Judges 8 ~ How the Mighty Fall
You know, I just did a bit of calculating.
This passage says that Gideon told each of the men to bring one gold earring to him from their plunder and tribute. There ended up being 1700 shekels of gold, which translates, apparently, into about 20kg.
That’s a million dollars plus in gold at today’s price.
And he moulded it into an Ephod.
Here’s the thing, though; the Ephod became an idol.
Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family. ~ Judges 8:27
In this chapter we see Gideon go off and pursue the Midianite Kings Zebah and Zalmunna and while he’s doing so, Gideon crosses the Jordan and stops by Sukkoth and then Peniel. At both places he pauses and asks them to provide food for his men, although neither location will. So Gideon swears to return and punish them for it. Which he does – Gideon comes back and tears down the tower of Peniel, killing the men in the town, as well as using briars and thorns to tear the flesh from the elders of Sukkoth.
The thing I notice – and before I go here, just let me clarify that this is how I’m reading it – there’s nothing in the passage here at all about God telling him to do this.
To repeat: This is just how I read this passage, but to me it reads like Gideon didn’t take heed to some of the things God said before.
See back in Judges 7, God said to Gideon that he had too many men, so some had to go home otherwise the Israelites would boast that the battle was won in their own strength.
As I read this passage, the feeling that I get is one of Gideon winning the battle and taking on the victory as his own. His confidence grows higher, and they go off and defeat all of the Midianites, then come back and trash Sukkoth and Peniel also. Especially as I read the rest, the verse above that says the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the Ephod rather than God.
The victory became their security, their confidence, and the victory became their god. The Ephod wasn’t a symbol of God’s victory, it was one of their victory over the Midianites.
And for that, it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
I feel like this is something that we need to be careful of in our own lives. When God does something, we can look to the victory that is achieved in pride, and begin to worship that rather than God who did it for us. Suddenly the miracle becomes greater than the one who performed it. The creation becomes greater than the creator.
We need to remember the things that God has done in our lives – but not for those things themselves, but for the provision, protection and prosperity that God has given.
Otherwise, those things become a snare to us – and we’ll keep tripping over them. We’ll become trapped by them, and when you’re ensnared by something, it’s hard to move forward – sometimes even impossible.
Don’t become ensnared by worshiping the things God has done. It’s the one who did it who deserves your worship.