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Gideon’s Ephod and the Benefit of Wise Counsel

Reading: Judges 7 and 8

Scripture

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 NIV

Observations

Gideon, I'd love to know exactly what you were thinking when you decided to make that ephod. I was really enjoying the story up to that point. When you put 120,000 enemy soldiers to flight with only 300 men of your own, that was totally awesome. Four hundred of them for every one of you, and you still sent them packing. Of course, you had God on your side. But still, it must have been terrifying, and exhilarating! I found myself thinking, “Wow, with God, nothing is impossible!”

But then Gideon, you stumbled, and made that ephod that became an object of worship. And what made it such a let down was that after your victory, you were perfectly placed to turn Israel away from their love affair with idols and foreign gods, and back to the One who truly loved them. That was the reason God called you.

I wonder how you feel about it now, looking back? What would you have done differently? And what wisdom would you pass on to me to help me avoid the same trap, the same snare?

Application

Snare: A trap for catching birds or mammals, typically one containing a noose of wire or cord; a thing likely to lure or tempt someone into harm or error.

Nobody intentionally walks into a trap. If someone is caught in a snare, they are generally caught unaware. In the case of Gideon, I suspect that rather than intentionally doing something foolish or wrong, he simply didn't realise that making something from gold to help in the worship of God was the wrong thing to do. He had grown up surrounded by idol worship — perhaps he had never seen God being worshiped in the way God had prescribed, and was simply in error.

But I wonder, did Gideon seek counsel? And did he take heed of the gentle prompting of the Spirit of God as he assumed his leadership role over Israel?

Leadership requires humility. If I am to lead well in whatever role I find myself, whether great or small, two things will keep me from error.

First, I need to humble myself before God and seek his voice, his direction. And second, I need to seek counsel from wise and godly people, that I might not get carried away with my own ideas and somehow stray from the path God would have me to walk.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Prayer

Thank you Lord that with you, nothing is impossible. Help me always to seek your voice and your guidance, through prayer and through your Word. But I ask too that in this season of my life, and in the seasons to come, you would place around me godly people to advise me and help me stay true to the calling you have placed on my life.

Feeling Under-Qualified? Excellent! Make a Start!

Reading: Judges 6

Scripture

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ” “But sir,” Gideon replied… Judges 6:12-13a NIV

Observations

“But sir…” Surely you have made a mistake? How can you say “the Lord is with you” when we are being so oppressed by all these Midianites? We are impoverished! Our land is being ravaged!

And sir, how can you call me “mighty warrior”? “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

The “facts” of the situation, at least as Gideon perceived them, did not seem to line up with this truth that God was speaking.

Gideon's version of the truth was clearly based on things other than God's word to him: His circumstances, his fears, his experiences up to that point. All of these things caused him to doubt.

But God was insistent: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14). God seemed to be speaking from some 'alternative reality' that Gideon was not yet able to see. The story as it goes on reveals that Gideon took quite some convincing before he finally mustered enough courage to take God at his word and obey him fully.

But obey him he did. Despite feeling supremely under-qualified, Gideon made a start. And having made that start, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.” (Judges 6:34).

It was the beginning of a wonderful victory where two things became abundantly clear: The Lord was indeed with Gideon, and Gideon was indeed a mighty warrior. Who would have thought!

Application

Romans 4:17 tells me this: Our God is a God who “calls things that are not as though they were.” If God calls me to do something, he will equip me. It doesn't matter what my circumstances are. It doesn't matter what experiences (or lack of them) I have had up to that point. It doesn't matter how under-qualified I feel. If God calls me to do something, he will equip me.

It's up to me to obey by simply making a start. The rest is up to him.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for your calling on my life. Thank you for your promises and for the potential that they hold. Thank you that the truths revealed in your Word are so much more solid than the apparent 'facts' of my current experience. I choose to believe those truths, to declare them out loud, and to step out in faith as you call me to obey.