“And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the LORD had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father's household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.” (Judges 6:25-27)
Though they still believed in God, Gideon’s own family were actively involved in other religion, even building a place of worship for the community. By destroying the altar and trees used in the worship of Baal and replacing it with an altar to God, Gideon would demonstrate his personal rejection of Baal as a god. By doing so he would risk offending both his father and the community. Knowing the risk, he acted at night to delay their finding out.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Gideon chose the Lord over even his own family and friends. Every would be Christian is called on to make the same commitment to place God before anything else in his life.
“And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.” (Judges 6:28-30)
Immediately after finding out what Gideon had done, his neighbors were calling for his death. They were offended that he had destroyed their idol and grove of trees, which could not easily be replaced. They demanded that Joash hand over his son, forcing him to choose between their friendship and God. Gideon’s action cost Joash his bullock, a grove of trees and the labor and materials to build an altar. He had far more invested in the worship of Baal than any of his neighbors. Those who have invested little are often the most opposed to change.
“And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.” (Judges 6:31-32)
Joash was aware how much he had already invested in Baal worship. He was not willing to invest his son’s life as well without some evidence of receiving a return. The others had nothing to lose. He told them that Baal needed to demonstrate his power before he would sacrifice his son. If Baal was not powerful enough to defend himself, he was not worth worshipping. Too bad more people do not recognize this fact.
One is expected to make a down payment when one goes to buy a house or car. People who are unwilling or unable to put down a down payment have nothing invested and lose nothing if they change their mind, can walk away costing the lender a great deal. This is what caused the housing collapse in 2009. God is not stupid. He doesn’t give us the keys until we have demonstrated a commitment to him, until we have some skin in the game.. We don’t see his power in our lives until we have made the commitment to put him first. It is why God’s power is rarely seen in the church today.
God knows our level of commitment, but we often do not, deceiving our own selves. God may ask us to take action to make us aware of our commitment or lack thereof.