That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.[b] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[c] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[d] 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[e] bull as a burnt offering.” Judges 6:25-26 NIV
Does this sound extreme? I have some friends that heard the message of Jesus and became his followers. This was a radical shift in which they began to openly confess of the past things that they had done that offended God’s way. Previously they were heavily engaged in sorcery and all types of magical arts. The transformation was so radical that they cut ties with their old life by burning all of their books and stuff related to the magic. These guys were wealthy, having accumulated lots of priceless treasures. They took it to a public park and burned it all, possibly several million dollars worth of material. Luke recorded this event in Acts 19:17-20.
Previously in Gideon’s life – The Midianites had been oppressing and stealing from the Israelites for 7 years when an Angel appeared to Gideon. The Angel told Gideon that he was chosen to be their deliverer. Gideon had a God encounter and lived. Now he receives his first instructions for obedience.
Background context of the passage
- Second bull that was seven years old. Possibly the first bull was Gideon’s father, Josiah and the second bull would have been Gideon’s. Bulls were used in sacrificial ceremonies and the meat was sometimes used for food. This bull represented the length of time of oppression by the Midianites. Gideon had been hiding and saving it for 7 years and now it would be gone.
- Altar to Baal – Baal was a Canaanite God. Canaanites were the people that lived in the land before the Israelites took possession. Baal was known as the god of fertility and directly linked to good production of crops and herds. During troubled times for the harvest, some were known to sacrifice their children on the altars of Baal. They believed that Baal worship would help their crops grow and help them prosper.
- Asherah pole – Asherah was the mother goddess of the canaanites. She was known as the mother of all living things. The pole was most likely a sculptured tree, but could have been a literal pole. This would be a place where sexual rites and possibly orgies were performed.
Gideon’s first step of obedience was to tackle sin against God that was within his own family. God had clearly designated that worshipping of idols was prohibited in the 10 commandments. Many would become angry with his decision to tear it down. In fact, he knew this to be true, so he did it at night.
- Changes needed in our culture start with changes in our own family first. Much moral authority of the voice of the church has been lost because of hypocrisy. It has been reported that 50 percent of Christian men look at pornography regularly. Christians have chosen to redefine sexual misconduct (living together, sex before marriage, same sex relationships) and still attend church as usual. We spend tons of money on entertainment and have little to give to ministry endeavors. Repentance and judgment begins in our own homes.
- Idols don’t have to be statues. They can be anything that we honor to receive a benefit from that circumvents God. Watching TV programs to help us escape our present struggles. Any addictions used to numb the pain of dealing with stress. Pursuing wealth that sacrifices time with our family and other believers. Exalting pleasure as the standard for making decisions for keeping marriage commitments and our entertainment choices.
- You know you have an idle when you try to dethrone its influence in your life. If you want to start making concessions and accommodations, it probably has a stronghold on your life.”
- If you have been engaged in occult activities or drugs, getting rid of “the stuff” from your life is vitally important. It is only the first step, but it will be the most important step. Gideon had 10 friends help with tearing down the altar. You may need friends to help carry out your commitment.
- God is serious about worshipping Him and Him alone. Why don’t you ask God to reveal any idols that may be hidden or prominent in your life.
- If you are serious about obeying God and going deeper in your relationship with Him, follow through in obedience to tear down any altars. Freedom is on the other side. Bondages will be lifted and joy will come.
One of the reasons that people identify with Gideon, we feel his pain and insecurity. And yet, Gideon made the right decision to follow God in obedience. That makes us equal. We too can choose to obey God daily. God moves freely through vessels that are commited to Him. May you walk in this freedom.
Blessing Love y’all