Summary: Gideon’s obedience to the Lord faced opposition from within and from without.
Gideon - The Conflict
History reveals that great nations usually fall because of inward struggles not outward invasion. Rome declined because of degradation in morals and national identity. Greed, sexual perversion, power struggles, and internal corruption brought the mighty nation to its knees.
More recently Russia fell not because of an invasion from an invasion without but hunger from within. The country went bankrupt from a brutal war and there was no money to buy bread or other goods. The people revolted and the country collapsed.
Where did God begin? Right in Gideon’s home town. In order to free the nation of Israel he first had to rid his family and town of idol worship.
Gideon was filled with doubts when it came to his ability but he had completed the task that had been set before him by the Lord. He had torn down the altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole even though he was afraid. He took the bull of seven years and sacrificed it on the new altar to the Lord God.
What I find amazing is that no one heard the altar being demolished. One would think that the tools, which were crude, would have been impact tools for cutting and smashing. Baal altars were elaborate so wood and rock would have made sound when it hit the ground.
Perhaps this was one more way the Lord demonstrated His power. The Lord had said he was with Gideon. He closed the ears of the town’s people so the work could be finished completely. He might have even stopped the sound altogether from reaching the town.
What of his father? Did he see his son and simply repent and go back to sleep? We do not know but it is evident that the Lord was at work in the destruction of Baal’s alter and the Asherah pole.
Gideon’s faith in the Lord had won out over his fear of his father and the men of the town. However, the town had not awakened from their sleep. When they woke up they would see the destruction of the altar and Gideon might yet die.
1. A Riot at Home - v. 28-30
In the morning when the men 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!
The town people got up, saw the altar destroyed, an altar to God in its place, and became enraged. Someone had torn down their altar to Baal. To the people that meant that there was a traitor amongst them, someone who wasn’t like them. They thought this person sought to destroy their way of life, such as it was.
Not only was the altar destroyed but the bull was smoldering on the new altar to God. Some say this second bull was the town’s bull. It was dedicated to Baal. The town used their resources from the people to feed and raise the bull and so not only would Gideon have destroyed the altar but their bull that was to be sacrificed by the town. Whatever was left of the altar or the bull the town wanted to know who had done the act.
29They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”
It seems there were a lot of questions asked in the morning. All were aimed at finding out who did it. Gideon took ten servants with him it is probable that one of them told. Gideon had been "sold out" by one of his own servants or someone who had knowledge of the event. However it happened, this "careful investigation" turned up with the name "Gideon, son of Joash".
30The men 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.”
The people wanted a death sentence for Gideon even though he was following the command of the Lord. Gideon had every right to destroy Baal worship because this is what God had commanded in His Law (Ex. 34:12-13; Deut. 7:5). For that matter, he had the right to stone everybody who was involved in Baal worship (Deut. 13), but God didn’t include that in His instructions. (Weirsbe)
So why the death sentence for doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord among God’s people? Baal worship was all about pleasure and sensuality. The worship of Baal and Astarte center on sex and sexual perversions of all kinds. Child sacrifice was also a part of it.
It was extremely appealing to people just as it is today. Pornography, prostitution, deviance of all kinds pervades our nation. It appeals to the base instincts of mankind. Abortion, our legalized child sacrifice, is rampant in out country as well. You might say Baal worship is alive and well in our country. We have become a nation of Baal worshippers.