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INTRODUCTION:

The fairy tale ends, "...and they all lived happily ever after". But life is no fairy tale and Gideon's story does not have a happy ending. In fact, the story of God's people - both then and now - is filled with examples of those who began well & finished badly. A case in point would be King Saul in the Old Testament. His life began with great promise but ended in witchcraft & suicide.

 

[1] THE DOWNFALL OF GIDEON (Vs.22-27)

 

Times of spiritual success & victory are times of danger. it is all too easy to relax & drop one's guard. Another example of this truth is King David. It was at a time of great success that he dropped his guard and abused his power by committing adultery with Bathsheba and engineered the death of her husband.

 

The danger for nation in Gideon's time was to idolize Gideon as though he himself had won the victory. Because of this amazing victory, they wanted Gideon (& successive generations) to be their King (8/22,23). Gideon rightly resisted their call & rightly insisted that God alone be their King.

 

Read John 6/14,15.

 

Jesus miraculously provided food for the crowd and they immediately wanted to make Him their king! It seems that we always want to crown battle-winners and bread providers! But the right choice by Gideon (to resist their calls to make him king) was ultimately sabotaged by a simple, seemingly harmless request.

 

The request was that each of the people give a small symbol of the great victory over the Midianites - an earring from the plunder. Gideon took the spoils of victory and made it into an "ephod" - a physical image of some kind. This was probably like a trophy in his trophy case - a tangible reminder of their conquest.

 

Surely that's OK? But the symbol slowly became an idol. The people began to treat it with the honour and reverence that only God deserves.

 

Question: Can you see the similarities with

 

1. the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32/1-6

 

2. the story of the bronze snake in Numbers 21/9 followed by 2 Kings 18/4

 

Since we don't bow down to idols, what might a 21st century equivalent look like?

 

Venerating & idolizing the symbol became a trap to Gideon & his family. Gideon was called from obscurity, served with distinction but finished poorly. No sooner had he died than the people began to worship Baal again and thus showed no loyalty or respect for the warrior who had delivered them from the Midianites.

 

[2] THE WARNING OF GIDEON

 

A. THE LATTER YEARS.

A good start or promising beginning are no guarantee of a successful conclusion. There are too many examples of "latter life collapse" to allow any room for complacency.

 

Read 1 Cor.9/25-27. Paul recognised the ever-present possibility of ultimate disqualification. How many people do you know that began the Christian life well but ended in bitterness & negativity?

 

B. THE GIFTS OF GOD

 

There is always the danger of making God's good gifts to become "bad" for us. Remember the examples previously cited in this study of Gideon's ephod and Moses' bronze snake. A key lesson from this part of Gideon's story is that even God's provision can be perverted by us and lead us into peril. We can all too easily begin to focus on the provision and not on the Provider. Take, for example, the following "good gifts from God"and note how they can become a trap for us.

 

*Spiritual Experiences - an encounter, a revelation, a vision, a call, a particular ministry

 

*Spiritual Gifts - a particular gift can begin to consume us - the Giver is ignored/overlooked

 

*Spiritual Service - exalting in past years of service/ministry -former achievements

 

*Spiritual Traditions - veneration of structures, forms, methods, styles (Mark 7/8,9)

 

The problem is not with the provision; the problem is with our attitude to that provision

 

APPLICATION:

 

1. Remember, a good start does not guarantee a good finish (Gal. 5/7; Hebrews 12/1)

 

2. The Xian life is not 100 metre dash - it is a marathon

 

CONCLUSION: As we come to a close of this 5 part series, I find myself praying that you will be not only challenged but encouraged and affirmed. Most of all I am praying that you will have found a new name. A name that you will know has been given to you by God your Heavenly Father. A name that others will call you because of your life in Christ. A name that you recognise as your identity in Jesus.

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