Knock Down Your Altar

Judges 6:1-2 reads: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD:  and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel:  and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.”  Israel suffered because they put up altars of Baal. As a result, God allowed the powerful Midianites and the merciless Amalekites to oppress the Israelites. They came as pillagers and invaded and took everything from Israel at harvest time every year for seven years continuously (Judges 6:3-5). Israel cried out to God in desperation and the simple reply was: “I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me” (Judges 6:9-10). Israel repented and consequently God raised up Gideon to lead the Israelites on to the path of victory. It was God who chose Gideon not the other way round. John 15:16 says that it is God who does the choosing. God is in control. Can you trust that truth as you face tough choices and challenges in your walk with Christ? God is ready. Are you? Gideon had some reluctance initially but ultimately trusted God because he was concerned about his oppressed people and he knew was helpless. You are strong when you are weak. In Judges 6:12 the angel of the Lord told Gideon: “...The Lord is with you, you man of valour.” Here God is telling Gideon:” Gideon, My people have cried for help. You are the one who will lead them to victory. Don’t see as you see yourself. See as I see you.” Psalms 139:8 clearly says: “If I ascend up into heaven, you are there:  if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.”  God can find and lift you up wherever you are. With you that is not possible but with God all things are possible (Mathew 19:26). There is nothing too hard for the Lord. Many times it is you who make things hard not God. Human nature is to do things wrongly and regret later.  Gideon was hiding away in fear of the Midianites and God found him (Judges 6:11). God caught him by surprise. It is not what you say but what God says that matters. What does God say about your circumstances? God always finds His people. God was teaching Gideon to shift his thinking and to view things as God viewed. What is your view?
God directed Gideon to destroy the very altar of Baal that his own father had built. God is personal. Most of the tests in your spiritual life come from your siblings in the family, your parents and the church you are attending. For parents, the daunting task is to deal with your children with a Christ-like attitude. Most parents impose things on their children. For church workers, it is the congregation that will test you the most. For students, it’s your teachers and classmates and for teachers, it’s your students and the staff. For workers, it’s your boss, your employees and officemates. Your call in life must receive utmost priority. Remember that there should be no compromise. It is a thin line you must be aware of. In Mathew 10:36 Jesus says: “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”  Christ is making the point clear that it’s either you or Him. There is no middle ground. Gideon very well knew that his own kinsmen would kill him for tearing down the altar of their gods. You very well know the reactions that you will get by following Christ without any compromise. Yet Christ has already walked the road to Calvary for you. Now it’s your turn to walk. Are you ready to walk? Exodus 20:24 says: “An altar of earth you shall make unto me, and shall sacrifice thereon your burnt offerings, and your peace offerings, your sheep, and your oxen:  in all places where I record my name I will come unto you, and I will bless you.”   It says an ‘altar of earth’. There are two things God wants to teach here. Firstly, you are an altar. Secondly, you are made of earth signifying that God created you and He is your Creator. You are made of earth (Genesis 2:7). An altar is a place of sacrifice. Without sacrifice, you cannot follow Christ. You are so full of yourself. You have to knock down that altar. God does not compromise. God is holy, holy, holy. But God hears your cry. Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:39). So, after 7 years of pillaging God made a move by calling out Gideon to save Israel. But a lot of things happened before that.
Gideon had to knock down his own altar before he became fit to knock down the altar of Baal and then ultimately lead Israel to victory. An altar is also something that you give utmost importance to. Gideon said to God in Judges 6:15: “And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” This was his altar. He was limiting God. Quit limiting God. Sometimes the dreams we have for ourselves are much smaller than the dreams that God has for us. God will allow your dreams to be used for His purpose and for His kingdom. You are small and God is big. So, there will be differences in the way God plans and the way you plan. That was the lesson God taught Gideon. You may be asking: “Why me God?” Gideon asked the same question. But after one encounter with God, Gideon said: “Why not me?” If you have a heart for change, one encounter with God will transform your life! Your mourning is bound to be turned into dancing. Start rejoicing. God always tests His people. Are you ready for the test?
Numbers 17:8: “And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” Can you see what happened there? God told Moses to make twelve rods representing the twelve tribes of Israel. God was planning something. Moses was told that one of the rods would blossom and that rod would be the one chosen by God.  Aaron’s rod blossomed. Other rods remained the same. God can take you from where you are to where He wants you to be if you allow Him. A careful look at Numbers 17:8 says that Aaron’s rod was the one which blossomed.  And it blossomed ‘on the morrow’ meaning, the blossoming took place overnight – 24 hours to be precise. You and your problems can be transformed in 24 hours by the power of God. Are you willing to knock down your altar and build an altar for God? You cannot be more or less than who are. Gideon could not be more or less than who he was. God told him he was not who he thought he was but who God said he was. You don’t define yourself. It is God who defines you and your destiny. Romans 8:28 clearly says: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God calls you according to His purpose not your purpose. Knock down that altar of your purpose and leave the rest to God. Gideon knocked down his own altar and then went ahead as directed by God to knock down the altar of Baal that his own father had built. He then built an altar for God on the same spot. God can make you become a powerful testimony where you are. God is not somewhere. He is right there with you. Furthermore, just like Aaron’s rod blossomed overnight Gideon knocked down the altar of Baal overnight (Judges 6: 25-27). In the kingdom of God, changes, breakthroughs, transformations, miracles and many humanly impossible things happen overnight! Are you in the kingdom of God? Yes you are. It’s time to knock down whatever alta rs you and others have erected around you and build a new altar.
The Cross is the altar which was and is and is to come. Amen.