Over the last few months, I have been rereading the Old Testament stories of the children of Israel and their journey through the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan. I’ve been amazed yet again to see how over and over they turned their back on God. After so many amazing things that He had done for them. And it didn’t stop once they got to Canaan, the promised land either. God blessed, Israelites got self-sufficient and proud, God sent someone in to rule over them, they repented, God sent someone to bail them out. Over and over and over.
Finally we get to Judges 6 and read about a humble Israelite how is thrashing his wheat in the winepress to prevent the Midianites from finding it.
“When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
— Judges 6:12-16
So an angel shows up and tell Gideon that he will be the next deliverer of Israel. What an amazing assignment. We have, no doubt, heard the rest of the story many times. How he gathered 32,000 men and then God said that was too much and narrowed it down to 300. 300… against all the forces of Midian numbering close to 135,000 men. That could seem like overwhelming odds yet got brought him the victory.
And that is the story that we equate with Gideon. Yet Judges 8:22-27 tells the rest of the story.
After the victory, the people asked him to rule over them but he said no. He did, however, collect an offering and with it he made an ephod and “[a]ll Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there”. Wow. This man who saved Israel from there captors that were over them because of their idol worship turned around and took them right back into idol worship.
Gideon thought that because the angel had burned his offering on the rock before him that he had been made a priest. (Judges 6:20-21)
The story ends with these solemn words: “and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.” (Judges 8:27)
It reminds me that just because someone does something great for God, it doesn’t mean that he will always follow God after that. I have often equated leaders in the church as people who should always be looked up to. While we should respect those in authority, we must also never neglect to compare there actions and words to scripture and see how it measures up. Just because they are in positions of authority does not mean they are above the Bible.
(Read the story for yourself staring in Judges 6.)