We come to the end of Gideon’s life and find that once again, Israel has ‘short term memory’ issues. But we get to peek at Gideon’s life in the end before we leave him.
Gideon found a comfortable life after his battles with Midian. He gets to move into his own house. I guess that his fame propelled him from his father’s home. He was apparently already married at the time of his battles because he called Jether his oldest to kill the kings of Midian. It also means that his son was old enough that Gideon thought he was capable of the task. But now he and his family have their own homes.
Maybe the issue of homes is bigger than that. During the occupation of the Midianites the Israelites were living in caves. With Midian gone they could return to their homes without fear. Maybe Gideon was staying in the same cave as his father before God delivered them.
ANYWAY, back to our story.
Looking at Gideon’s later life I’m going to guess that he became very rich. I wouldn’t be surprised if the people didn’t give him gifts or pay tribute for all he had done. Maybe he was living off the spoils of his victory. We know gold wasn’t an issue because he made the golden ephod and it remained intact. Another reason for thinking of him as rich was because men were not allowed to take more wives than they could support. We are told he “had many wives” and 70 sons of his own. He also had a “concubine” and her child to support. THIS WAS AN EXPENSIVE FAMILY!
But all of Gideon’s wealth and all of his fame did not prevent him from following the same path as the rest of the world; he died. He “died in a good old age and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, at Ophrah of Abiezrites” (verse 32b).
When I look at Gideon’s life, I’m left with the thought of ‘just one more’ running through my head. What was it that drove him to have so many wives? And even with all his wives, he wanted just one more woman; his concubine. With all his children he wanted just one more to bear his name. When was enough for him? What was his ‘cut-off’ line? What was he searching for? What emptiness was he trying to chase away?
After Gideon left the battlefield he made a substitute for the closeness he had encountered with God. God had spoken to him directly. He had led Gideon in his whole endeavor but that changed when Gideon made the ephod. Gideon’s focus shifted. He began to look to the ephod instead of God as his source.
I have a few questions I want to ask about the ephod here. First is, did Gideon ever wear it? He told the people he would NOT rule over them but that the Lord would. Did he use the ephod to judge the people and believe he received his guidance from God by wearing it? Did he judge the people after all? Did the ephod sit on an ‘altar’ or shelf where the people ‘consulted it’ for their answers? We know that it “became a snare to Gideon” (verse 27b). But what did that look like?
There are SO MANY questions I would like to ask and have answers to but they won’t be answered this side of Heaven. But God wants us to notice the hearts of Israel when it comes to the end of Gideon’s life.
- “As soon a Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god” (verse 33)
- The people forgot about the Lord and all HE had done to deliver them
- They forgot about the family of Gideon; “and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel” (verse 35)
Just like the judges before him, once they die the people turn again to their false gods. ALL the lessons learned were quickly forgotten or deemed unimportant. Instead of being closer to the Lord through all His attempts at correction and deliverance they were farther away than before. NOT a pattern I want to replicate in my life!
Father God, don’t let me get the ‘just one more’ attitude. Help me be satisfied with the things You have blessed me with. Also NEVER let me substitute ‘things’ for our relationship, no matter how ‘special’ those things are. Keep my eyes always focused on You!