Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cutting Down Your Asherah Pole

We know from Scripture that the Israelites have always been God’s chosen people and through Christ, we have been grafted into that family.  Time and time again He has rescued us and blessed us only to have His heart grieved once more when we turn away from Him. All of the blessings of heaven can be ours when we are walking with God and obeying His Word. But when we choose to do things our own way or to accept the world’s standards as our own, we remove ourselves from that blessing.

Judges 6 verse 1 tells us that “the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, 2 and they oppressed Israel. Let me just pause here to say this: if you are not obeying God and instead are allowing things you know to be wrong in your life, don’t expect God to keep blessing you. It is out of His character. God does NOT reward bad behaviour!

The Midianites were horrible to God’s people. It got so bad that the Israelites had to make hiding places for themselves in the mountains and caves. Whenever their crops would be ready to harvest the Midianites and Amalekites came and attacked them.  Verse 4 says that “They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox or donkey.

 We continue reading in verse 6 So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian, and the Israelites cried out to the Lord. 7 When the Israelites cried out to Him because of Midian, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to them. He said to them, "This is what the Lord God of Israel says: 'I brought you out of Egypt and out of the place of slavery. 9 I delivered you from the power of Egypt and the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you: I am the Lord your God. Do not fear the gods of the Amorites whose land you live in. But you did not obey Me.' "

God clearly tells the people of Israel and us too what can prevent His blessing from being on our lives: our disobedience. What is in your life that is preventing you from having the life God has planned for you?

Judges 6: 11 The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. 12 Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior." 

I’m sure that Gideon didn’t feel like a mighty warrior there alone at night threshing grain in a wine vat as he was hiding from his enemies. But God isn’t concerned with your strength, He knows what He can do through us if we are willing to obey Him.
13 Gideon said to Him, "Please Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened? (In other words where is God?)  And where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about? They said, 'Hasn't the Lord brought us out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian." 14 The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and deliver Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you?" 15 He said to Him, "Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house." 16 "But I will be with you," the Lord said to him. 

God will be with you when you take a stand for what is right. He will give you the strength you need to get rid of those things in your life that you know are not pleasing to Him. God called Gideon a ‘mighty warrior’ because He saw the potential Gideon had in him. That same night God told Gideon to tear down the altar of Baal and his father’s asherah pole.

An Asherah pole was a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the pagan goddess Asherah. After entering the land of Canaan, the Israelites allowed themselves to be influenced by the pagan religion it represented. They allowed the world to creep in and they were no longer focused on God.

 Gideon was scared to take a stand. He knew he could be killed for doing what God was asking him to do.
Verse 27 “So Gideon took 10 of his male servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his father's household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it at night.”
It didn’t really matter when it was done as long as Gideon obeyed God’s instructions. Get rid of the sin in your life.  Get rid of what you know is not pleasing to God. Once Gideon obeyed and destroyed the pagan Asherah pole God used him and made him into a mighty warrior. When we read Judges 6,7 and 8 we see that time and time again Gideon was able to lead an army of only 300 men against the enemy and triumphed every time because God was with him.

He had the blessings of God on his life. He was victorious because he obeyed God. When we first meet Gideon in the Word we see that he is a scared young man hiding in the dark of night certainly not living a life of abundance and blessing, but Gideon’s life changed when he got rid of the thing that was standing between him and the blessings of God. He cut down the asherah pole.

What is your asherah pole? What is that thing in your life that you are hanging on to that is not pleasing to God and is preventing you from living a life of abundance? It could be as simple as your choices in reading materials or movies or things you watch on TV that promote an ungodly lifestyle. It could be a habit you’ve not been willing to give up or maybe it’s what you view online. Maybe nobody but you and God knows you even have an asherah pole. Its time to cut it down. Its time to get rid of it and everything it represents. Its time to open up your life to receive all of God’s blessings.

God clearly told the Israelites the reason why they were being cursed by God. They were disobedient. They had allowed the world to influence their lives and had in turn blocked themselves from God’s blessings.

Let me encourage you to examine yourself and your life and ask God to reveal to you the things in your life, in your home, in your conduct that are not pleasing to Him and then be a mighty warrior, like Gideon, and see what God can do through you!

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