Judges 8 – Part 2QUESTION: Arrogance and Decline - 2ANSWER:Judges 8 – Part 2
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
“So after they catch Zeban and Zalmunna, who, by the way, had murdered Gideon’s brothers, the 300 man march comes back through the towns of Succoth and Penuel. Eventually, Gideon put these two Z’s to death because they were murders. It was capital punishment, as prescribed in those days.
At Succoth, he takes the leaders outside the city and verse 16 tells us that with thorns and briers of the wilderness, ‘he taught the men of Succoth.’ He thrashed them for not giving his men bread.
“Then he went to the other city, Penuel and tore down their tower that they were very proud of and killed the men of that town.
“Now at this point, I have to wonder what’s going with our boy Gideon. It doesn’t appear that God told him to lash and kill the leaders of the cities that refused them bread. If we look at Matthew 10:14, when Jesus sent out the disciples, He told them that if anyone refused them, they should leave and to simply shake the dust off their shoes when they left. That seems to be a long way from killing and thrashing.
“So it seems inevitable that the men of Israel, in verse 22, say, ‘Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’
“Then Gideon rightly says ‘NO!’ I’ll not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD shall rule over you. But we see a fatal mistake right here. In verse 24 Gideon asked for all of the golden earrings that were take from the Midianites. Many scholars would tell us that this amounted to 60 or 70 pounds of gold. They gladly give them all to him and he has a golden overcoat made out of the jewelry.
“In verse 27 we see the wheels come off the movement of God. It says, ‘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.’
“Let’s stop right there and look at something. This is how the LORD has raised up many, many great ministries. One of my favorite teachers and commentators is a guy named Jon Courson. You’ve all heard me mention him before. Courson says that, sadly, there is usually a progression that goes like this: Man, Ministry, Movement, Monument, Mausoleum. Gideon has not reached the fourth stage, monument.
“Verse 28 tells us that with Midian defeated, the Israelites ‘lifted their heads no more’ – they ignored the LORD. This is the huge danger of times of peace and prosperity.
“What we see is that, although Gideon refused to be crowned king, he lived like it. He lived like some kind of crazed Hebrew rock star. Verses 30 through 31 tell us that Gideon had 70 sons, many wives and even his concubine in Shechem bore him a son whom he named Abimelech. Know what ‘Abimelech’ means in the Hebrew? ‘Son of the King.’
“So now Gideon has put himself in a place where he has multiplied his military strength by taking the Midianites’ camels in verse 21. He’s multiplied his riches in gold in verses 24 through 26. He’s multiplied his wives and concubines in verses 30 and 31.
“If we flip back to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 17, God says that Israel will demand a king when they get into the promised land. He states that there are three things the king should never, ever do. One, the king shall not multiply horses for himself; two, he better not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; three he shall not multiply silver and gold for himself. Ouch.
“We see Gideon doing all three of these things. Although he rightly refused to be king, he lived an arrogant, kingly, turned-away-from-God life.
“Now, before we close, I want to go back and look at one thing. As I look out across the church and its ministries today, I see a whole lot of Gideonesque leaders. Men whom God ordained and blessed have gone off road. We see them saying things that don’t line up with scripture, acting brusquely, and, frankly, being hindrances to evangelism. This is certainly not true of all of our leaders, but they are out there.
“I want to slightly recast Courson’s five-fold life cycle. It looks to me like we’re dealing with instances of Man, Ministry, Movement, Monument, MOSQUE – because many of these guys are about as close to Christ as they are to Islam.
“But, at the end of the day, isn’t that just another way of stating our seven-point circle that we all participate in? This week, I challenge you to pray for ministries you see who are in the monument to mosque phase. Pray that the LORD will lift their heads and bring them back to the point of joyfully serving Him. Amen.”Judges 9 – Go!