The story of Gideon is a fascinating one.
Some are taken up with the times he checks if it’s God really instructing him. Others are taken up with the task of reducing an army in the thousands to the lower hundreds to face and defeat an army far greater in number and reputation.
Those are aspects with getting intrigued in. What I also get intrigued by is a small episode just before he has it confirmed that what God has called him to do is legitimate. God instructs him to demolish the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole and set up a proper altar to God. Gideon endeavours to do it subtly by getting the job done in the night, but he’s still busted after the town-folk conduct an inquiry as to how the altar they have depended on has been demolished.
This all happens in the context of a people suffering oppression from their neighbours who regularly pop in and rout the place severely impoverishing the people. This is reflective of the spiritual impoverishment the people subjected themselves to by rejecting God and going for the foreign gods.
Of course nowadays we’re far too sophisticated to fall for all those foreign idols and altars and stuff. Folks in church often know what they’re doing making sure any items are well and truly grounded in Christendom. The trouble today is that the idols are far more subtle. Some of them have effectively crept into the lives of believers. It’s not uncommon that they will turn up to church on Sunday and for the rest of the week bow to other gods – money, material goods, social position, security, etc. Some of these idols even have the audacity to enter the assembly of the saints and are justified by some because of the need to be modern and relevant to the needs of people.
There is also the idolatry of knowledge which puffs up and causes divides among others as we establish how much we know and are considerably better than those who don’t know what we know.
As these idols take first place in the lives of those who profess faith in Christ, it’s no wonder there’s the experience of spiritual impoverishment. Compromising the place God has as Lord of all, necessarily leads to the sense of dissatisfaction and deficit.
The real bravery on no just an individual basis, but particularly on the collective basis is to see if anyone will hear the call of God to demolish the idols – and what that looks like in the 21st Century.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden