BIBLE STUDY: GIDEON’S EPHOD
(Good intention plus wrong implementation leads to bad implication and makes bad person.)
“Then Gideon said to them, “I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the earrings from his plunder.” For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites… Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.” Judges 8:24-27
Gideon made a gold Ephod after victory over Midian, but it later became snare to him and the children of Israel. The intention of Gideon for making the golden ephod might be for a symbol of victory for the children of Israel that would remain and remind generations of Israel of the uncommon victory the Lord gave them over the Midianites.
So basically, the intention of Gideon was to set a symbol of victory, he was not the first leader of Israel to set such symbol, before him was Joshua who raised a great heap of stones as symbol of victory over the Ai and its king in Joshua 8:29. It was also the same thing prophet Samuel did between Mizpah and Shen which Samuel called Ebenezer after victory over the Philistine. 1 Samuel 7:11, 12, “And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
Such was the sincere intention of Gideon. But here came the problem – the wrong implementation of a sincere intention. Instead of Gideon to use stone for the setting symbol of God’s victory for His people as Joshua did at the river of Jordan, and as Samuel did for Ebenezer, Gideon did it in a wrong way by using gold, and this became a snare to him and his family.
The implication was that the children of Israel began to worship the ephod, they turned it to an idol and that distracted them from the living God; this became a snare to Gideon and his household, it has a terrible implication on them, “And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house.” Judges 8:27
LESSONS TO LEARN
1, It is not enough to have good intention, but we must also implement our good intention in a godly way. It is not enough to say, “God sees my heart, my good intention” but men must also see your good and godly implementation, how you carry out your good intention. The Bible admonishes us to have a good conscience before God and men. Acts 24:16, “ This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” When we carry out an intention in a wrong way, which will then have a bad implication on us or others, God will judge us as evildoers even if our initial intentions were good.
For example, you have a good intention for wearing clothes, but the clothes expose your body or extravagantly expensive, even though you have a good intention, you will be counted with ungodly because you don’t care of the implication of your action.
We must be mindful and watchful of our implementation as well as our intention; our mind must be good and our move must be godly. Good intention with ungodly implementation is equal to an ungodly person.
2, Let’s learn from the past people/history for our better present. Gideon wasn’t the first person to set a sign of victory and he was not the last. He could have learned from the past people by using stone, not gold. Stones were used as symbols of victory of God, but gold is for the services of God. We serve God with our gold and not through our gold, meaning you can serve God without gold, it is not a must to have gold before you can serve God. Apostle Peter said, “Silver and gold I don’t have” Acts 3:6, and he served God. The preachers and churches that emphasize on gold more than godliness are end time false preachers, those who preach about prosperity, breakthrough, favor and signs and wonders more that purity are Judas Iscariot of this generation. The teaching of modern preachers that financial prosperity will help you server God better is disguised idolizing money which is the doctrine of mammon. You will never see such a thing in the Bible that riches will help you to serve God better. At the end, the people of Gideon began to serve God through the golden image and it was unacceptable service of idolatry.
To learn from the history does not mean you should follow every method used in the past, but it is to learn a message from the past.
3. Using expensive materials to impress people in the name of serving God will only distract you and the people from serving God acceptably. When we use expensive materials to appreciate God and impress people, it will have a serious implication on the people eventually; they will soon defocus their attention from God and focus on those materials. That could be applicable to Gideon, when he used gold instead of stone to erect a symbol of victory, and later children of Israel were running after the golden image instead of God. This is more applicable to the churches of today, we want to impress people with miracle programs, prayers and preaching; along the way, and people have forgotten purity and preparation for heaven and now running after miracles.
Why are the churches of today spending multi-million dollars on church building projects? Why does every denomination today, including those who claim to believe and preach holiness, centers on multiple multi-million church auditorium building? It is because every denomination wants to impress the world outside that they can build the best and beautiful headquarters; while they continue incessant multi-million building projects from headquarters, to state, even going inside the bush to build cities, they are deviated from the Bible ordinance to build people. How can a church build a multi-million church auditorium without building a free Primary or Secondary school, without distribution of daily need to the needy members, without daily care for the widows and fatherless? It is simply because they care to impress the world than implementing the Word of God; you can’t do both together at the same time.
A church cannot impress people and please God at the same time. The early church did not have a single multi-million auditorium or headquarters, but they had stores from where they distributed to the needs of their thousands of members. Acts 4:34-37. You cannot impress people and please God at the same time. You know why your big church does not have free Primary schools? You know why your church does not have stores where to distribute for the needs of their members? Do you know it will be always impossible for your church to follow the example of the early church by distributing the tithes and offerings to meet the needs of the members? It is because your church wants to impress the world with big and beautiful physical edifice. Another thing is that, it is not possible for your church to have a rich, extravagant pastor and caring church at the same time. How will your church’s university be free or affordable when your Senior Pastor flies with private jet? Seeking to impress people will only leads to deviation from the Bible truth.
Your church aside, what about you? Is it not because you want to impress the world with a good and beautiful car that you can’t assist your own family members and brethren in your church? Is it not because you want to finish your personal building project by fire by force this year that your eyes of kindness and goodness are closed and blind towards people around you, even your own brethren in your church and family members? Is it not because you want to take your child to “expensive” school that you can’t afford to help another family’s children to school? Like Gideon, impressing people with expensive stuffs will only ensnare you from obeying the Bible truth, simple. As it is applicable to a church, a minister, so to individual Christians.
The error of Gideon in the Bible is just like the error and problem of many Pastors and churches today, who think the best way to serve God is by using expensive materials, by building multi-millions church auditorium, that the best way the world will see God’s glory upon them is not by building free schools, free Library, or free training centers, but by having full A/C church; they think the best way the world will see the nature of Christ in the lives of their members is not having a caring heart but by parking latest and expensive cars in front of their church buildings; the same thing is applicable to individual Christians who think the best way people can see the glory of God in their lives is by using expensive cars, by building mansion, and so on. The truth is that does God’s glory shows forth through showing off or sharing? Is God gloried by building multi-million churches or by building multiple free schools? Do people see the likeness and goodness of Christ through you when you use expensive cars or when you help many in needs? Do you feel joyful in your spirit when you get the best and expensive things for yourself without much caring for brethren, family and people around you? Are you comfortable in your spirit when your children go to expensive school without sponsoring a single child to school?
The old time Christianity of the Bible is not about impressing people, it is not about showing off, but it is simply appreciating God and showing the nature and kindness of Christ through our gestures. For us to receive a “well done good servant” at the end of our journey on earth, we should focus on serving God, and showing the kindness of God through our lives. Stop impressing people by material, but share, bear the fruit of the Spirit and live a sanctified life.
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