Father, I pray confidently today because You are always with me, watching over me. Open Your Word to me now.
Read JUDGES 8:22-35
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual factory of idols” (John Calvin).
We battle against intransigent temptations all our days. Other people are influenced by us even when we aren’t actively trying to influence them. Despite our highest ideals, the work we’ve done has been identified with us and once we’re gone it can easily all fall apart.
Thus Gideon–believing, brave, a mighty warrior and modest–made an object which was not in itself bad, but which played on the people’s incurable idolatry. If the Israelites couldn’t make an idol out of Gideon himself, they’d make one out of his ephod. With a true heart, Gideon had referred the shallow Israelites to God’s rule, refusing a throne and a dynasty. With exemplary humility, he had returned to his home town and settled back to a quiet life. But that ephod, that one act of self-indulgence, was a hook that Satan used against the people. What a dangerous error it is to assume that our virtues have eradicated our vices. The fight against idolatry goes on until we die. The good news about God’s work in us never lessens our need of God’s work for us.
Once Gideon is dead it gets worse. The descent into idolatry is alarming (“No sooner had Gideon died …” v. 33), and there’s a new depth to the awfulness: the god that they set up has a name that mockingly twists Jehovah’s love–“Baal-Berith” means “The Lord, or the husband, of a covenant.” Forsaking their covenant with God, they squander their souls to any passing idol. The New Testament from Acts onward gives the history of the early church. It is also the history of churches no longer with us. Judges 8 is sobering and vital. Planting a church is one thing; nurturing, protecting and sustaining a church is quite another.
What dangers could lurk for others in my “harmless” self-indulgences? How might I avoid exposing others to their own weaknesses?
Gracious Lord, I confess I find it easy to put other things, rather than You, in first place. I’m grateful for new beginnings as I seek Your Kingdom above everything.
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