Monday, November 17, 2008

jerub-baal the great man of God

Judges 6

One of the great people of the Old Testament is a guy named Gideon. He is introduced in Judges chapter 6. It seems like whenever the people of God begin to walk away from Him there arises on the scene a person who begins to bring attention to the sin of the people. Throughout the Old Testament this is true and we remember these people as great people of faith. It reminds me of Star Wars and the idea of bringing balance to the force. When the dark side would become too strong, or too aggressive a great Jedi would rise up and fight the dark side and eventually bring balance to the force. Gideon was the Luke Skywalker of his time.

Judges chapter 6 begins this way, "Again the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord." There seems to be a recurring theme in the Old Testament. God's chosen people regularly or time and time again would do evil. And the most common sort of evil was following other nations into idol worship. In this case the Israelites have followed the surrounding culture into worshiping an idol named BAAL. Because of this disobedience God allows the Midians to oppress the people of Israel and they finally called out to God for help. Gideon was the answer to that call to God. Gideon took some of his servants out and destroyed the altar to BAAL and sacrificed a bull to God on the rubble. And to me here is the interesting part of the story. When the people of the town saw what had happened they were angry and wanted to kill Gideon for this act. They took their anger to the leader of the town named Joash. Joash gave them this argument. "If BAAL is God then let him deal with Gideon." This seemed to appease the people and it led to them calling Gideon Jerub-Baal which means "Let BAAL contend with him."

Throughout the rest of the story of Gideon the Bible continues to call him Jerub-Baal. The nickname stuck. That's what he became known as around town and to the people of Israel. He stood up for God. His name was changed. He wore that name for the rest of his life. It wasn't exactly an endearing name, but he wore it anyway. It represented a life that was counter cultural and he lived it wherever he went. I don't think he had it printed on his license plate or had t-shirts made up, he simply lived out the name and wherever he went people knew by his name that he had stood up to BAAL, he stood for God, and he lived against the current culture of his day.

May we all wear a new name today. May that name be one that stands for our God. May we do so in spite of our culture. May we live it out in the way we go about life. I don't have to say what our new name is do I?

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