A Proper Altar

OPENING PRAYER

God, sometimes I am fearful. Help me to have the courage to do what You ask of me.

 

Read: JUDGES 6:25–40

25 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. 26 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 bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

 

Reflect: DO YOU ASK GOD FOR A SIGN WHEN HE ASKS YOU TO DO SOMETHING? HOW HAS GOD RESPONDED?

What is a “proper kind of altar” (26)? In the case of Gideon it meant the destruction of an old one, dedicated to Baal and the erection of something new, dedicated and acceptable to the Lord. It was a long way from being a refurbishment. It had to be completely new and different. Out goes what was past. God requires nothing less.
The worshippers of Baal and Asherah were furious (30). Some understood Gideon’s action as an act of sacrilege and were threatening dire consequences for him, which were stoutly resisted by Gideon’s father, Joash. Gideon got away with it.
For all his courage, Gideon was fearful. Wouldn’t you have been? He enlisted a handful of helpers and did the work by night. But still he had no confidence to act as champion for all Israel. Instead he resorted, as some still do, to pleading for a sign (36–40). Yet not even a pair of miracles with a wet fleece will guarantee confidence for a good man lacking assurance. The Christian guided by the Holy Spirit will not always need this kind of confidence-building before he ventures out for God. What he really needs is trust in a wise and loving heavenly Father.

 

APPLY

Ask God for a “God-sized” dream to accomplish for his glory. Pray for the faith to step out when the time comes.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Help me, dear Lord, to trust You with every fiber of my being so that I may step out in quiet and confident faith.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider