22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us – you, your son, and your grandson. For you have delivered us from Midian’s power.” 23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24 Gideon continued, “I would like to make one request. Each of you give me an earring from the plunder you have taken.” (The Midianites had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 They said, “We are happy to give you earrings.” So they spread out a garment, and each one threw an earring from his plunder onto it.26 The total weight of the gold earrings he requested came to seventeen hundred gold shekels. This was in addition to the crescent-shaped ornaments, jewelry, purple clothing worn by the Midianite kings, and the necklaces on the camels. 27 Gideon used all this to make an ephod, which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. All the Israelites prostituted themselves to it by worshiping it there. It became a snare to Gideon and his family.
When presented with people wanting to hail him as their king and leader, Gideon did not crave power – instead, he wanted God alone to rule His people. God had led Gideon successfully to defeat the Midianites (Ishmael’s descendants). 15,000 Midianite men against 300 Israelites, armed with trumpets, clay pots and torches. A God like that was the only One Gideon wanted to lead His people. He rightly knew that he was not the one who led God’s people – God was. Gideon followed God and was blessed for this obedience.
I love the humility of Gideon here, and yet, directly after he professed so beautifully that God alone was the true King, he stumbled. Right after seeing an amazing deliverance where God told him ahead of time about His deliverance and fulfilled it, Gideon got sidetracked. A little decision to make a simple relic destroyed his pure devotion and the devotion of ALL the Israelites to their living, One true God. How sad.
An ephod was not necessarily sinful; in fact, historically it was part of the high priest’s garment, which had a breastpiece overlaid, containing the Urim and the Thummim, used for obtaining oracles from the LORD. This ephod designed by Gideon, however, was not made in the same manner or with the same elements. It was not used as a priestly garment, but was instead used as an item of worship, kept in Gideon’s own home. Gideon had been insecure about whether or not God would use him in the past. I wonder if Gideon considered seeking divination from a relic instead?
Even more striking to consider is the crescent-shaped ornaments that Gideon was enamored by. These ornaments are a foreshadowing of modern-day Islamic iconic symbols, reminding us of Sarah and Abraham’s choice to take matters into their own hands, when they tried to bring about God’s promise through Ishmael. That one decision, made in a sea of right decisions, is the very source of the catastrophic attacks on God’s people today, played out on the world stage. Think about that.
God help us to consider not just the vast decisions that lay before us, but the small ones, too. The failure of a saint does not always have to be a big glaring sin. It is often in the subtle, hidden places where our enemy lurks to see if we are paying attention. May we care about motives and diligently seek God to walk blamelessly before Him. Those who follow behind us will be impacted, too. Will we surrender over every aspect of our lives to obedience to God, or hold back a portion that seems insignificant?
Lord, thank you for revealing our sins, that we might confess them to You! Thank You for your mighty deliverance. Help us to not take Your salvation for granted and to be aware of the enemy’s tactics, seeking You in all things.