BEHIND THE FACADE
Lord, give me clear guidance to carry out my assignment.
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.[a] Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole[b] beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of[c] 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[d] 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[e] 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.
- Judges 6:25 Or Take a full-grown, mature bull from your father’s herd
- Judges 6:25 That is, a wooden symbol of the goddess Asherah; also in verses 26, 28 and 30
- Judges 6:26 Or build with layers of stone an
- Judges 6:26 Or full-grown; also in verse 28
- Judges 6:32 Jerub-Baal probably means let Baal contend.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Take a few moments to bring before the Lord an issue in your life which you don’t usually reveal to others.
The name ‘Gideon’ means ‘chopper’, and here he lives up to his name in an assault on his father’s idolatry, gaining an additional name in the process (32)! ‘But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime’ (27). This all-too-human mixture of faith and fear characterizes Gideon at this point in his life. His two experiments with the fleece (36–40) show that his faith is not yet strong enough to act simply on the Lord’s word; this is made clear by his prayer in verse 36: ‘If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised …’. Note too that this struggle to believe comes after the Spirit of the Lord has come upon him (34).
This soft center of Gideon’s faith is not apparent to the ten servants who join him in the dangerous night-time adventure (27), nor to the members of the four tribes who answer his summons to engage in warfare against the invading hordes (34,35). To these followers, he is a faith-filled, Spirit-anointed visionary leader of God’s people with none of the doubts which in fact lie behind this facade. God does not seem to object to Gideon’s wavering and does not rebuke him; rather the Lord gives to him the signs which his faltering faith demands. A similar theme emerges in the story of Moses, whose assured leadership in public was built upon a prayer life which often included struggle and even argument with God (eg., Exod 4:1–17; 5:22–6:1; 33:12–23).
In the light of this, consider this comment by a football manager: ‘If players were closer to me, they would respect me less because they would see how I really am. It is better to see me at a certain distance than closer.’ (Marcelo Bielsa, manager of Leeds United FC, quoted in the i newspaper, 9 March 2019).
When is it appropriate for a Christian leader (or you!) to reveal her/his weaknesses to others?
Lord, I understand that although I may not be perfectly suitable for the job, my willingness to do it is enough for You.