’s reading.
We might wonder what God was up to. Obviously, it angered him greatly to see an altar to a pagan god and not to himself. The wooden pole next to the altar represented the goddess Asherah, Baal’s consort. The Israelites blindly worshipped them because their neighbors were doing the same. I suppose having something “visible” made it easier for them to worship. Whereas the one true God is never represented as being in a physical object.
Gideon was right to be fearful. When news got out that their idols had been destroyed, it wasn’t long before Gideon was identified as the responsible one. Responsible indeed! Gideon had shown his devotion to God, the one true God. He had thrown worry of his own wellbeing aside. That tells me that he was faithful and a good choice to be God’s next deliverer, despite being a farm kid rather than a mighty warrior.
God wanted to make a statement with this event. Gideon’s own father also stood up for God in protecting his son’s reputation. God must have reminded him, too, that the Israelites were God’s chosen, and that he was the only one worthy of praise and devotion. Joash said, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!”
Not only do I love that Joash came to his senses about the error of his ways in following Baal, but he welcomed Baal to destroy his own son! That shows clearly that Joash knew Baal had no power like that. Joash was inciting the people to remember the same thing. Perhaps his words would wake them up to be prepared for what God was going to do next.
Has God ever asked you to move in a way that seemed odd or difficult? How did you respond? Thinking of Gideon’s example, if God asks you to do something in the future, what are you going to do?
Let’s pray …
Heavenly Father, thank you for your guidance and unfailing love. Help me to be still in this moment and listen for your voice. What task do you have for me to accomplish? I want to be acting on your behalf and know you will sustain me even if it is difficult. May your name be honored in all the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.