Title: Judges 8. Gideon, part 46: Remembering the Giver so that prosperity does not corrupt.
Both the people and Gideon self-justified the altering of God's Law so as to fulfill personal desire. Gideon was not a king nor a priest and the people failed to see their need for Jehovah alone, which God made so very clear in Gideon's victory.
The depth of man's depravity should give all of us pause and inner reflection. That depravity lurks within each of us.
Though our depravity has been crucified with Christ and rendered powerless, we can fool ourselves into thinking that its power remains and pursue its course.
ROM 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?
ROM 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
ROM 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
ROM 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
ROM 6:5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,
ROM 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;
ROM 6:7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
ROM 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
ROM 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
ROM 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
ROM 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
ROM 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts,
ROM 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
ROM 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
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."
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."
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.)
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.
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.
JDG 8:29 Then Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house.
JDG 8:30 Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives.
Gideon judged Israel for 40 years. He acted like an eastern monarch by taking on many wives and at least one concubine.
He does so many things in the way of a king though he had rejected the offer from the people.
He will have a son through his concubine, Abimelech, who will play a major role in the next segment of the history.
JDG 8:31 And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.
Gideon even names his son Abimelech - "my father is king." Combined with the gold, the ephod, the wives … he played king.
Don’t ever just talk the talk. Don’t ever convince yourself that showing yourself spiritual through outward means is Christianity. Christianity is a complete transformation of the heart and mind. Where your treasure is there will your heart be.
As we will document, Gideon's concubine is likely a Canaanite woman, which is probably the reason that Gideon did not marry her.
JDG 8:32 And Gideon the son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Gideon went from obscurity and poverty, to prosperity and prestige, to corruption.
This pattern is all too common. We can forget that prosperity has to be handled carefully and properly. We can forget that prosperity carries with it hidden dangers which we must be alert to. The solution is quite simple. It is not to forget the Giver.
From Clarence Manion, the dean of the Notre Dame law school from 1941-1952:
Man begins his existence in bondage,
and rises from bondage through spiritual faith,
from spiritual faith to courage,
from courage to liberty,
from liberty to abundance,
from abundance to selfishness,
from selfishness to complacency,
from complacency to apathy,
from apathy to dependency,
from dependency back into bondage. [Clarence Manion]
This is the cycle of civilization. The only hope of breaking this cycle is the believer who gives his attention to the Word of God.
Now we transition to the next era in the period of the Judges, which is the short rulership of Abimelech, who was not a judge.
JDG 8:33 Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god.
Baal-berith - "the Covenant Baal". Baal becomes to them the covenant god. This may imply that several cities united in a league to worship Baal in a central shrine, which would have been at Shechem.
After the death of Gideon the center of activity moves from Ophrah to Shechem.
We might remember that Shechem was the place that all of Israel went with Joshua to hear the Law of God and shout amen to every curse uttered.