From all this Gideon made an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household.
|Noble Self-Abnegation||A.F. Muir ||Judges 8:22-27|
|Gideon At His Best||Wm. Burrows, B. A.||Judges 8:22-35|
|Gideon, the Deliverer||T. Guthrie, D. D.||Judges 8:22-35|
|Gideon's After-Life||W. Miller, M. A.||Judges 8:22-35|
|Gideon's Unambitious Spirit||A. R. Fausset, M. A.||Judges 8:22-35|
|Kingship Offered and Refused||R. A. Watson, M. A.||Judges 8:22-35|
|A Mock Ephod||A. Whyte, D. D.||Judges 8:24-27|
|Gideon, the Ecclesiastic||R. A. Watson, M. A.||Judges 8:24-27|
|Gideon's Great Error||A. R. Fausset, M. A.||Judges 8:24-27|
|Ruler or Priest||R. A. Watson, M. A.||Judges 8:24-27|
|The Mistake of a Good Man||A.F. Muir ||Judges 8:24-27|In Paul's words, Gideon did not know what sin was. He knew suffering in plenty; but, shallow old soldier as he was, he did not know the secret of all suffering. Gideon was as ignorant as the mass of men are what God's law really is, what sin really is, and what the only cure of sin really is. At bottom that was Gideon's fall. And accordingly Gideon made a mock ephod at Ophra, while all the time God had made a true and sure ephod both for Himself and for Gideon and for all Israel at Shiloh. And God's ephod had an altar connected with it, and a sacrifice for sin, and the blood of sprinkling, and the pardon of sin, and a clean heart, and a new life; all of which Israel so much needed, but all of which Gideon, with all his high services, knew nothing about. Sin was the cause of all the evil that Gideon in his bravery had all his life been battling with; but, instead of going himself, and taking his Ironsides and all his people up with him to God's house against sin, Gideon set up a sham house of God of his own, and a sham service of God of his own, with the result to himself and to Israel that the sacred writer puts in such plain words. Think of Gideon, of all men in Israel, leading all Israel a-whoring away from God! The pleasure-loving people came up to Gideon's pleasure-giving ephod, when both he and they should have gone to God's penitential ephod. They forgot all about the Midianites as they came up to Ophra to eat and to drink and to dance. When, had they been well and wisely led, they would have gone to Shiloh with the Midianites "ever before them," till the God of Israel would have kept the Midianites and all their other enemies for ever away from them. Gideon was a splendid soldier, but he was a very short-sighted priest. He put on a costly ephod indeed, but it takes a great deal more than a costly ephod to make a prevailing priest. I see, and you must see, men every day who are as brave and as bold as Gideon, and as full of anger and revenge against all the wrongs and all the miseries of their fellow-men; men and women who take their lives in their hands to do battle with ignorance and vice and all the other evils that the land lies under; and, all the time, they go on repeating Gideon's fatal mistake; till, at the end of their life they leave all these wrongs and miseries very much as they found them: nothing better, but rather worse. And all because they set up an ephod of their own devising in the place of the ephod and the altar and the sacrifice and the intercession that God has set up for these and all other evils. They say, and in their goodness of heart they do far more than merely say — what shall the poor eat, and what shall they drink, and how shall they be housed? At great cost to themselves they put better houses for the working classes, and places of refreshment and amusement, and reading-rooms, and libraries, and baths, and open spaces, and secular schools and "moderate" churches in the room of the Cross and the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ; and they complain that the Midianites do not remove but come back faster than they can chase them out. Either the Cross of Christ was an excess and a superfluity, or your expensive but maladroit nostrums for sin are an insult to Him and to His Cross.
I. ORIGINATING IN MOTIVES FOR THE MOST PART NOBLE AND HONOURABLE.
(1) Desirous of a national testimony to God's gracious deliverance, and a commemoration of it to future ages, he
(2) persuades the Israelites to make a national offering, and
(3) increases the means of grace in his own district.
II. REFLECTING THE DEFECTS OF HIS CHARACTER AND BETRAYING ITS LATENT VICE. In his zeal for the religious reformation of Israel he did not sufficiently consider the bearings of the step he had taken. It was a hasty and crude expedient, from which greater experience or sage advice, or, above all, God's Spirit, would have saved him. And therein lay the root of the mischief. He relied on his own wisdom, and forgot to ask God's guidance. In getting to look upon himself as in a special sense the re-introducer of the Jehovah-worship, and the exponent of the mind of Jehovah, he forgot that it was only as he was taught of God that he could be preserved from error. Of all inventions, religious ones are to be most carefully scrutinised. And in the background of this assumption there lay a secret tendency to self-esteem because of his spiritual endowments and character, and the great achievements of the past. Pride because of his own humility - is it not a failing that many have shared? By this mistake he sowed the seeds of grave evils: schism, superstition, hero-worship. But -
III. THE SUBSTANTIAL GOOD DONE WAS NOT WHOLLY DESTROYED, Whilst he lived - a quiet, steadfast, righteous life - the people observed the true worship of Jehovah. His own example was a guide and a deterrent. And when at his death superstition ran riot, and the old licentious idolatry flowed back in an obliterating wave over the land and the institutions of Jehovah's worship, there were some things that could not be destroyed, remaining as germ ideas in the spiritual consciousness of Israel - the immediate obligation of the moral law upon every one, the direct responsibility of every one to God, and faith in the personal help of Jehovah.
(1) God superintends the development of his truth, and
(2) restrains the evil that mingles with the good in men's works. - M.
Gideon made an ephod.
A strong but not spiritual religiousness is the chief note of Gideon's character. It may be objected that such an one, if he seeks ecclesiastical office, does so unworthily; but to say so is an uncharitable error. It is not the devout temper alone that finds attraction in the ministry of sacred things; nor should a love of place and power be named as the only other leading motive. One who is not devout may in all sincerity covet the honour of standing for God before the congregation, leading the people in worship and interpreting the sacred oracles. A vulgar explanation of human desire is often a false one; it is so here. The ecclesiastic may show few tokens of the spiritual temper, the other-worldliness, the glowing and simple truth we rightly account to be the proper marks of a Christian ministry; yet he may by his own reckoning have obeyed a clear call. His function in this case is to maintain order and administer outward rites with dignity and care — a limited range of duty indeed, but not without utility, especially when there are inferior and less conscientious men in office not far away. He does not advance faith, but according to his power he maintains it. But the ecclesiastic must have the ephod. The man who feels the dignity of religion more than its humane simplicity, realising it as a great movement of absorbing interest, will naturally have regard to the means of increasing dignity and making the movement impressive. When it is supposed that Gideon fell away from his first faith in making this image the error lies in over-estimating his spirituality at the earlier stage. We must not think that at any time the use of a symbolic image would have seemed wrong to him. He acted at Ophrah as priest of the true God. And yet, pure, and for the time even elevated, in the motive, Gideon's attempt at priestcraft led to his fall. "The thing became a snare to Gideon and his house," perhaps in the way of bringing in riches and creating the desire for more.
Underlying Gideon's desire to fill the office of priest there was a dull perception of the highest function of one man in relation to others. It appears to the common mind a great thing to rule, to direct secular affairs, to have the command of armies and the power of filling offices and conferring dignities; and no doubt to one who desires to serve his generation well, royalty, political power, even municipal office, offer many excellent opportunities. But set kingship on this side, kingship concerned with the temporal and earthly, or at best humane aspects of life, and on the other side priesthood of the true kind which has to do with the spiritual, by which God is revealed to man and the holy ardour and Divine aspirations of the human will are sustained, and there can be no question which is the more important. A clever, strong man may be a ruler. It needs a good man, a pious man, a man of heavenly power and insight, to be in any right sense a priest — one who really stands between God and men, bearing the sorrows of his kind, their trials, doubts, cries and prayers, on his heart, and presenting them to God, interpreting to the weary and sad and troubled the messages of heaven.
()1. Gideon's sin injurious to himself. Scripture, unlike mere human biographies, tells faithfully the failings of its heroes. The record of the believer's blemishes is as edifying as that of his graces. Good intentions are no excuse for self-willed inventions. An oracle of Gideon's own contrivance, and made out of the golden amulets of idolaters, could never be pleasing to God, and was a bad return to make for the Divine favour in granting him victory. It "became a snare unto Gideon" himself, by lessening his zeal for the house of God in Shiloh. Still more so to his family.
2. Gideon's sin had a deadly effect on the nation. One false step of a good man leads multitudes astray. If Gideon could have risen from the grave and seen the consequences of his one grand error, how he would have grieved!
PeopleAbiezer, Abiezrites, Abimelech, Gideon, Ishmaelites, Israelites, Jerubbaal, Jether, Joash, Midianites, Nobah, Ophrah, Oreb, Penuel, Zalmunna, Zebah, Zeeb
Places0, Abiezer, Heres, Jogbehah, Jordan River, Karkor, Midian, Nobah, Ophrah, Penuel, Shechem, Succoth, Tabor
TopicsFALSE, A-whoring, Cause, Ephod, Family, Gideon, Gold, Harlot, Household, Maketh, Ophrah, Placed, Played, Prostitute, Prostituted, Setteth, Sin, Snare, Themselves, Thereof, Thither, Town, Whoring, Worshiping
Outline1. Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites
4. Succoth and Penuel refuse to deliver Gideon's army
10. Zebah and Zalmunna are taken
13. Succoth and Penuel are destroyed
17. Gideon revenges his brothers's death on Zebah and Zalmunna
22. He refuses government
24. His ephod the cause of idolatry
28. Midian subdued
29. Gideon's children, and death
33. The Israelites' idolatry and ingratitude
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJudges 8:27
6243 adultery, spiritual
8705 apostasy, in OT
8769 idolatry, in OT
8410 decision-making, examples
LibrarySeptember 21. "Faint, yet Pursuing" (Judges viii. 4).
"Faint, yet pursuing" (Judges viii. 4). It is a great thing thus to learn to depend upon God to work through our feeble resources, and yet, while so depending, to be absolutely faithful and diligent, and not allow our trust to deteriorate into supineness and indolence. We find no sloth or negligence in Gideon, or his three hundred; though they were weak and few, they were wholly true, and everything in them ready for God to use to the very last. "Faint yet pursuing" was their watchword as they followed …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
The Christian Faith
Scripture references: Hebrews 11; Matthew 9:29; 17:20; Mark 10:52; 11:22; Acts 2:38; 3:16; 10:43; 16:30,31; Romans 1:17; 5:1; 10:17; Galatians 2:20. FAITH AND PRACTICE Belief Controls Action.--"As the man is, so is his strength" (Judges 8:21), "For as he thinketh in his heart so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:28,29). "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The Scriptures place stress upon the fact that …
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian
Subjects of Study. Home Education in Israel; Female Education. Elementary Schools, Schoolmasters, and School Arrangements.
If a faithful picture of society in ancient Greece or Rome were to be presented to view, it is not easy to believe that even they who now most oppose the Bible could wish their aims success. For this, at any rate, may be asserted, without fear of gainsaying, that no other religion than that of the Bible has proved competent to control an advanced, or even an advancing, state of civilisation. Every other bound has been successively passed and submerged by the rising tide; how deep only the student …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Of the Power of Making Laws. The Cruelty of the Pope and his Adherents, in this Respect, in Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls.
1. The power of the Church in enacting laws. This made a source of human traditions. Impiety of these traditions. 2. Many of the Papistical traditions not only difficult, but impossible to be observed. 3. That the question may be more conveniently explained, nature of conscience must be defined. 4. Definition of conscience explained. Examples in illustration of the definition. 5. Paul's doctrine of submission to magistrates for conscience sake, gives no countenance to the Popish doctrine of the obligation …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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