Judges 6:28-40

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 8, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
They asked each other, 'Who did this?'
When they carefully investigated, they were told, 'Gideon son of Joash did it.'
The people of the town demanded of Joash, 'Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.'
But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, 'Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.' So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, 'Let Baal contend with him.'
Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
Gideon said to God, 'If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised—look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.' And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, 'Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.' That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.” (Judges 6:28-40)

If you remember the passage from Judges 6 that we read last week, at the end of that passage Gideon was commanded to tear down his community’s altar to Baal and the Asherah pole. This was a pretty big deal, because Gideon was sure the people would get mad at him for it - and at the start of today’s passage, we see that’s exactly what happened. Gideon had taken away what they considered to be sacred.

The people were mad at Joash, Gideon’s father, since Joash was the one responsible for the town’s Baal altar and Asherah pole. After their investigation and discovering that Gideon had torn down their “sacred” places, they asked Joash to get Gideon so they could properly punish him. But it’s interesting in verse 31 that even Joash doesn’t fully believe in Baal as a God. Notice how he says “IF Baal really is a god…” Even though Joash apparently doubted Baal’s status as a god, that didn’t stop him from being tolerant and having the altar anyway.

Fortunately, because of his dad’s help, Gideon does not receive the death penalty, but he does get a new nickname - Jerub-Baal. This was supposed to be a derogatory name meant to show the punishment that the people thought Gideon would face. But instead, it became a good reminder of God’s victory over Baal, and how God is the only one who should be worshipped.

The bigger picture here is what had happened to Israel as a people. Back in Deuteronomy 13:6-10, Moses commanded that even close relatives be stoned for idolatry. Obviously, idolatry was a pretty big deal, with it being deserving of death as a punishment! Yet, here was not just one or two people but an entire town practicing it. The people had started to believe the lies of the surrounding peoples and they had started worshipping their gods. The lies had crept in and become “truth” to the people of Israel, so much so that they no longer saw it as sin. They believed they could worship Baal and Asherah right along with God. Instead of putting someone to death for worshipping a god other than the one true God, the people were ready to put Gideon to death for not worshipping their gods!

All this local-level drama about the false god worship was then eclipsed by an invasion of the Midianites. Israel wasn’t going to go down without a fight, so Gideon gathered the troops. Verse 34 says how Gideon summoned the Abiezrites. They were like Gideon’s clan, his tribe or very extended family so to speak. For extra reinforcement, he also called in the Israelite tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali. But even with all that, Gideon lacked faith and confidence in God’s promises. He needed multiple signs of reassurance. That’s where the fleece comes in; Gideon tests God not once but twice to make sure that His promises are true. Both times God comes through and assures Gideon that He will take care of them, as promised.

Gideon appears to make arbitrary demands on God, simply to receive a sign. This is not necessarily recommended for Christ followers today, as it can be seen as testing God (which is forbidden in Deuteronomy 6:16 and reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew 4:7, by the way). What we should do is to carefully observe what God is doing in our circumstances, pray, and read His Word to have the assurance and confidence that we need.

But in spite of Gideon’s apparent lack of faith, God still chose to prove himself to Gideon and to use him for His purposes. How are you doing with that? Are you allowing God to speak into your life and use you for whatever He needs to accomplish in His Kingdom? Or are you mad because someone tore down your “altars” and the things that distract you from God? Think about that this week.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.