Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tearing Down Baal-ish Altars and Asherah Poles


Yesterday, Dan Mayhew, the IRM coordinator of the Portland Pastors Prayer Summit asked us all to spend some time alone and review the story of Gideon. I am a sucker for all those Old Testament stories that I learned as a kid! But reviewing the story again showed several things to me. Here is just one of them:

It is not enough to praise God positively. The angel of the Lord appeared and Gideon asked the angel to wait while he went & prepared a sacrificial meal for him. When Gideon returned, the angel instructed Gideon to lay out the goat meat and the unleavened bread and the angel burned up the sacrifice.

Gideon, awed, immediately built an altar and sacrificed and called it Jehovah Shalom—“the Lord is my Peace.” (Should Gideon have asked the angel about the type of sacrifice he wanted before going off and doing it the way Gideon thought it should be done?)

But when Gideon was done, the Lord told him in a dream to build a new altar of sacrifice…but this time to do it on the site of his own father's altar to Baal & the Asherah pole. Gideon might have echoed the words of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz when he was told that the Wizard of Oz would grant their requests if they would bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West:clip_image002

Tin Man: B-B-B-B-But if we do that, we'll have to kill her to get it!

Wizard: Bring me her broomstick and I'll grant your requests....Now go!

God was not necessarily basing his freeing of the Hebrews on Gideon proving himself “worthy by performing a very small task.” (Again, the words of the Wizard) But the instruction were commandments just the same.

"B-B-B-B-But to do that, I'll have to tear down my father's altar to the local god and goddess! That will make people VERY unhappy. They may even try to kill me!!" (Which they did)

We love worship (however we define that. Don’t get me started on musicians defining worship solely as singing). All believers love giving praise to God. I LOVE preaching on praise and prayer and worship and the comforting qualities of God.

But God also sometimes calls us to preach on hard subjects. To tear down some Baal-ish altars or some Asherah poles. (the sea goddess Asherah [the wife of Ď‹ber-god El] sought after the love of the storm god Baal, and they are sometimes seen as a couple although Baal is more often linked with another goddess Astarte).

It is easy to shirk. It is so tempting to find the superficial way out...Gideon tore down the altars at night and then went & hid!

But in spite of his fear, we remember Gideon as having the character by which the angel first addressed him in v. 12: "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!"

In spite of my fears and trepidation when it comes to preaching some hard stuff that is in effect tearing down some Baal-ish altars & Asherah poles, Lord help me be a Gideon...a "mighty warrior!"

BTW: This afternoon I walked on the beach here at Cannon Beach--it was mid 40's and the sky was light cobalt blue. An absolutely fabulous day on the coast. This morning, right before dawn, the moon was about as big and as bright as I have ever seen it and it was shining down on the incoming surf. Below the moon, a highway of light followed the incoming waves all the way from the beach to the horizon. Praise God for his incredible creation!


Milton Stanley said...

Since you moderate comments, you don't have to post this one: "altar" (the noun, not the verb) is spelled with two a's. Peace.

Cal Habig said...

Thanks Milton. Those little things are important to me (actually they are not so little). Corrections made. Cal.

Exposure World said...

I am in full agreement. I was just looking up what an asherah pole was after reading to my 8 m/o son Josiah about his namesake in 2 Kings 22. I then prayed for him to live up to his name and thought what is an asherah pole. Man did I ever find some lies online. Praise the Lord for your straight forward approach. Truth in love, right? Truth is not always easy to hear, but is always the right thing with love as the foundation. Gotta jam son is fussing.

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