Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build an altar to the Lord your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. (Judges 6:25-26)
Relate: There is just so much good stuff in the story of Gideon that it was really hard for me to chose what to talk about. I wanted to talk about how Gideon, though a coward doing the wrong thing in the wrong place was called by God, “Mighty Warrior”. I wanted to write about how God said to Gideon, “Go with the strength you have.” I felt like it would be such a perfect follow up to yesterday’s devotion This Isn’t My War. The very next thing God says is, “I will be with you and you will be victorious.” Once again, there is so much to unpack in that truth. Midnight Obedience was a title that I could have used to talk about how Gideon obeyed in the dead of night even though he was terrified of the possible kickback. There is Gideon’s nickname, “Let Baal defend himself”. I would love to have a name like that: “Devil, watch out!” On the flip side, Gideon who was just commissioned by God to be a freedom fighter turns around and calls the place he met God, “The Lord is peace.” I would just love to talk about how shalom is oh so much more than just a lack of conflict. Of course, the most famous story most people know (and abuse) when it comes to Gideon is the fleece. I would have loved to spend a bit of time demonstrating how Gideon did not put out that fleece until after he had already obeyed God and called for the army to assemble. The fleece wasn’t about whether he should step out in faith but rather he was asking for confirmation regarding a step he had already taken.
No. Where I felt God was pointing was to the scripture shown above. There is a lot you could write and learn and say about justice and action in the book of Judges because over and over again the people are oppressed by one foreign power after another. I wrote about Ehud’s step into action two days ago in Enough Is Enough. He stepped forward for his people. Yesterday I wrote about Jael who did so for a people group she was not a part of. I wrote something in that concluding prayer that I want to look a little deeper into. I wrote:
Most of all help me to never forget that the most crucial human right is that everyone deserves to hear and adequate and relevant presentation of the gospel. This along with water, freedom, and equity are human rights that cannot be denied and which we all must be actively about. This is my war, God. Help me to fight it well.
The first command God gives Gideon when he sets the people on the path to freedom was to tear down the altar. The first and most crucial step towards freedom was repentance. Before he calls and then culls (and culls again) the army. Before everyone is given a torch, a trumpet and a shout, the altar had to come down. The greatest enemy Israel faced was not the Midianites. It was Baal.
React: The biggest enemy facing Nigeria today is not Boko Haram. it is Satan. The biggest enemy the Kurds face is not ISIS or Turkey. It is Satan. The biggest enemy those in the chains of sexual exploitation is not their pimp. It is Satan. Those facing extreme poverty in nations around the third world need functional governments, and infrastructure, and clean water, available and affordable medicine, and so much more. But the biggest need they have is an adequate presentation of the gospel. Yes we need to give more to end poverty, and to bring freedom, and do more to end oppression, and to open our doors to create safe homes for refugees. All this is vital and necessary and good and godly. None of these things will change the truth that someone who is clean and healthy and safe and comfortable is still just as hellbound if they do not have Jesus. The first step in any human justice endeavor is to fix our altars. I won’t say that nothing else matters because everything else most definitely does matter, but the gospel is our primary purpose.
Help me to always keep the main thing the main thing. Give me a deeper heart and stretch my sacrifices of time and money when I am doing all I can to make this world a place that resonates with Your just peace. Let Your kingdom come here on earth just as it is in heaven. Most importantly let me never forget that the first and greatest need for humanity is the breaking of foreign altars and the fixing of broken altars. The greatest war for freedom is worship to You. Let me be always an active participant in that war.