“The LORD said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, “My own power has delivered me.” Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, “Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.”‘ So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.” (7:2-3)
Anyone who grew up in church might be familiar with Gideon’s narrowed down army. It starts off very large and strong, making the battle arguably winnable by their own might. The LORD whiddles it down from 22,00 to 10,000 to 300. The point being: He’s going to be the reason they win this thing.
Alas, we humans like to direct our praise and affections toward something we can see.
“Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’ But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.’ Yet Gideon said to them, ‘I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.’ (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) They said, ‘We will surely give them. ‘ So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks. Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.” (8:22-27)
Gideon does an alright job pointing the people to the LORD; but be also seizes the opportunity to collect a sort of tax like any kingly figure would. The story of his military victories would inevitable become legendary, and maybe this fancy ephod was the lucky charm.
It became a snare. We need to notice what our weaknesses are. What ensnares you? Keep in mind, it is most likely tethered to your pride.
Over the past three years of doing this blog, I feel many Bible study applications have boiled down to checking my pride. It’s a real problem, and easily dismissed as we trot around in a culture which celebrates it.
We need to always remember Who God is and What He’s done. We need to remember His roll in accomplishing things. I’m reminded of my lack of control over circumstances whenever something does or doesn’t work out due to timing. Timing can be a not-so-friendly reminder that He is God and we are not.
I’ve been a part of a few ministry endeavors where my team and I put in a ton of effort, hoping the LORD grants us favor and for His power to show up. “We do our part and He does His part.” Air-tight strategies can only get us so far. Then we wait for a whiff of good timing or a lucky break. The problem is, whenever we do succeed (with our 22,000) we can easily forget our original stance on depending on God for success, and quickly package up our methods for marketing. We become ensnared.
Gideon couldn’t rebrand this 300 man army idea (although the Spartans did make it famous some years later), but he could feel entitled to the royalties. Next thing you know, he’s got quite a few wives and sons.
It’s easy to shake our heads and tisk tisk at people like Gideon, but it’s not productive. We need to search our own selves for these offensive ways. What is it for you?