Seriously, there is so much to unpack in Judges. Some of it is confusing, some of it is bizarre. Most of it is very dramatic. I’m beginning to think that I need an in-depth study of the book. It’s definitely been added to my list.
Today, though, I want to appreciate Gideon’s father.
We don’t know whether he believed in his son or whether he considered him a weirdly rebellious trouble maker. Did he wonder what had gotten into the man? Did he wait until the neighbors were out of sight to turn around and start yelling at him for being an idiot, and what was he thinking?
Or did he maybe hesitate in his own emotional reaction to the destruction long enough to realize that the supposedly offended deities had done… nothing? Seriously? Your altar is destroyed and replaced, and, to add insult to injury, your altar is actually used as fuel for the first sacrifice to the usurper, and… you… do nothing? Nothing bad has happened? Gideon is still standing? He isn’t, like, suddenly cursed or anything? Not even a sniffle?
Maybe we should wait this one out. No, no, hang on boys, lets give it a minute. Let’s see what they do about it. Still… nothing?
Or did he know what was up? Were the altars just lip service anyway, a cultural camouflage? Was this an, “Oh we’re doing this now?” kind of moment? Or maybe even a, “Yeah, my bad?”
We really don’t know. I can populate the scene with anyone of those characters.
What we do know is that he stands up to angry neighbors ready to kill his youngest son, and he greets them with sarcasm.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Your gods want him dead? They can kill him themselves.”
I just really like this guy. He might have had many failings, he certainly didn’t raise a faithful family, but this is an action movie scene right here.
Most of Judges is action movie scenes. Can’t you see the oral tradition? Everyone sitting around the fire, bellies full from dinner, when somehow the conversation draws around to story telling, and Grandpa leans back, takes a long breath, and starts painting the scene. The legends, the rhythm of the narrative. Everyone has a favorite. It’s history. It’s morality. It’s national identity. And the cycle is the point. The cycle of deliverance, service, defiance, consequence, repentance, and deliverance. That’s the point. We can’t remain faithful. We just don’t have it in us. Without allowing God to entirely eradicate the corruption from our lives, it will always draw us away from him.