Gideon is a kind of an enigma for me. Seems to have, for the most part, run the race well but then gets tripped up at the finish line. He has an encounter of the divine kind with the angel of the LORD and obediently risks his own life to tear down an altar of Baal owned by his father and worshiped by his town. Having proven faithful in this “small thing” God entrusts to him a “bigger thing.” Bigger, as in deliver your people from the Midianites. Bigger as in take an army out numbered 450-to-1 and see what the LORD can do with those who are faithful and available. And Gideon nails it!
Gideon takes his micro-army of 300 men and attacks the Midian camp at night and eventually routes the entire Midian fighting force of 135,000 solders. “Exhausted yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4), Gideon and his men relentlessly press the battle as the LORD fights for His people and delivers them from Midian oppression.
Good on Gideon! All praise be to God!
And it gets better. After the victory the men of Israel say to Gideon, “Rule over us . . . for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon refuses. He knows who did the saving and so responds, “I will not rule over you, . . . the LORD will rule over you.” Yeah! Good on Gideon again. He would not be king, there is but one King.
But then, the wheels come off (Judges 8:24-28). While refusing a throne for his part in the victory, he does ask for treasure. While refusing to be king, he’s willing to play with being priest. He is given 1,700 shekels in golden earrings and makes them into an ephod, the apron like vest that was to be worn by the sons of Aaron when they came before the LORD. Though the house of God was at Shiloh, Gideon set up the ephod in his own city.
And Gideon made an ephod of it 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.
(Judges 8:27 ESV)
Like father, like son. The pagan idol of Baal torn down, the religious idol of the ephod set up. And a man who had run so well gets tripped up at the finish line.
And so, having just read of Gideon, I was kind of primed for my reading in 1Corinthians this morning . . .
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Corinthians 10:14 ESV)
The Corinthians wanted to “partake of the table of the LORD and the table of demons.” To have the bread and cup that reminded them of Christ’s sacrifice and also the meat that they enjoyed though it was sacrificed to pagan gods. One hand raised to the King of kings and the other reaching out to the things of this world. And Paul says, “Flee!”
Take flight, protect your heart from divided allegiances! Shun the temptation to share the glory of God with another. Beware lest you provoke the Lord to jealousy (10:22).
Gideon serves as great example of bold faith in a great God. But he also serves as a dire warning for those who would divide that faith and place it in other gods of their choosing.
That God would show us our divided allegiances. That in His kindness He would lead us to repentance. That the all sufficient blood of Christ would cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And that we would have no king but Jesus.
By His grace. For His glory