Worship Wars

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 1

UnknownIsrael has a rich history with God. God had promised Abraham and his barren wife a son, a nation, and a land. He kept that promise. He had promised Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years, but that He would return them to the land He had promised to Abraham. With an outstretched arm He parted the Red Sea, and they crossed over on dry land from the land of oppression. After Israel wandered in the wilderness because of disobedience, God parted the Jordan River, and they crossed over on dry land. God has defeated one enemy after another. He’s the Living God.

Sadly, a generation arises that turns its back on the Living God and worships gods made of stone and precious metals. The people live in fear of the Canaanites and appeal to the gods of the Canaanites for help and protection. They receive poverty rather than help.

Then God shows up. He appears to Gideon, who is barely eking out a living, and declares, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (Judges 6:12). Gideon replies, “Where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (6:13). Is this the truth? No. Gideon has believed a lie; in actuality, Israel has abandoned God.

God commands Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and to cut down the Asherah pole—which he does. His kinsmen demand Gideon’s death, but Gideon declares, “If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!” (Judges 6:31).

God demonstrates His ability when he trims down Gideon’s army to 300 men and they defeat the Midianites. The LORD reveals Himself as He defends His people. He alone is worthy of worship.

This story reveals a number of truths about God, men, and idolatry:

  • Men would rather live under the oppression that accompanies idolatry than God’s rule.
  • Men would rather live impoverished lives than cry out to and worship the Living God.
  • One person watching for God to work and believing Him may accomplish more than thousands who hide and cower in fear.

When Gideon chooses to break down the idol, he discovers a boldness in himself that brings forth gladness in the hearts of his family. Facing our fears and choosing to obey allows God to reveal courage and challenges others to follow our example.

One person willing to do right may save a nation and see a great victory.

Questions from today’s reading (Judges 3:31-6:40):

For how long does Jabin king of Canaan oppress the children of Israel before they cry out to the LORD? What does this reveal about human nature?

Describe Deborah’s view of God. How does it compare with that of Israel’s military commander?

According to Deborah’s song, how does the LORD come to Israel’s aid? What does this reveal about God and His activity?

Review Deuteronomy 7:1-11. What had Israel failed to do that precipitated the oppression by the Canaanites? What does this reveal about people, culture, and Bible literacy?