Israel had again broken the national covenant given them by the Lord. They had played the part of unfaithful spiritual whores. They had not obeyed, worshiped, or performed acceptably. They had not “kept covenant” with God, and as a result of their spiritual fornication, they had received a small portion of the just wages they deserved. Temporally, they were plagued by the enemy nations that surrounded them, and they were made miserable.
However, when they called upon their Spiritual Husband — the Lord, he mercifully sent them another judge. Gideon was his name, and through this very frail man, he mightily saved his Chosen People. Through Gideon’s warring ministry, the Lord set his Precious Bride up for another 40 years of political and temporal prosperity.
Following Gideon’s victory over Zebah, Zelmunna, and the Midianites, an intriguing offer was made to the victor:
Judges 8:22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”
At this point, Gideon was wise and humble. He did not immediately accept their offer:
Judges 8:23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.”
Oh, if only Gideon would have stopped there, but he did not:
Judges 8:24-27 And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah ….
The commentaries seem divided on what exactly transpired here. There are three prevailing views:
- Some feel Gideon broke no commandment and was merely establishing Ophrah as a city in which God was King. From this point forward, Ophrah would be known as the city mocking pagan rulers and seeking the guidance of the One True King.
- Some feel Gideon broke the First Commandment and set up another god to be worshiped. Like his father, they believe he erected a false pagan idol.
- Some feel Gideon broke the Second Commandment and worshiped the true God in an ungodly fashion. He erected an image of the priestly ephod* ordained by God to be worn by the High Priest which was most likely in Shiloh. (Judges 18:31)
However, whatever his rationale, the trajectory and result was sad:
Judges 8:27-35 … And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family … As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. And the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.
It is my opinion that Gideon worshiped improperly by means of the ephod, and this failure led him to worship improperly in all other areas of his life. Gideon began to live like a king, collected for himself a harem of wives, birthed numerous pagan children, named one of them Abimilech, which means, “My Father is King,” and left behind a family of idolatrous fornicators turning from God, turning to idols, turning on one another. A family of spiritual whores was his legacy, and what a horrible final chapter this was.
Friends, do we see how quickly we can go whoring after other gods? Like Gideon, we are always breaking the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Commandments. In our flesh, we are religious whores never faithfully …
- Worshiping God only. (1st)
- Worshiping God rightly. (2nd)
- Worshiping God seriously. (3rd)
- Worshiping God communally. (4th)
Do we see how this leads to whoring in other ways? We are like Gideon, always breaking the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments. In our flesh, we are religious whores never faithfully …
- Worshiping God by honoring his authority figures. (5th)
- Worshiping God by safeguarding the lives of those made in his image. (6th)
- Worshiping God by means of marital intimacy and communion. (7th)
- Worshiping God by honoring the private property of others. (8th)
- Worshiping God by our speech. (9th)
- Worshiping God by our lusting best. (10th)
Do we see how quickly we can leave behind us a family of whores. Like Gideon, our sins can lead to the devastating sins of those to the third and fourth generation. Our spiritual infidelity can contribute to our children’s spiritual fornication.
However, do we understand the Covenant of Grace, for it is very different than the National Covenant of Works set up with Gideon and Israel?
In the Covenant of Grace, Jesus was treated like the spiritual whore. He was dressed up in our whorish garb, stripped naked, used, abused, and forsaken by his Father. He did this because this was what we earned. The Holy Son of God became the religious whore for us.
Then, in the Covenant of Grace, Jesus washed us and treated us in accordance with what he earned. He washed us by his blood, his Spirit, and his Word. He made us clean, holy, spotless, and radiant. Then he clothed us with his own royal robe and caused us to perpetually smell good in his presence. Religious whores were made pristine brides only because of the sacrifice and merit of Jesus Christ.
Then, in the Covenant of Grace, Jesus promises to save religious whores and their children. He loves to pass along the same mercy and grace to those damaged by their parents. The result is, many religious whores end up with a righteous legacy and lineage that they never earned or deserved.
Then, in the Covenant of Grace, we respond with good worship. The Commandments become guiding principles proceeding forth from willing hearts. It is almost like they are in our new, redeemed, Gospel-informed, Gospel-motivated DNA. We don’t have to keep them. We want to keep them. We cannot imagine not keeping them. We long to only keep them, for oh how we have learned to love God’s good Law. So now, let us in accordance with our new hearts:
- Practice worshiping God only. (1st)
- Practice worshiping God rightly. (2nd)
- Practice worshiping God seriously. (3rd)
- Practice worshiping God communally. (4th)
- Practice worshiping God by honoring his authority figures. (5th)
- Practice worshiping God by safeguarding the lives of those made in his image. (6th)
- Practice worshiping God by means of marital intimacy and communion. (7th)
- Practice worshiping God by honoring the private property of others. (8th)
- Practice worshiping God by our speech. (9th)
- Practice worshiping God by lusting best. (10th)
And then, let us sing and dance as we see our children following in our footsteps. This is not what we can control. This is not what we can “make happen,.” This is not what we have earned. Such a blessing is only the free gift of our gracious Savior, and he loves passing along Gospel-grace from one generation to another.
Oh friends, it is time to worship properly. Let’s grab our children and give honor, glory, worship, and obedience to the Son, and let’s enjoy it like never before.
* The ephod was a sleeveless tunic, and upon it was worn the breastplate which contained 12 precious stones representing the tribes of Israel. The ephod had a pouch to contain the Urim and Thummim — stones or jewels used to discern the Lord’s will. (Exodus 28:6-30; 1 Samuels 23:6-9)