In the final New Testament letter before the book of Revelation, the apostle Jude started out to write a friendly letter to all the saints of the common salvation, but something happened, and he had a sudden change of mind: “It is needful for me to exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.” The Greek term for needful indicates a need arising from great pressure, constraint, or force of circumstances. Jude’s meaning is: “I am being compelled by the present circumstances now facing the church to change my message to you: That you should earnestly contend for the faith!”
The intensity of the Greek term for contend means to be “a combatant” as one who is in a fierce battle on the battlefield. We cannot be passive! We must be aggressive in the fight for the Christian faith once delivered to the saints. The meaning is: “firmly, irrevocably delivered.” It is changeless, unalterable, unimpeachable, and irrefutable. And it is under attack! We must not sit comfortably in our church pews and figure it is not our fight. Oh yes it is! The questions we need to honestly ask ourselves: Am I a contender? Am I a combatant in the army of Christ?
Are You A Baal-Contender?
The story of Gideon begins with Israel's desperate situation because of the Midianites (Judges 6). Their tactics were especially grievous, because they hit them at the very essence of human existence—the need for food. Every year after Israel had sown her crops and was ready to harvest, the Midianites, Amalekites, and people of the East with their camels would swoop down from the mountains and destroy their crops (they did not even take them for themselves), leaving Israel with no food, which also meant there was no food for their livestock.
Please understand: Their fields yielded a harvest. The universal law of Sowing & Reaping did not fail, but God had removed the hedge of protection, allowing the enemy to invade and raid their crops, because of Israel's disobedience. They came upon them like grasshoppers for multitude, and this cycle was repeated year after year while the Israelites hid in caves and mountain dens in fear. Greatly impoverished, the Israelites cried unto the Lord, and He sent a prophet with the message:
“I brought you out of Egypt and the house of bondage, and delivered you from your oppressors. I said, Fear not the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell, but you have disobeyed my voice.” God knows how to get your attention. When the hedge is down and troubles abound, you’ll call on the Lord!
Nevertheless, God was moved to deliver them, and He sent an angel unto Gideon, the son of Joash. He was hiding behind a winepress, threshing what little wheat he could hide from the Midianites. He was astonished when the angel addressed him: “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” Obviously, Gideon was not exhibiting such behavior, and in his victim mentality he lamented: “If the Lord be with us, why have all these bad things happened to us? And where are the miracles our fathers told us of? And how can I save Israel, when my family is poor, and I am the least in my father's house?” The Why? Where? and How? of defeat.
It took an angelic visitation, two “fleece” signs, and a supernatural dream by the enemy to get Gideon ready to go to battle. But first there was something he had to do before he could face the enemy: He had to tear down the altar of Baal and cut down the grove on his father’s property. A grove was a wooded area where they cut the trees in the shapes of their idol gods and worshipped them—think totem pole. Before God could use him to bring victory to Israel, he had to clean house. The idols had to go! The trees were to be cut down and the wood was to be used to build an altar to Jehovah. Gideon wanted to obey, but he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, so he waited till nightfall to gather his men together to tear down the idols and build an altar to God.
The next morning when the people saw Baal’s altar and the grove torn down, they were furious. They rose up to defend Baal, and they were ready to kill Gideon! Incredible! How backslidden! But Joash stood up for his son when Gideon did not stand up for himself. Although it was his altar and grove, he knew his son had done the right thing and obeyed God. He was on board with the Word of God, and he exploded in righteous indignation:
“Will you plead for Baal? Will you save him? Here's an idea—Let him who pleads for Baal be put to death—not my son! Here's another idea—If Baal is a god, let him plead for himself because his altar is cast down!”
Then Joash gave his son a new name: “Jerubaal” which means “Baal-Contender.” This was a vote of confidence for Gideon not to be intimidated by man-fearing spirits, and boldly stand against those who worshipped false gods, face to face, in the light of day.
The “Busters” Generation
We are all familiar with this reference made popular in the 80s by a movie in which the main characters were called upon to get rid of “ghosts.” It became a metaphor for getting rid of all manner of bad things from household dirt to bad breath. We know there are no such things as ghosts, but there are demonic spirits who serve Baal, lord of Satan’s army, and we are authorized and weaponized as God’s “Baal-Busters”!
We too are called to be contenders of biblical truths in the face of anti-christian political correctness and intimidation. The infringement and encroachment of these upon religious freedom in America are heading in the direction of criminality; while the threatening influx of Islam receives support from the highest seats of government. Our neighborhoods, towns, cities, and nation that was founded on the eternal pillars of biblical truths, are changing. The past year we saw in a major American city, Detroit, the erection of an 11 foot statue of a goat idol in homage to Satan aka Baal. We have seen Sharia law instituted in county seats in direct violation of the US Constitution, and public schools teaching children to recite Islamic prayers stating that Allah is the one true god, in the guise of diversity education, while Christianity is banned. We have seen same-sex marriage legalized by the Supreme Court, forcing Christian-owned businesses to close their doors and pay huge fines for refusing to partake of such unions that violate Scripture and conscience. And we have been appalled, disgusted, and deeply disturbed by the horrendous selling of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood’s abortion houses. The walls of righteousness are down, and indications are, the hedge of protection is being removed from our nation.
Christians in America are on the defensive as these anti-God/Christ//Bible sentiments are sweeping the nation and laws are changing that not only persecute, but are poised to prosecute those who stand firm in their faith and convictions. Those who serve another god are employing intimidation against those who dare to speak against their god. Because some have made good on their threats, it has gendered man-fearing spirits that have muzzled the voices of truth, reason, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Political leaders and even the liberal media tiptoe around the issue, weakly referring to them as the “radicalized few.” Intimidation is a powerful enemy.
Proverbs 29:25: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoso puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Gideon found this to be true, and so will we. God does not have a problem proving He is greater than Baal or Allah or any other so-called god. He said, “I am God, and beside me there is no other.” All the idols will fall and crumble like sand sculptures in the rising tide of His judgment.
“Hearken unto me, you that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law, fear you not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings… I have put my words in your mouth, and covered you with the shadow of my hand…. Thou art my people” (Isaiah 50:7, 16).
We are God’s Baal-Busters!