Summary: Gideon’s life of faith began with tearing down idols and obeying the true God. What are the consequences of changing your life so radically?
DOES OBEDIENCE MATTER?
Does obedience matter? Sometimes you have to wonder if it does. When you look around and see others bending the rules or ignoring them altogether, obedience doesn’t look that necessary.
This week I witnessed the sad reality of our blatant disregard for authority and obedience to it. Our road is being paved on Bergen Bay, something that we have longed for quite some time. The only inconvenience is that we have to park our vehicles a long way off while the road is worked on. We were told not to drive over our curbs as they cured but people still snuck back onto the road to park as close to home as they could.
Then one day the crew knocked on all the doors and said we should stay off the road altogether till after the weekend. People still parked on the road, drove on it and even tried to get back on their own driveways. My dog barked at them as if to say “are you crazy?” I barked at them from behind my window, tossing up my hands in resignation.
You see, the more we drive on the road and disregard the directions of the crew, the longer we have to wait for what we have all longed for – a paved road. We are prolonging the project by making the crew do their work over and over again. Then we complain that it’s taking too long.
Obedience is only fashionable when it suits our own perceived goals. And yet if we could develop a habit of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ on a daily basis we would see blessings we never thought possible. Through obedience to Christ we would even begin to recognize what he is doing in our lives, even in the insignificant things.
Does obedience matter? In Judges 6:25-35, our hero Gideon learned that to truly believe God a person must go beyond a personal, private faith, and live a public obedience. Our story reveals four aspects of obedience that are essential to a holy life.
1. Obedience means whole-hearted commitment
Prior to this episode we saw how Gideon was threshing wheat in winepress to remain hidden from Israel’s enemies. The LORD approached him and gave him a great task – to rescue Israel. But first, Gideon needed to take care of some business at home. This is where we begin today.
The LORD tells Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to the false god, Baal, and the Asherah pole that stands beside it. God even directs him to use his father’s bulls to do it. The first bull was used to tear down the altar. Ironically, Gideon’s father was likely fattening this bull to offer in sacrifice to Baal. The second bull, which was 7 years old, was to be burnt as a sacrifice to the LORD on a new altar Gideon would build. If you return to v. 1 of this chapter you will note that the Midianites had oppressed the Israelites for seven years. Now God was making a very poignant statement by having Gideon offer this seven-year old bull in sacrifice. Now God was saying the time has come to break the power of my enemies.
We heard last week that Gideon was not the coward we always thought he was. In fact, he was sensible in threshing in a hidden place so that he could feed his family. I won’t dispute his sensibility, but Gideon was timid, there’s no doubt. When God told him to break down the altar in his father’s backyard, he did it at night, secretly.
This altar was no small thing. Recently archaeologists uncovered a similar altar that measured 26 feet square and almost five feet high. Its disappearance would be noticed. And apparently, Joash, Gideon’s father, was the caretaker of this altar for the whole village. This is why it was in Gideon’s backyard. So naturally there would be a fear that Gideon’s father would be angry. Thus he did it at night. But, mark this, he still did it.
There are three conclusions we can make out of this action that God commanded: One is that Baal must go before Midian can be taken on; Two is that God’s altar cannot be built until Baal’s altar is destroyed; and Three, whenever we commit ourselves to obeying God over and against all other influences or powers in our life, the place to begin is our own backyard.
In our own backyards exist idols or obsessions or addictions, whatever you want to call them, that prevent God from using us as he desires. We cannot serve two masters. God desires whole-hearted commitment from us. He wants all of us, not just the Sunday morning part of us, or whatever is leftover. He wants all of us.