Image credit: Saad Akhtar/flickr/license
American Sins are Not New
It was only a few years ago that parents worried about their children worshiping Wiccans (Harry Potter), or watching morally debauched TV (Friends). Now children are also being abused within debilitatingly stupid school curriculum (Common Core, No Child Left Behind). We are long past the earlier calls for obedience to God, like needing better behavior in church and school, or obeying parents daily, or not gossiping about our friends. We drove past those “goin’ like sixty” six decades ago. It just keeps coming at us. Who will lead us toward better precepts? I read a report the other day that some American sixth graders were being given biological drawings showing them how sodomy works. It never ends. I could suggest what the next rotten step downward will be, but I would likely already be behind the current evils of my time. If we had been discovering the secrets of space flight as fast as we are always discovering the next strata on the slide toward evil, we would have flown to Mars a long time ago. Heck, we would have flown to Alpha Centauri and half way back again. It seems we can all agree—we need leaders. We need leaders with answers.
For reasons unexplainable I feel a little better when I realize the sins of America are not new or are not worse than some of what we see happening in Scripture. When the angel came to Gideon addressing him as valiant warrior Gideon was living under the judgments of God—judgments Israel deserved due to her gross sins and intransigence. That is the way it always was, the traversing of the moral compass from obedience to disobedience and back again. When life finally became hard enough the Israelites would cry to the Lord (Judges 6:6, 4:3, 3:9) and God would deliver them from His judgments with a godly leader. This is where Gideon comes in.
Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:11–12).
Leaders Who Listen
After the valiant warrior conversation the Lord spoke to Gideon two more times that same day. With all these conversations there is something going on here that we ought not miss. God was speaking to His chosen man, His warrior. The voice of God was perhaps unusually clear (If the angel of the Lord stands right in front of you and gives you instructions that would qualify as “unusually clear”.) Though two times there was only the voice and no angel there was something different going on. Nevertheless, we notice that when God spoke Gideon listened. This is what Godly leaders do. It is an important first step if we want to lead the reconstruction of our nation and return to the God of the Bible. I don’t know if the angel of the Lord will appear to any of us, but I do know that we can still hear the voice of the Lord. God often refers to His word as the voice of the Lord and that also tends to be unusually clear if we read and apply it rightly. God told the nation of Israel numerous times not only to listen to but to obey the voice of the Lord (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 13:18, 26:14, 30:20; Jeremiah 3:13). Gideon proved he was a leader when he decided to obey.
Tearing Down Comes First
Now on the same night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.” Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night (Judges 6:25–27).
This command to pull down the altar of Baal took courage for Gideon to obey. It was risky to pull down the Baal altar and the Asherah and doubly so when they belonged to his father. Gideon was putting his relationship with his father behind the call to obedience. It was as Jesus said later on:
“They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:53).
Gideon’s determination to obey God and tear down his father’s idol marked Gideon as a leader of men. In fact he took men with him for the work, another mark of leadership.
Gideon courageously obeyed God by promptly tearing down the Baal idol. He used it to kindle a fire to offer God a sacrifice. It was a double insult to the people who worshiped Baal. Gideon was a leadership example for us in America. If we want our nation to return to the God of the Bible we must find ways to replace our national idols with biblically sound alternatives. The idol of civil government needs to be exchanged for systems that advance the kingdom of God. It is one thing to tear down but quite another to build back in a better way. But Gideon could do it and so can we. Our challenge is before us. Will we continue to shame ourselves by serving the Baals of our day or will we tear them down and rebuild society based on Biblical precepts? The Scriptures are full of answers to our problems. The voice of the Lord tells us how to live. We must decide if we will listen to the Lord and lead the way to a godly society, or if we will continue to follow the idols of our day.