A Voice in the
Re: Who dares sacrifice to God?? (Judg6:28-30)
"And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down; and the grove that was beside it was chopped down, and the...bull was being offered on the altar which had been built. And they said to one another, Who has done this thing? And when they had inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing. Then the men of the city said to Joash, Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has torn down the altar of Baal, and because he has chopped down the grove that was beside it." (Judg6:28-30)
What an incredible incident. In following God's command, Gideon obeys. But since Gideon is a scaredy-cat, he does it at night when everybody is sleeping. So, they wake up in the morning, and as they approach for their morning Baal offerings, what do they see? Baal has been torn down, and in its place an altar to God. The wood from Baal's grove is the firewood for the offering, and it is burning, with the smoke rising to God. They are approaching to sacrifice to Baal, but somebody has beat them to the punch, and instead an offering is going up to Jehovah; something they haven't seen in awhile.
These that wanted to kill Gideon were fellow-Israelites, supposed-to-be fellow-worshipers of God. And it would have been obvious that it was an offering 'pleasing' to God. This that they see is something that they are 'supposed' to be doing regularly before God, but aren't. Thus, did they not stop to think that their anger was turned against God? Was their conscience not pricking at their hearts?
How would they have known that it was God's sacrifice? There was a "proper arrangement" (vs26) Exactly what this would have looked like I seriously doubt that anybody today truly knows. Surely, there are Jewish legends and traditions; but nothing written in -God's- Word that specifically describes it, stone by stone, piece by piece of wood, and how the animal was prepared. Moses gave the instructions as God had given them to him, and it was verbally handed down through the Levitical generations. And after Jesus fulfilled the sacrifices with His own death, there is now "no more sacrifice for sins", as Jesus fulfilled it "once for all". (Heb10:26, 7:27) That oral tradition was dispersed along with the "diaspora". Scripture only tells us that God gave it to Moses, who gave it to the tribe of Levi; but Scripture itself does not lay it all out in verbal specifics; we can certainly read the narrative, but we don't know FOR SURE what it all 'looked' like. Words do not convey what a photograph would. Much in the same way a person can describe what somebody looks like, with words, even down to minute details, but the hearer does not -truly- know what that person looks like unless/until that person either steps into view, or a photograph is shown.
But there is something else that surely would have been observable to Gideon's enemies. The sacrifice, as they found it burning, would have been "accepted" by God. In what way? What was it about Abel's offering that was obvious to Cain that God had "regard" for it, but not his own? (Gen4:3-5) We aren't told exactly, but some have speculated from a few examples. So, let's make these same observations; not necessarily as surely known fact, but as reasonable 'assumption' based on what we read.
When God first talks to Gideon, Gideon brings the offering (a different one than this that opens this study), puts it on the rock, and God touches it with the end of His staff, and lights the offering on fire and it consumes everything. (Judg6:21) When the Angel of the Lord appears to Samson's parents, He returns back up to Heaven through the flame of the offering they prepare. (Judg13:20) Of course, who can forget the contest between God and Baal through Elijah. (1Ki18) And when Solomon is dedicating the temple, as the sacrifice is prepared, God's glory fills the temple to such an extent that the priests cannot stand in the area to continue serving. (1Ki8:11)
There is a tradition I've heard that says something like: when God was pleased with a burnt offering, that He would engulf the offering, making the flame burst forth and become all-consuming of the sacrifice, beyond the natural inclination of wood to burn underneath meat (BBQ style); lending further understanding to the expression that God is a "consuming fire". (Ex24:17, De4:24, Heb12:29) Somewhat a symbolism of God becoming 'one' with that sacrifice. Remember how God appeared to Moses in the "burning bush"; and also how during times of rebellion, that He lashed out in fire to consume those who were rebelling in the wilderness. (Numbers) The sacrifices throughout the O.T. were symbolic of Jesus' -future- death on the cross; thus, the symbolism of God, the "consuming fire", becoming 'one' with the sacrifice that foreshadowed Jesus' crucifixion.
These men come along, spittin' mad that their idols to Baal have been torn down, idolatry they shouldn't have been engaged in, in the first place; idolatry for which faithful ones from Israel should have brought them up on charges and stoned them to death. But in contrast to seeing Baal's idols torn down, they see God's sacrifice burning. Should not their consciences have smitten them, such that they should have bowed in reverence and repentance?
Who is this that dares to sacrifice to Jehovah? Bring him out so we can execute him! Is this not their true complaint? Yes, they were angry that Baal had been desecrated; but were they not "Israel", God's chosen people? What business did they have even naming the name of Baal? (Ex23:13) Thus, the TRUTH of the matter was: They were angry because somebody was sacrificing to God; that's how backslidden they were! Or in today's vernacular: Such an "extremist" act, sacrificing to God.
A lot of people complain about God's 'invisibility'. They say things like: If God would just -show- Himself, so we can -see- Him, then we would have something 'concrete' upon which to base a faith in Him.
Well, God did that. He sent the visible representation of His essence, Jesus Christ. (Heb1:3) As Jesus said to Philip, "he who has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn14:9-10) And He goes on to say, if a person doesn't believe what they see, believe "on account of the works themselves" (vs11)
Jesus was one whom they had seen, had looked upon and their "hands have handled". (1Jn1:1) They saw Him, and saw His miracles which fulfilled all the O.T. prophecies, "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not stumble because of Me." (Mt11:4-6, Is35:5-6)
The people saw all of Jesus' works, and what was the result? "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe into Him," (Jn12:37) He "..came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." (Jn1:11) But instead, even though they saw and heard very God, Himself, they rejected Him and crucified Him.
Thus, was it any wonder that although Moses administered God's plagues upon Egypt, that Pharaoh refused to submit to God! And will it be any wonder in the coming years that, when the world sees God's judgments, that they will again "blaspheme the name of God" (Rev16:9,11,21)
But what is the most amazing thing is how those who call themselves "christians" are typically the -worst- when it comes to persecuting [C]hristians. It was the religious leaders who stirred up the crowds to demand Jesus' crucifixion. And Jesus promised, just as it was for Him, the same it is for those who follow Him. (Jn15:20-21)
"They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they do not know the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them." (Jn16:2-4)
Now...there was another occasion when the idols of a heathen god were knocked down, with far different reactions. God's ark of the covenant was in the hands of the Philistines, and the next morning Dagon's head was broken off the torso. This happened two days in a row. How did the Philistines react? They sent the ark back "home" to Israel, with trespass offerings. (1Sam5-6)
Like Jesus said, that it would be "more tolerable" in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre and Sidon, because if they had heard the gospel, even though they were not originally God's chosen, they would have repented. (Mt10:15,11:22,etc) Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. (Mt12:41) Nebuchadnezzar, Darius and Cyrus, all in their own individual ways honored God, even though not of Israel. Naaman became a Believer, even though having been healed in the midst of backslidden Israel.
There is no rebellion quite like the rebellion of God's own people, or those making a 'claim' to being followers of Him. Making "claims" for Christ. Today, that's the so-called church.
When a True Believer is in a congregation of mixed company, and comes to being in a position of leadership; the other True Believers in the group 'brighten' up because there is a "witness" (Rom8:16) of God's Holy Spirit at work in the congregation through him. So, what do the wolves do? They try to imitate the True Believer's 'form'; but since they lack the Holy Spirit, they don't get the same joyful results from the congregation. So, what do they do? Repent and follow God? No! Instead, they call up the True Believer on trumped up charges, get him before a lynch mob of a council, accuse him of trying to "steal" the pastor's position, assuming that when those other congregational Believers had included him in their 'fellowship' of taking a meal together, where the pastor wasn't invited, and the pastor got wind of it....surely they were "plotting" against the pastor. (When the pastor's name never once came up...they were merely having joyful fellowship together) Kinda like when Saul was chasing after God's anointed, David; assuming that everybody was plotting against him. (1Sa22:8) When it was his own rebellion and disoebedience that ripped the kingdom away from him, and gave it to David. (1Sa13:14)
Like the proverb: "The wicked flee when no one pursues.." (Pr28:1a)
While the world of politics is certainly nasty, there is nothing quite like the plottings and backstabbings of wolves amongst the sheep.
Jesus' Word to the faithful...?
"Blessed are you when they shall revile and persecute you, and shall say every evil word against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Mt5:11-12)