Friday, April 9, 2010

Gideon’s Ephod – Addressing “Its” Curse

“The Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us...’ But Gideon told them, ‘I will not rule over you... The Lord will rule over you.’ And he said, ‘I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.’

~Judges 8:23-24 (NIV condensed for brevity).

Our very lives swing, often times, on the seemingly very innocuous decisions of the day-to-day. We go with the flow of things, not thinking sometimes of the rod we might be making for our backs.

And this was Gideon—having led the Israelites to freedom in the Lord, he makes a “golden” clanger. With the gold earrings he collected for ‘his share’ of the spoil he made an ephod—which is an apron-like garment, an often sacred vestment, worn over the chest or abdomen. The trouble was it became the object of worship and by that fact it was cursed, and so was Gideon and all his family because of it.

What seemed like a good decision at the time turned dramatically bad over time. We have to wonder the motives and wisdom of Gideon at this point. For the ephod to be worshipped we have to presume he put it in a prominent place and position, significant to the Israelites who “prostituted” themselves to it, instead of worshipping Yahweh (YHWH).

How wonderful a record do we have to learn from as we read the history of Israel; important decisions are made and consequences from these decisions are cast over those making them. In one foul swoop Gideon put YHWH—the real Ruler—before the nation, but then with a clamouring for what he could get from the deal, he curses both his family and the nation—flung recklessly into devilishly-poised idolatry they were.

And this is why Judges is such a good book for us. It propounds the lessons of the ancients and parabolically it casts our vision back upon the Lord, our God, and his nature to both bless and curse accordant to our will and motives.

Once Gideon had been clothed by the Spirit of God, blessed in all he did and through his leadership. One false, self-motivated move, however, and he was at once “clothed” with something quite despicable in God’s holy sight. At that moment the favour of God turned from him.

Retaining God’s favour over areas he’s delivered us from is not hard but it does require constant vigilance and wisdom—a heart after, and set-upon, God—one day at a time.

When we do, however, fall again for our old ways, what are we to do?

See it in the prayerful vision of God’s wisdom; then repent of it immediately. Though the negative consequences of bad decisions must still be worked out, the power of the enemy is vanquished instantly. We then have at our disposal again, the power of God, in our obedience to him.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

General Reference:

Steven D. Matheson, Joshua and Judges (Oxford, England: Bible Reading Fellowship, 2003), pp. 160-61.

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