The smoke was probably still rising when, as the Bible records,
In the morning when the men of the town got up, there Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! (Judges 6:26)
In the fog of their dual allegiances, the men of the town were angered and fearful of this affront to Baal. Who would do such a thing they cried, the author answering emphatically, Gideon. This made the act even more heinous in their eyes; the citizens shocked that someone in the caretaker’s family would commit this desecration. Reading from our distance, we’re left to wonder why Israel couldn’t see how their worship of Baal had broken the covenant with Yahweh. Is it possible that, despite all of our sophisticated understanding of our faith, we could find ourselves similarly spiritually blind?
The answer is yes, of course we could. Modern Christianity often allows us to live other than fully committed in a life that spreads our allegiance and worship between multiple ‘gods.’ We find ourselves becoming more ‘of’ the world, thinking that our covenant with God enables Him to look the other way. We should learn from history.
Joash, Gideon’s father, ends the scene with a theological lesson. If Baal were a real god, he suggests, why must we take action on his part? A real god can certainly take care of himself and Gideon will be properly punished. But, if Baal is not the god that we think he is…