Obedience Challenges

Judges 6:25-32

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! 29 They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.” 30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

Introduction

Many parents would let children help with household chores even if some glasses, bowls, and plates are broken in the process. Children are not the most careful and not have much precaution from hurting themselves. As they grew older, they can have added responsibilities. They may cook for meals or wash clothes. Helping in household chores is a handy preparation for children for their personal or communal responsibilities.

The Lord knows better than human parents how to prepare believers for more serious assignment. God assigns ministries according to our spiritual growth.

When God chose Gideon to lead the Israelites against their enemies, He also made it sure that he was ready for greater challenge. Gideon overcame his first challenge.

Obedience to God has different level of challenges. Normally, scared of what may happen or fear of the unknown can be the first of the many challenges to be overcome.

1. Scare

25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

Previously, Gideon asked for confirmation that the Lord would really trust him to lead Israel. He presented an offering and saw God’s angel face to face. He was scared. He expected to die but the Lord declared peace to assure him that he would not die.

Now, it’s the Lord’s turn to challenge the willingness of Gideon to obey God.

God instructed Gideon to offer his father’s bull, tear down his father’s altar of Baal, and cut down the Ashera pole and use it to for burnt offering. Why?

Previously, Gideon said earlier in Judges 6:5, 15 “Pardon me, my lord, but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

When he said that he was the least in his family and his clan was the weakest in Manasseh, Gideon implied that he was scared. There was not enough confidence in him to lead his brothers or his clan. How much more the whole nation of Israel?

To take his father’s bull as a burnt offering and tear down his father’s altar to Baal was a challenge to overcome his fear of his family. To use the Asherah pole for burnt offering was challenge to overcome his fear of his clan. An Asherah pole needs a whole community to set up. To burn the Asherah pole is a challenge against the townspeople.

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

Scare of family and townspeople was a challenge to overcome in obeying to God.

Taking his servant to help and executing it at night implied that Gideon still sensed fear, even when he decided to obey the Lord. Gideon had overcome fear of his family and fear of his townspeople before he faced the much tougher challenge of enemies.

When the angel of the Lord appeared earlier, Gideon asked in Judges 6:13, 13“But if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Gideon heard of God’s wonders against the Egyptians. He must have heard when God called Moses to lead the Israelites. Moses was also hesitant to obey the Lord.

Moses answered God in Exodus 3:11, 11“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

He said in Exodus 4:1; 10, 1“What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

10 “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

Why was Moses so hesitant to obey? Moses became a shepherd after he escaped from Egypt, and shepherds were detestable and deplorable to Egyptians (Gen. 46:34). Why would Pharaoh listen to disgusting shepherd? Why would the Israelites want him as leader when they did not want him before? After 40 years in Midian, Moses may not be able to speak the current lingo or language of the Israelites or the Egyptians.

Those were challenges that Moses had overcome. God sent Aaron (his brother) to meet Moses along the way. Aaron supported Moses as he led Israel in their journey.

Now, since Gideon pointed out the wonders of God against the Egyptians, he must have known how God helped Moses overcome his fear of his people and Pharaoh. When Gideon executed what the Lord instructed him to do, his father supported him.

2. Support

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! 29 They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.” 30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

When the townspeople demanded of Joash to bring his son out to die, it implies that they did not have any respect or fear of Gideon’s father. He was right in his hunch.

The townspeople carefully investigated what happened. And, how did they find out that it was Gideon who demolished the altar of Baal? His servants may have been pressured to tell the truth. So, if his servants cannot hide a secret, he cannot trust them to support him if Gideon would face the Midianites and their allies.

The Lord may have utilized the anger of the townspeople to inspire Gideon when his father supported what he did. Gideon was more assured that the Lord trust him just as his father trusted that he did the right move to demolish the Asherah pole.

The Lord has designed a ministry for each believer. God might have called you for a mission project. And, like Gideon, you should overcome the challenge of fear. Are you scared of the unknown? You might have told God that you need someone to support you. Seek to be empowered by His Spirit and have peace. God’s grace is sufficient for us.

Luther Rice

Have you heard of a missionary named Luther Rice? Born on 25 March 1783 and died on 27 September 1836, he went India with Adoniram Judson for mission. But, he returned to America where he spent the remainder of his career raising funds for missions and advocating for the formation of a unified Baptist missionary-sending body.

He spent the rest of his life traveling across America by horseback to raise funds and awareness for Baptist missions. He also raised funds to establish The Columbian College (now The George Washington University). He served as the treasurer of Columbian College from 1826 until his death.

The ministry of Luther Rice was one of the different approaches to ministry that God prepared specifically for each believer. His calling was to raise supports for missions. Someone said, “Believers are called to full-time ministry,” even outside church setting. Christian life is 24/7 and not just on Sundays.

Obedience to the Lord’s instruction is not without a challenge. Hesitation to obey right away reveals the challenge of fear to be overcome. Christ wants us to experience Him in and through us as His Spirit empowers us to overcome all challenges before us.

All we need to do is seek His empowerment and experience His peace as confirmation that He is leading us to the right direction of ministry He has prepared for us.

It says in Ephesians 4:11, 11Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.

These four major leadership offices are not designed to be occupied by one person. These offices require support groups to function in a more efficient productivity.

Do you know your calling? Are you called to mission, preach, evangelize, pastor, teach, support personnel, promote and write about ministry or establish mission agency?

You have to overcome the challenge that makes you hesitate to obey your calling before you realize the good work that God has prepared you specifically.

Once you discover and serve Christ in the ministry He has designed specifically for you only, you will certainly experience His promise of life to its fullness.

<‘))):< ltsii/2018 >:(((‘>

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