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THE TEMPTATIONS OF
GIDEON’S FINAL DAYS
Intro: This text showcases both the nest and worst aspects of Gideon’s life. This special man had just led the nation to victory over their enemies, the Amalekites and the Midianites. This victory was amazing! 300 hundred men defeated an army that numbered over 135,000 men. When the battle was concluded only 15,000 members of the enemy’s army escaped, Ill. Judges 7:7; 8:10. It was a great victory, and it was carried out in such a way that it left no doubt that God has performed it.
After the victory was won, Gideon even took the time to deal with a couple of Israelite villages that refused to help his army carry out the will of the Lord, Judges 8:4-16. It is a dangerous thing to be found on the wrong side of the Lord, regardless of your motives.
Now that the battle is over and victory has been secured, Gideon is forced to face the greatest trial of his life. Surely, this peaceful farmer, who had been called by God to be a warrior, thought that his greatest battles were behind him. Little did Gideon know that the greatest battles he would face were still in front of him.
In his march to victory, Gideon overcame the stinging criticism of his opponents, the brutal enemies of his nation, and great but unfounded opposition. When you read Gideon’s story, you see that he was able, by God’s help, to overcome every external enemy he faced, but you will also see that he failed when he had to fight the inner men. He was victor on the field of battle, but he was a failure in the battle for his own heart.
What I see in the life of Gideon in these verses bothers me deeply. Gideon to us the truth that it is possible to live a good life, accomplish much for the Lord, but still end up a failure.
How we finish the race is just as important, if not more so, than how we run the race. You can live a good life and then undo all your good by one or two foolish decisions. That is what Gideon teaches us today.
I want point out some areas of Gideon’s life in which he displays both sides of his character. He faced temptations in all three areas of his life. He succeeded in one area, but he failed in the other 2. Let’s take a few minutes today to examine these areas of Gideon’s life and we consider The Temptations Of Gideon’s Final Days.
I. v. 22-23 HE FACED SECULAR
A. v. 22 There Is A Request – The Israelites are so impressed with Gideon’s victory that they come to him to ask his to become their king. The word “rule” has to idea of “dominion”. They are offering Gideon and his family a perpetual kingdom. They say the offer is for him, his sons and his son’s sons.
The people of Israel are just like people in every age. The man that can give them was they want, peace, security, success, and wealth, is the man they was to rule over them. You see this during the life of Jesus.
In John 6:1-15, Jesus fed a great multitude. He took five small loaves and two tiny fish and He fed somewhere around 20,000 people! The miracle our Lord performed that day was a miracle that could only be performed by deity. In fact, that was the whole point of the miracle. Jesus wanted His disciples and the people in the crowd to know that He was God. He wanted them to recognize Him for Who He is.
What the crowd saw was a man who could feed them. So, in verse 15, they tried to make Him their King by force. Jesus slipped away from them, because while He was a King, He would not wear the crown until He had paid for sin at the cross.
All Israel cares about is the fact that Gideon is a great warrior and that he can offer them safety and security. Thus, they come to him to offer Gideon the crown.
In 1 Samuel 8:19-20 the nation of Israel will repeat their request for a human king. Their reason is that they want to be like the other nations. They would rather be like the rest of the nations around them than had to be the special people of God.
That same trend can be seen in our world today. Churches and Christians alike are falling all over one another in an effort to be like everyone else. Where are the people who have the backbone to stand against for the things of God, even if they have to stand alone?
B. v. 23 There Is A Refusal – Gideon sees their request for what it is. The people of Israel should have been thanking God for the victory. Gideon knows that He did not defeat their enemies; he knows it was the power of God that gave the victory. The people should have been worshiping God and thanking Him for the victory they had just witnessed. They failed to see that while Gideon was the instrument, God was the One that wielded the weapon.
Gideon does exactly what he should have done. He refused their offer and reminded them that their allegiance was to the Lord alone.
By the way, that will still work today! Did you know that the majority is not always right? It was the majority that cried “Crucify Him!” the day Jesus died. It was the majority that tried to throw Jesus down a cliff in Nazareth when He preached in the synagogue. The majority of the people refused to enter Canaan at God’s command and caused the rest of the nation to die in the wilderness.
Beware of falling into the mentality that “if everyone is doing it, then it must be all right.” Just because people everywhere are involved in drugs, alcohol, adultery, pornography, lying, stealing, and other forms of wickedness, does not make it right. We need to remember that, if we are saved, God expects us to yield to His will for our lives. After all, He bought us and He demands control over our lives, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. He expects us to live like we are a saved people, and when we don’t, there will be a price to pay for our rebellion!
One more thought before we move along in the message. Did you notice when this temptation came/ it came on the heels of great success. You are never more vulnerable to falling into sin than you are just after you have experienced a great victory. That is the wisest man who ever lived cautioned us with these words, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,” Pro. 16:18.
Gideon overcame this temptation with a very firm “No!” He denied himself the glory and the honor and he delighted in bringing glory and honor to the Lord. Sometimes, you just have to say “No!” That’s what Joseph did when Potipher’s wife tempted him, Gen. 39:8-9, 12. Sometimes, you need to say it to your friend. Sometimes, you need to say it to your family. Sometimes, you need to say it to yourself. There are times when you just need to say, “No!” God help us to have the backbone to do it!
I. He Faced Secular Temptation
II. v. 24-27 HE FACED SPIRITUAL
A. v. 24 There Is A Request – This time, the request comes from Gideon. He has just weathered a great temptation, but in the very next breath, he betrays his words by his actions. As one fellow said, “The people want Gideon to have dominion, but he wants a donation.” He asks them for the golden earrings that they had collected from the corpses of the slain enemy soldiers.
Gideon is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, he exalts God and refuses to usurp the Lord’s place as sovereign over the nation. On the other hand, Gideon gives in to the temptation for wealth. He turns down one temptation only to yield to another. In the end, this one will turn out just as bad as the other one would have turned out.
B. v. 25-26 There Is A Response – The people do not even hesitate. They spread out a blanket and cough up over 1,700 shekels of gold, plus garments and other ornaments. 1,700 shekels equals about 57 pounds of gold. In today’s money that comes to over 1 million dollars. These people simply hand it over to Gideon, just because he asks for it. Consider this however; they refused to give when they were faced with doing something right, 8:6, 8. Now, they give, without question to this questionable request from Gideon. What a fickle bunch the children of Israel were.
Of course, we ought not to be too hard on them. How often have we found ourselves caught up in something that ultimately dishonors God just because we just on somebody’s bandwagon? We need to make sure that any cause we embraced in our lives has the backing of the Word and will of God! Failing to do that will lead to embarrassment and chastisement from the Lord.
C. v. 27 There Were Results – Gideon took the gold he was given and made and “ephod” out of it. An ephod was a garment used in the ministry of the high priest. It was a sleeveless outer vest that came down to the hips. The high priest of Israel wore a linen ephod that had twelve stones on the front which represented the twelve tribes of Israel. There was a pouch on the front that contained the “Urim and the Thumim”, which were stones used to discern the will of God.
So, Gideon made an ephod, a high priests prayer garment from gold, and then he took this ephod and placed it in Orphah.
What is so bad about what Gideon did? We are told that “all Israel” went “whoring after it”. The word “whoring” means “to commit fornication”. The people of God went after this ephod and worshiped it because it represented victory over their enemies to them. The people were drawn away from the Tabernacle in Shiloh and they went to Orphah to worship at the ephod Gideon built.
Beware of anything that draws you away from the Lord and His worship. Anything that hinders you from worshiping Him His way is dangerous and will lead you into idolatry and apostasy. No matter how right it seems, if it isn’t according to His plan, it is not of the Lord. No matter how many people may be doing it!
D. There Were Reasons – Why did Gideon do such a thing? We are not told, but I would like to make a guess, if you will allow me to. It may just be that Gideon, while he did not want to be the king of Israel, wanted to be the spiritual leader of the nation. The High Priest was not fulfilling his office consistently or properly. It may be that Gideon thought he could do a better job.
After all, Gideon had seen God face to face. The Lord has called him and spoken to him. The Lord has used him in a miraculous fashion. He may have assumed that he was now qualified to lead the nation in their worship of the Lord.
If that was what Gideon’s intention, he was in clear violation of the Word of God. Gideon was not from the family of Aaron. Gideon was not a priest. He actually drew the people away from the tabernacle in Shiloh to worship his ephod in Ophrah. If that was Gideon’s intention, he was flat wrong!
Let’s give Gideon the benefit of the doubt for a moment. He was probably seeking the glory of God. He may have had pure motives. He might have wanted to prepare a memorial to glorify God for His great victory. That may have been in heart, but it is never wrong to do right!
We are told that the “ephod” became a “snare unto Gideon, and to his house”. The word “snare” has the idea of “a trap”. That ephod was what Satan used to destroy the testimony of an otherwise great man.
I said earlier that Gideon was a study in contrasts. I would also say that Gideon is a study in confusion! Here is a man who claims to know the Lord, and from all accounts he did. Here is a man who turned down personal glory to promote the glory of the Lord. Yet, here is a man who allowed himself to be caught in a trap that was so obviously wrong that it would be laughable, if the results were not so terrible.
Be careful what you do in your life. There are plenty of things that come our way that appear so innocent on the surface. Often, we fail to understand that those seemingly innocent things can be the tools and traps of the devil to destroy our influence and testimony. Before you embrace anyone’s cause, before you jump on the latest bandwagon, before you act on the latest “good idea”; ask yourself a few important questions.
· How will this affect my life?
· How will this affect the lives of others?
· Will others be hurt by this idea?
· Will people be left out by this idea?
· Does what I am thinking of doing honor God?
· Does what I am thinking of doing display true Christlikeness?
· Does what I am doing allow me to do what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
· How will this idea affect my church?
· How will this idea affect the impression the community has concerning my church?
· How will this idea affect my testimony?
· How will this idea affect how people feel about the Lord Jesus Christ?
You see, there are a lot of people who call themselves Christians. These same people do a lot of mean things to others. These same people stand in opposition to the things of the Lord. These same people find themselves on the wrong side of the Lord and His will. These same people commit a lot of sin in the name of self-will and self-worship. That is confusing to me.
Gideon lost his testimony because he failed to keep God first in his life. The same thing can happen to any person in this room. We must be sure that God, His will, His Word and His worship are what motivates us as we pass through this life!
I. He Faced Secular Temptation
II. He Faced Spiritual Temptation
III. v. 28-35 HE FACED SOCIAL
(Ill. Gideon weathered one temptation successfully; he failed miserably in another. There is one final temptation Gideon faced, and he failed this one gloriously too. He failed in the area of social temptation.)
A. Gideon Was A Celebrity – I will just touch this, because it has already been dealt with earlier. Gideon was a celebrity in Israel. As a result, there were certain temptations that came his way. There were temptations to wealth, power and glory. Gideon allowed his success to go to his head! Sometimes great success can lead to great defeat.
This truth is seen in the life of Elijah. The prophet stood on top of Mt. Carmel in the power of God and saw God give a great victory, 1 Kings 18:20-40. Then, he outran King Ahab back to Samaria, even though Elijah was on foot and the king was in a chariot, vv. 41-46. Then, when Elijah is threatened by that wicked woman Jezebel, 1 Kings 19:1-3, he ran away in fear! Elijah’s greatest failure came o the heels of his greatest success. Be careful, the same can prove true in your life and mine as well.
B. v. 30-32 Gideon Was A Compromiser – We are told that Gideon took to himself “many wives”. We do not know how many wives Gideon had, but it was enough to allow him to produce 70 sons. Apparently, such a large number of women were not enough, because Gideon even had a concubine, or mistress.
Polygamy was tolerated in Israel, but never authorized by God. In fact, in the beginning, marriage was always one women and one man for one lifetime, Gen. 2:18-25. The first polygamist was a man named Lamech, Gen. 4:19. He was from the line of Cain, and has no regard for the will of God. In Deut. 17:17, the rulers of Israel were forbidden to take multiple wives. God knew that many wives would divide the hearts of the kings and pull them away from God. This was clearly seen in the life of King Solomon, 1 Kings 11:3. In fact, anywhere you find polygamy in the Bible, you find problems. (Ill. Abraham, David, Jacob, Solomon, Etc.)
Gideon apparently believed that the Law no longer applied to him. He seemed to have the idea that he could do as he pleased and there would be no consequences for his actions. He paid a high price for his rebellion.
So will we! When we come to the place where we believe that we can do as we please, regardless of the cost to God and others, we are deceiving ourselves. There is always a price to pay for disobedience, and that price is high!
C. Gideon Was A Casualty – In the end, this great man lost his testimony, his influence, and his family. After he died, the people continued their downward slide into idolatry, v. 33-34. When Gideon died, he was relegated to the past. He was forgotten by the very people he delivered, v. 35. In chapter 9 we are told that one of his sons, a man by the name of Abimelech, who was the son of Gideon’s concubine, decided that he should be the king of Israel. Through a series of events, he killed all 69 of his brothers and was declared king. So, Gideon lost his family and everything he ever worked for.
The lesson here is this: When we walk in ways that are not His ways and paths that are not His paths, there is a terrible price to pray for our disobedience. Our foolish decisions can put a bad taste in the mouths of those around us for the things of God. The way we act toward God, His people, His Word and His will speaks more loudly to those around us than the words we say. Therefore, be careful how you act, what you say, and what you involve yourself with, what you do will affect those around you! Don’t be a casualty of some foolish decision that seems right at the moment. Don’t be a Gideon!
Conc: What a shame it would be to live your life in victory and power, to the glory of God, just to see it all come to nothing because of a foolish decision. The landscape of human history is littered with such tragic stories. So many people have done so well only to see everything taken from them in the end.
It does not have to be that way in our lives. We can live well, and we can leave well. We can finish our course in a way that glorifies the Lord and leaves behind a good testimony. We do not have to end up like Gideon! I pray that none of us will!
If the Lord has spoken to you about some area of your life that needs to be brought back under His control, the time to obey Him is right now. If He has shown you that you have embarked on a fool’s errand, you can come back to Him today. If He has shown you that others are leading you into error like Gideon led Israel, the time to make a break from that situation is right now.
Is He speaking? Listen to His voice so you can finish well and avoid the temptations that felled Gideon!