And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. – Judges 6:31 KJV
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The Almighty God had handed over the Israelites to the Midianites for seven years to be oppressed in what was His way of punishing them for being involved in the worship of the gods of the Amorites, an act which the Lord had warned them against and which He considers as evil – Judges 6:1-12. The reason for their punishment was revealed to them by God through a prophet and in accepting their pleas for forgiveness, and to implement His intention to deliver them from their oppressors, the Lord through an angel, identified Gideon, the son of Joash the Abiezrite, as the one He intended to use to deliver them.
The appearance of the angel and the realisation by Gideon that he had an angel from the Lord in front of him got him startled and scared but the angel calmed him down, assuring him that he was not going to die as he had come in peace. Gideon was to later build an altar in that location which he named, Jehovah-Shalom which means The Lord Is Peace – Judges 6:22-24.
Although he had earlier sacrificed a bull to the Lord as part of the process he took to confirm the message of the angel that he had been divinely ordained to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites ( Judges 6:18-21), he was freshly instructed to sacrifice a second bull, this time seven years old and he was to tear down the altar and the Asherah pole that his father had built in honour of Baal and replace it with a proper Altar to the Lord. He was to then use the wood of the Asherah pole to make the fire required to offer the bull as a sacrifice to the Lord. Gideon carried out the instruction as directed although he did so at night to avoid the negative reaction of his people – Judges 6:25-27. Investigations by the people as to who tore down the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole, when they woke up, revealed that it was Gideon and the men of the town demanded that Joash, his father present him to them for punishment by death but Joash rejected their request with a response that is the foundation scripture for today’s devotion – Judges 6:28-31.
In these series of events are some highlights that should interest the Christian today.
- The center of the worship of the foreign God was the house of Gideon since the father seemed to be the custodian of the shrine of Baal. So it is obvious that he was from the family of the priest of Baal. This did not however stop the Lord from identifying him as the tool to be used to fight this evil act of the Israelites. All people need to realise that religious or spiritual background has no meaning whatsoever with God. Irrespective of what the parents or grand parents of the person may have worshipped or are still worshipping, what interests the Almighty God is his decision to use the person for his purpose. He knows who you were before choosing you for that purpose and no one should use your past to blackmail you in your call for as long as your decision to leave that past in the past is honest and genuine.
- One of the ways to prove that your decision is honest and genuine when you received the calling and decided to honour it, is to start by dissociating completely with the god that you were brought up to know, and embrace the new god whose call you have decided to hearken unto. It may not just stop at physical separation from such evil acts, but may, depending on what further instructions was received, require physical steps at pulling down structures associated with that old way of worship. This step will definitely be required to be taken on personal level but the need to do same on a wider scale will depend very much on the instructions received from the Lord. It is simply not possible to decide to worship the Almighty God and still retain all those gods for any reason whatsoever. Gideon in is own situation had to start from his father’s house by pulling down all the structures dedicated to the worship of Baal.
- On some occasions, what becomes important is to implement the directive of God and not what needs to be done or how it will be done to achieve divine goals. As long as it follows the strict directives of the Lord, all that matters will be the total implementation of the directive. Reasons such as fear like in the case of Moses (Exo. 3:7-4:13), Elijah (1Kgs. 19:3-15) and Saul (1Sam. 13:3-15) or human deceit like the deceit of Eve and ultimately Adam by the devil (Gen. 3:1-7) will not be acceptable.
It should be clear to the Christian today that what you did with your yesterday does not matter to the Almighty God, but what you will do with your today and your tomorrow. All the critics may want to come out against you with all their accusations. All the undisputable evidence may be stacked against you and wanting to present you as being unqualified to live the new life that the Lord has in grace bestowed on you, but those have no value with the Lord. Incontrovertible evidence revealed that Gideon was guilty of the crime against their fake god but the response of Joash remains valid even in the face of the your past deeds that is being cited today. Just as Joash advised that they should let the one that is offended do the fighting, similarly whatever you may be accused of today, as true as it may be, is definitely not a transgression against your accusers. Such accusers should allow those who feel truly offended to fight their battle and this is what you need to let your accusers know.
Do not let your past drag you away from the new plan of the Lord for your life. He knows the life you were living or you lived before calling you and He is definitely not disturbed or deterred by it. What your accusers need to know is that God is not dead like Baal. He is living and able to fight for Himself if necessary. You should not allow their ignorance to stop you from living the life in Him. May God help you to overcome all the human obstacles before your emergence into new glory in Jesus name. Amen.