Gideon Tears Down the Alter to BaalVolume 2, Number 24
Created Date: July 25, 2006
Posted Date: July 25, 2006
Vol 2 - No 24, July 25, 2006
Gideon's witness of faith - Part 2:
Our last study ended with Gideon building an alter to the Lord he named Jehovahshalom,, in response to the Lord's blessing of peace to him. That same night Jehovah told Gideon to take his father's seven (7) year old bullock and tear down the alter to Baal and the grove about it that his father had built and maintained - . According to commentators the worship of Baal included orgies involving homosexual ( ; 15:12; 22:46 & ) as well as heterosexual prostitutes. The alter was for sacrifices to Baal and groves were planted around it, partly to make it more pleasant and venerable and partly to hide the evil practiced there.
Israel had been subject to the Midianites' tyranny for seven (7) years as a result of turning from God to worship false gods such as Baal -. Gideon was instructed to build an alter to the Lord in place of the alter to Baal and to offer up the seven (7) year old bullock thereon, using the wood from the grove to fuel the fire - . He had good reason to fear the men of the city if he did this so he waited until night when he took 10 of his servants and did as instructed, thus demonstrating faith in God's Word - .
When the men of the city awoke the next day, discovered what happened and found out Gideon was responsible they demanded his father Joash turn him over to be killed -. Even though Joash had sinned by worshipping Baal in the past he now had a change of mind, probably because of the witness of the prophet of God, , and/or because of the testimony of Gideon. Joash derided the men and told them that if Baal was indeed a god he should know who had torn down his alter/grove and avenge himself, . Joash was aware the God of Israel had demonstrated such ability and reasoned that if Baal was truly a god he should be able to do so also. We find nothing more about this particular incident so what Joash said must have put the matter to rest with the men of the town.
It was harvest time so the Arabian nations of Midianites and Amalekites came and camped in the valley of Jezreel where they could plunder Israeli crops -& 33. The Spirit of God came upon Gideon, that is, the Lord fortified and strengthened him with resolve. Gideon sounded an alarm with trumpet to which the Abezites, part of the families of the tribe of Manasseh to which his father belonged, responded and joined him - . The fact the Abezites were able to hear the trumpet indicates they lived in close proximity to Gideon. He then dispatched messengers to call men from the rest of Manasseh and from three (3) other tribes of Israel - . Gideon then asked for a sign so he would know God would indeed save Israel. He left a woolen fleece on the floor overnight requesting the fleece be wet but the floor dry the next morning. That night the Lord provided and early the next morning Gideon was able to wring a bowl of water from the fleece while the floor around it was dry. The next night Gideon humbly asked the Lord to cause the fleece to be dry but make the area around it wet. The Lord again provided as requested, - . These requests on the part of Gideon did not necessarily mean he doubted God but rather indicated he either wished a confirmation for his faith or he needed these signs for those who had answered his call for help, for it has always been that the Jews require a sign - I Corinthians 1:22.
refers to Gideon by his symbolical name Jerubbaal, which in Hebrew means "Baal will contend." This name tells us a great deal about God's purpose for Gideon. Our God is holy and therefore jealous of his own. His Word states many times, beginning in Exodus 20:5 & 34:14, that He could and would not condone worship of other gods/idols by His people, that is, their love and loyalty is primary and necessary to Him. From this fact, coupled with the meaning of Gideon's name Jerubbaal we understand that Gideon was ordained to eliminate the idolatrous worship of Baal.
On the other hand, Israel's suffering was no doubt uppermost on their minds and God was concerned about their physical suffering. He heard their cries for help and responded,, by reminding them through a prophet what He had done for them and what they had done, which had brought suffering upon themselves. He had delivered them from slavery and death in Egypt and given them the land of Canaan, driving out their enemies from that land, . But, in spite of His specific prohibition against the worship of the gods/idols of the former inhabitants, they had done so anyway - . The prophet who brought this, God's Word to Israel, is not named but his message surely went throughout Israel. How many accepted and took this Word to heart and how many rejected it we do not know. However, we do know that the corporate body of Israel did not, of their own volition and initiative, repent by turning from the idols to God. Here again we see God's love and mercy to His people. He raised up and sent Gideon to do the job they should have done, first to eliminate idol worship and then their physical oppressors from the land.
About 32,000 Israelites from four (4) tribes responded to Gideon's, call. Gideon and this army camped just south of the Valley of Jezreel where the enemy was camped - Judges 7:1. Here the Lord told Gideon He wanted to make it crystal clear to Israel that it would be by His power and might, and His alone, that they would be saved from the Midianites. God wanted to make sure Israel would have no reason to boast or glory in themselves for the victory God would give them -. Thus through process of elimination 31,700 Israelites were sent home leaving only 300 men with Gideon, , to face an army of about 135,000 Midianites and Amalekites - . That amounts to one (1) Israeli to 450 adversaries.
Gideon and the 300 men with him had nothing to do with being there. God hand picked them all. It would be most interesting to able to see them for whereas we naturally picture them as physically intimidating, well built specimens of manhood, they probably were far from that stereotype. They were not chosen because of their physical strength or ability to use weapons of war for there is no mention of them even being armed with fighting weapons. Instead, they had something that cannot be observed from the exterior, an un-moveable faith in God's Word. Because of this they would do as told, focused totally on their Lord, regardless of their physical surroundings and circumstances.
Just as Israel would have no reason to boast or glory in the victory over their enemies, neither do we have reason to glory or boast in our salvation. For example, let's review what the Apostle Paul wrote to us in Ephesians chapter 1: God blessed us with all Spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, v 3; He chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, v 4; He predestinated us to be adopted in Christ to Himself, by His will, v 5; He made us accepted in the Lord Jesus Christ, v 6; we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, by His grace, v 7; He revealed the secret of His will to us, which He purposed in Himself, v 9; All this He did so when the time comes He can bring together all of His, whether in heaven or earth, unto Himself, v 10; and more until we come to the recapitulation of it all: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." -.
And as Gideon and his 300 were not afraid of the 135,000 enemy soldiers they faced, because of their faith in God's Word and their focus on God Almighty, so should we be: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." -.