But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” From then on Gideon was called Jerub-baal, which means “Let Baal defend himself,” because he broke down Baal’s altar. (Judges 6:30-32)
When we make sweeping changes in our lives, there will be ramifications. Idols are hard to knock over because of the power we give them. Old patterns wear deep grooves. How do you get rid of an idol?
Well there’s no such thing as an idol patch. You don’t wean yourself off an idol, you knock it down. You either worship the idol or you worship God; there is no in-between. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money [or self, or isolation, or avoidance, or sex, or drugs, or prestige, or position, etc.].” (Matthew 6:24) Think of it as there being only one throne in your life and only one person or thing can occupy it. It’s either God, or anything and everything else.
If it hasn’t been God, it’s going to be no small feat to knock down whatever or whoever you have been serving and build an altar atop the ruins to the one true God. We’re talking about a massive alteration.
The rest of Gideon’s family and the people of the town were understandably upset over what Gideon had done. Gideon, under cover of darkness and without telling anyone, just destroyed the objects of their worship. People not only believed in their pagan gods, they counted on them for protection from their enemies, to ensure sun, rain and healthy crops and livestock, and to encourage fertility. And Gideon just reduced those gods they depended on to a pile of rubble. And so they demanded that Gideon pay with his life for what he had done.
This is when Gideon’s father brilliantly quells the growing riot by a simple piece of very clear-minded logic. If Baal is God, he should be able to handle himself, wouldn’t you think? If their god needs them to defend him, what kind of god is that? And on that note, the people were quieted. Joash certainly gave them something to think about, and I imagine many of them began to doubt Baal at that point. Gideon just turned one god into a pile of rubble, and burned the other one up, and there was Gideon standing there doing just fined.
Which is why they gave Gideon a new name: Jerub-baal, or “Let Baal defend himself,” basically meaning Baal defended himself against Gideon and lost. Gideon was the Baal-basher. And this was not just a nickname for a few days, this was his new identity, and each day Gideon lived without any repercussions from the pagan god, was another day to realize this god was nothing. So Gideon’s victory against Baal was constantly remembered by his name. Let Baal duke it out with Gideon. In this one act, little Gideon from the smallest clan in the least of the tribes of Israel gained respect, and began the process of turning the hearts of the people back to God. And everywhere he went, his name said all that.
Got idols? Sneak up on them and knock them over. They are powerless; it’s you you have to worry about. When you knock down an idol, you are showing yourself that you don’t need it. God is enough. God will be to you everything you were trying to get out of that idol and more.
You have to do it, though. You have to knock it over. You have to show yourself that you don’t need it. The opposition will come from inside you, but when you find out the idol is nothing and God is everything, you will be free.
I’m going to take a baseball bat to some idols in my life. The idols of idleness, avoidance, distraction, and procrastination, for instance, are big for me. Take ‘em down. There’re others that God will reveal to me in time. Things are going to change around here. There’s going to be some idol-bashing going on.
Got idols? Take ‘em down.