And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. –Judges 8:27 ESV
Gideon delivered Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. He was one of the big wigs in the book of Judges who won many battles in the name of the God of Israel. When the people asked him to be their ruler, he refused. He only wanted one thing: for people to give him their earrings, the spoils they got from the Ishmaelites. It was a seemingly innocent request, until he made an ephod out of it and snared himself, his family, and the nation with idolatrous worship.
Gideon fell slowly, privately, out of the sight of many people. His refusal to rule the nation looked commendable at first glance but if you look closer, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. He named one of his sons Abimelech. In Hebrew, Abimelech means “son of the king.” He refused to be king because monarchy was not Israel’s form of government at that time but he assumed a kingly role nonetheless.
The story of Gideon is a cautionary tale for us believers today. For some Christians, it is far easier to honour God in some courageous action in the limelight at a time of national emergency and crisis. What’s difficult is to honor God consistently in the ordinary, everyday life. Christian obedience, as we all know, is not a one shot deal but a lifetime walk with Jesus. Many people have no problem dying for Jesus; it’s living for Jesus that’s harder to do.