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God Calls Gideon

The Bible in Art: God Calls Gideon 

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Verses for Consideration: Judges 6:25-36

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 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!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 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.”

31 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.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baalthat day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 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.

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God doesn’t give us what we think we need; he gives us what he knows we need.

The Israelites in Gideon’s day thought they needed deliverance from the Midianites and their allies. But God knew they needed something more. God’s people- Gideon’s family included-had mixed the worship of the Lord with the worship of Baal.

Influenced by their idolatrous neighbors, the Israelites had gradually adopted the Midianites’ immoral and macabre worship practices. That spiritual hold had to be broken before God would consider breaking the Israelites’ bondage to the Midianites.

Fear clawed at Gideon’s heart when the Lord first ordered, “Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and . . . then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD .” Nonetheless, he obeyed. When the townspeople turned out to lynch Gideon for
his sacrilege, the Lord used Gideon’s father to quell their fury: “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself.”

How shameful for fallen Israel to learn that Baal was either not capable of defending himself against Gideon, or he didn’t exist. The necessary reformation had begun. Israel would once again learn to trust the Lord to deliver his people.

You may ask God to change circumstances in your life yet see no change. God has a reason. And his desire is always to bless you. Perhaps he wants you to turn to his Word to grow in your faith. Perhaps he is leading you to repent of sins you have been trying to hide. Perhaps he is trying to remind you that you have been crowding his grace out of your heart.

Here’s the good news: “If we confess our sins, he . . .will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness, . . . [because] we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 1:9, 2:1).

We can thank God that he always gives us what we need, even when it isn’t what we ask for.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me when I sin. Thank you for working for my good in all things. Help me to trust that what you do is always best. Amen

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Title: The Destruction of Baal’s Altar(1550-55)

Artist: Pieter Aertsen