A Giant of Faith Falling into Sin

And Gideon made an ephod thereof and put it in his city, even in Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot after it there, and it became a snare unto Gideon and his house. Judges 8:27

What a giant of faith this man had been! With his small band, without any equipment for warfare, he “risked” his life. And by faith conquered the mighty Midianites numbering some 135,000 people. In faith they went out with the assurance that God would help them. Therefore they had one theme in their song of victory, “The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon.But they had no swords of their own; God was their sword.

Scripture emphasizes what God has done and will do as the Faithful One. He is the faithful covenant-keeping God. The name JAWEH, or Jehovah which stresses this is used more than 9000 times in the O.T. Again and again and again the church is reminded of His steadfastness. everlasting mercies and faithful promises and that she must therefore trust only in Him. And as a result we must say everyday, Ebenezer, hitherto the Lord has been with us.

When we look into the future we are often anxious and worried. But God says, “Look back and you will see My faithfulness.” The implication is that when the people of God see this faithfulness and love of God in the past. together with His glorious promises, this truth must determine their attitude and course of action for the present and the future. It must make them trust and obey.

Remember therefore always what God has done for you in the past. Then trust in His promises and strength for the future. This Gideon understood.

After the battle the people returned with the enthusiasm of victory. They were on cloud nine. Under the leadership of this mighty man they felt confident of continued guidance in the future. They offered to him and his sons the throne of kingship. All this popularity was short-lived. Within a few decades immediately after the death of Gideon their “hero” they allowed Abimelech to kill 70 sons of Gideon. Only one escaped. How they wanted him to be their king. He had delivered them. But the name of God was not even mentioned and apparently had already been forgotten. They saw only the man Gideon. But don‘t be too harsh with these people. Dont we often act in the same way, after having been shown and having experienced marvelous blessings of this faithful God?

One sin leads to greater ones. In the next verse we read of Gideon requesting that they give to him their jewelry so that he could make an ephod.

An Ephod was a vestment, some kind of garb or robe worn by high priests. Attached to it was also what was called the Urim and Thummim. Exactly what this was we do not know, except that it was a God-given means to inform Israel of His will for the future. This purpose made the ephod very important. When, for example, David time and again enquired of the Lord what the Lord wanted him to do, the answer likely was given through the high priest with the Urim and Thummim. Through it the will of the Lord could be sought in times of crises; it foretold the future; it could reliably inform the judges of the guilt or innocence of accused people and give the approval or disapproval of the Lord.

But why did Gideon want such an ephod at this time? The people desired even more than an ephod. They had not forgotten the difficulties of the past. If only they would have had a good king all this would not have happened. Therefore they would now prepare for the future by making Gideon their king. Gideon refused their request, answering that God was their king. But possibly he also said something like this: “Even though God is and was our king, we dont know how the heavenly king will lead us, what His plans are concerning us for the future. We dont know into what circumstances He will bring us. We must lenow the plans of our God. We must be able to ask Him directly, as often as possible. We need an ephod.” Quite probably Gideon had good intention, but the results were that the ephod became a real trap to him and the people.

Why? What wrong did he do that brought his downfall? First of all he was in this act forsaking the worship of God in the Divinely-ordained manner. Hadnt the Lord given them the tabernacle at Shiloh with the sacrifices and the God-ordained priests, the Urim and Thummim? God wanted the lsraelites to worship Him there, according to His God-given means and instructions. There they could find the mighty God of whom Gideon and the people had spoken in battle on that memorable night. To Shiloh they had to go; there they could find Christ and receive grace to trust in the Lord‘s strength and mercies.

But now Shiloh and God‘s priests were not even mentioned. Shiloh has fallen into the background, as well as the tabernacle with the priests. Gideon was the man of the hour. In him the people placed their trust for the future. If someone would have asked those people if they were believers, confessing the name of Jehovah, they surely would have given a positive reply. But at the same time they wanted something tangible and visible for the future, and they found this in Gideon and the ephod. No one seems to talk about the marvelous deliverance of the past which was given by simple direct trust in the Lord and His mercies.

Gideons big mistake was that he bound the church of God to himself and separated it from God and His promises.

Be sure to take inventory of yourself before you begin to criticize this great man of God. Who is the hope of Christians in all circumstances? We all know the answers to such “simple” questions. But at the same time we, too, want something tangible, physical. Then we don’t nced quite as much faith. Surely the Lord wants us to use the means He has given us, but they must never become an end in themselves, so that we trust in them. We need pastors, but don’t make gods of them, or trust in them instead of God. We need money, but dont trust in it instead of the Lord and His faithful mercies. We need doctors, but dont rely upon them instead of the Lord. And so we can go on and on. It just seems easier when we too have something tangible, which we see and touch. And the Lord always wants that faith that believes and trusts, though not seeing or understanding.

Gideon had one ephod. We may have many of them, in which we put our confidence for the future. And it’s so easy to do, it comes so “natural.” Look again at Gideon, what a giant of faith in the time of crisis, and yet now, when it was peaceful he fell into this sin.

All men fail. All of them, except Jesus Christ. He always trusted in God alone, and in doing so made the perfect sacrifice. Paul tells us that if God has given us so much in the gift of His Son, won’t He give us all things, everything, absolutely everything that is good with Him!

May we learn to trust and obey Him and rely only on His promises and strength.