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.
I’ve been struggling with doing this for a while. Over the past month I’ve been doing this blog, and in particular, since coming back to God, I’ve been making a whole heap of comments that really come back to an allusion towards something else going on.
There’s been a reason for the subterfuge and cryptic comments, mainly that I haven’t wanted to say anything too loudly. Talking about a calling and a vision is one thing, actually speaking it out and making it public is another. I’ve had this piece of hesitation lying in the back of my mind saying that if I actually make it public, then what happens if I fail?
Well – here’s where the flavour of the posts over the last month also come into play. There’s been a focus on one main point: Faith – I can’t fail with God, he will provide, everything is under control.
And last night, I found myself staring at 2 Corinthians 4:13 – It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.”
In other words, true belief means to speak.
So I’m going to. Ever since Doug Boyle preached at Energizer a few weeks back now, I’ve had the call on my heart to join them at Teen Challenge in Kazakhstan. There are programs available to spend around about a year there, teaching English to the people coming through the program, and I’m going to do it. Not tomorrow, or even in a month – there’s a lot of preparation for me to go through between now and then to be ready, but it looks like either the end of next year – beginning of 2012 under current expectations.
So to the friends I have out there, now that I’ve spoken this out in faith and belief, I’d ask for your support in prayer, and – this is a challenge to say, too – in other ways, including financially, yes, but also through encouragement or anything else that God might lay on your heart. I have faith that God will provide everything necessary for this to go ahead, and I’ll be continuing to include the story of this journey throughout this blog. After all, I’ve got three and a half years to get through the bible, so I’m not going anywhere soon!
First thought: I love Jacob.
When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” ~ Genesis 42:1
Such a dad statement, isn’t it? Why aren’t they actually taking action? If he’s heard there’s grain in Egypt, surely they must know too, right?
So the brothers – the ten who aren’t Benjamin or Joseph, anyway – go off to Egypt, and don’t recognize Joseph. Admittedly, that’s fair. It doesn’t say how old he was when he got sold into slavery, but the impression seems to be that he was probably fairly young, mid-teens maybe? He was thirty when he was put in charge of Egypt, and there’s since been seven years of plenty, followed by maybe at least a significant portion of the famine years. He’s close to, and maybe even at forty years old now.
But Joseph recognises them. Here’s another part of Genesis that I don’t necessarily understand the actions, his actions almost seem spiteful: He calls them spies, has them locked up and then keeps Simeon behind while the rest go home and are told to bring Benjamin back if they’re going to prove they’re not actually spies.
I almost feel like there’s some intriguing backstory at Joseph’s end? It’s like something else is causing him to play the cards this way. If it was spite or revenge or anything motivating his actions, then you wouldn’t think that he would have their silver put back into their bags on top of the grain. Perhaps that’s just my creative side coming out again, but there’s also the fact that his brothers are talking about how they must now be being forced to account for what they did to Joseph – and he can understand them, but instead of smirking or nodding knowingly, he weeps.
You really get the feeling right from the start that he doesn’t want to keep his identity secret, but he has to.
One thing is clear: Just like Jacob and Esau, we see that time causes the wounds and hurt to fade away. Joseph doesn’t hate his brothers, even through everything that goes on in this chapter. He blesses them – and perhaps that’s part of why he had to play the charade. He wanted to provide to his family, and didn’t want to make them buy the grain, so with a little bit of elaborate scheming, he makes it quite clear that he’s not friendly with this group of people. Who would suspect that it was him who arranged to put the silver back in their bags if they were caught with it?
It may not always be easy to forget, but in time, it becomes easier to forgive and bless those who have hurt us in the past.
I know, I complained about pain last night, but I still hurt.
Tigers lost again today. Not happy. I saw bits and pieces of the first quarter and really thought that they were in with a good shot to pull off a win over Melbourne. So much for that idea.
I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, but perhaps what I’ve been thinking about most is actually about pulling back from my thinking. I’m human (duh), there’s no way on Earth I’m going to be able to figure out the answers to a lot of the questions I have. I had it pointed out to me this weekend that even though my mind is perhaps one of the greatest gifts I’ve been blessed with, it’s also served as a boulder in my path, one that has brought about a huge struggle to be able to reconcile my intellectual side with my spiritual side.
There are some things, though, that no matter which way I’ve looked at them over the years, I can’t deny them.
So I’m letting go of the struggles. I can’t come up with answers by myself, and really, I don’t need to. Am I giving up my mind? Not at all, certainly not, no. What I’m saying is that I’m accepting the facts that I can’t deny, and moving forward from there, with someone so much more intelligent and powerful than me doing the teaching.
But anyway, on to Genesis 12:
The call of Abram, and then Abram in Egypt. Two little tales that give us an introduction into who Abram was.
First of all, we see God calling Abram to continue the journey that his father started. Terah’s original journey was meant to be to Canaan, but he stopped, settled in Haran and died there. We aren’t told that Terah was told to go, he just chose to – but with Abram, God actually had a plan for him to go that way.
It’s a big step, though – being asked to leave your country, your people, your father’s household. Would you up and leave everything you know, based on a promise to be made into a great nation? I’d be wondering how that benefits me – a nation doesn’t come in one generation, so this seems to be something that’s going to come down the track!
But he did it. Abram left, and set out for the land of Canaan – although, rather than leaving his father’s household, it seems like he actually decided to take the household with him. His wife, his nephew, all their possessions and all the people they had acquired in Haran. It must have been a big caravan on this journey.
Obedience, again, like Noah.
Abram left, as the Lord had told him. ~ Genesis 12:4
Then he comes to Egypt, due to a famine in the land. Egypt must have had times where they really regretted being such a fertile land, every famine seems to bring the whole continent down to their shores for food!
Abram worries that because Sarai’s so beautiful, the Egyptians will kill him and take her, so instead, they decide to pretend to be brother and sister. Not really the smartest move on Abram’s part, and not really showing a lot of confidence, either. What’s interesting, though, is that while Sarai’s playing the role of Abram’s sister – and now Pharaoh’s wife – Abram gets some fairly good perks. He gets sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants and camels – and at the end of the chapter, yes, he’s sent on his way, but he’s sent on his way with everything he had.
So you could read this story as Abram being fairly manipulative of the situation, but as I read through it again, it’s like the whole thing was just laid out neatly. Abram must have been fairly confident on the whole theory of being killed because of Sarai, and one thing that’s conspicuously absent from anything in this passage, is that Abram did the wrong thing at any point. It’s pointed out that Pharaoh and his household gets inflicted with serious disease, but nothing against Abram. To the contrary, he manages to walk out of there with his wife, and a whole heap of sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants and camels!
God provides in some rather unusual ways, sometimes, but that, to me, is what the essence of this story is. God providing for Abram.