The Lord had given Gideon instruction to throw down the altar of Baal which his father, Joash, had built, and to cut down the sacred grove that stood by the altar (v.25). Further, he was to build an altar unto the true God in Baal's place, sacrifice a bullock, and burn the sacrifice on the altar, using the wood from the grove. Gideon took ten servants and accomplished the task by night, because he feared the men of his father's household and the men of that city.
That next morning it was learned that Gideon led the foray and they determined that he should die for what he had done. But his father spoke up and said, in effect, "Do you need to plead for Baal? Can't he plead for himself as a god?" This stance offset the pressure of the people and led to a changing of Gideon'e name to Jerubbaal--"Let Baal plead against him" (v.32).
Frequently there are important changes that need to take place in our lives--ones for our own good. Yet we have altars that stand for former behavior of which we can't seem to let go. It takes a champion of right to see clearly the need for change and do it. People of God--exhorters--come our way, and in frank statements or behavior help us make the transition. In Gideon's case, it was the angel of God (v.20). First, the altars have to come down. We must focus on the primary issue that has taken us away from God's presence. Remove it, once and for all! Tear it down! Construct a pattern of behavior in the place of the old to assure that our course has been reset. We then should see what caused us to stray from God and destroy the offending objects as a sacrifice to the permanency of the event. KBC