The Asherah Pole

 

 "That night the Lord said to Gideon, 'Take the second best bull from your father's herd....Pull down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build an altar to the Lord your God here on this hill, laying the stones carefully." Judges 6:25-26

The story of Gideon, and of his leading of the Israelites over the Midianites who had so sorely oppressed them is a much used and preached one. The people had fallen into sin by turning their hearts from their one, true God, and following after the gods of the land the Father had given them. They began to worship the Canaanite gods Baal and Asherah. As a result, most every Israelite home would have an altar to Baal outside the door, as well as an Asherah pole. Both were objects of worship. Samuel Rodriquez says that they would be the first thing one would see when they opened the door of their home. Their presence would announce to all that, "There is a new 'king' in town" for the people of Israel, and that their true God had failed them. God told Moses that His people must have "no other gods before Me." This is why His first order to Gideon was to destroy the altar and cut down the pole. He will not tolerate competitors for and in the hearts of His people. Why then do we?

It's easy to read this passage of Scripture and be inspired by the power of God on behalf of His people, and how that power gave them victory against overwhelming odds. It's easy for that to be so and yet completely miss any personal application for ourselves. We can cheer Gideon on as he destroys the altar to Baal and cuts down the Asherah pole just outside his father's home, yet remain completely blind to those same altars and poles presence in the "home" of our heart. Just where are the altars to Baal and the Asherah poles in your life and mine? Where are we tolerating competitors to Him in our own hearts? Where might we be saying, perhaps in the most subtle ways, that He is not enough, that He has failed us?

Rodriquez says that the altar and pole would be the first thing their eyes beheld as they left their home. What greets our eyes, and most importantly, the eyes of our heart at the beginning of our day? We may do our "duty" with a devotional time, some Scriptures read, some prayers offered up. But when we go out into what we see as "the real world," what is it that we really see? In our homes, marriages, families, relationships, ministries, and way of life, how many altars to Baal and Asherah poles have we set up? How many competitors to Him have we erected in our hearts and lives? How many other "altars" do we worship at? Who and what really fills our field of vision each day? How do we answer these questions? Do we even wish to truly consider them?

 

Rodriquez says that we are either "Shining light or assisting darkness." There is no middle ground, though too many of us try to live as if there is. Jesus said in effect, if the light we think we have is really darkness, how great is that darkness. Dare we allow Him to so search us and to root out any and all darkness? Will we truly shine His light....or go on assisting darkness? When you walk out your door today, what will fill your eyes?

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

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