In the previous post, we looked at the beginning of Gideon’s story in Judges 6, when God spoke the seemingly impossible into Gideon’s circumstances, but we stopped short of another twist in the account. Gideon’s need for reassurance went even further than the back-and-forth with the angel of the LORD. Gideon was called a “mighty man of valor” at a time when he was hiding in a winepress threshing grain, trying to stay under the radar so Israel’s enemy didn’t find him. Considering how weakened Israel was at the time, avoiding the enemy and living in constant fear, it is understandable how much he needed to be sure he was hearing from God.
Judges 6:17-18, ESV
And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”
Speaking to the angel of the LORD, Gideon didn’t mince his words. He clearly asked for a sign.
Was this wisdom, or a lack of faith?
One thing is clear: Gideon wanted to confirm with whom he was speaking.
Do you ever need that reassurance? I can think of several times when someone was advising me to take a certain action, and I wasn’t sure if I should listen. Sometimes I remember to ask “LORD, is that You?” But in other situations, I forget and sometimes heed instruction that was not God’s will for me. It was not His voice speaking.
The conversation with the angel of the LORD continued.
Judges 6:19-22, ESV
So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them.
And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so.
Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.
Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.”
The more I study the exchange between Gideon and the angel of the LORD, the more I am struck that this was not a command or an order. This was a conversation. Not once does the angel rebuke Gideon for needing confirmation.
Gideon prepared a sacrificial offering. Not only was he honoring the LORD in the presentation of the goat, but he was stepping out in faith, bringing this gift to the angel of the LORD to see what would happen next—if he would recognize the instructions that followed.
What followed was a demonstration of the power of God but also the sign needed: fire consumed meat and cakes soaked in broth.
At this point, Gideon had his sign and his reassurance. He then knew with whom he spoke. In response to the power displayed, the LORD continued to offer comfort and peace.
Judges 6:23-24, ESV
But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.”
Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
Step 1: Make sure it is God talking and then acknowledge (worship) Him for who He truly is.
So, it’s all good, right? Gideon could then move forward into his calling to defeat his enemy—but did he?
In Judges 6:25-26, the LORD told Gideon to cut down the altar of Baal and the Asherah next to it to destroy the false gods of other cultures around him—people the Israelites were supposed to clear from the Promised Land when they came to claim it after wandering the wilderness. Instead, they intermarried and adopted some of these other gods as their own. It was no surprise, then, that the LORD expected this as a first step of obedience.
It was one thing to sacrifice to Him. It was quite another to destroy these altars to other gods and use them as wood to provide a burnt offering to God, at risk of inciting the wrath of the Israelites and their enemies. Like Israel in clearing the land, Gideon partially obeyed God but followed the instruction under cover of night.
Gideon was still hiding, more or less.
Judges 6:27-32, ESV
So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.
When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built.
And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.”
But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.”
Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.
Despite the fear, Gideon took on the spiritual component of this warfare and brought down the enemy gods.
Step 2 in stepping out toward victory: Destroy that which is not of God in your life.
What is God asking you to do? Have you had a conversation with Him?
If you have, did you get to the next step?
Are you getting rid of the “idols” in your life that will hinder progress toward God’s purposes for you?
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) January 14, 2017
As we continue to look at Gideon’s example, we will see how God grows our faith with each step into obedience. No battle He asks us to fight or task He asks us to take on can begin until we have a conversation with Him and clear the landscape of anything that stands against His truth.
The landscape could be our mind, our environment, how we spend our leisure time, or certain unhealthy relationships that do not honor Him.
That’s a lot to ponder, but I’m confident, that like Gideon, we can get past “LORD, is that You?” after smashing the Asherah and Baals in our own lives.
No battle God asks us to fight or task to take on can begin until we talk with Him, clearing away that which stands against His truth.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) January 14, 2017
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).