Judges 6:25, 26
And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said to him, Take your father's young bullock…
I. REFORMATION MUST PRECEDE DELIVERANCE. As the prophet of repentance appeared before Gideon the deliverer, so even Gideon did not undertake the work of fighting the Midianites until he had first effected a religious reformation among his own people. It is vain to treat symptoms when the radical seat of a disease is untouched. Spiritual apostasy had brought on Israel national humiliation. The distress could not be safely relieved till the sin was destroyed. God will not deliver us from the trouble into which sin has brought us before we begin to turn from the wicked course which made the trouble a necessary chastisement. It is true that under the gospel we are not made to wait for the return of Divine favour until all sin is destroyed. On the contrary, it is one great characteristic of this new dispensation of mercy that restoration to the favour of God does not wait for, but precedes, and is the chief cause of, a perfect reformation of life. Nevertheless,
(1) this is only possible after repentance, which is the turning from sin in desire, and
(2) when accompanied by faith in Christ as both Master and Saviour, which implies submission to his will, and carries the prophecy of a new life inseparably connected with the spiritual fruits of faith (Acts 3:26).
II. REFORMATION BEGINS WITH THE DESTRUCTION OF EVIL. Gideon's first work is to destroy the altar and idol of false worship. To wrench out the stones of the massive altar of Baal and tear up the "Asherah was no easy work; yet it was necessary. It is pleasant to prophesy smooth things, and we should prefer to trust entirely to the power of light to dispel the darkness, of life to overcome death, of the gospel of peace to supplant all forms of evil. But it is not possible to succeed by this means alone. Evil must be exposed, challenged, resisted, overthrown. Sin must be rebuked; wrong practices must be directly thwarted and frustrated. This implies aggressive action on the part of the Church, and long, arduous, united efforts to throw down the great structures of sinful institutions, and uproot inveterate habits of vice and crime. Intemperance, commercial dishonesty, religious hypocrisy, etc., must be directly met and fought by practical agencies suited to cope with the strength and size of great national sins.
III. REFORMATION IS NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT THE SUCCESSFUL ESTABLISHMENT OF A NEW AND BETTER ORDER. Gideon's reforming work is not complete when he has thrown down the emblems and instruments of idolatry. This is but half his work. He must next erect an altar to the true God and sacrifice thereon. The danger of every attempted reformation is lest it should stay with the work of destruction - lest the iconoclast should not be also a reformer. It is more easy to throw down than to rebuild. The passions of the destroyer are not always joined to the patient, calm wisdom and energy of the renovator. Yet it is vain to cast out the evil spirit unless we fill the place of it with a better spirit (Matthew 12:43-45). Mere negative Protestantism, negative temperance, negative anti-war movements are likely to lead to abortive issues unless they are supplemented by influences which promote and establish positive good. Conviction of sin must be followed by the creation of a new heart if the future life is to be pure (Psalm 51:10). - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
WEB: It happened the same night, that Yahweh said to him, "Take your father's bull, even the second bull seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is by it;