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Judges 8. Gideon, part 45: Gideon seeks a calling that God didn't give him.

JUDGES-8-170502
length: 63:22 - taught on May, 2 2017
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Title: Judges 8. Gideon, part 45: Gideon seeks a calling that God didn't give him.

 

 

JDG 8:22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son's son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian."

 

God did foresee that Israel would request an earthly king and that they would be given one, but that is not fulfilled in Gideon.

 

DEU 17:14-15

"When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses,..."

 

This would be fulfilled in Samuel's time and the first king would be Saul from Benjamin whom God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint.

 

When JDG 8:22 says "men of Israel" it would not mean all the twelve tribes. We have only seen the northern tribes involved in this war with Midian and it is even unlikely that Ephraim in involved in this request for him to rule.

 

What Gideon does not know is that one of his sons will take advantage of the sentiment of the people and allow himself to be crowned a city king; a king of the city-state at Shechem, which has remained in Canaanite hands.

 

JDG 8:23 But Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you."

 

In spite of this claim, Gideon behaved like a king and asked for each of them to give him a part of their spoils of war. He asked for tribute.

 

So we turn from the failure of the people in wanting a human king to Gideon’s failure of being a hypocrite.

 

Gideon is going to use the gold that they give him to make and ephod and from what we can glean, he is going to use it when offering to the Lord upon the altar that God instructed him to build in his home town. It may be that he will use the money to buy sacrificial animals or instruments, etc. Whatever he did with it, we might imagine that he convinced himself that he was using it in service of the Lord. This is a common mistake among Christians when they mix together their own will with the will of God. They convince themselves that they are in the will of God when they are not. If we mix our own will with God’s we will always produce something that will never be God's will.

 

In Israel alone, Jehovah was their King. As we have seen in Judges, when the nation needed correction through discipline, God brought it, and when it was time for deliverance, God brought that as well. They had His law. They did not need a monarch.

 

1SA 8:6-7

And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them."

 

Samuel was getting old and his sons were useless, and so Israel, who viewed Samuel as their leader, feared being leaderless and called for a human king as other nations had.

 

Gideon says no to being a king, knowing that God alone is the king of Israel, but in his heart he says yes.

 

It doesn’t matter how many people we are able to fool with our words. We are not façades. We are what we are in our hearts. A believer may know the way he is supposed to speak and act under the law of Christ, and so he may attempt this while in his heart he has rejected Christ's way. The hypocrite will eventually be found out. He is a fool since he only fools himself.  

 

MAT 6:19-21

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

JDG 8:24 Yet Gideon said to them, "I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil." (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

 

The Midianites were not Ishmaelites, but like them, they were nomadic children of the east. In culture and style they were very much the same.

 

One wonders if Gideon knew by the will of the Lord that he should not be a king in Israel, but secretly he desired everything that goes with the title: tribute, submission, riches, power.

 

JDG 8:25 And they said, "We will surely give them." So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil.

 

JDG 8:26 And the weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels [about 50 pounds] of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels' necks.

 

JDG 8:27 And Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.

 

It may be that Gideon thought he was only mimicking Moses. God instructed Moses to ask for a voluntary contribution from the people so that a tabernacle could be built.

 

EXO 25:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

 

EXO 25:2 "Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.

 

EXO 25:3 And this is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze,

 

EXO 25:4 blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair,

 

EXO 25:5 rams' skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood,

 

EXO 25:6 oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense,

 

EXO 25:7 onyx stones and setting stones, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.

 

EXO 25:8 And let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.

 

EXO 25:9 According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

 

This contribution was a direct command from God. It was used to build the one and only Tabernacle.

 

We do not get to imagine that God is asking us to do something that He asked someone else to do for another completely different reason.

 

Know yourself. The capacity of all men to justify their own desires is boundless. God’s will and way is clearly spelled out for us.

 

By means of the Holy Spirit we may fully understand the epignosis of the Lord.

 

EPH 4:13

until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge [full knowledge: epignosis] of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.

 

Resist the desire within the flesh that seeks to altar God's will and then convince you that you are still in it.

 

 

 

 

JDG 8:27 And Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.

 

 

This ephod was not likely a 50 pound solid gold replica of the ephod of the high priest. It may have been a garment with gold ornamentation, it may a gold replica of the same size, or it may have been an image draped like the high priest. It is most likely that it was a replica of the apron that the high priest wore, inlaid with gold and adorned with gold that Gideon himself wore in an attempt to continue to converse with God and to offer sacrifices on the altar he built in Ophrah. He may have constructed a breast piece as well.  

 

God instructed Gideon to knock down the altar to Baal in Ophrah and to build an altar unto God. It is natural that the Jews should continue to offer sacrifices there. However, the tabernacle is in Shiloh and that is the only place of "centralized worship" where the high priest alone wears the ephod.

 

It is true that the priesthood does not appear to do anything during the time of the judges and it is also very likely that Israel had lost faith in them to do anything (as if Israel herself was faithful).  

 

The text says that he put it in his city. The word put can also mean "establish", which may refer to the fact that it was a garment that he wore when sacrificing to Jehovah.

 

It would seem that Gideon established the ephod as the sign that he was worthy to sacrifice on the altar at Ophrah as a priest and even on the level of the high priest. He was implying that Ophrah was just as much a center of worship as Shiloh where the Tabernacle rested.

 

Gideon may have had good intentions when making and donning an ephod, but by doing so he was taking the role of the high priest and he established a worship center away from the Tabernacle.

 

This is a case of someone trying to help God by breaking His commands. It is playing the part of a fool who thinks God has not done everything or thought of everything and so in his foolish ignorance he steps outside of the commands of God and in his pride he actually convinces himself that he is assisting God.

 

 It is explicitly stated that the high priest is to be only from the sons of Aaron. Gideon is not even a Levite.

 

Good intensions do not make goodness. God gives clear instruction on what is good, and He is the only one qualified to know it. If we add to His good or take away from it then it is spoiled.

 

Good intensions do not give any of us the right of independence from God’s laws.

 

While sacrifices may be offered at specific places designated by God, there is to be only one worship center, and at this time that place is Shiloh.

 

Gideon undermines the Aaronic Priesthood and the theocratic unity of Israel and opened a door for Israel to return to idolatry. So the ephod became a snare to him and his house.

 

Gideon received gold as a king and put on an ephod like a priest and he was neither. He is also, though subtly, making Ophrah, his home town, the center or capital.

 

Given their history from Joshua until now, it's not hard to imagine why the people of Ophrah would play the harlot with the ephod, meaning that they would worship it as an idol.

 

With the altar to Baal destroyed and an altar to Jehovah placed on that hill, just a few months prior, we would assume that they could not forget what got them under severe oppression and who delivered them from it.

 

Both Gideon and the people self-justify their own desires by fooling themselves that they are worshipping God.

 

Gideon fools himself into thinking that he is worshipping God by wearing a personally made replica of the high priest’s ephod. Looking like the high priest doesn't make him the high priest. Playing the part of a calling that God has not given you does not endow you with that calling. We must humbly seek His way for our lives and if we trust Him, trust His word, trust His Spirit within us then we will clearly and easily find that way.

 

The fact that Gideon is clearly violating the Law in several ways is ignored or overlooked. The people kid themselves that they are worshipping God by worshipping the ephod. They imagine that since God gave the ephod to the high priest, to worship it was to worship God. Their own violation of the Law concerning man made images is ignored or overlooked. “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

 

Ophrah quickly returns to being a cult-worship center.

 

JDG 8:28 So Midian was subdued before the sons of Israel, and they did not lift up their heads anymore. And the land was undisturbed for forty years in the days of Gideon.

 

Midian would never again play a major role in the biblical record. Despite the foolishness of Gideon and the people, God gives them rest for forty years. He promised that He would deliver them and He did. God is unfathomable grace.

 

However, this does not mean that the apostate people or apostate Gideon enjoyed the peace.

 

Apostates don’t enjoy life, whether under oppression or under peacetime. Those who love the Lord consistently have the fruit of divine joy.

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