Wouldn’t it be great if one good choice ensured the rest of your choices would be just as good? Maybe if the reason we chose correctly was right, the rest of our choices would just as right? Then again, maybe not. Here, again, we find choices leading to a sad ending.
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.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.” 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.) 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. The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels 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. 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. (Judges 8:22-27 NASB)
As Gideon returns from punishing uncooperative cities, he meets up with the rest of the people of Israel. They want to make him king, and setup his family in a dynasty. Gideon refuses, and for what appears to be a righteous reason, Yahweh is their ruler. But he does want something from them. He wants a portion of their gold.
The men of Israel contribute 1,700 gold in weight to Gideon. From the gold Gideon makes an ephod. Unfortunately for us, we’re not sure how one does that. Usually an ephod is made of linen, and gold doesn’t spin as easily as linen (just ask Rumpelstiltskin).
It’s not that Gideon makes an item used in worship, that was probably a better choice than many other options. The problem with the choice, and the ephod, are the choices made after. The people committed adultery after it, and it was a “snare” to Gideon and his sons.
The word for snare isn’t easily understood, but the contexts in which it’s most commonly found in Scripture imply a baited trap of some sort. It includes an enticement, and something that prevents escape, yet leaves the victim alive. It is normally used for things that entice away from God, like idol worship.
The people of Israel went after the gold ephod instead of after Yahweh. But to Gideon and his sons, it becomes a snare. Perhaps, like his father before him, Gideon permits popular religion, believing himself to be remaining pure. Something like this can happen in what we refer to today as a “slippery slope”. Perhaps that is our modern version of the snare of Gideon’s day.
The choice to refuse to be king may have been good, but that may also have meant that he had no basis to require obedience to Yahweh from the people. Unfortunately, his influence wasn’t enough to keep the people from worshiping at the gold ephod. And eventually, what influence he did have was eroded by pride. Acquiescence grew into approval.
So, was the choice not to be king wrong? No, probably not. But the reason Gideon chose not to be king may have been. He was strong enough to stand up against desert raiders out numbering him exponentially. Yet, Gideon was not strong enough to resist the erosion of the adoration of the people he labored to save.
This day, what will you choose? Perhaps, more importantly, why will you choose that? Will you make right decisions for right reasons? Will you be able to resist the wearing down of the adoration of others? The success of this challenge is actually the same as what would have given Peter success as he walked on water, a focus on Jesus.
So, let’s not replace the altar in our front yard with a gold ephod. Let’s not acquiesce to the popular view. What will you choose today?
That’s my view this morning. What do you see of God through your knothole?