Supposedly, the Israelites were the People of God. Their lives after their entrance into the Promised Land was certainly not a testimony to that. The worthless gods and idols of the land became the focus of their lives. God became a second thought, if that.
Weak Gideon (his own thoughts of himself) was being asked to stand up to his father (leader of a weak family), which would then stand up to the tribe around them. That sounds encouraging.
While we might knock Gideon for doing it at night, it does make sense. Gideon was first approached as he hid in the wine vat squashing grapes. Fear was ingrained in Gideon.
In the end, Gideon did what God required.
As we learn, however, Gideon did not have to fear his father. Even though Gideon had sacrificed two bulls (not a small loss) without permission, and incurred the wrath of the tribe, Gideon’s father stood firm. Despite the fact that Joash (Gideon’s father) had an altar to Baal and an Asherah pole, Joash still asked, “who defends Baal?” This implies that Joash may have been outwardly compliant to the culture, but was, in fact, loyal to God. This would explain why Gideon was chosen.
For whatever reason, the people of Israel became lazy in their faith and followed the easy path of the people that remained. They followed the idols. Despite the forging of the Israelites in the desert, and even their forging in war to take the promised land, the heart of their culture had not yet turned to God.
The author of the Hebrews is facing a similar situation with the recipients of that letter. The lazy way of the “rules of the ancestors” rather than the harder Way of Christ was still not being overturned.
The author of Hebrews was, in some ways, mocking the recipients by calling them unweaned children. They weren’t even receiving pre-chewed meat from their “parent”. Of course, the author of Hebrews implied that this was an active choice of will. They chose to set aside the good “meat” of Christ for the milk of the Law.
This was a cultural momentum that needed to be overturned.
Whether it was the stories in Judges, to the reforming of the Law into the way of grace and mercy, to today as people are not even interested in God, it all revolves around the same issue/concern: self over the revealed ways of God.
While we are often quick to point the finger at the culture around us, it must not be denied that “Christian” culture is actually very similar to the culture. In fact, it can be reasonably argued that the culture we see around us is a result of the Christian culture of years past.
As we experience the disruption of COVID, perhaps we can see where the cultural Christianity, of which we are a part, can and must be changed to change we Christians and to bring people into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus, help us to walk your path and not our own. Holy Spirit, nudge, and convict us to put our feet where Jesus walks. Father God, thank you for your mercy and grace as we all too often think of ourselves first, others second, and you third. Amen.
1) What similar scenarios might be happening around the world right now for Christians that are similar to Joash?
2) What does Joash’s example teach us about what we see about others?
3) What milk are you seeking rather than meat? What might the meat of today be?