Title: Judges 7. Gideon, part 40: Self-centeredness causes division.
JDG 7:24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, "Come down against Midian and take the waters before them, as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan." So all the men of Ephraim were summoned, and they took the waters as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan.
JDG 7:25 And they captured the two leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and they killed Zeeb at the wine press of Zeeb, while they pursued Midian; and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon from across the Jordan.
Ephraim defeated Midian in two battles, at the rock of Oreb and the wine press of Zeeb. They did this on the western side of the Jordan, thus stopping their retreat home, and then the Ephraimites brought the bloody heads of the kings to Midian who was pursuing the rest of the Midianite army, 15,000 men with women, children, and livestock (moving slowly) on the eastern side of the Jordan.
When they met with Gideon, instead of thanking him for his courage and service, instead of inquiring of God's calling upon him and rejoicing in the power and grace of the Lord, the Ephraimites are fully self-absorbed and full of lust for personal glory.
We will find out, before we finish the book of Judges, that this is a common theme for Ephraim.
Ephraim is presented as self-centered, factious, easily offended, and having an inflated estimation of their own importance. Weak, arrogant, self-centered people are divisive.
All of us know people like this. They are family members, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. We must remember that they are fallen, uneducated in the Lord, and scared. We must reach out to them in gentleness and love and intercede for them in prayer.
Put anyone under the microscope long enough and you will find flaws. The weak and arrogant do this while the believer strong in the Lord bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and doesn't take into account a wrong suffered.
And the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; "For," they said, "it is a witness between us [east and west side] that the Lord is God."
We will see division amongst the tribes that are on the west side of the Jordan and division between the west side and the east side. If you remember, the two-and-a-half tribes, when they returned to their inherited lands on the east side of the Jordan after Joshua's wars were complete, built an altar in the form of the brazen altar as a sign that the Jordan was not a division. It was a sincere and good gesture and it was already forgotten.
No altar or sign or symbol will overcome the arrogance and self-centeredness of man's heart. Symbols mean nothing if the reality that they represent is not believed.
The hope of the two and half tribes was that their symbol would be a remembrance. A symbol never stops being a remembrance as long as it is visible, but it is in the mind of the one who beholds it whether it will be a remembrance of not. The Communion table is a wonderful remembrance to those who believe and love the Lord for His sacrifice, but the elements only serve as remembrance to them. We have noted the error of the Corinthians many times in how they defiled the Communion table by forgetting what if meant and actually using it to cause factions in their church.
Nation's flags, all of them, are symbols of remembrance. Our flag is very significant. Soon after our victory in the War of Independence, there were voices that called for the thirteen colonies to live independently. This would have caused weakness and also increased the influence of Britain, France, and Spain in the colonies. Eventually they would have fought with one another and "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" would have never been. The original thirteen becoming one, with the same occurring for our westward expansion, ensured that justice and freedom would be ensured for all citizens living under the just laws derived from the Constitution. This is the first time in all of history that such a thing has happened and our flag perfectly depicts that great truth. Yet, how many know it. A recent study revealed that only 18% of graduating high school students have a proficient, not expert, but proficient knowledge of American history.
The same happened in Israel as the generation of Joshua were unable in impart their wisdom and faith in their children and all through the book of Judges, this pattern repeats itself.
In thinking about this, again are the neurons within me sparked alive by the reminiscence of the struggle for which this nation sustained to create the greatest republic the world has ever seen, and with people from many different nations, religions, and races.
“It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may, with propriety, be regarded as the period when that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act, may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.” [Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 1]
What we decide concerning this Constitution, says Hamilton, will impact the whole of the human race. Some wanted the nation to be divided into three or four independent constituencies and they had different motivations for doing so, some sincere and some in lust for power and wealth, but what was clear to men like Hamilton at the time was that they lived at the one time in history when this was actually a possibility, and so to fail was not an option.
Zeal does not equal truth. Zeal for truth can only occur after the truth is known, which in every case must be learned in an un-zealous way. Ephraim's zeal for herself is of the truth. Unity is of the truth. Her zeal is only hurting others as well as herself. Gad has a zeal for survival and will not refresh Gideon's troops and neither is this of the truth. Due to zealous pride there is division in Israel.
When we are occupied with ourselves, we fail to see the glory of God. If we love His glory then we will not care whether it manifests from another or from ourselves.
Should we only love and exalt in the glory of God when it is manifest in us? Should we look upon it with less affection when it is manifested through another? We must think like the divine nature that we are and love the glory of the Father wherever it is manifest.
This issue occurred in the nation of Israel's infancy. It is always lurking.
NUM 16:1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took action,
NUM 16:2 and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown.
NUM 16:3 And they assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?"
Korah wanted to be high priest and he likely promised the rest all kinds of benefits if they could help him get it. Such ambition turned out very badly for them, and the tragedy is enlarged because they were very blessed by God to begin with. Why did they need more?
In the end, everything will be delivered unto Him and glory will only be His.
And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.
REV 4:9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever,
REV 4:10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
REV 4:11 "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."