Passage: Judges 8:22-35
Intro: “Slip sliding way. Slip sliding away. You know the nearer your destination the more you’re slip sliding away... God only knows. God makes His plan. The information’s unavailable to mortal man. We work our jobs, collect our pay. Believe we’re flyin’ down the highway when in fact we’re slip sliding away.” Paul Simon, “Slip Sliding Away”
1. humans have an almost unlimited ability for self-delusion. Here’s an example
1. The Midianite army had been crushed, destroyed. The survivors limped home for good.
2. what one might expect and what actually took place afterward are two different things.
3. we are dealing here with a pagan culture, even with the name Israel
4. this wonderful deliverance, so powerful and miraculous, had a mixed effect.
5. we’ve seen that God’s purpose in deliverance was transformation, turning people from sin and fear to embrace faith.
6. easier said than done!
7. some decisions made in the wake of this deliverance that are very instructive to us.
Il) John Trent in book “Heartshift", p17, tells the story of a NASA engineer he spoke to on a plane that said a 2% deviation on a launch to the moon will result in a 11,121 mile mistake when you arrive at, or near, the moon.
8. choices we make may seem small, but over time, we find we are slipping and sliding away from what we thought was our goal. Deviations!
9. the deviations we make have results.
10. the good news is that the information from God is available to mortal man. And here is some of it!
I. God’s People Chose an Idolatrous Alternative
1. Gideon wasn’t the only person who benefited from deliverance.
2. every person was delivered, economic picture brightened, security returned
3. now remember the times!
4. Israel, for 380 years, forgot who they were, their national identity.
5. they had become completely secularized, just like their neighbors
PP Judges 17:6
6. they worshiped a series of gods, and their lives were spent seeking to please one god or another.
7. now Gideon had emerged, in their eyes, as a person with great power!
8. he had taken on Baal and Ashteroth in chapter 6 and beaten them.
9. he took on the god of the Midianites (in their view) and defeated him or her.
10. v 22, “because…” his “god” was more powerful, and he was clearly a favored man. So they wanted him to bring them under his umbrella.
Il) they wanted to hitch their wagon to his star
11. to Gideon’s credit, he gave glory to God. (Yahweh in v23)
12. but the seed was sown in his heart to reap a substantial payday from his victory in money or power, or both!
13. the people of Israel had a choice here, and they chose the tangible and physical rather than the worship of God.
14. this is the heart of man, to be led away by the here and now, the physical, rather than the eternal and spiritual.
PP Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica in Mexico City
15. be aware of this natural human tendency, and see it as the pursuit of physical, tangible things over the things of God.
Il) American church, often about buildings
II. Gideon Tried to Have It Both Ways
1. after correctly refusing to be the king, Gideon decided to keep the perks
2. not unusual to benefit from spoils.
3. but earlier, Abraham had rejected the spoils of war.
PP Genesis 14:21-24
4. Gideon took over 40 lbs of gold, but then made it into an “ephod”
5. various types, from one worn by high priest, used to discern God’s will, to linen garment worn by David.
6. I’m wondering if Gideon was seeking to honor God, but appeal to the desire for a physical presence of God.
7. is that why people were “glad”? v25
8. whatever his motive, the people quickly began to worship the object. v27
PP 2 Kings 18:4
9. “prostituted themselves” a clear OT image for idolatry.
10. this ephod now became the object which had delivered them from Midian
11. while Gideon and family did not worship it, it became a “snare”
12. it may not have sent them down the wrong path of idolatry, but it caused them to miss the best path of the exclusive worship of God
13. we call this syncretism, the blending of two disparate ideas into a third.
14. and while Gideon, on the surface, was worshiping God, there was a dangerous blending that led his family astray.
15. in our day, some call this tendency “cultural Christianity”
16. the tendency to incorporate, in order to attract the world, secular ideas into our faith to make it more acceptable.
17. certainly Gideon could not demand the worship of God alone and expect to be listened to, so he “snuck God in the backdoor” with an idol that would appeal to the masses but was still part of God’s revealed religious system.
Il) dangerous path when the method becomes more important than the message
18. in addition, it probably paid off for he and his family as well.
19. and that brings us to the third deviation.
III. Gideon Chose the Personal Pursuit of the Flesh.
1. certainly in this time of Israel’s history, polygamy was rampant.
2. but God’s clear ideal is monogamy.
PP Genesis 2:24
3. hard to become “one flesh” with several women.
4. 70 sons, can we assume there were some daughters in the mix?
5. probably in excess of 10 wives.
6. Gideon was a “catch”, probably very wealthy and certainly powerful.
7. but these multiple wives were not enough for him.
8. concubine in Shecem, a city of some political and religious importance.
9. I’m speculating that the city fathers set a sexual trap for Gideon with one of their women, so they could have some claim to the “throne”
Il) Abimelech means “my father is king”
10. clearly Gideon got caught up with the rewards of his wonderful victory
11. and while Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years, as soon as he died, they went down the tubes.
12. got rid of the ephod, re-installed Baal as the god of choice.
13. Baal worship was probably a lot more fun than that connected to Gideon’s ephod
14. and whatever leftover respect they had for Gideon dissipated like the morning dew.
15. the deviant choices the people and Gideon had made led them off the path, and they circled back to the exact spot they had left 47 years earlier.
16. they had been given choices, but in each case their choice deviated from God’s revealed path.
17, and this cycle of deviation continued for another nearly 200 years.
Conc. We can see it all around us, can’t we.
1. someone has said that he who does not learn from the past is doomed to repeat it.
2. Gideon’s deviations were small compared to the rampant idolatry of Israel.
3. and so are some of ours.
4. God has made his plan clear, the choices very plain.
5. that was the powerful message of the book of Revelation.
6. the pressure to conform, to please, to engage in syncretism is powerful.
7. and it may be our children or their children who suffer the results of an increasingly deviant path.
8. Open your Bible! Read it’s pages! Discover the end result of your choice in time to make a mid-course correction.