The Ephod is pictured above. Without the Lord, and without humility & mercy, the wearer of the Ephod can only believe that spiritual direction comes from within. With faith, we see direction comes only from of the LORD. Followers of Jesus Christ believe the relationship with the loving Father creates faith. Faith is an on-going journey and not spiritual great acts, alone, to be rested upon. True spiritual direction asks everyone to seek to be in relationship with the Lord. This is why the Lord is pleased when we read His Word.
Judges 8 (The Message)
or Max McLean Audio Bible, English Standard Version
1 Then the Ephraimites said to Gideon, "Why did you leave us out of this, not calling us when you went to fight Midian?" They were indignant and let him know it.
2-3 But Gideon replied, "What have I done compared to you? Why, even the gleanings of Ephraim are superior to the vintage of Abiezer. God gave you Midian's commanders, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done compared with you?"
When they heard this, they calmed down and cooled off.
4-5 Gideon and his three hundred arrived at the Jordan and crossed over. They were bone-tired but still pressing the pursuit. He asked the men of Succoth, "Please, give me some loaves of bread for my troops I have with me. They're worn out, and I'm hot on the trail of Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings."
6 But the leaders in Succoth said, "You're on a wild goose chase; why should we help you on a fool's errand?"
7 Gideon said, "If you say so. But when God gives me Zebah and Zalmunna, I'll give you a thrashing, whip your bare flesh with desert thorns and thistles!"
8-9 He went from there to Peniel and made the same request. The men of Peniel, like the men of Succoth, also refused. Gideon told them, "When I return safe and sound, I'll demolish this tower."
10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with an army of about fifteen companies, all that was left of the fighting force of the easterners—they had lost 120 companies of soldiers.
11-12 Gideon went up the caravan trail east of Nobah and Jogbehah, found and attacked the undefended camp. Zebah and Zalmunna fled, but he chased and captured the two kings of Midian. The whole camp had panicked.
13-15 Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by way of the Heres Pass. He captured a young man from Succoth and asked some questions. The young man wrote down the names of the officials and leaders of Succoth, seventy-seven men. Then Gideon went to the men of Succoth and said, "Here are the wild geese, Zebah and Zalmunna, you said I'd never catch. You wouldn't give so much as a scrap of bread to my worn-out men; you taunted us, saying that we were on a fool's errand."
16-17 Then he took the seventy-seven leaders of Succoth and thrashed them with desert thorns and thistles. And he demolished the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the city.
18 He then addressed Zebah and Zalmunna: "Tell me about the men you killed at Tabor."
"They were men much like you," they said, "each one like a king's son."
19 Gideon said, "They were my brothers, my mother's sons. As God lives, if you had let them live, I would let you live."
20 Then he spoke to Jether, his firstborn: "Get up and kill them." But he couldn't do it, couldn't draw his sword. He was afraid—he was still just a boy.
21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Do it yourself—if you're man enough!" And Gideon did it. He stepped up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna. Then he took the crescents that hung on the necks of their camels.
22 The Israelites said, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson. You have saved us from Midian's tyranny."
23 Gideon said, "I most certainly will not rule over you, nor will my son. God will reign over you."
24 Then Gideon said, "But I do have one request. Give me, each of you, an earring that you took as plunder." Ishmaelites wore gold earrings, and the men all had their pockets full of them.
25-26 They said, "Of course. They're yours!"
They spread out a blanket and each man threw his plundered earrings on it. The gold earrings that Gideon had asked for weighed about forty-three pounds—and that didn't include the crescents and pendants, the purple robes worn by the Midianite kings, and the ornaments hung around the necks of their camels.
27 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.
28 Midian's tyranny was broken by the Israelites; nothing more was heard from them. The land was quiet for forty years in Gideon's time.
29-31 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went home and lived in his house. Gideon had seventy sons. He fathered them all—he had a lot of wives! His concubine, the one at Shechem, also bore him a son. He named him Abimelech.
32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age. He was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
33-35 Gideon was hardly cool in the tomb when the People of Israel had gotten off track and were prostituting themselves to Baal—they made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god. The People of Israel forgot all about God, their God, who had saved them from all their enemies who had hemmed them in. And they didn't keep faith with the family of Jerub-Baal (Gideon), honoring all the good he had done for Israel.
Judges 8 has all the components of pleasing the Lord:
- Learning to trust God, especially when feeling weak and inadequate.
- Taking unpopular, but necessary stands.
- Finding guidance from God to make difficult decisions.
- Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit for empowerment.
- Obeying God when not fully understanding God's plan.
- Keeping focused on the mission when distractions come.
- Leaving a spiritual legacy, asking others to seek the Lord. Being a light and asking the light to shine brighter.
And falling away from the Lord:
Lessons for Disciples ~
* Gideon's Tragic Mistake (Judges 8:22-35)
Spiritual Snares Diverting our Focus
* Gideon's Share of the Spoils (8:24-26)
* Gideon's Ephod (8:27)
* Spiritual Unfaithfulness (8:27)
* God is still faithful, 40 Years of Peace (8:28-31) Using peace to become self-centered
* The people of God are faithless & return to Baal Worship (8:33-35)
If we think of Gideon, clearly acting as David did, as a warrior for God, we realize God's Messiah is more clearly seen as God's grace and truth in Jesus Christ. How would God's mercy have extended to all of mankind, if Jesus had been an earthly King busy expanding His borders. Or like Jonah, trying to overcome and convert enemies, filled with bitterness. In Jesus Christ, we see the Temple of God dwells with us, when we invite the LORD to be part of our lives.
The results of Gideon's life is greater unrighteousness. The results of Jesus Christ began in His lifetime, spread in a media-less world to the Roman Emperor and Empire in just 16 years. 2,000 years later, in the Good News of Jesus Christ the blind still receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. In my 5 decades of life, I've seen and heard more than 5 of God's astonishing mercy works in miracles today.
The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Glory to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
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