(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
In some ways, what Gideon had to do before he ever went after the enemy from without was the hardest thing of all. He had to defeat the enemy from within. The enemy from within consisted of the local pagan idols the children of Israel had adopted as their own — the stone Baal and the wooden Asherah pole that his clan had erected atop their designated hill of worship. This was obviously an abomination to God and had to be removed before God would give them any success against their enemies less they think the power to win a victory had come from the false gods. So God gave Gideon specific instructions to smash the Baal, build an altar to the Lord out of the stones, cut up the Asherah pole and use it for wood, and sacrifice a bull on the reconstructed altar to the God of Israel. Gideon did all that under cover of darkness, not because he feared Baal, but he feared his family’s reaction — proof of the fact that idols have no power but the power that we give them.
Sure enough, when the rest of the clan found out what had happened, they went to Gideon’s house intent on killing him, and this is where Gideon’s dad, Joash, came through big time. Joash totally shut down the mob that confronted his house by shouting, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? … If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” And when nothing happened, they gave Gideon a new name, Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself.” Imagine your name coinciding with the name of an ineffective false god. Gideon was walking proof of the powerlessness of idols. The first step in freeing his people from the Midianites was freeing them from the imaginary power of false gods.
Who or what do you give power to in your life that you need to break free from. Is it money or lack of it (that’s mine)? Is it a person? Is it power or influence? Is it an addiction? Whatever it is, tear it down and see if it can defend itself without you propping it up. Gideon’s dad was onto something.