"Gideon Wrong in the End"
Gideon: Wrong in the End Judges 8:22-35 7/19/09 INTRODUCTION In Youngstown Ohio one of the individuals that was a part of a group I drank coffee with was a young volunteer firefighter and newly trained EMT. One day working apart time shift for an ambulance company in Boardman, OH, John was a part of a response team called to a house where a live alone elderly man had called 911. He had collapsed and it was believed that he was suffering a heart attack. John’ s vehicle was the first on scene and leaving his partner behind at the truck he rushed to the front door of the home. It was locked. Fearing for the man’s life, he stood back focused and gave a huge side kick to the door, bursting the jambs and allowing him access to the home. John was very proud or his accomplishment. The fact that he had so swiftly broken the door and gained entry. His pride diminished significantly when his partner rushed inside to inform him it was the wrong house. He did everything right. His motives were pure his heart was in the right place, just one little detail led him to be totally wrong in the end. T.S. When you consider what Gideon has done it's astounding. He has gone from a fearful farmer to a courageous, unrelenting warrior. He has eradicated the idolatrous worship of Baal and Asherah through out his family. Through his vision, faith, and obedience to the Lord, Gideon has vanquished the Midianite army, scattered its last remnants in the desert of Moab, and executed its evil leaders. Imagine what his countrymen think of him now! In contemporary speech they might say, "Gideon, you are the Man!" P.S. HOW WE RESPOND TO SUCCESS IN GOD’S DELIVERANCE STORY, IMPACTS FUTURE BLESSINGS. The Story Gideon the Savior? (8:22-23) When Gideon and his band of 300 men return home, they are met with a hero's welcome. The Israelites, who have been leaderless for years, now see in Gideon the marks of leadership. They need him, but in their request they commit two grave errors. First, they attribute the defeat of Midian to Gideon rather than God. "The Israelites said to Gideon, 'Rule over us -- you, your son and your grandson -- because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.' But Gideon told them, 'I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.'" (8:22-23) The Israelites saw Gideon as savior; Gideon saw the Lord as Savior, and to his credit, humbly points them to God. There is an ancient deception -- that great men and women are what we need rather than a great God. Dr. Costa Deir, "There are no great men of God," he told us. "Only men of a great God." But isn't Gideon a savior? A great man? Yes, in a sense, so long as he continues to follow God with all his heart. Gideon Refuses the Kingship (8:22-23) "The Israelites said to Gideon, 'Rule over us -- you, your son and your grandson -- because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.' But Gideon told them, 'I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.' " (8:22-23) The Israelites' second error was to seek to establish a hereditary dynasty of kings. "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." (Exodus 19:4-6) Ex 23:20-33 20 "See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. 27 "I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land. 31 "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you." God was Israel's king. He was their sovereign. As such he promises to go with them as they enter the Promised Land. The call to make Gideon and his line king was a Lordship issue. Gideon's Share of the Spoils (8:24- 26) But Gideon does ask for some consideration in light of his victory. "And he said, 'I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.' (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.) They answered, 'We'll be glad to give them.' So they spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it. The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels' necks." (8:24-26) In this case, tens of thousands of slain Midianites have been plundered for jewelry. "Earring" is the Hebrew word nezem, "a ring (usually of gold) which was part of one's (man, woman, or idol) ornamentation worn in nose or ears."5 The gold from earrings and other plunder is willingly dropped in a pile and comes to 40 to 75 pounds, depending upon whether the light or heavy shekel is referred to. It is a sign of the esteem in which the men hold Gideon. Gideon's Ephod (8:27) Show of wealth? "Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family." (8:27) "Ephod" is a transliteration of the Hebrew noun ΄ephod, and seems to refer to a sacred garment. In the Old Testament the word is used of the high priest's garment (Exodus 28, 39). Others who wore less extravagant linen ephods were Samuel (1 Samuel 2:18), priests (1 Samuel 22:18), and David (2 Samuel 6:14). In periods of idolatry, sometimes the ephod is mentioned alongside teraphim and graven images (Judges 17:5; 18:14, 15, 17, 20; Hos 3:4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. NIV).8 In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, golden garments were reserved to clothe either statues of the gods or a select group of high officials -- royalty and top priestly ranks. "Golden garments," used to clothe the statues of deities in Mesopotamia, were thought possess in themselves a kind of sanctity. Gideon likely didn’t intend to created an idol; he had torn down Canaanite idols to Baal and Astarte (6:28), but the precious golden garment he created becomes a stumbling block. Spiritual Unfaithfulness (8:27) "Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family." (8:27) The ironic twist to Gideon’s story is that the deliver creates a stumbling block that ensnares his family. He was the source of their deliverance. He inadvertently becomes the source of their deception. Compromise Continues (8:28-35) Finally, the author of Judges concludes Gideon's story. "Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon's lifetime, the land enjoyed peace forty years. Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech. Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." (8:28-31) "No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal- Berith as their god and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They also failed to show kindness to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) for all the good things he had done for them." (8:33-35) Strong leadership is key to continued blessing for God's people -- for any people, for that matter. We need to value our leaders and to treat them well. We must also train leaders so that the next generation can experience God's blessing too. Christianity is always just one generation removed from apostasy and unbelief. Lessons from Gideon's Later Years I wish we could end Gideon's saga on the upswing, but that just isn't accurate. His legacy ends with sadness. God wants us to learn some things here: 1. We don’t need great men we need a great relationship with a great God. 2. Every deliverance story begins and ends with God. It’s all about him. 3. We must be careful that what we establish as traditions and practices. 4. Without heart change we too easily return to past errors.