As many as 42% of U.S. adults have assumed a different religious identity from the one in which they were raised, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study.
Midianite oppression > Gideon’s call by the Angel of the Lord > conversion and offering. Gideon was from the tribe of Manassah, but his family not only worshipped Baal, his father was a priest of Baal keeping an altar at their home. Last week we noted the numerous parallels that signify Gideon’s role as a “new Moses”.
Perhaps our greatest challenge is not allowing commentaries to squelch this man of faith into a timid and cowardly judge. But we will also deal with the (unfortunately) common practice of “throwing out fleeces” before the Lord to determine his will.
The Lord takes several opportunities to show his sovereignty over Baal, and to assure his covenant people that his favor is upon them.
Read Judges 6:25-40
Gideon’s Obedience (6:25-27)
The Lord instructed Gideon to destroy Baal’s altar and the Asherah pole at his father’s house, erect an altar to the Lord on top of Baal’s destroyed altar, then pile the Asherah pole wood on top in order to sacrifice “the second bull” as a burnt offering.
This is no small challenge! He decides he can accomplish the task with ten servants if he goes at night. He completes the assignment perfectly.
Many castigate Gideon for his fear. Consider the son of an Islamic Imam being called to destroy his father’s mosque and build a church in its place. And then, to begin holding a worship service there.
You cannot serve two masters! The Lord allows one altar exclusively for Him. Should the destruction of our idols cause offense, we must choose who we will serve.
Obedience to God often means disobedience to family in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Conversion realigns allegiances causing turmoil. That was precisely Gideon’s fear.
…which was warranted…
Ophrah’s Belligerence (6:28-32)
In the morning, after discovering the vandalism and perpetrator, the people immediately call for Gideon’s execution. Apparently, Gideon’s perception was right to accomplish his mission at night.
Joash, Gideon’s father, reasons with the mob encouraging them to trust that Baal can take care of himself. Let Baal contend with Gideon.
Cundall If this advice had been followed by the devotees of the world’s religions, not excepting many who claimed to be Christians, the world would have been spared a great deal of torture, bloodshed and untold misery.
“Jerubbaal” involves a wordplay that mocks Baal and his followers. He served as proof of Baal’s silence and impotence.
Jesus Christ already paid the penalty for sin on the cross, but he continues the work he began until completion (Phil. 1:6). Like Gideon, we are called to tear down the idols of our heart (Col. 3:5-7). Jesus will bring complete victory over all of our idols.
Next we see the source of…
Gideon’s Authority (6:33-35)
During this time, the Midianites, Amalekites, and other eastern peoples are planning another siege against Israel. This is what they had done the past seven years (6:1, 3).
But this year would be different! The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon and 32,000 troops respond to his call to war.
The increasing publicity of Gideon’s role and the growing size of the audience testify of God’s power over Baal. Gideon’s private encounter > Ophrah’s discovery of the altar > 32,000 (7:3) troops ready for war.
The Spirit of the Lord provided the authority Gideon needed (Zech. 4:6) to call an apostate people (11, 29-30, 34).
The same Spirit that clothed Gideon clothes you (Rom. 8:12-14)! It’s through the process of killing our sin, that we begin to experience the life Christ has called us to. How do we kill our sin? It is only possible “by the Spirit”! That’s the confidence in which we stand!
So why another test?
Gideon’s Fleece (6:36-40)
Is this about determining the will of God? No. Does Gideon need further reassurances? No.
Gideon was already convinced (24). This sign revealed God’s presence and power to 32,000 troops (99% sent home before battle), from the threshing floor (cf. 11)!
A New Moses: Signs (“If they do not believe you…”).
This view is consistent with the theme we’ve been touching upon throughout: The Lord is sovereign over Baal.
Remember, the people thought Baal controlled the weather, including dew. The fleece and dew reveals who really controls the weather – Yahweh, NOT Baal.
Adams Yahweh intrudes Baal’s realm to challenge and defeat him on his own ground.
Gideon’s fear is acknowledged elsewhere, but not here. His purpose is not self-serving. He is calling upon God to show himself to be both present and powerful to a people who have only seen the presence and power of Baal’s followers for the past seven years. They clearly needed encouragement and assurance!
- Gideon’s Obedience shows us the importance of choosing whom we will serve.
- Ophrah’s Belligerence reveals just how counter-cultural our mission is.
- Gideon’s Authority, which was derived directly from the indwelling Spirit, enabled him to call together the army.
- Gideon’s Fleece showed God’s presence and power to a previously hostile people who are now ready to serve the Lord once again.
God continues to grant us faith affirming signs of his presence and power. We’ve already witnessed several. His Word and Sacraments are means of grace where Christ communicates our redemptive benefits! If God is for us, who can be against us?