The story of Gideon is one of transforming insecurity to security. It is about overcoming weaknesses. It is about believing what God says about you rather than what the world says.
God told Gideon he was a mighty warrior. He didn’t trust it was God speaking to him at first, but after several holy communiqués, Gideon finally accepted his new moniker.
God told Gideon to conquer the Midianites and that he would do the work. With only 300 men, shouting “A sword for the Lord and Gideon!” the Midianites were rattled and turned on each other with their swords. Gideon pursued and conquered those who ran away.
The Midianites, one of the Israelites’ arch-enemies, were wiped out, thanks to Gideon. The Israelites were so appreciative they asked the military leader to rule over them.
Gideon then replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.”
It was a beautiful response and appropriate, after Gideon, who once called himself the “least” in his family was transformed into a mighty warrior. He knew the awesome power of God. He saw God’s hand in his life. God gave him victory after victory, whittling 22,000 fighting men down to 300 so the Lord would get the glory. Gideon knew God was the ruler and because of that, he turned down the kingly robes to put them on the rightful king.
But then Gideon made one request that would tarnish his impressive finish in biblical history. He asked that each of the Israelites give him an earring from their share of the plunder. The weight of the gold came to 1700 shekels (about 100 pounds) and Gideon made the gold into an ephod (a sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests) and placed it in his hometown of Ophrah. Scripture says “All Israel prostituted themselves by worshipping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.”
Gideon built an idol.
How could he after all he’d seen God do in his life? After God encouraged him and handed the Midianites into his hands, it seemed to be a slap in the King of King’s face.
But maybe he was thinking, It’s just one little idol. In reality, it was a snare and an opening that eventually led to increased idol worship in Israel.
When Gideon died, the Word says the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals and did not show any loyalty to Gideon’s family. Gideon was a leader, and even though it was one little idol, he set an example that idols are OK. It unfortunately brought him some disrespect and affected how his family after him was treated.
What is your ephod?
I think it’s safe to say we’re all guilty of hanging onto at least one idol, or maybe we have several tucked away. It could be something materialistic like a car or a house or something shiny like the golden ephod. It may be a habit, a job or an inappropriate television show.
What are you doing about your ephod? Are you willing to tear it down?
It can be a snare that will take you away from worshipping the one true God and could open the door for family members to accumulate even more idols than you.
Anything that takes the place of God is an idol.
What can we learn from Gideon’s story? How can we live an idol-free life so our children will carry the torch once ours goes out? How can we set examples as leaders in our family and our community?
In my own life, I’m praying for God to take away any snares I might not even be aware of. I don’t want to detract from the good God has done in me and through me. When I die, I don’t want people to say, she lived a righteous life but….
What about you?