“That night the Lord said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. 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 hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.” Judges 6:25-26
What God tells Gideon to do here is something that I believe many people tend to ignore. Whether it is because of fear or because of deception, we expect that because we have had an encounter with God during a difficult situation, that we are free from our “whinepress” and ready to move into doing great and mighty things for Him.
But there was a “reason” Gideon was in the winepress; there was an evil the Israelites had done, and God loved His people too much to allow their evil to continue.
“The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years.” Judges 6:1
What was the evil that brought the oppression, the fear, and the scarcity upon them?
When they finally cried out to God, He sent this reminder to them…
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. “I told you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.” Judges 6:8-10
The truth was that God brought them out of slavery. God rescued them from their enemies. God drove out their enemies of the land He gave them. He was the Lord, their God.
While the Israelites thought that God had abandoned them and left them at the mercy of their enemies…
It was actually the Israelites that turned from God and went their own way.
They exchanged their worship of God for the worship of the false gods of the people around them.
This was the evil that brought oppression of the enemy.
Before they could gain victory and freedom from their enemies they needed to turn from their false gods, and return to their worship of God alone.
False gods need to be cast down.
True worship needs to be restored.
I’m reminded of David, the man after God’s own heart, the worshipper of all worshippers when he prayed…
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24
The “reasons” we find ourselves in a “whinepress” and the things that the Lord points out that offend Him need to be cast down and confessed before we can walk fully in the freedom and the anointing God calls us to.
And that “reason,” or the things that offend God aren’t things that a friend, a web sight, or an expert can give an answer to.
It is a spiritual issue.
It is a matter of the heart.
It is a matter of worship.
When God comes into our “whinepress” we are comforted by His presence, and we are encouraged by His words of truth. Feeling relieved, we think we are fine, climb out of our “whinepress,” and go on with our lives. Our difficulty may have been relieved, but that “reason” we were in the “whinepress” to begin with, that “spiritual issue” God wanted to speak into, remains. It’s only a matter of time that we find ourselves right back in the same “whinepress.”
“God, why am I going through this again!”
“I thought You set me free from this!”
We can go around this cycle for a long time without understanding there is something we need to do to break it.
We need to tear down our idols!
We need to restore our worship of God!
God is a jealous God and He won’t share His glory.
God demands all our praise, all our worship!
Pride is at the root of all sin. Pride was the evil that was in found in Lucifer, the angel of light. Lucifer was created to worship God, but his beauty and success caused pride to rise up within him and he no longer wanted to worship God, but to be worshipped.
He wanted to be “like God.”
As the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Satan said to Eve, “You will be like God.”
Pride is Satan’s trademark; his number one strategy to rob, kill, and destroy our worship of God.
Pride keeps idolatry alive in hearts. It is what turns our hearts away from worshipping God and puts self on the throne. We often think the idols of today are in the form of possessions and positions, but it is the idol of self that is at the very core.
When self is on the throne I live independent of God.
I make my own decisions.
I trust in my own understanding.
I solve my own problems.
I strive for praise.
I am motivated by others.
I am defined by others.
It’s all about me!
I am “like God.”
No wonder the middle letter in sin is “I”
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
Gideon was afraid to cut down the false gods; the sacred objects of worship, that had been honored and reverenced for generations. What would the people think? What would happen to him?
It is hard to “cut down” the mindsets of pride. They become habits, they become comfortable. The worship of self pleases the flesh and conforms with the ways of the world.
But praise God, I have a Heavenly Father who is for me and who comes to me when I cry out to Him, who loves me too much to leave me striving in my “whinepress.” I have a Good Father who searches my heart and shows me the things that I need to confess, the idols I need to tear down. I have a Mighty Savior who has dealt my pride a death blow on the cross, and by His blood I am forgiven and cleansed of all my sin. I have the Prince of Peace who is always praying for me who has restored my worship of God alone. And I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me that empowers me to live in the victory and freedom God has created me for.
I have been created to worship God, and God alone!!