Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Scripture Speaks

But Joash said to all those who confronted him, "Are you arguing for Baal? Are you defending him? Anyone who argues for him will be killed before morning. If Baal is a god, let him defend himself. It is his altar that was torn down." From then on Gideon was known as Jerubbaal, because Joash said, "Let Baal defend himself; it is his altar that was torn down." Judges 6:31-32 (Good News Translation)

We live in a day when everyone around us screams out religious tolerance. Everyone's entitled to worship their own god, right? In the passage taken from Judges, Gideon has torn down Baal's altar. He's cut down the Asherah pole. Not only that, he's built a new altar and sacrificed a bull on it to the LORD! The people have come and found all of this and they're wondering, "Who did this?"

They learn that it is Gideon, son of Joash, and they're angry. They demand Gideon's death. Joash, in turn, tells these men that they should let their god, Baal, defend himself. If he's a god, shouldn't he speak for himself?

The whole thing erupts into a fight - a war, if you will - of the Midianites, Amalekites, and the "people of the east" against Israel. Judges 6:34 says, "Then the spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon." (NLT)

We know the story of Gideon and the fleece. He wants to know if God is really behind him, so he puts out a fleece. The first night, he asks God to make it wet with dew in the morning if He is with him. In the morning, Gideon wrings out water from the fleece, but the ground is dry all around. Gideon isn't sure yet, so he asks God to make the fleece dry in the morning. The next morning, the fleece is dry but the ground all around is wet with dew. Gideon has his answer.

Gideon fights with 300 men (after the LORD tells him to weed out thousands) and he gets the victory - with the LORD behind him. Everyone knows that Israel's God is the one, true God, because only He could bring about such a large victory with such horrible odds (the opposing armies were HUGE)!

I think there are several great lessons to learn from this Bible passage. I've heard many sermons about Gideon and his army of 300. Yes, that's a tremendous lesson for us. When we lean on God and trust Him fully, although the opposing "army" is huge, we will win because God is with us. Faith and trust go hand in hand.

Something I've pulled from the passage this week is in the first part - the part about Baal. Baal did NOT defend himself. He couldn't. He's not God - THE ONE TRUE GOD. The God who is real is the One who not only defended Himself, but defended Israel time and time and time again. And He's the God who defends us, His followers, time and time and time again.

When I hear people say that everyone has a right to believe in whatever god they want, I agree. We all have that right. I also keep in mind that there can only be one God, that we can't all be right. We need to choose who to follow. Some say there is no God so don't follow any. To that I say, "HA! Show me what or whom you love more than anything in this world and that is your god!"

I choose to believe the God who defends Himself.

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