Pleading for Baal
Judges 6:28-31 (28) And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built. (29) And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they enquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing. (30) Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it. (31) And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. Scripture declares that God is supreme, sovereign and unique. He is the one and only Creator and Sustainer of all things, in control of all things, and all goodness is measured according to Him. Scripture also declares that rebellious man, in the face of clear evidence, rejects Him in favor of invented gods that are more suited to his lusts (ROM 1:18-25). One such invented god was Baal, as noted in our text. Of the various idol-gods that the Israelites embraced over the years, Baal was probably the most common. But Baal, like all false gods, was invented by man and the thing invented cannot be greater than its inventor (an argument that the prophet Isaiah sets forth with caustic clarity in ISA 44:6-21) and therefore idolatry is actually man declaring himself to be a god in accord with the lie of Satan, “...ye shall be as gods...” (GEN 3:5). There are some fundamental differences between the true God and false gods. For example, the true God prophesies of future events and never misses. The true God created all things seen and unseen out of nothing by His will. The true God sustains all things and is in absolute control of angels, men, devils, the cosmos and nature and their forces, limiting them or overriding them at His pleasure. No false god can do such things. The true God also, as any respectable god would do (I speak here as a man, foolishly, per 2CO 11:17), defends His name and honor from time to time from high-handed sinners by fierce judgments. And accordingly, here is an important fact about the true God: whereas He could (and sometimes did) authorize men to execute judgment on sinners on His behalf, He has never been limited to such means. The Mighty God of heaven and earth, for the sake of His own righteousness, justice, or honor can at any time use or override the forces of the cosmos and nature themselves to fight high-handed sinners. When man had risen up against God's righteous law to such a degree that “...every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (GEN 6:5) and brazenly said unto God, “...Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them” (JOB 22:15-17), He simply destroyed them all with a worldwide flood, except for eight persons (GEN 7:23; 2PE 2:4-5; 2PE 3:5-6). When the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah who were given over to pride, wealth, idleness (EZE 16:49), fornication and sodomy to such a degree that not even an angel of God was safe in their midst, let alone the one righteous man that lived there (Lot), God destroyed them all with fire and brimstone from heaven (GEN 19:1-25; 2PE 2:6-8; JUDE 1:7). When God's honor in worship was offended by Aaron's sons, “...there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them...” (LEV 10:1-2). When God's great prophet, Moses was gainsaid (opposed, spoken against) by Korah and his disrespectful followers, God opened the earth which swallowed them alive and closed upon them (NUM 16:28-34). But when has any “god” of any man's invention done such great things in defense of his name, honor, worship, prophet, followers or doctrine? Such “gods” are all impotent and totally dependent upon the ambitions and actions of their followers who plead for them, as Baal's supporters aspired to plead for him (our text today). Gideon's father, Joash, was quite right: “...if he be a god, let him plead for himself...” Baal was, though, as impotent then as he was later in the days of Elijah when his followers couldn't arouse him to produce so much as a popcorn fart, let alone fire to consume a sacrifice (1KI 18:21-29). But the true God sent divine fire in defiance of science (1KI 18:37-38). All the known and unknown forces of the cosmos and nature are at His command to use against defiant sinners: hail, snow, wind, heat, fire, flood, lightning, pestilence, etc., and one yet to be seen: total dissolving by heat of the present heaven and earth (2PE 3:10-12). This is how He will “...execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have SPOKEN AGAINST HIM” (JUDE 1:14-15). He does not need cutthroat followers who in their misdirected zeal presume to defend His honor. He does not need His followers to stir up a big rally to call for sanctions against good men, as did the false goddess Diana in ACT 19:21-34. One would think that if Allah was indeed the true God, omniscient and omnipotent, that he would regularly wipe out by natural disaster a culture which dishonored him or his prophet. But he always relies upon his followers when he takes umbrage; someone must always plead for him. False gods always need men's hands for the dirty work, but not the true God. Of course, it is evident that a false god is a “no god” and therefore what is done in his name is done under the power of delusion, the remedy for which is the true gospel declared by spiritual warriors with a spiritual sword, “...Casting down imaginations...” (2CO 10:3-5). Let the matter be fought in the arena of debate with words, not in a sports arena with a bomb.