Struggling with a low self-esteem? Filled with fear and anxiety? God will encourage us and God will give us his presence, but unfortunately God will also test us! God gave Gideon a test and God will test you and me. Before God will ever use us in a significant way He will test us. There will always be a test before God can use you in a significant way. It’s test of whether you’re really going to trust God and obey him. This is what happened in Gideon’s life.
The background of the story is that during this time of oppression and depression in Israel, they had decided to take in everybody else’s false gods. They were trying to worship God and idols at the same time. They were compromising their faith. God said, “Gideon, I have a task for you to do. Before you do anything else, I want you to go and tear down the idol that your dad built — the false god that’s in your little village.” v. 25 “That same night the Lord said to him, `Take the second bull from your father’s herd, one of seven years old and tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah [which was another god. Baal was a fertility god. It was a sexual cult] Then build the proper kind of altar to the Lord, your God, on the top of this bluff and using the wood of the Asherah, that you cut down, offer the second bull as an offering.” So Gideon took ten of his servants and he did as the Lord told him.” He tore down the idol in his life.
What’s the idol in your life? What is the Baal in your backyard? God could not bless Gideon until he was ready to obey without question. This incident shows us the three ways that God may test you. And God will test you one of these three ways or maybe all three ways before He can use you significantly.
- God may test me spiritually.
This is a test of Who’s going to be God in my life. Exodus 20:3 the very first commandment, “You shalt have no other gods before me.” God wants complete allegiance, total obedience. He doesn’t want any compromise. Do you want halfhearted commitment in your marriage? God want to be number one in your life. A spiritual test is “What is number one in your life? What’s the Baal in your backyard? What’s the idol? It may be a job or a child. It could be a possession, a position of prominence, status. It could be a place. What is it that competes for your time and energy for number one place in your life? Whatever it is it’s a god and God may say, “Cut it down.” We need to do some spiritual housecleaning. Clean up our own backyard. God may test us spiritually to see what’s really important in our life.
- God may test me emotionally.
Notice who’s altar it was. It was his father’s altar. It says he went and tore it down at night because he was afraid of his family. I mean a confrontation with tradition. He’s saying, “My whole family has been worshiping this for years. I’m going to break with tradition.” That’s an emotional test. Family ties.
Do you ever find yourself limiting your Christian life because of what other people think? Do you keep your faith and convictions to yourself because family members might become upset? It was his dad’s idol. He goes and smashes it. Who’s going to pay for it? There was an emotional test here. Sometimes following God means that we stand alone if necessary.
Service for the Lord always begins at home. He said, “Gideon, before you can go out and take on the world let’s clean up your act right here in your own family. Our service for the Lord starts in our homes. It doesn’t matter what I do or what I say or what I accomplish if my family is falling apart, nothing else really matters. That’s my first responsibility.
- God may test me physically.
There may be a physical test in our life that God will use to see how willing we are to follow directions and instructions. When you think about this, this was a risky move — go out at night and tear down the town idol. It didn’t matter that his dad had built it and it was his family’s. It couldn’t have been the most prominent family in town because he said he was the least family. But he went against tradition and it wasn’t exactly going to win Gideon a popularity contest. In fact, it could have cost him his life. When we read the next few verses, we’ll find that when they woke up the next morning the town formed a lynch mob and came after Gideon because he had done this.
“In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar demolished and the Asherah beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the altar. They asked each other, `Who did this?’ When they carefully investigate they were told Gideon, son of Joash did it.’ So the men of the town demanded of Joash his dad, “Bring out your son. He must die because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah beside it.” Judges 6:28-30. This is a physical test. He could literally lose his life.
The point is this: If we really get serious about serving God expect tension. We may cause people to get upset. We may upset a few traditions.
But Gideon obeyed completely. And it affected his father. It influenced his father in a positive way. His father actually came to his defense even though it was his father’s idol that had been torn down. “Joash replied to the hostile crowd round him, `Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you going to try to save him? If Baal is really a god he can defend himself.” Judges 6:31 That’s smart thinking! If he was really a god he could take care of himself. He doesn’t need me. How many things in our life that we put up on a pedestal we think are really important and yet when we take them off the pedestal we realize they weren’t that important at all? How many things in our life have we thought, “I can’t live without that!” and yet when we do live without it, it’s no big deal. Those things that we glorify and honor and work and spend our lives for and set as our main goal and then we get it and we think, “It’s not the god I thought it was going to be. It’s not the pleasure producing item I thought it to be.”
Gideon’s father came to his defense. Joash saw in his son Gideon something that made him proud. Courage is contagious. Faith is infectious. All of a sudden Joash was saying, “My son’s right. We shouldn’t be compromising.” Gideon passed the test will we?
After the God’s test comes the final step in God’s transforming process. We’ll look at that in the next post.