This is our final week with Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon study. For those of you following along, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.
We caught a glimpse of what our study would tackle this week during last week’s review of Audio Session 6: IDOLS. Now in modern day America, we don’t call the things we put in place of God idols, we call them hobbies or work or exercise or parties or relationships, but they can all look exactly like the idols of Gideon’s day.
Week Six looks at two ways that we can have idols by reviewing what Israel did in Judges 8:22 when they asked Gideon to rule over them and by reviewing Gideon’s response to their request in the verses that follow. “Israel’s problem was making an idol out of someone else. Gideon’s problem was making one out of himself.” Gideon, Week Six, Day 4
Have you been on either side of that? Have you ever made a “god” of something or someone? Have you ever put yourself up on that pedestal? Well, I can answer yes to both of those questions. And not from some way back distant memory but from this past week.
Idols sounds like a fancy Bible term so we don’t relate it to our every day life, but all an idol is, “anything in the visible, created realm that begins to operate in a role that should be reserved for God.” Gideon, Week Six, Day 1
So the first side of the coin here is Israel. In Judges 8:22, the Israelites ask Gideon and his sons to rule over them. Gideon, Week 6, Day 2 Even iinherently good things, gifts God has given us, can become the most harmful idols since that is the sneakiest way to build idols. Examples are as simple as a successful career, until you’re willing to comprise your values for it; a committed significant other, until he consumes all your attention; a plentiful bank account, until you rely on that for security; your favorite pastime, until it’s all you think about and make time for in your life.
Each of these things at the outset is such a blessing, but we can make it into our idol when they become our rulers and pull us away from God’s plan for us. I wish I could spend this whole post on Israel’s idolatrous history, but if you look at Exodus 32, you will see the people asked Aaron to build them idols WHILE THEY WERE WAITING for Moses to get down off of the mountaintop with God. Y’all, they were so impatient that they couldn’t wait to hear what God had to stay after direct conversation with Moses so they tried to set up a golden calf image WHILE Moses was in the middle of conversation with God. Can you imagine how blown away he must have been when he came down from the mountain???
Well, in that example in Exodus, the idol was a golden calf. Fast forward all these decades later to Gideon’s time and look at Judges 6:25-26 – what kind of idols did they have? BULLS. They’d moved from a golden calf to idols of bulls. “Idolatry never stays small. What seems minor will spiral far beyond what we first imagined. It won’t regress or retreat. Left unattended, it will grow and mature until its grip is beyond what we ever intended it to be. Calves become bulls. Never forget that.” Gideon, Week 6, Day 2
That has proven ever true in my life. I allow something harmful to grow into an opportunity for the enemy to pull me away from God’s best plan for my life. But Israel wasn’t the only one guilty. Gideon did a pretty impressive 180 degree turn from listening to God’s voice, to believing his own accolades and trusting only in himself.
Priscilla is absolutely right, there’s nothing wrong when people celebrate and honor the work God’s done in your life! It’s what you do with that admiration that’s important – where it settles in your head and heart. Gideon, Week 6, Day 4 In Judges 8, we see Gideon’s progression in verses 21 through 31. He took plunder from the enemy, the a share of plunder from the Israelites, he set up an idol and had many wives and sons. Exactly contradicting what God had said He would require of a King. (Deut. 17:14-15)
Gideon’s idol was supposed to be a way to hear God, but Priscilla reminds us this was his way of convenient Christianity. Building an “ephod” in his backyard meant he could come to God on his own terms. How do we respond to God’s plan for our life when it requires more effort or energy that we really want to give?
So how do we leave this study? How are we going to be different? Let’s make sure our story ends differently than Gideon’s. Here is Priscilla’s charge: (1) meet the next battles differently than we did before; (2) come to a greater dependence on God; (3) have a hunger for the word of God and a passionate pursuit of Him.
Her parting prayer over everyone was freedom from fear: He has not given you a spirit of fear! How dare we live under a cloud of fear when the God of all power has paid such a high price to redeem us from it.
And a reminder that His strength is made perfect in our weakness:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Cor. 12:9-10