Gideon’s Ephod – What Christians Can learn from it? I think many of you might be familiar with the man named Gideon who was one of the Judges and great reformers in Ancient Israel.
However, there is a not so well-known side to his success as a committed Judge; that is – his terrible mistake of making an Ephod. You will find the details of this mistake in the following verses.
23But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)
25They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, b not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks.
As we find in the book of Judges, chapter 6; the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and He gave them over to the Midianites for seven years. Read the story in the following verses.
1The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.
3Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.
5They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. (Judges 6, 1-6)
Yes, when the Israelites could not bear the pain inflicted by the Midianites on them, they cried out to the LORD for help and He prepares Gideon to deliver them from the hands of the Midianites.
One Day while Gideon was threshing his wheat in a winepress – that is strange! – Threshing wheat in a winepress! Yes, Gideon did this in order to hide the produce from the eyes of the Midianites; even he could not escape from the harassment of the Midianites. And while threshing, an Angel of the LORD appears to Gideon and instructs him to go and destroy the enemies of the Israelites.
As God Almighty instructed, Gideon with his men, around three hundred of them, went ahead to attack the Midianites but they were not armed with swords or spears, instead, they had Trumpets, empty Jars and Torches.
In the Middle of the night; those three hundred men blew their trumpets and the LORD Almighty confused the Midianites so that they all turned against each other and killed each other.
Thus, God gave the Israelites victory against the Midianites and brought deliverance up on the land of Israel by His mighty hands.
However, the Israelites never forgot to be the Israelites; they once again proved through their actions that they learned nothing from the sufferings they went through in the hands of the Midianites.
The foolish Israelites credited their victory against the Midianites to Gideon and forgot the truth that – it was the God of Israel who gave them the victory and not Gideon.
Yes, the Israelites asked Gideon to rule over them as they thought it is, he who saved them from the hands of the Midianites. However, Gideon was still sensible and honest with himself; he knew very well who gave him the victory and hence did not want to take any credit for it. So, he replied: 23But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” (Judges 8, 23)
Yes, Gideon wanted the LORD Almighty to rule over the Israelites and not himself. However, like any other great men of God Gideon made an unwise decision which was – to collect a gold ear ring from each of the Israelites who had plundered the Midianites.
Of course, as the leader, Gideon did have the right to a share of the plunders and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the problem was with the way Gideon utilized what he collected from the Israelites.
He used all the Gold to make an Ephod. Here, you might wonder what an Ephod is – It is a kind of Garment that the Priests who served at the Alter of God Almighty worn.
In fact, only the priests were allowed to wear them and Gideon had no reason whatsoever to make one like this. Unfortunately, Gideon did not think much about it, and ultimately, he ended up making one and placing it in his home-town Ophrah.
eventually it received a divine status and all Israelites started to prostitute themselves by worshipping this Ephod and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
24And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)25They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it.
26The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, b not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks.
Yes, the Ephod did really become a snare to Gideon and his family. Well, saints, what we, believers in Christ, can learn from this story. Let us think it over.
1. Do not give credit to Man for the things that God does in your life.
Giving credit to man for what God has done in one’s life is something that many of the Christians do. In the above story we see the Israelites giving credit to Gideon for the great deliverance that God Almighty brought into their lives.
Yes, they believed that Gideon delivered the Israelites from the hands of their enemy and hence requested him to rule over them. So, here, you might wonder what is wrong with giving credit to man.
Well, let us examine what happened to the Israelites after they gave credit to Gideon for their deliverance. Though the humble Gideon rejected their offer of electing him as their king; he still wanted some kind of reward for the efforts that he had put in to defeat the Midianites.
Therefore, he requests each of the Israelites to donate an ear-ring from the plunder that they got from the Midianites. surely, the Israelites were more than happy to oblige to Gideon’s request and what happens next is the most outrageous thing.
Gideon collects all those gold ornaments and molded them into an ephod that he put in his home-town Ophrah.
But the Israelites whose hearts were always eager to follow the ways of the pagan nations around them found the Ephod to be a divine object and gradually they started worshipping it, which was a complete violation of God’s Commandments.
Here, what we need to note is – the Israelites had no hesitation whatsoever to bow down before this object as it was created by Gideon, the man who destroyed Baal worship in Israel.
No one in Israel considered worshipping an Ephod constitutes to Idol worship as it was set up by the man of God. Thus, the same Gideon who brought Israelites out from Idol worship subtly caused them to bow down before something that his own hands had made. Very interesting, isn’t it?
As you understand now; the Israelites fell into this trap only because they considered Gideon to be their deliverer instead of God Almighty. Actually, if the Israelites had considered their God as their deliverer, definitely they would not have done anything that displeases Him.
In the contemporary Christian world too, we could find many Christians who have fallen into similar traps as the ancient Israelites. Sadly, these Christians, like the ancient Israelites, follow many pagan practices that were introduced into their churches by men of God who they considered as heroes in the Spiritual Realm.
What Christians need to bear in mind is – once you start admiring and adoring Servants of God, instead of God, that might eventually open doors for these men of God to introduce doctrines and practices that will have the potential to gradually drag you into paths that are prohibited in the Word of God.
Because, these servants are also fallen human beings who live in a fallen world; they have their own weaknesses which might raise its ugly head when the opportunity comes.
These Men of God too could make decisions that are contrary to God’s will and purpose. Once you starting admiring and adoring them, then, you will develop a tendency to believe everything that they say and accept everything that they do. For an ordinary, unsuspecting believer, their words will become God’s Word resulting in blindly following their ungodly instructions.
As you know many of the corrupted practices that exist in contemporary Christian congregations were originally introduced by the people who God anointed to work for His Kingdom.
Unfortunately, on the way, these Shepherds deviated from the Ancient Paths and led their sheep into corrupted practices that contaminated their souls. The unsuspecting sheep never questioned these corrupted practices as they were introduced by Men of God who they admired and adored.
So, giving credit to Men of God instead of God has many inherent dangers hidden within and believers in Christ should be careful not to get themselves exposed to those dangers.
2. Do not treat Instruments of Worship as Divine.
Yes, do not treat instruments of Worship as divine. Assigning divinity to objects can become a trap for Christians as they might gradually take your heart away from God Almighty. Assigning divinity to objects is nothing but gross violation of the 2nd Commandment.
8“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5, 8-10)
As you know the Ephod was a garment that was strictly made for the Chief Priest at the Temple to wear during the time of service. Absolutely, there was no need whatsoever for Gideon to make such a garment and set that up in his home-town Ophrah.
God Almighty, according to His will and purpose might allow the usage of certain objects or instruments in services related to worship which might be either to accomplish certain tasks or to serve certain purposes.
However, though these objects might have a divine role and purpose, they should not become objects of worship like the Ephod of Gideon. Only God Almighty deserve worship and we should bow down only before Him and not before any objects.
If we examine the History of God’s people, we could find that many objects and instruments that God used for his divine purpose had later become objects of worship and adoration.
For example – The Bronze snake that Moses made – He made it to deal with a situation that existed at that time and it served its purpose by delivering the Israelites from the curse of snake bite.
This Bronze snake had no role whatsoever to play in the lives of the Israelites after the issue of snake bite was dealt with. However, the Israelites continued to treat it as a divine object for another few hundred years. Finally, King Hezekiah had to destroy it during his reign.
4He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan. (2 Kings, 18, 4)
Similarly, among Christians too we could find many objects that are being considered as divine or sacred. For example, it is very common these days for many ministry leaders to distribute anointed oil, water, prayer beads, shawls, hand-kerchiefs etc. and Christians, born-again believers, receiving these objects and treating them as things with divine power.
What believers need to bear in mind is – Only God’s Word has the divine power and nothing else.
It’s true that God uses certain objects or instruments to achieve certain goals or to fulfill certain purposes but it does not mean that those objects should become instruments of worship. Similarly, there are Christians who revere and adore the CROSS
Of course, CROSS is the symbol of the redemption that Christ brought into this world; but it does not mean that CROSS should be adored or worshipped. Instead, we should adore and worship the one who was hung on that cross for our sins. Only He deserves worship and adoration.
So, to conclude let me remind you again – As a child of God, you are not supposed to adore or admire any individuals or objects that you find in the service of God.
No matter how great or famous those individuals or objects are; no matter what great contributions they have made for the Kingdom of God, they still do not deserve to be adored or admired as they are just instruments in the hands of an Almighty God.
They are just like the paint brushes in the hands of a talented Painter. When you see the famous painting “The Sun Flower” I don’t think you will admire the brushes that Vincent Van Gogh used to paint that picture; instead, you would admire the artist who painted it. Likewise, Only LORD Almighty alone deserves praise and worship and nothing else.
Remember, whatever, you adore, admire or worship in the place of God Almighty will eventually become a trap for you. Therefore, stay away from committing such serious errors in your walk with Christ.