If you caught any of SRN News on Kinship Radio in the last few months, you know that even while Russia was amassing troops all around Ukraine’s borders, the official statement coming out of Moscow was, “Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine.”
Then they invaded Ukraine.
Once they invaded, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia is undertaking a “special military operation” in Ukraine saying his goal is to demilitarize and denazify the country but not occupy it.
That’s right, “denazify.”
For the record, there is a small, far-right neo-nazi group in Ukriane, but between May and August 2019, Ukraine was the only country other than Israel to have both a Jewish head of government – Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman – and a Jewish head of state, President Zelensky.
Three of Zelensky’s grandfather’s brothers were killed in the Holocaust and President Zelensky has been outspoken about his Jewish identity.
In 2018, the Pew Research Center found Ukraine to be the most accepting of Jews among all Central and Eastern European countries.
So, inside Russia, what’s going on in Ukraine is being sold as a humanitarian aid mission. And if you should happen to publicly doubt that, disagree with that, or organize a peaceful protest against this “humanitarian” mission, you will be arrested. About 14,000 Russians have already been arrested for protesting the war in Ukraine.
According to Aljazeera News, “The Kremlin passed a law brought into force on March 4 criminalizing independent war reporting and protests against the war, with penalties of up to 15 years.” The words “independent war reporting” mean reporting anything about the war the Kremlin has not approved.
Russia lied and is continuing to lie. That is a clear fact.
If you’re a Russian citizen, speaking that fact in public could land you in prison.
And all of this makes me think of Gideon, an Asherah Pole, and an axe.
Okay, I should probably explain that. In Judges 6, Gideon is threshing grain in a winepress because he’s trying to hide his activities from the Midianites, who have conquered and taken over the land. An angel appears to Gideon and says, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” (Verse 12) The angel says Gideon can conquer the Midianites, but Gideon’s not really buying it. He tells the angel to stick around while he goes and gets an offering to the LORD. The angel agrees.
Gideon comes back with a cooked goat, the broth from the goat, and some bread. The angel instructs him to put the meat and the bread on the rock and pour the broth over it. Gideon does so and the angel touches the offering with the tip of his staff. The offering goes up in flames and the angel disappears.
Gideon is convinced the angel was real now, but he’s also convinced he’s going to die because he saw an angel. The LORD comes to him and tells him he will not die, and Gideon builds an altar on the spot.
Then we have verses 25-31:
“That night the LORD said to Gideon, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one that is seven years old. Pull down your father’s altar to Baal, and cut down the Asherah pole standing beside it. Then build an altar to the LORD your God here on this hilltop sanctuary, laying the stones carefully. Sacrifice the bull as a burnt offering on the altar, using as fuel the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down.”
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD had commanded. But he did it at night because he was afraid of the other members of his father’s household and the people of the town.
Early the next morning, as the people of the town began to stir, someone discovered that the altar of Baal had been broken down and that the Asherah pole beside it had been cut down. In their place a new altar had been built, and on it were the remains of the bull that had been sacrificed. The people said to each other, “Who did this?” And after asking around and making a careful search, they learned that it was Gideon, the son of Joash
“Bring out your son,” the men of the town demanded of Joash. “He must die for destroying the altar of Baal and for cutting down the Asherah pole.”
But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!” (NLT)
The Asherah Pole and the altar of Baal were lies as surely as the lies Putin has been telling. The worship of Baal and Asherah was centered on idols and false gods of wood and stone. It focused on sexuality and included temple prostitutes and child sacrifice. It was a brutal, horrible religion. More than once, the LORD God warned His people to have nothing to do with it and they continued to return to it. The golden calf they made while Moses was on Mount Sinai was an incinerator for live babies to be sacrificed to Baal.
We may think ourselves far above such a brutal, pagan religion, but we have built up many Asherah poles and altars to Baal in the United States today. We have our temple prostitutes who receive our offerings of thanks and praise for how they thrill us. We spend between $10 and $12 billion on pornography every year and it destroys countless lives and marriages and, unlike tobacco and alcohol, it goes largely untaxed. If you really want to make a politician (or anyone else for that matter) really uncomfortable, start talking about taxing porn.
We have sacrificed over 63 million children on the altar of abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973. We have no excuse. The argument back then was that what was in a woman’s womb was an “unviable tissue mass.” Modern ultrasound has shown us that it is indeed a human being. Every genocide that’s ever taken place on the planet was justified by making the argument that the victims of that genocide were somehow less than human. It is an injustice beyond human comprehension that there have been 63 million voices silenced forever on the national debate about right to life. What would they say if they had not been denied the right to simply live?
We know and can clearly see that what is coming out of Russia is properly called propaganda –but we are victims of it ourselves.
And we have allowed it because we have believed the lies and bought into the propaganda. As a society, we actually like the propaganda.
When Gideon arose from his sleep to tear down the altars of Baal and to take his axe to that Asherah pole, he took ten servants with him. It was a big task, not just because there was much to be torn down, but because the plan included building an altar of worship and praise and sacrifice to the One True God. There was much to tear down and much to be built up.
And in the end, even though what seemed like the whole town wanted Gideon permanently cancelled, his father’s words did not condemn the people who came against his son. He directly challenged the false god Baal to come out and defend himself.
The light of truth does not run and hide from the darkness.
Gideon’s battle with the Midianites ends in Judges 7 when a mere 300 Israeli warriors surround the entire Midianite army in the dark, wave torches, break clay jars, and shout praises to the LORD. The Midianites kill each other with their swords and run screaming into the darkness.
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (NLT)