Tag Archives: Judges 8

Good Intentions and Idolatry

In Judges 8:22-27 the record of Gideon continues:

22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.
24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.
27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.Judges 8:22-27

The Israelites wanted a king to rule over them. Notice in verse 22 who they said had delivered Israel. 300 men had accomplished so much, but it was God who brought the deliverance.  You would think they would would have been amazed and excited to have seen God work so mightily through so few. Gideon rightfully declined the kingship and told them that the Lord would rule over them.

The next thing he asked probably had good intentions behind it. Maybe Gideon wanted to have something to remind him of the victory. It does not say God told him to make the ephod, but as the old saying goes: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Eventually it became an idol and a snare because Israel went ‘a whoring after it’ (it became their object of worship) .

Back in Exodus, God had Moses fashion a brazen serpent to be lifted up to heal his people from the poisonous snakes that had they had encountered. People were healed when they looked at it. The incident is even recorded in John 3:14-16 as a type for Jesus Christ. The Israelites held on to this brazen serpent for several hundreds of years afterward and eventually Hezekiah had to destroy it because idolatry had developed around it. People worshiped it.

When a form, tradition, ritual, person or place stands in between our relationship with God, nothing good comes from it. When something we have trouble with or something comes at us we don’t understand, often we run to someone else and unload and complain to them. Wow! we do ourselves such a disservice when we don’t take things to God who is our sufficiency especially in this day and time when we have access to God through the work of Jesus Christ.  It is so tempting to call someone and dump it on them, or dumping a quote on Facebook or Twitter ~ anything but take it to the One who is ready, willing and able to help us out ‘exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think’! (Ephesians 3:20)  It is certainly nice to know our thinking is the low bar and we actually have a right to the high bar. God goes beyond what we ask or think. Wow isn’t that comforting?!


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God’s Deliverance

After Gideon moved on from assuaging the Ephraimites in Judges 8:1-4, he dealt with the kinsmen of Succoth.  Gideon’s 300 men were hungry and Gideon asked for bread as he passed through Succoth. As the men of Ephraim complained for a piece of the glory, the princes of Succoth likewise had their own issues and threw unbelief and fear in Gideon’s face:

6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? Judges 8:6

Did they believe he was going to win with 300 men? Did they support him? It was time to cancel Gideon’s subscription to their issues! And this time he did!

God had spoken earlier to Gideon that he would take care of the of the battle, that they would be victorious with only 300 men. (7:2) The four princes, Oreb, Zeeb, Zebah, Zalmunna were, indeed enemies.  In Psalm 83, Asaph includes these names in a list of the aggressive enemies of the Hebrews:

11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. Psalm 83:11-12

Gideon and his 300 men got the job done.  When it was all said and done, Israel asked him to become king over them and to establish a kingly dynasty in his family.

22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you. Judges 8:22-23

The ancient Hebrews had a theocracy and they still wanted to appoint a King. Gideon continued to adhere to a theocratic government in which God was king. Gideon was a judge which was what God had called him to, and he reminded them of God’s sovereignty.

Today, we don’t live in a theocracy. God is not the elected President or the recognized King. We are subject to the human nature of those we elevate. This happens not only in politics, but also in education, entertainment, sports and in religion and other areas of culture. When people elevate a person there is more often than not a big temptation to succumb to difficulties:

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. I John 2:15-16

This is all the more reason to pray for our country and listen to God in each of our own lives.



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