July 13, 2019

Gideon's Altar

Judges 6:1-24

We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

—  1 Corinthians 1:23

The Israelites had done it again. They had wandered from God and had worshiped the gods of the people around them.

These were Baals and Asherahs, made-up gods and goddesses that were supposed to give you abundant crops and herds if you worshiped them and slept with their sacred prostitutes. Altars to these gods were everywhere in the land. And, to Israel, it often looked as if the sacrifices to these gods worked. The rains came, the fields yielded rich harvests, and the herds multiplied.

But what did Israel do when enemies came and stole their harvests and livestock, ruined their fields, and trampled their vineyards? They cried out to the Lord. Canaan’s gods were defenseless against the invaders.

When an angel of the Lord came to visit, Gideon had no idea who it was, and he spoke doubtfully about God. But when Gideon’s eyes were opened and he feared he would die, he learned that God was not only real but also merciful. So he built an altar to the Lord. God had come to rescue his unfaithful people, so Gideon worshiped the Lord there.

Christians today know that the cruel cross on which Jesus died was the final altar from which all blessings flow. The message of the cross may seem like foolishness to others (1 Corinthians 1:23-25), like Gideon’s altar amid all the others in the land, but the gods of other altars have no power. Cry out to the Lord for rescue. He will save you.

Thank you, Lord, for blessings that flow without end and with the power of your mercy. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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