Scripture: Judges 6:25-40
Key verse: (30) “Bring out your son, so that he may die, for he has pulled down the altar of Baal and cut down the sacred pole beside it.”
Reflection: Statues being pulled down. Acts of protest at night. Family divisions. Tension within the nation and threats from abroad. Gideon, at the center of our scripture passage for today, was living in a tumultuous time. Before kings arose in Israel, God appointed judges to call the people to repentance, to bring justice to the land, and to protect from outside threats. We know the all too familiar cycle of the Israelites obeying God only to turn away again to idol worship. We know this cycle because this is our cycle as well. This is the cycle of humanity.
John Calvin, a pioneer in the reformed church, went so far to call humans “little idol factories”. These idols today don’t look like the statues of bulls of Gideon’s era, but they are still as prevalent. Idols aren’t just things that we worship, but ideas or objects that we place trust in over God and value in over other human life. Think back to the Garden of Eden, when the man and woman ate the fruit in hopes to be wise as God, and as soon as they grasped to this object of divine wisdom they also turned against one another. In our passage for today Gideon receives a call from God to tear down the idol that his father was care taker of. Gideon knew this was a dangerous task, and so he went at night to dismantle the statue. Sure enough, the next day the town people went nuts, they saw their bull dismantled and their sacred poll cut down. Their response to an object being harmed? Kill Gideon. Idol worship always leads us to value objects or ideas over human life.
Statues being pulled down. Acts of protest at night. Family divisions. What idols do you find in our time? What objects or ideas do you hold to tightly, serving as the foundation of your identity? Where do you see objects or ideas being valued more than the lives of people? Gideon knew that his call from God was unpopular, he knew that people would threaten his life, he knew that people valued objects and ideas more than they value the life of another person. But Gideon also knew that idol worship leads to decay from within an individual and within a community. Gideon wasn’t the bravest judge, but he trusted God day by day, little by little, to take steps to call God’s people to repentance and new life. May we trust God and follow in those steps as well.
Prayer: Holy God, we are a people prone to wander, call us back to you. By your Spirit strengthen us to hold loosely to objects and ideas and grasp tightly to you. Open our ears and our hearts to be transformed so that we may love one another fully. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].