Monday, November 23, 2009

79: Gideon Gets Evidence, Why Don't We?

Judges 6-7
Again the Israelites worship other gods, and again they are taken over. This time by the Midianites. God sends an "angel of the Lord" to see Gideon. Angels are always strange, they seem to be interchangeable with God, or the bible just can't figure out who's talking.

The people God has picked so far as prophets always seem to be pretty open to the idea that some random person talking to them is God, just because they say so. Not Gideon. He wants proof, and unlike the rest of us, he gets it. Granted, it's not very good proof. Gideon sacrifices some meat to the angel, and the angel burns it up on the rock and disappears. This reminds me of just about every disappearing act I've ever seen; a big ball of smoke and someone disappearing.

Gideon buys it and is immediately afraid that God is going to kill him for looking upon his face (just as he said he would to Moses). God says not to worry, Gideon isn't going to die. God then tells Gideon to destroy his father's alter to Baal and cut down his Asherah poles. Gideon does as he is told and the next morning the townspeople demand that Gideon die for what he did. Joash (Gideon's father) says something great to the mob:
Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? ... If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.
If only some Christians had the same sentiment as Joash, this world would be a much better place. So, if your God really is a God, he can deal with his problems himself. Which means that Christians can stop protesting gay marriage, because if God is so offended he can deal with the matter all by himself. That is, if your God is really a God.

At the end of chapter 6 Gideon again asks for evidence, and again he receives all the evidence he needs. For being fair and just, God sure seems to pick favorites. The Israelites get whatever land they want, even though they aren't better people. Gideon gets all the evidence he wants, even though he's no different from anyone else.

Now that Gideon is properly convinced, God tells him to raise an army. Gideon ends up raising 32,000 men. God says that's too many. If they went to battle with that many then Israel would just say they did all the fighting for themselves. Gideon, to get rid of people, says that anyone who is afraid can go home. This prompts 22,000 to leave. This is still to many men for God. Gideon takes the remaining men to a pond (or some body of water) and watches them drink. Anyone who scoops up the water with their hand and drinks it (only 300), as opposed to leaning down and drinking it straight out of the pond, gets to stay. Everyone else has to leave. I'm not sure what that test had to do with anything.

God, finally satisfied with the number of soldiers, tells Gideon to go destroy Midian. God says if Gideon is afraid to attack a city with 300 men (duh), that he should go secretly listen to what the people in the town are saying. He goes and listens, this is what he hears two men saying:
Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. "I had a dream," he was saying. "A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed."

His friend responded, "This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands."
What? I'm calling bullshit. Why would someone interpret a dream like that to mean that some random person that they don't know, from a country that is completely subdued, is going to come and attack? And on top of that, a God that you don't believe in is helping them? I don't think so.

Anyway, Gideon is encouraged by this and tells all his men to grab trumpets and jars with torches inside them. Uh, ok? On Gideon's command they all break their jars, revealing their torches, and blow their trumpets. This sets the city into a frenzy and the Midianites run away and/or kill each other. All of the Israelites in the surrounding areas come and claim Midian back. It never mentions that Gideon and his 300 person army did anything, they just blew their trumpets and broke their jars.

Several Christian sources are apparently making the bible go viral this week. Because Christians can be hip and cool with twitter, just like congressmen. Facebook and Myspace are also supposedly targets. Right, we need a few more Christian spam messages on Facebook.

I figured I would do my part and come up with a bible verse that could go viral. Here's my favorite:

"I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you." - Love, God: Leviticus 26:30

Or for you twitterers:
"I will abhor you." - Love, God: Leviticus 26:30

If all four of my readers repost this it's definitely going viral (just kidding, I have at least five readers).

(via Christian News Wire)


  1. And on top of that, a God that you don't believe in is helping them?

    I doubt that the Midianites didn't believe in the god of the Israelites. Nor do I suspect that the author/redactor of Judges would have thought so. They believed that the Israelites had a god - they just thought that they had a better one. You can't blame them too much - the Bible says over and over again that the Israelites kept thinking that everyone else's god was better than theirs - which was why their god was continually pissed off at his "chosen people".

    Even the first commandment basically says "don't worship other gods". It doesn't say "there are no other gods". In fact, if the other gods were fakes the commandment would be kind of stupid, wouldn't it? In later years believers would come up with the idea that there was a One True God and that all the other gods were demons masquerading as gods. But that doesn't come up until the Exile when the Jews were exposed to Zoroastrian ideas.

  2. Awesome verses. You should put up favorite verses more often, they're really good ammo for debates!

  3. I want to continue what Jer said - the first Commandment states "you shall have no other gods before me". Great! We can worship any gods we like, so long as the Israelite god comes first. I'm going to build me an alter to Baal. But you know. A little one.

  4. I think it's fair to say that the OT implies there are several gods from almost the beginning. Yahweh is often quoted as using the collective form of pronouns (us, we, our) when speaking in the OT, even though who he's speaking to isn't specified (though it's safe to say whoever it was wasn't human).

    He also has to make a point of saying his name, Yahweh, so that people can learn it, even though naming things is a very human concept we use to distinguish between individuals and things. Why does a god need a name at all if he's the only one? Later on he's just the lord, but earlier he needs distinguishing from "something else".

    It certainly gives credence to the theory (or fact?) that Christianity originated as a polytheistic religion but combined the names of two or more of those deities. Not that Christians would believe it.



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