That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of 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
Chuck Colson was known as Nixon’s Hatchet Man and went to prison in 1974 for his involvement in the Watergate Scandal. During the trial process a friend gave him C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. The revelations were so profound that Colson became a follower of Jesus as he would later write in his book Born Again. Many thought the conversion was a stunt to dissuade the prison sentencing.
He served 7 months in prison at Maxwell Correctional Facility in Alabama as part of a plea bargain to a lesser crime. During that time in prison, Colson saw and lived the injustices of the prison system in America. It became his passion to fight for reform to the system and to be engaged in the lives of prisoners. He formed Prison Fellowship and two years later formed Prison Fellowship International which is now in 120 countries. God’s love in his heart felt most at home with those who were broken, rejected, without hope, and mostly forgotten…behind bars.
Gideon’s story thus far…
- Israel is under the cruel reign of the Midianites who would come in at harvest time and take their crops.
- An Angel of the Lord tells Gideon that he has found favor with God and he will be the one to deliver God’s people from the Midianites.
- Gideon has a low view of his abilities, but serves a meal to the Angel who consumes the meal with fire.
- Gideon knows that he should die for being in the presence of holiness, but the Angel speaks Peace to him.
- Gideon builds an altar and calls it the Lord is Peace, Jehovah Shalom.
Now the Angel tells him to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and the Ashtoreth pole, then he is to build a proper altar and sacrifice his father’s second bull on it. Gideon is to give a physical example of repentance. Not only are they NOT supposed to worship other gods, but NOW it is time to begin to worship the one true God in spirit and in truth.
*Note “top of its height” or “highplace” is the Hebrew word “malioz” which means stronghold. God was asking Gideon to tear down the Baal worship stronghold as his first act of obedience. When you get serious about following after God, you can be sure He will reveal any strongholds that need to be removed in your life. Will you be committed like Gideon?
Repentance is a two fold process. It is turning away from something, but it is also a turning toward something different. You are heading in one direction and turn 180 degrees to go the other direction. Most of the time our focus is only on stopping the one action. A tongue that is familiar with cursing will need to be replaced with speaking blessing. How do you start moving in a new direction?
Repentance is a change in your “following”. Once you were following after sinful desires, lust of the flesh, and lust of the eyes. When you repent, you now purpose to follow after the Holy Spirit’s leading, alignment with God’s Word of instructions and seeking His kingdom values.
We grow stronger through moving in God’s direction. Gideon had a God encounter. He had a revelation of Jehovah Shalom. He built an altar at that spot. But that was only the beginning of his faith walk. Obedience must follow inspirational encounters. Now, God wanted him to show people how to “turn away” from the idols of Baal, and also how to “commit to following” the Lord God. God always has a next step of faith and it usually includes serving people.
Many times God calls a person to work with the ministry that they themselves were comforted. Chuck Colson started Prison Fellowship in 1976 and stayed committed to that vision for the rest of his life when he entered into glory in 2012.
As you are seeking to stop some of the negative things, addictions, or strongholds in your life, what will you replace them with? Follow God’s leading to serve others. Perhaps, you will find a ministry in the same place where God set you free. Compassion for others has a way of meddling with our comfort zone. God’s love will always lead to those who are still in bondage. Jesus came to set the prisoner free.
May you walk in freedom and keep reaching for the hands that are still behind bars of bondage.
Blessing Love y’all