Gideon’s Ephod

ephod

Judges 8:22-27 (KJV) Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you. 24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks. 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

The past few Sunday nights we have looked at what I like to call Heroes Of Our Faith. We have seen the lives of great Biblical people like Mary Magdalene, Noah, and Hagar. These are people like you and I, people who heard the call of God and who trusted Him, and because of that trust God used them to do amazing things. Tonight we’re going to look at someone named Gideon.

Our responsive reading began with:

Judges 8:22 (KJV) THEN the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also

Do you see that word “THEN”? The word tells us there was something that came before to cause the men of Israel to ask Gideon and his children to be their King. Who was Gideon?

1 When God Met Gideon He Certainly Wasn’t “King” Material. If you study the Bible you’ll find out that Gideon’s name literally means “He that bruises or breaks, a destroyer”. Though his parents named him this Gideon certainly didn’t live up to his name. Gideon – also known as Jerubbaal – is the son of Joash, an extremely poor family from the Abiezrite clan in the tribe of Manasseh. Gideon and his family lived hand to mouth in Ophrah, a town often hard hit by the enemies of Israel called the Midianites. The Bible tells us that when God sought out Gideon that he found him hiding:

Judges 6:11 (KJV) …. Gideon threshed wheat by the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites.

Gideon was not a brave man. He was pragmatic, practical, and broken. The Midianites had attacked his poverty stricken family so many times that Gideon had taken to threshing wheat where wine was supposed to be crushed. The Angel of God appeared to broken Gideon and said:

Judges 6:12 (KJV) … The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.

That’s an interesting title for Gideon, “Mighty Man of Valor”. Gideon was anything but a “Mighty Man of Valor”. Gideon was a broken man. But God uses the broken, the willing, those who will submit to His Will. The Bible says:

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…

The skilled Potter takes raw clay from the river bed and, crushing it, forms it into a lump. The Potter takes the clay and, spinning it on the wheel, forces it from useless mud into a work of beauty. The Potter then takes that formed object and fires it in the kiln, hardening that work until it is a lasting treasure. The trials of life that come often open our eyes to the reality of the Eternal Savior. The Bible tells us that:

James 4:6 (ESV) …. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

and our Lord Jesus declared ..

Matthew 23:12 (ESV) Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

When you’re down and broken then you are exactly in the right place for God to bless you. The Angel finds Gideon and encourages him. “I’ve been looking for you, Mighty Man of God”. As soon as he is addressed Gideon begins the blame game. You know what that is, don’t you? When Adam sinned against God in the Garden he said:

Genesis 3:12 (KJV)… THE WOMAN WHOM THOU GAVEST TO BE WITH ME, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

God, YOU made this mess! God, YOU’RE the Cause that I am in the quicksand of sin. The woman you gave me was imperfect. Gideon follows the same pattern that we have all often followed:

Judges 6:13 (KJV)13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

These Midianites are killing us! That YOUR fault, God. But wait a minute … is that really true? You see, when God led Israel into the land He told all the tribes to cast idolatry out of the land, to drive out all the idolaters. Rather than do this the tribes intermarried with the idolaters. The Tribe of Manasseh intermarried with Midianites …. and the Midianites turned on them.

When we fail to listen to God (Who, after all, knows best for us) then we bring misery on ourselves. The solution to our problems is not to blame God. The solution to our problems is to heed God, and obey His Word.

The Bible says:

Judges 6:14-16 (KJV)14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: HAVE NOT I SENT THEE? 15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. 16 And the LORD said unto him, SURELY I WILL BE WITH THEE, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.

God told Gideon “GO in this THY MIGHT”. Gideon has no might. He is a broken man. But Gideon can do two things:

He can GO where God tells him, and
He can DO what God tells him.

That’s all God is asking Gideon to do. Get up and go knowing that God is with you. Get up and do knowing that God sent you. Make sure that the Captain of your salvation is with you and that you are heeding HIS Word.

A young Ensign was making his first trip on a Destroyer. Fully trained, the Captain assigned him the duty of maneuvering the Destroyer out of the harbor. He barked orders and the ship got out of the harbor in record time. One of the mates came to the young Ensign and said “You have a message from the Captain”. The message said “You’ve done an excellent job, but there is an unwritten rule you’ve overlooked. The next time you set sail, make sure the Captain is on board!”

Gideon was to GO and DO as God said. The Midianites cannot be defeated while you’re hiding in the wine press. You have to go with God to the Midianites doing what God said – then you can see things turn around.

2 Before Gideon Could Be Used By God He Had To Be Focused On The One True God.

A man bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man eating lion with his pocket knife. When he was asked “Why didn’t you cut off his head” he replied “Somebody had already done that”. If Gideon – and we ourselves – are going to defeat the darkness of evil which is all around us we must rely on the Lord our God.

a The Idols Must Be Toppled Before We Can Stand With God. God told Gideon:

Judges 6:25-26 (KJV) … And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him …. throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it: 26 And build an altar unto the LORD thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.

Gideon was afraid to do this by day, so he did it in the night (see verse 27). The next morning the townspeople saw that the altar of Baal was destroyed and demanded that Joash

Judges 6:30 (KJV) …. Bring out thy son {Gideon}, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.

Gideon’s dad said in effect “Let Baal defend himself if he is really a god”. On that day Gideon was given the nickname Jerubbaal which means “let Baal talk it over with him”. The idols must be gone from our lives if we want God to bless us.

A wife walked into a local grocery store and saw her husband passionately kissing another woman. As she angrily came toward him he saw her out of the corner of his eye. He stopped and turning to his wife said “Honey, it’s not what you think. When I saw this woman and how beautiful she is she reminded me of you … and I just had to kiss her!” What response do you think he’ll get from that? It won’t be good! Likewise, our God is a jealous God. He says:

Exodus 34:14 NLT You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.

When God saves a person the first thing He demands is that the idols be gone. We are not to idolize anything – not even our familial relationships – above God.

Luke 14:26 CEV You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.

The idols must go. God must be first! Always! Gideon tore down the idols in his life, and after the idols were gone and his heart was focused on loving God first – then and only then could he be used to bring a great change to his world.

b Before We Can Go We Must Be Sure Of Our God And His Word. Gideon was growing in faith, but he wanted to be sure before he went to battle that God was with him. So Gideon “placed a fleece” before God.

Judges 6:36-37 (KJV) And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, 37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.

This is not an act of faithlessness, but an act of faith. If God is going to use Gideon – pitiful and weak Gideon – then God can use this piece of wool. Think about that wool for a moment. It is a piece of skin off of a dead animal. If God can interact with something like this, then He can use Gideon.

God did exactly as Gideon asked. The dew was on the fleece only, and not on the ground. So Gideon asked God to reverse the process – to put dew on the ground but not on the fleece.

Judges 6:39 (KJV) … Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.

You know what? God did it. God loves His children. And God loves to use the humble. He used humble Moses. He used humble Gideon. He will use a humble you. He will speak to you. Now that God has spoken to Gideon it is time for him to go meet the Midianites. Gideon’s army was initially 230,000. But God told Gideon:

Judges 7:2 (KJV) … the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

God does not need a LOT or a BUNCH to get the job done. Jesus started His Church with just 11 faithful men. On the day of Pentecost 120 faithful men and women prayed in the Upper Room until the Holy Spirit came. The Scripture says:

Zechariah 4:6 …. not by MIGHT nor by POWER but by MY SPIRIT saith the LORD.

Acts 17:25 KJV Neither is (God) worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things

God is the Giver of all things. He doesn’t need us. But He wants us. He wants to incorporate us into His plans. He blesses us by giving us an opportunity to serve Him and see how great He is!

God had Gideon reduce the number of fighters until the 230,000 became only 300. Then Gideon followed God’s plan. The Bible says:

Judges 7:16 (KJV) {Gideon} divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.

Three hundred men. Three hundred trumpets – and three hundred men knew how to play them. Let me ask you right now … how many of you can play a trumpet? That’s what I thought. But God is in control. Every man is able to do what God called them to do. And they had three hundred trumpets available. That boggles my mind. I don’t think I could find three hundred trumpets in all of Nashville and Franklin! The plan was very simple. Gideon said …

Judges 7:18 (KJV) When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.

They were to blow their trumpets, and break the pitchers that was in their hands that had candles in them. They did just as God told them to do. And the Bible says:

Judges 7:22 (KJV) … the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.

The enemy ran away!

3 We Must Be Careful Never To Depart From Glory To God. There is a lot more to the story of Gideon and how God used him to defeat the darkness. Sadly, time requires I move on to our focal text for tonight. God made Gideon. God blessed Gideon. God saved Israel using Gideon. As a result we read that:

Judges 8:22 (KJV) Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast DELIVERED us from the hand of Midian.

Do you see that word “DELIVERED”? That is the Hebrew יָשַׁע yasha` (pronounced yaw-shah’) which means “to save or be the salvation of”. The people of Israel are saying to Gideon

YOU are our Savior! Rule us, Oh Savior!

Now Gideon is wise not to fall into this trap. He said:

Judges 8:23 … I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

What a wonderful response. The LORD – the Eternal God – Yahweh – HE shall rule over you. I think it is wonderful that we honor the heroes of the faith, but as we honor them let us never forget that without the empowerment of God they would be nothing.

Do you remember when Gideon started with an army of 230,000 and the Lord made him reduce it to 300. Do you remember why God had Gideon do that? It was so that no Israelite would create an idol among themselves.

2 Corinthians 3:5 …. our sufficiency is from God

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Gideon was of the Tribe of Manasseh, not of Judah. God never set the kings to come from Manasseh, regardless as to what the “popular vote” was. So Gideon rejected the offer of being King.

I have heard powerful speakers like Adrian Rogers or Charles Stanley or Max Lucado referred to as “great men of God”. With all due respect, what is more true is that they are “men of a Great God”. As long as we keep that in mind of ourselves God can use us to do great things. When we forget that we mess ourselves up.

Gideon compromised. He said:

Judges 8:24 (KJV) …. I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

The Midianites were actually ISHMAELITES – descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s child by Hagar. They were Arabs – Muslims – cousins to the Israelites, and it was their custom to wear ear rings. When enemies were defeated it was the practice to take the possessions of the defeated dead. Gideon asked that each Israelite give him one ear ring from the spoils of war. At the end of the day they collected about 43 pounds of gold.

In today’s market this would be worth about $779,101.88

What was Gideon going to do with all this gold? He came from a poor town. He grew up in a poor household. What good could Gideon do with that much money? He made a gold Ephod. An Ephod is an outer garment – a ceremonial sleeveless coat worn by the High Priest of Israel. He had a 43 pound coat made.

Judges 8:27 (KJV) … Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

It wasn’t wrong to take the gold.

1 Timothy 5:18 ESV For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

It was wrong what Gideon did with the gold. When God gives us something, it is to be used for HIS GLORY.

1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 NASB Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

I do not believe that Gideon meant to set up an idol, but he in effect did set up an idol. He put his name on the library, and his picture in the hospital corridor. God took a broken man and made him whole. God’s Grace lifted him up, and put him in charge of a 300 man army that overthrew the idols and idolatrous people who plagued Israel. At one time Gideon’s family kept a Temple to Baal. Now they kept a Temple to Gideon’s Ephod.

And people flocked to Ophrah not to worship the Lord Who delivered Israel, but to worship the golden ephod that Gideon made. If we are to be blessed of God and be the Light that he wants us to be we MUST reject all ephods, golden or otherwise. We must stand firm on God’s Word, loving Him and glorifying Him in all that we say and do. May God bless you with His Word!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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