Summary: 4th in series on Judges. This message is about Gideon and Abimelech and deals with the dangerous desire of recognition.
The Verdict on Judges
One Dangerous Desire
How God’s Victory became Gideon’s Victory
Headline in the Manessah Times: 300 destroy army of 120,000 with torches and trumpets
Gideon was a timid farmer hiding his grain in a wine press. When God told him to fight the Midianites he required no less than four signs from God.
Told to raise an army: Food on the rock burned up
Called up the army: A wet fleece on the threshing floor and then the dry fleece on the threshing floor
Cut down the army to 300: The Midianite dream of the barley loaf rolling down the hill into the camp
Three groups of 100 men, each with a pitcher, a torch and a trumpet. They blew the trumpet and shouted. The midianites all rose up and fell on one other.
Gideon chased them back across the Jordon and destroyed the entire army, captured and put to death their kings
Just how would you feel? What would you do? How would you act… if you and 300 men had routed and wiped out 120,000 of the best-armed… most-disciplined troops in an enemy coalition?
A. Strut like a peacock?
B. Boast of how great and wonderful you are?
C. Humble yourself before God, because you know that the victory is his?
D. All of the above?
Gideon picked “D” – all of the above.
Let me point out briefly three significant problems areas in Gideon’s life because of the dangerous desire for recognition.
The Dangerous Desire for Recognition
The Shout of the 300
15 When Gideon heard about the dream and what it meant, he worshiped God. Then Gideon went back to the camp of Israel and called out to them, “Get up! The LORD has handed the army of Midian over to you!” 16 Gideon divided the three hundred men into three groups. He gave each man a trumpet and an empty jar with a burning torch inside.
17 Gideon told the men, “Watch me and do what I do. When I get to the edge of the camp, do what I do. 18 Surround the enemy camp. When I and everyone with me blow our trumpets, you blow your trumpets, too. Then shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon!’ ”
The angel of the Lord didn’t tell him to do that. This was vintage Gideon. Here we see the first evidence that there was some personal pride going on inside this man. The hunger for recognition was definitely present.
The Golden Ephod
23 But Gideon told them, “The LORD will be your ruler. I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you.” 24 He said, “I want you to do this one thing for me. I want each of you to give me a gold earring from the things you took in the fighting.” (The Ishmaelites a wore gold earrings.)
25 They said, “We will gladly give you what you want.” So they spread out a coat, and everyone threw down an earring from what he had taken. 26 The gold earrings weighed about forty-three pounds. This did not count the decorations, necklaces, and purple robes worn by the kings of Midian, nor the chains from the camels’ necks.
27 Gideon used the gold to make a holy vest, which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. But all the Israelites were unfaithful to God and worshiped it, so it became a trap for Gideon and his family.
He asked for gold from each soldier and collected 43 pounds of gold earrings – not counting the ornaments, pendants, garments, and gold chains around the camel’s necks. (The earrings alone were worth $381,702 at today’s gold prices)
He created a golden ephod with the gold that was given. An ephod is a kind of apron that covered the front and back of a priest.
It was a sign of position and authority. The scripture doesn’t say he wore it but he made it and he kept it and it became a symbol of the victory – and eventually the veneration of this symbol became more important than the worship of God who brought the victory.
Gideon would not accept the mantle of leadership but he did ask for a gold earring from each of his men—taken from their plunder of the defeated enemy.
He melted the gold down and had it spun into thread and had it woven with other thread into an ephod—the sacred garment of the priests.
Gideon, a proven deliverer, now dresses the part of a priest.
He spent his remaining years living large
29 Gideon b son of Joash went to his home to live. 30 He had seventy sons of his own, because he had many wives. 31 He had a slave woman who lived in Shechem, and he had a son by her, whom he named Abimelech.