Judges 8: Faithful unto the End
April 15, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Gideon begins by showing savvy leadership wisdom towards the complaints of the men of Ephraim (8:1-3). He pours oil on troubled waters, soothes bruised egos, and negotiates a way to keep unity around the common cause of God’s honor and his victory. Gideon appears to be rapidly maturing.
Next, he exerts discipline against the men of Succoth and Penuel (8:5-9, 16-17). In the one case he negotiates with gentility; in the next he is aggressive. How to know when to lead with firmness, and when to find godly peacemaking? Again, Gideon seems to be acting wisely, though perhaps his response in this instance comes across as more than a little intemperate.
He then defeats Zebah and Zalmunna (8:10-12, 18-21) and acts God’s vengeance on God’s enemies (8:13-17). This Old Testament God is also the New Testament God and is the true God. God is a God of wrath, as well as love; his justice falls like rivers and his righteousness like an ever-falling stream. There is something scary about this God, and it drives us to hide ourselves in Christ, and to worship, relish and rejoice in him.
Again, Gideon is wise. He is offered the kingdom (8:22), a sort of benign dictatorship passed on to his children, but he refuses to exert his authority beyond its God-given bounds and righteously declares “The LORD will rule over you” (8:23).
However, Gideon in his prosperity errs. He wants to be given a gift, perhaps not unreasonably, but out of the gift he makes an ephod (8:24-27). An ephod was a form of priestly garment, but what exactly he made is not quite clear. The point is that it become a vehicle for idolatry, in effect, “And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family” (8:27).
We must worship God according to how God declares he is to be worshipped. Gideon has many wives (8:30), again showing decadence, and yet while he was alive, he exerted a restraining influence. After he died, the people returned again to Baal and did not honor his memory nor show “steadfast love” to his family (8:33-35). Those who break covenant love with God will break covenant love with each other. When in leadership, finish well. Be faithful unto death and you will gain the crown of life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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