Be Careful; Lest You Fall

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Judges 8:27 (NIV)
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 (MSG)
Gideon made the gold into a sacred ephod and put it on display in his hometown, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted itself there. Gideon and his family, too, were seduced by it.
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“Gideon made [all the golden earrings into] an ephod [a sacred, high priest’s garment], and put it in his city of Ophrah, and all Israel worshiped it as an idol there, and it became a trap for Gideon and his household.”-AMPLIFIED

Gideon had won a great victory for Israel and God on that day. The people were ecstatic to be free from the oppression of the Midianites. The people’s response to what Gideon had done for them was this, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson. You have saved us from Midian’s tyranny.” -Judges 8:22 (MSG)

Sadly, despite God’s precaution of whittling Gideon’s army down to 300, the people still looked upon this victory as having been won by Gideon. God had reduced the army down to a measly 300 men in order that Israel would NOT attribute their victory as having been won in their own strength, but they missed the whole point. The people attributed the victory to Gideon’s amazing and great leadership. OY VEY!

The bottom line that we can take from this is this: the people’s perspective on the whom their victory came from was certain proof of their spiritual numbness and indifference. Instead of having a God-centered focus they had a man-centered focus. They still were not where they needed to be with God. They still had not learned the lesson that God wanted them to learn.

We find the people offering Gideon the position of Leader of Israel; not only for himself, but for his defendants. (Which would have been a coveted position.) Although flattered Gideon refuses. His response to the people was as follows: “But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” And Gideon said to them, “I would make a request of you, that each one of you give me an earring from his spoil.” For the Midianites had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites [who customarily wore them].” -Judges 8:23-24 (AMP)

Wisely Gideon declined the offer; sadly his request leaves us confused and puzzled. Why would this man who had been used by God in such a miraculous way choose to take part of every man’s plunder to create an ephod; which was part of the priests’ uniform? There has been much discussion of “WHY”; suffice it to say Gideon’s choice ended up affecting Israel in a negative way.

Scripture tells us that this ephod became an object of worship; the people prostrated or prostituted themselves before it. The Bible is pretty emphatic on what this ephod was to Gideon and his family; it was a trap, a snare, really a stumbling block. Why? Because Israel turned it into an idol. The King James version tells us, “…all Israel went thither a whoring after it.” It caused the people to be unfaithful to God. It is implied in the Hebrew that the people played the harlot. “Zanah (Hebrew) is the verb meaning to fornicate, to prostitute and refers to marital infidelity or unfaithfulness. It was word used elsewhere in the OT to describe prostitution.” -Strong’s Concordance

Gideon’s poor decision affected not only himself and his family, but all of Israel. It does not matter what his intentions were; his choice to set up this ephod in his hometown as a memorial or a place to consult the Lord ended up being a stumbling block to all of Israel.

Gideon must not have been thinking too clearly when he made this choice. We do not know why he decided to do this; it could have been a memorial to his victory, a decision made in the spur of the moment, or even that he thought that he could use it to consult the Lord. (Which would have been against God’s Laws.) Whatever his reasoning he ended up causing the people to fall right back into sin.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of the need to be careful lest we fall. Paul told the Corinthians, “These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” -1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (MSG)

* “Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].” -(AMP)

Let us all be cautious that we are walking the straight and narrow, keeping our focus on God and His will in our lives, lest we too fall. Remember, sin never JUST affects the one who commits it, but all those who surround him/her.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to be diligently focusing on you and your will in my life. I want to live a righteous life that is pleasing to you. I do not ever want to be the reason that someone else falls. Help me not to fall into the sin of overconfidence, self-righteousness or pride. I know that without you are am nothing, headed nowhere. It is only because of you in my life that I am who I am today. Thank you God for being my GREAT “I AM”! I am looking to you to be my ALL-IN-ALL. God, be the very center of my life.

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