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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Expectation of Opposition

I learned allot from my grandfather throughout our years of traveling together. One of the most important lessons he taught me, one that has served me well since his passing is that whenever God sets you on a course, whenever there is a calling on your life, whenever you are willing to surrender your all in order to be obedient to the heavenly Father, you must live with the expectation of opposition.

Whenever someone would come against our ministry or against my grandfather personally, he would simply shrug his shoulders and say, ‘we must be doing something right. If the devil isn’t mad at you, if he’s not fighting you every step of the way, then chances are you are doing something wrong.’

It is tragic that nowadays rather than live with the expectation of opposition, the church is doing everything it can, it is bending over backwards to accommodate the world, to reach an armistice of sorts wherein the church does not offend, rebuke, or stand against the world’s actions, and the world leaves us to our hollow spirituality, and diluted gospel.

It was shortly after Gideon’s encounter with the angel of the Lord, in fact on the same night that Gideon was given a mission. Taking into account that all the nations which surrounded Israel, the Midianites, the Amalekites, the people of the East, and even many of the Israelites were worshippers of Baal including Gideon’s own father the task that was set before Gideon was not an easy one.

Judges 6:25-27, “Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, ‘take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.’ So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.”

In reading this passage there are a few things I must point out. First of all, the altar of Baal which Gideon had been commanded to tear down, was on his own father’s property. From this revealing scripture, we can conclude that Gideon’s father, like much of Israel during that time was a Baal worshipper.

The second thing that leaps out is the fact that God commanded Gideon to first and foremost tear down the altar of Baal, and cut down the wooden image that was beside it. Why would God command such a thing? Aren’t we all supposed to be tolerant, and all embracing? Aren’t we supposed to turn a blind eye, bite our tongue and not call evil, evil?

The truth is simple even though it is difficult to digest for some, and it is a truth that much of today’s church has forgotten altogether, namely that the sacred and the profane cannot coexist. God didn’t tell Gideon to build another altar beside Baal’s alter, He did not tell Gideon to be careful not disturb the wooden image that was beside it, he told him to tear down the altar, cut down the image, and on the same patch of earth wherein the altar of Baal stood, he should erect an altar to the one true God.

When it comes to the hearts of men, God reacts in the same manner. He will not attempt to elbow his way into your heart, and compete for a piece of real estate therein, He demands that first and foremost you and I tear down the idols, that we sweep away the debris, and build a new altar wholly dedicated to Him and Him alone. Although the Word warns us that we cannot worship two masters, many still try, only to discover that in attempting to please both their idols and the one true God they have never known the fullness of the one true God in their hearts.

The third thing that leaps out from the aforementioned verses is the fact that Gideon was not ignorant of the fact that there would be opposition and even retaliation. In his own wisdom, because it was not something God told him to do, Gideon set about obeying the command of God, but because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. Gideon lived with the expectation of opposition, he lived with the expectation of retaliation, and although he tried to prevent them the best way he knew how, by doing it at night, his expectation of blowback did not impede him from carrying out God’s command.

I mention this, because the proud and self-righteous among us will be quick to rebuke the fearfulness of Gideon, they will be quick to beat their chest and say, ‘I would have done it in the light of day’, but words are words, and actions are actions, and if most everyone you knew would be out for blood, and calling for your death for having destroyed their idols, I doubt the haughty words would ever lead to action.

Yes, Gideon did tear down the altar of Baal, and cut down the wooden image beside it by night, yes he was fearful of the blowback that he knew he would have to confront, but he obeyed God nevertheless. Before we judge Gideon too harshly, we need to realize that Gideon knew his countrymen, and he knew what they would do. These men would not demand an apology, they would not demand a retraction, they would not ask kindly for Gideon to put things back the way they were, they would be out for blood.

Judges 6:28-31, “And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down; and the wooden image that was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was being offered on the altar which had been built. So 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 cut down the wooden image that was beside it.’ And Joash said to all who stood against him, ‘Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Le the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!”

Although the unfolding of this drama is pretty self-explanatory, there is one thing I need to point out. When you stand for the truth, with the full knowledge and expectation that you will have opposition, often times your defense will come from the most unexpected of places.

It was Gideon’s father, the selfsame man who had an altar to Baal and a wooden image on his property that came to his defense and said, ‘would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!’

I highly doubt that Gideon had a hint or notion that his own father would be his defender. It’s not as if they conferred the night before, it’s not as if they talked among themselves and decided that when the people came for his head, his father would stand in his defense. What Gideon did, he did by night for fear of his own father’s household, yet it was his father that came to his rescue.

Live with the expectation of opposition, purpose in your heart that it is not merely possible or probable, but certain that the enemy will attempt to intimidate, silence, and dissuade you from carrying out God’s command. Likewise however, live with the knowledge that the one true God is your defender, and in times of difficulty He will be your strong tower.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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