Read: Jeremiah 14:11-16:15, 1Thessalonians 2:9-3:13, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 25:1-5
Your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word. And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me.
Remove the wicked from the king’s court, and his reign will be made secure by justice. (Proverbs 25:5)
Relate: Gideon had another name. It was Jerub-baal. The name means “Let Baal plead” and he got it because he had the audacity to put actions to his prayers. You see, all of Israel was crying out for deliverance. All of Israel had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years. They were all hiding in caves and holes in the ground. They were all asking for God’s help.
But an altar to a false god, Baal, was still in a prominent position in the city. There was still an idol standing tall and proud right next to it. Israel wanted help from God, but they didn’t want to change their lifestyle. The first command from God to Gideon was, “tear down your idols.” So in the middle of the night, Gideon did just that. He destroyed the idol, tore down the false altar and built a new one to God. On that he made a sacrifice to the One True God.
The people of the city didn’t like this. When they found out who the culprit was the townspeople were ready to put him to death. I can imagine them arriving as an angry mob with the dawn. Gideon’s father made a very valid defense of his son. He asked them, why are you pleading Baal’s case? If Baal is a true god, he can defend his own altar. The townspeople left but from that day on, Gideon was called “Jerub-baal”. It would be like earning the nickname “Muhammed’s enemy” or “Buddha’s Bane” today.
React: It is easy to look back with what CS Lewis called “cultural snobbery” on the idol worship of that day. What fools they must have been worshiping statues of wood and stone. How primitive. But I, but we, do much worse. Like Jeremiah says, we do even worse. Each of us simply follows our own desires and refuse to listen to God. When tough times come we want deliverance. We want freedom from the pain, but we are unwilling to pay the price. It is time to smash those idols. If needs be, put a hammer through that TV screen. Cancel that cable or internet. Cut up those credit cards. Before Gideon was used by God to bring physical liberty, he was used to bring spiritual freedom. It was a big risk… but it was worth it. It still is today.
God, what are the idols in my heart? These days, it isn’t always so easy to know. What are those things that distract me from following wholeheartedly after You? What are the things that I can’t or won’t let go of that are keeping me from knowing full freedom? I give everything to You, God. My money. My job. My relationships. My ambitions. My habits. My thoughts. Take it all, God. Search out every corner, nook, and cranny in my heart and bring to light whatever would come between me and You. I yield it all to You.