The idea that Israel would never be ruled by a human king but directly by the Lord himself, was an old one, and always a bit of a tall order. People are very keen on the tangible. We tend to like ideas in principle, but holding on to them, and running a country purely on ideology, is all but impossible. Even Gideon felt he needed to make something tangible to represent God as their ruler and King – the Sacred Ephod. It is not clear what the Ephod was exactly, but being made from at least forty three pounds of gold, it was no small thing. Perhaps Gideon refused to be King because he didn’t feel qualified to rule. After all it was God who had given him victory, not his own strength or ambition. Perhaps he just didn’t want the responsibility. In any event, the people chose to worship Gideon’s sacred ephod. So in effect, he was responsible for their idolatry and therefore, for leading them all astray. Perhaps it would have been better for him to rule them as their God fearing King, rather than lead away from God altogether.
Judges 8:22-27 NLT
Then the Israelites said to Gideon, “Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.” But Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you! However, I do have one request—that each of you give me an earring from the plunder you collected from your fallen enemies.” (The enemies, being Ishmaelites, all wore gold earrings.) “Gladly!” they replied. They spread out a cloak, and each one threw in a gold earring he had gathered from the plunder. The weight of the gold earrings was forty-three pounds, not including the royal ornaments and pendants, the purple clothing worn by the kings of Midian, or the chains around the necks of their camels. Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.
I spend a good part of everyday reading and thinking about the stories and ideas in the Bible. Spending time studying the Bible has really changed my understanding of who I am and how I should be living my life. But despite this profound change in my outlook and great strengthening of my faith, I very often find myself wondering how I can possibly believe in God. Where is he? What does he look like? What does he sound like? Etc…
Who can say what the answers to these questions are? My goal therefore is to see the world for what is really is – a sacred ephod. I must always remember that this running around like rats that we do, trying to get the money we think we need, might as well all be the rituals of worship to the god of gold. The reason we can’t see or touch our Lord and king is because he rules inside our hearts and minds. We must remember to look inside ourselves to find our God and King. We must live as if he rules us all individually from inside our hearts.
Judges 8:18-9:21, Luke 23:44-24:12, Psalms 99:1-9, Proverbs 14:9-10