We've finally arrived at the end of the saga of Gideon, one of the judges of Israel.
Recount the story of Zebah, Zalmunna and Gideon’s brothers.
Who were the men you killed in Tabor?
Kill ‘em, son …
Kill us yourself, if you’re man enough!
Gideon is invited to be the king of Israel
The LORD shall rule over you
Gideon collects gold from his men and makes an ephod
What is an ephod?
Why was making the ephod a bad thing?
Remember Aaron and the golden calf?
Remember the bronze serpent?
(8) You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (9) You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God …
Idols were a big problem for Israel. Everyone else had them! They are a problem for us, too.
One Christian religion has LOTS of idols in their churches. They have even rearranged the 10 commandments so that the prohibition is not so obvious.
When Gideon made the ephod was he trying to make an idol without making an idol? All of the idols Israel ever had a problem with were of a celestial being or an animal. This was neither.
What ever his reasoning was, problems soon followed.
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.
Where were the people of Israel supposed to worship? Shiloh in Ephraim.
Why go to Shiloh when we can worship here?
The death of Gideon
Israel immediately takes up Baal worship again.
What can we learn from this story of Gideon?
God alone is God - there is no other!
God at times will bring hardship into our lives to bring us to Himself
Even when God rescues us from that hardship He still does not force us to follow Him
The perils that come from letting our spiritual eyes drift from the Lord will always be spiritually fatal
Let's just try to imagine the how the story might have turned out if Gideon had been totally obedient to God ...
Just imagine if when the Angel of the Lord came to Gideon as he was hiding from the Midianites he had said, “OK, Lord, what do you want me to do?
And what if when the Lord told Gideon to tear down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole he had done it in broad daylight proclaiming his intentions to serve the God of Israel and Him alone instead of doing it at night and then having his daddy stand up for him? What if?
And what if when they attacked the Midianite camp he had the army shout, “A sword for the LORD, God of Israel” instead of “a sword for the Lord and for Gideon”?
And what if, instead of making a golden ephod and hanging it in Ophrah Gideon had said, “Let’s take all of this bounty to Shiloh, to the tabernacle of the Lord and present it to the Lord as a thank offering.
What if Gideon had said, “Let us go the holy place of the Lord and make sacrifices to the Lord and worship Him there.”
What if Gideon had said, “Let us renew our vows to the Lord to worship and serve Him alone all the days of our lives and to obey all the words of the Law of the Lord.”
What if Gideon had done that? What would we be reading in the book of Judges now? What a different story!
What about the story of our lives that are being written now? What would they be like to read thousands of years from now?
Living for God is not like walking a tightrope! From the outside it looks hard and that’s just how the devil wants it to look. Impossible.
When we follow Jesus it is very different from Wallenda waking a tightrope with a blindfold on.
When we come to Jesus for salvation He takes the blindfold off from us!
Actually, following the ways of the world is the hard and impossible path!
James 4:4 (ISV) says
You adulterers! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility with God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God.
Do you know the hostility that a faithful husband has when his wife commits adultery? That was God’s reaction when Israel was spiritually unfaithful to Him. That is God’s reaction when we are spiritually unfaithful to Him. THAT is the hard way!
What is the easy way? Walking with God!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk in righteousness and truth.
(29) He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (30) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
(31) but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Conclusion and invitation if the Spirit leads ...