The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
FINAL MESSAGE ON GIDEON (GIDEON Part 5)
- The book of Judges has more to say about Gideon than any other judge. God gave Gideon great courage and with God’s help Gideon defeated the Midianites (cf. 8:28).
- Note that Gideon judges Israel for forty years (8:28). Othniel, the first judge, also judged 40 years (3:11). Ehud, the second judge, judged 80 years (3:30), Deborah and Barak judged 40 years (5:31), and now Gideon 40 years.
- Matthew Henry said, “Providence so ordering it to bring in mind the forty years of their wandering in the wilderness” (cf. Ezek. 4:6).
- Matthew Henry goes on to say, “After these Eli ruled forty years (I Sam. 4:18), Samuel and Saul forty (Acts 13:21), David forty, and Solomon forty. Forty years is about an age.”
- Tonight will be my fifth and final message on Gideon. We left off on a high note two weeks ago (Bro. Hobbs preached last week) with Gideon refusing to be crowned king of Israel (8:22, 23).
- I have quoted Hebrews 11:32, where Gideon is mentioned as a man of faith along with three other judges – Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, as well as David and Samuel.
- God transformed Gideon into a courageous man of faith (cf. 6:34). But Gideon lived in a dark day. The days of the judges were days of declension (cf. 21:25).
- My message tonight is entitled, “Gideon’s Blunders.”
- HIS MISPLACED ZEAL
- HIS MANY WIVES
- HIS MURDEROUS SON
HIS MISPLACED ZEAL (8:24-27).
- Matthew Henry refers to “Gideon’s irregular zeal to perpetuate the remembrance of this victory by an ephod made of the choicest of spoils.”
- Another commentator said, “He refused the kingship but fell prey to the priesthood” (Merrill Unger).
- Back in those days, the Midianites wore gold crescent earrings (8:24). The crescent is still prominent today among the Muslim people.
- Gideon asked his fellow Israelites for the golden earrings and altogether the amount totaled 1,700 shekels (over 40 pounds) of gold plus “ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment…” (8:26).
- Gideon’s failure began by requesting for himself all that gold. Maybe he did not want to be king but with 40 pounds of gold he could sure live like a king!
- Consider Abraham after he defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other heathen kings (cf. Gen. 14:17-24).
- That mistake led to a more serious lapse in judgment. After collecting all the gold, Gideon made an ephod (8:27). An ephod in the OT was a sacred vestment originally designed for the high priest (cf. Exodus 28:4-9).
- We read in I Samuel 2:18 that young Samuel wore a linen ephod while he was assisting Eli, the elderly high priest.
- Samuel 22:18 refers to 85 priests that did wear a linen ephod. These priests were killed by Doeg the Edomite.
- Abiathar became high priest after Doeg murdered his father, and he probably brought his father’s ephod into David’s camp (I Sam. 23:6). This ephod was used by David to try and discern the will of God (I Sam. 23:9-11).
- David was girded with a linen ephod when he danced in the procession that brought the ark into Jerusalem (II Samuel 6:14).
- There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that there was anything wrong with any of this.
- However, things were different in the days of the judges. The ephod mentioned in Judges 17:5 and 18:14 is associated with teraphim (little household gods) and other idolatrous images.
- We can be certain that Gideon’s ephod was not sanctioned by God because Judges 8:27 says, “And all Israel went thither a whoring after it…”
- Apparently Gideon had good intentions but nevertheless he was wrong for making this ephod. Oftentimes Christians sin through ignorance or thoughtlessness but despite their good intentions there are consequences (8:32-35).
- By whoring (spiritual fornication) after Gideon’s ephod, Israel deserted God’s altar and God’s priesthood. Again I will quote from Matthew Henry, “being fond of change, and prone to idolatry, and having some excuse for paying respect to this ephod, because so good a man as Gideon had set it up, and by degrees their respect to it grew more and more superstitious. Note, Many are led into false ways by one false step of a good man. The beginning of sin, particularly of idolatry and will-worship, is as the letting forth of water, so it has been found in the fatal corruptions of the church of Rome; therefore leave it off before it be meddled with” (cf. 8:33).
HIS MANY WIVES (8:29, 30).
- Here we see another problem with Gideon – “he had many wives” (8:30). He also had a concubine (8:31). The Bible says that in the beginning, God made Adam and Eve – not Adam and Eve and Mary and Sue and Ann and so on (cf. Mark 10:6-9).
- Polygamy was sometimes practiced in OT times, but it was never sanctioned by God. It was a violation of God’s principles, God’s purpose, and God’s plan.
- Those who violate God’s principles must suffer the consequences. We see this in the life of Abraham, and in the life of Jacob, and in the life of King David, and in the life of King Solomon, and we see it here in the life of Gideon.
- Gideon’s multiple marriages brought tragedy to the nation of Israel.
HIS MURDEROUS SON (8:31-35; 9:1-6).
- I will say more about Abimelech next week. For tonight I would just like to point out that Abimelech would never have been born if Gideon had not taken up with his mother (8:31).
- After Gideon died, the people of Israel corrupted themselves and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god (8:33, 34).
- In their rebelliousness they showed no gratitude to God or to Gideon’s family (8:34, 35).
- Gideon made it very clear that he would not serve as king nor did he want his son to serve as king (8:23). But Abimelech was a wicked and ambitious man, who went against his father’s wishes schemed and forced his way to the throne (9:1-6).
- It is a cruel and bloody episode in the longest chapter in the book of Judges (chapter 9).
Again we are reminded of the key verse in the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25).