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Late night adventures with Gideon and his mighty ten

by davesandel on August 17th, 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021                              (today’s lectionary)

Late night adventures with Gideon and his mighty ten

The story.

Gideon’s dad Joash worships the idol Baal, but Gideon … doesn’t? He certainly did not after his encounter with the angel.

The angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak tree that belonged to Joash, watching Gideon threshing wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. “God is with you, O mighty warrior!”

Who, me? And by the way, pardon me, my Lord, but what kind of God is this, who leaves us to all these disasters brought on by the Midianites?

God seemed pleased by Gideon’s brash words.

Go in the strength that is yours. Go and save Israel. It is I who send you.

Gideon begins to shake in his sandals. Who, me?

My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.

This conversation under the terebinth is recorded in Hebrew history, and it is very funny. The angel of the Lord must not have been listening very well to Gideon’s protests. As with Moses, God sees something of which Gideon has no clue.

I shall be with you, and you will cut down Midian to the last man.

Gideon asks a favor of the Lord, asks him to wait a few moments while he goes to prepare a sacrifice. The angel of the Lord agrees.

I’ll wait till you get back.

Gideon prepared a meal for the angel from young goat meat, unleavened tortillas and broth. But the angel didn’t eat.

“Take the meat and bread, place them on that rock, and pour the broth on them.” Then the angel of God stretched out the tip of his stick. He touched the meat and bread, and fire broke out of the rock and burned it up, while the angel of God slipped out of sight.

Gideon was upset and frightened because now he knew for sure he had been speaking with God’s messenger.

But God reassured him. “Careful, now. Don’t panic. You won’t die.” Gideon built an altar and named it Yahweh-Shalom, which means “God’s Peace.”

The lectionary doesn’t tell the rest of the story. That night God got in Gideon’s face again.

Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one who is seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper altar to the Lord your God, and using the wood of the Asherah pole, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

No doubt losing this bull would greatly dismay his dad. But Gideon was not about to stop now. He waited till everyone was asleep except ten servants he told to wait up with him, and did the work commanded by the Lord. And in the morning the people of the town, along with Gideon’s family, awoke to find Baal’s altar torn down, the Asherah pole gone and the bull burning away on the new altar. Shocked they were! It took only a short investigation to find the culprit.

The angry crowd insisted Joash bring out Gideon to be executed, but Joash stood up for his son. Something must have happened to Joash during the night as well.

Joash shouted above the tumult of the hostile crowd: “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for Baal shall be put to death by morning!”

Then Joash was given just the right words to say.

“If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

Ha! Everyone seemed to agree with that. That day they gave Gideon a nickname, Jerub-Baal, which means, “Let Baal contend with him.” Gideon kept that nickname the rest of his life, which was marked both by more doubt and more impossible, God-given victories over the Midians. Baal never did do any damage to God’s Gideon, the quiet young man He met under his dad’s oak tree one fateful day in the desert.

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and the Lord will speak of peace to his people.

(Judges 6, Psalm 85, 2 Corinthians 8, Matthew 19)

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