The people are finally free of Midian and Gideon makes something to commemorate the occasion. Unfortunately it becomes a problem for him and those around him.
The people are so grateful for Gideon’s help that they want to make him their ruler. They SAY they are willing to follow him and his family for generations to come. But Gideon wants no part of that. “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you” (verse 23). GOOD ANSWER Gideon!
The problem arises in the next thing he proposes though. I believe Gideon’s idea was an attempt to honor the Lord. The ephod was a garment the priests wore when in service to the Lord. But the ephods God had commissioned were of linen, NOT gold. The one Gideon made was not made under God’s direction or for His purposes. It was a display piece; something that became an idol.
I’m curious why Gideon thought making this ephod was a good idea. His heart was apparently in the right place. He was a humble man whom God chose for a specific purpose. He wasn’t willing to step into a place that men were calling him to. He wanted to honor God somehow, just not the way those around him were proposing.
When he decided to do something special he didn’t pose it in a demand, he asked permission. “Let me make a request of you” (verse 24a). The men didn’t have to agree to his request but they did. They felt he had done so much for them that they were ready to give him whatever he wanted. Gratitude sets the stage for a lot of requests that would otherwise go unheeded or even unspoken.
One of the things that made his request so easy is that he asked for such a small thing. By itself this contribution was small but when it was added together it was substantial. This reminds me of sin. One little thing by itself is not huge or damaging but let those ‘little things’ add up and they become a lifestyle of sin instead of an isolated incident.
Gideon added his own treasures into the mix. He poured his heart into this creation beyond the spoils he had gained. What he made was something that was used only when in service to God. It was the outward symbol of the inward communication link.
But Gideon wasn’t of the priestly line. He wasn’t authorized to wear such a garment nor stand in that position for the people. Gideon didn’t need assistance from an ephod or even one wearing an ephod when the Lord spoke to him initially so why did he want one now? Did he think God would desert him after He was finished ‘using’ him? Did he think having an even more spectacular garment of God would bring him closer to God? What was in his heart?
Whatever Gideon’s original intent, his practice was far from pleasing to the Lord. It redirected the heart of more than just Gideon too. “And Gideon made an ephod of it (the gold earrings) and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family” (verse 27). I’m wondering if the ‘snare’ it became to Gideon was the same as the whoring’ Israel did. Did Gideon worship it too? Did he feel trapped by Israel’s worship of it? Did he feel trapped because he had created it and what it had done to his nation?
He had created something he thought would honor God and instead it did exactly the opposite. It turned the people’s hearts away. I’m curious here because the “land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon” (verse 28b). I’m assuming Israel wasn’t serving the Baals and Asherahs at this time but they put something else in place of God. But this item was also linked to God. Is that why He gave them peace for a while? Was He hoping they would stop looking at the ritual and look again for the relationship? God’s hope and patients is AMAZING but He won’t wait forever. This too Israel will remember.
Father God, PLEASE don’t let me start serving ANYTHING besides You. This includes things that are supposed to point to You. Don’t let my efforts to be close to You become clogged up with rituals instead of relationship. I want my Creator, not His creations to be my focus. Forgive me for ‘just going through the motions’ at times. Draw me near to You Lord. Let NOTHING else take Your place!
Thank You for Your patience Lord, and for Your grace. If it weren’t for both of these I would have been lost already. I pray I NEVER stretch You to the breaking point. I don’t want to stretch Your grace and mercy at all but CERTAINLY not to the point of no return. Thank You for Your Spirit that calls me back each time. Did Gideon feel that call? How long before it stopped registering on his heart? PLEASE keep my heart sensitive to Your Spirit!