Scripture Read: Judges 8:24-27 Yet Gideon said to them, “I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.” (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) They said, “We will surely give them.” So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks. Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.
"You heard about that woman who said, `What are we coming to? Somebody broke into my house and stole all of the towels i took from the Holiday Inn hotel!'
It's amazing how double minded we can be!
It is always important that we learn that when we are in the race, we have to keep before us, that we must finish the ENTIRE race! Gideon believed in a theocracy, direct rule by God - he had just finished turning them down when they offered him the kingship. Yet, here he takes steps that become a snare to him and the nation.
Why did Gideon do this? It cannot be that he wanted to be rich, because what he does with that gold shows he did not use it for some passing pleasure or to increase his estate. He made an ephod. What is that?
Ephod = A sacred garment of gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen worn by the Jewish high priest. The ephod fitted closely around the shoulders and was held by two straps. A hole in the top admitted the head. On top of each of the shoulder straps an onyx stone was encased in a filagree setting of gold and engraved with the names of six tribes of Israel. The robe of the ephod was a garment different from the ephod. It was blue, sleeveless and fringed at the bottom with bells of gold and pomegranates of blue Gold, purple and scarlet. Used to discover the will of God.
Obviously we can only guess at why Gideon does this, but it would be good to think through and learn from his mistake. It is clear that Gideon was not interested in political standing; he'd just been offered the kingship. Perhaps the problem lies in spiritual pride. Gideon had been visited by the Lord personally, and had been given an unbelievable victory against an overwhelming enemy. The fact that he made an ephod might speak to the idea that Gideon fancied himself to be a spiritual giant. God had lifted Gideon to be a military leader and one that would help free his people, but that does not mean he was to be the spiritual leader. Remember what happened with King Saul and the prophet Samuel. King Saul decided to place himself into a position that God had not ordained him to be in. By making an ephod for himself Gideon was placing himself into the priesthood. It could be his intentions were good, however, this is where we need to come to grips with the difference between our intentions and God's truth. I know for myself I have done things that were wrong with the right intentions. In the end, the Holy Spirit did not congratulate me on my intentions, by His mercy and grace He gently showed me that doing right is what is important, not how I “feel” about it. This is exactly what Samuel communicated to King Saul:
1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Gideon was wrong in two accounts; to begin with, the priesthood was for Levites, and Gideon was not from the tribe of Levi. Secondly, the place of worship was Shiloh not in Ophrah. This became a common problem for the nation of Israel in the years to follow. Individuals deciding they will set up their own places of worship even though it is not where God had commanded it to be. Once again the person may have good intentions, but that doesn't make “wrong” right.
One other thing that we need to consider, and that is the general callousness toward sin. Our God is so gracious and merciful that he tolerates so much sin. Even so, sin will still have its affect on a person's character. Gideon had a large harem, which would show some real spiritual darkness.
Judges 8:30-31 Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.
The Word of God does not condemn him and God continued to bless him…but let's be careful. This does not mean that this was all right with God, His mercy and grace tolerated Gideon’s sin. We should take this as a warning for own hearts. Just because God does not come down on everyone of our sins, we should not grow complacent to sinful behaviors in our life. We will reap what we sow, and sin does not show mercy or grace!
Meditation Questions: Where are you in your race? What does the finish line look like to you? Have you proactively prayed that God help you finish the race? Have you looked at areas in your life that could cause you to quit the race? What are they? Have you looked at areas of your life that could cause you to detour? What are they? Do you need to recommit right now to finish the race? Will you do that right now? Why? Why not?