Judges 8:22-35 (Part 3) – Once You Start Crossing the Line, It Gets Easier … And Easier

Posted: September 1, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Judges 8:22-35 (Part 3 of 3)
Gideon’s Sacred Ephod

Livin’ large. That is what we see from Gideon here. Gideon retires and decides to live large. Verses 29–32 describe the lifestyle of a king, not that of a judge or a retired army officer. Gideon is quite wealthy, partly from the spoils of battle and partly from the gifts of the people. Wealth and leisure can destroy us. Instead of serving God, it is easy to squander some of the best years of our lives on ourselves.

Gideon’s spiral of disintegration continues in 8:30: “Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives.” The Mosaic Law had warned Israel against having a king who accumulated many wives (Deut 17:17). Near Eastern kings paraded their status by taking many wives.24 It seems like this is exactly what Gideon is doing. To make matters even worse, Gideon has a child through his Canaanite mistress (concubine), who lives in Shechem (8:31).

As we have spoken in the last two blogs, there are numerous megachurch pastors that have fallen due to moral lapses. When we begin having people think that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread we begin to start serving our egos rather than serving God. But it is not only megachurch pastors. You see professional athletes have illegitimate children, spoil themselves with wealth, have entourages of yes men, and have many, many women who offer themselves up freely just to be a part of the orbit of the latest hot commodity athlete. Often, the off the arena activities of these athletes end up ruining their lives.

We see it in our nation in general. Today, we see the compromise of what was a nation that had biblical moral values become something quite different today. What was once considered absolute truth is now relative. What was once considered morally wrong is now commonplace and acceptable. We see a new generation of people who consider having babies outside of marriage as a mark of a rite of passage into adulthood. We so no outrage over such things. It is just commonplace now. The moral absolutes that were once etched in stone in our society are now flexible and gooey. We accept behavior that was once considered against the very nature of God. Anyone who still holds on to the values of the Bible and its moral absolutes is considered old-fashioned and out of step with the times. Homosexual relationships are seen as cool and beneficial. Homosexual parenting is considered normal and healthy now, though we are just beginning to study the effects of same sex parenting on our future generations of children. Transgenderism and identifying with a sex that is not your natural sex at birth is considered hip and is supported by the liberal intelligentsia of our nation. Anyone who dares to object to the fact that these things are in no uncertain terms prohibited in the Bible is roundly vilified in the public media and the court of easily swayed public opinion. We are now a society of whatever makes me feel good has got to be morally right and OK and God has been changed to be our pal that just wants us to be happy. There are no moral absolutes. Truth is relative. That’s what happens when we begin to make compromises with God’s standards. Once we say it’s OK to violate one standard, then, well, the game is on. We rationalize and justify. We exclude parts of God’s Word and say we have misinterpreted what they really meant. We were wrong all these centuries.

We see it in our own lives as well. Once we decide that it is OK to violate God’s commands in one area of our life, it becomes easier to say what the hell and the dam breaks. Although my first marriage was dangerous and lethal, there was something that happened to me when I decided to have my affair with the woman who became my second wife. Although I justified it by the fact that my first wife was a dangerously unstable woman with severe addictive tendencies and made my life a living hell for a long time, there was something that changed in me once I violated this command of God. Once we crossover into violating direct commands of God, the rebellion begins. You wake up somewhere down the road realizing that your moral standards, all of them, that were instilled in you lie in tatters at your feet. The things that you said you would never do are things you do all the time now. The moral bar that you once had for yourself begins to get closer and closer to the ground and then you just throw the bar away. Anything goes. We tell ourselves lies to justify doing things that we know by encoding by our Maker that are wrong so that we can do them. Ever wonder why the reams of paper that are spent on defending homosexuality and transgenderism as wholesome and normal whereas you do not have to write any articles or spend countless hours of media time nor countless hours of protesting to defend male-female marriage? It is the same with our slip into accepting immoral behavior in our own lives. We spend way too much time defending our own behavior that is outright wrong in the sight of God. We make exceptions. We justify. We drift away from God and the next thing you know years down the road you find yourself having totally compromised who you are just to follow our own desires. It is usually when our desires have destroyed our lives that we finally see God and see that his moral absolutes were not restrictions but rather to protect us from going off the deep end and hurting ourselves and others. It all starts with one moral lapse. Then, the next one is easier. Then, the next barrier that we cross causes less noise in our moral compass. Then, it gets to the point that we do not even recognize morality.

That’s the thing that came to mind this morning when I read through this passage for a third time before we move on to the next passage in my next blog. Here, Gideon’s slide into immorality begins with the sacred ephod. The siren’s call of immorality began there. He wanted the ego massage of people adoring him and wanted wealth and treasure. His compromises of his loyalty to God begins right there. Let’s read through this passage, Judges 8:22-35 once again and see if we see ourselves in Gideon:

22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”

23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)

25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels,[a] not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

28 Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.

29 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. 30 He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelek. 32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. 35 They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them.

In this passage, in v. 27, we see that the relationship between Gideon and a concubine produced a son who tore apart Gideon’s family and caused tragedy for the nation. Gideon’s story illustrates the fact that heroes in battle are not always heros in daily life. Gideon led the nations but could not lead his family. His apparent sexual desires led to multiple children by multiple wives and a concubine. This behavior led to divisiveness within Gideon’s family and contributed to a national crisis. No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems. Just because you have won one battle with temptations does not guarantee that you will automatically win the next one. We need to be constantly watchful against temptation. Satan’s strongest attacks often come after our greatest successes.

How far Gideon fell. He goes from saying that “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!” to a man with 70 kids from many wives, and a concubine on the side. He was living large and compromising his morality more and more each day. Is this the story of our lives or what? Is this the story of our nation where our own wealth has led to our moral decay? We see ourselves in Gideon. His lack of morality brought ruin to the nation as it will in our own country in our own time. Our own lack of morality and slide into the abyss will ruin our own lives. Unrepentant sins will ruin us no matter how we justify them.

Are you sick and tired of the trail of bodies in your life? Are you sick tired of the broken relationships? Are you sick and tired of the drama? Are you sick and tired of feeling like you are a shell of the man or woman that you used to be? Are you sick and tired of the things that you find acceptable now that you would have never considered just a short while ago? How is that freedom of doing what I please, when I please, with who I please working for you? Are you lonely, lost, and afraid? Do you no longer recognize the person you look at in the mirror? Are you empty inside? Jesus is calling.

As the song by Elevation Worship states, “Come to the altar. His arms are open wide. Forgiveness has been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ!”

You are never too far gone to stop the slide into the depths of an even lower lack of morality, repent of our sins (that you have been justifying as fine and OK), come to the altar, confess your sins, submit your rebellious heart to the One who loves you so much that he died on a cross. Submit your heart to the One that wants you to obey Him so that you can have peace for once in your life. He wants you to obey Him because He knows what’s best for you. Stop running. Stop justifying the drama of your life and come to your senses and

Come to the altar. His arms are open wide.

 

Amen and Amen.

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