25 That night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it 26 and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” 27 So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night. 28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” 32 Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar. 33 Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow him. And he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up to meet them.
Gideon, our “mighty man of valor” rises to the task of destroying idolatry in Israel; but he does it under cover of darkness. So his obedience is there but he’s still afraid. I totally get it. Gideon’s own family is tied up into the worship of idols for the idols he destroys are in his own backyard. God is calling him out of his sin. But, and this must have been encouraging to Gideon, when the time comes to suffer the consequences of his actions, his father does stand up for him. It most certainly could have gone the other way. But a man of God sets his own house in order before going out to work on a nation. The opposition Gideon faces is illustrated in the fact that he was able to find only 10 men to help him destroy the idols. And you have to love the attitude of Joash as he defends his son’s actions. If Baal is so great, let him avenge himself. The people wait for something violent to happen to Gideon and of course, nothing happens!
The destruction of our idols is a tough business. In fact, I think that Gideon had an easier path than we might have. I don’t have any “golden idols” to knock down. No, mine are more likely to be far more subtle. We’re addicted to our electronics, sports, food, sex, ourselves ... I've said it before - name your own personal poison. As I ponder my own idols I am certain that should I be called upon to destroy my phone I would be hard pressed. I don’t actually worship it, but I do confess that it consumes far more of my time than is spiritually healthy. Even that admission is probably far less forceful than it should be.
So the question of the day is, what has your attention at the cost of your devotion to the Lord? The temptation will be to justify and quibble. Don’t. Just be honest and let God deal with your idols. I know – easier said than done. Gideon chose to knock down the family idols during the night. Maybe not brave but at least he got the job done. Me giving up my attachment to my phone and all that it can do for me – that would be brave.