Day 91: Gideon's Story
Judges 6:1-40 Gideon, one of the greatest judges, was called from the Tribe of Manasseh. The nomadic Midianites and Amalekites frequently trespassed on their fertile lands with livestock, destroying the crops and leaving nothing behind for the residents or their animals. Gideon’s mission was to gather an army to defeat the Midianites.
Ch 6:11-24 Angels are purely spiritual beings called to serve God as messengers and helpers of men and women. Before important points in salvation history, they usually appear as God’s messengers for the purpose of preparing chosen people for God’s intervention. One of the best-known instances is the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary to announce the Incarnation and Birth of Christ (cf. Lk 1:26). (CCC 328-332)
Ch 6:24 Yahweh-shalom: “God is peace.” Peace is a fundamental attribute of God that he offers as a gift to everyone who accepts him. Moreover, those who follow Christ invariably witness to and spread the gift of peace to others. (CCC 2302, 2305)
Ch 7:1-25 God chooses leaders from among the weak and powerless so it is clear that the extraordinary accomplishments are clearly seen as God’s work and not the result of human effort. For this reason, God saw Gideon’s army as too large to fight the Midianites; having 32,000 soldiers would tempt Israel to believe that they could win the battle by military strength alone. Therefore, God had Gideon (also called Jerubaal) reduce his army to just 300 men and then miraculously delivered the enemy into Israel’s hands. (CCC 269, 489)
Ch 8:1-35 The wanton killing of entire armies and cities on the part of Israel occurs frequently in the Old Testament. Such acts are intrinsically evil and, therefore, NOT WILLED BY GOD. However, God, in his divine providence, is able to achieve good from these evil acts. The personal responsibility of those who committed these sins could be diminished or even negated due to invincible ignorance, i.e., at that time the entirety of moral law had not been explicitly revealed. The fullness of moral law would only be revealed with the Incarnation of Christ. With the passage of time and through the gradual unfolding of the moral law, the Chosen People developed a more refined conscience and moral sensitivity. (CCC 69, 2309, 2313-2314)
Psalm 135 This psalm begins with a profession of faith that recalls God’s many interventions in history to protect, defend, and save his people. It specifically mentions the journey out of Egypt and the battles Israel had to fight in order to reach and secure the Promised Land. The next section launches into a comparison between faith in the one true God and idolatry: The God of Israel is All-powerful and a living God who guides, loves, and cares for his people, while the idols of paganism are HUMAN INVENTIONS that are inert and inanimate. Those who worship idols will deprive themselves of the indescribable happiness resulting from a personal relationship with God. While religious practice has generally turned from giving cult to graven idols, idolatry still remains a common offense; money, power, sensuality, etc., are the modern idolatries that have created barriers between God and vast numbers of people. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audiences, September 28, 2005; October 5, 2005; and April 9, 2003)
Whatever the Lord pleases...and all deeps: Since God is omnipotent, he is referred to as the Almighty, the Lord of hosts, and “strong and mighty.” God is Almighty because he created everything that exists and keeps them
all in existence. (CCC 269, 2645)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
After Deborah, the Midianites return to power and oppress Israel.
Gideon beats out his wheat using a wine press indoors, where the Midianites will not see him and steal his wheat.
In the midst of his work, an angel of the Lord tells Gideon, “The Lord is with you” (Jgs 6:12).
A dialogue reminiscent of the conversation at the burning bush ensues, as Gideon questions this statement and God’s summons to deliver his people.
Like Moses, Gideon demurs, appealing to the weakness of his clan and himself.
Like Moses, Gideon claims to be too humble to do the Lord’s work.
And yet, as with Moses, it is precisely the weak that God raises up—to show forth his glory.
As with Moses, God gives Gideon signs as proof that he is with him.
Fire consumes Gideon’s sacrifice, and the fleece left on the ground is dry, although the ground around it is wet with the morning dew.
Gideon gathers an army to fight the Midianites, but the Lord repeatedly asks Gideon to reduce his numbers so that it will be clear that the victory is the Lord’s.
Even so, after the stunning triumph over Midian, the men of Israel come to Gideon and ask him and his descendants to rule over them as king, ascribing the victory to Gideon, not God.
Gideon wisely declines the royal position, but then gets greedy.
Gideon demands a large portion of the spoils, particularly the gold, forgetting that the spoils went to the Lord who fought for Israel.
Worse still, he uses the gold to make himself an ephod, a priestly garment adorned with gold and jewels. Gideon usurps the role of Aaron, and leads Israel into apostasy, just as Aaron did with the calf made from gold plundered from the Egyptians.
The narrator clearly alludes to this connection, saying, “all Israel played the harlot after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family” (Jgs 8:27).
The image of the harlot is repeated in the narrative of Gideon’s death, when Israel again goes after the Amorite gods.
The author sadly observes that Israel did not “remember” the Lord, who had repeatedly rescued them.
Gideon’s slide continues as he takes many wives, who give him seventy sons, and a concubine in Shechem bears him a son whom he names Abimelech (Jgs 8:31), or “my father is king.”
Perhaps Gideon had second thoughts about the offer of kingship?
Whatever Gideon’s thinking, Abimelech makes himself a ruler and slaughters all but one of Gideon’s seventy sons.
This pattern of infighting among Israelites continues to grow in the last half of Judges.
Jephthah will slaughter thousands from the tribe of Ephraim, and by the end of the book, civil war will almost completely wipe out one tribe. (Fr. Mike told you it was going to get DARK)
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Today was the story of Gideon, whose name was changed to Jerubaal, not so easy to say is it?
The reality behind this story is that it starts out with him crushing Baal and Asheroth, this place of worship of the false “gods”
It starts off well, but it ends with Gideon turning to IDOLATRY
One of the things we will hear again and again is that these judges, even though they seem to have honor to them, are also tempted by the same things that all of us are tempted by: IDOLATRY
Even though Gideon is a decent judge, he falls into IDOLATRY
Gideon creates a GOLDEN EPHOD
What is an EPHOD?
It was a linen garment that the priests would wear in the Temple
Gideon does not make a Baal
Gideon does not make a golden calf
Gideon creates a GOLDEN EPHOD
This is a SYMBOL of what is used to worship THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD
So what happens?
The people start to turn to THE EPHOD instead of turning TO GOD
They are distracted by the EPHOD instead of turning their hearts to THE LORD
Judges 8:27 “Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in the city in Ophrah and all Israel played the harlot after it there and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.”
Even though Gideon was the one who contended against the false “gods”, he turned out to be someone who was setting up his family to TURN BACK TO THE FALSE “gods”
Judges 8:33 “As soon as Gideon died, the sons of Israel turned again and played the harlot after the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god.”
Baal-berith means the GOD OF THE COVENANT
How awful is this?
The COVENANT is what they made with THE ONE TRUE LIVING GOD
And now they are worshipping the false “god”
So often, we take “OUR VERSION OF GOD” and TWIST THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD who reveals himself in his fullness and say, “Nope, I like my version of God better”
That is ALWAYS A SNARE, A TRAP
That is what happened to Gideon and his family after him
The land was given rest, but then they took TRUE AND LIVING WORSHIP and they turned it into IDOLATRY
One of the things we find in Ruth Ch 3 is that the reality of the KINSMAN REDEEMER aka the Goel in HEBREW
We came across this before in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
Remember that there was a specifically defined role in Israel’s family life
In Leviticus 25:48, if one of the Israelites fell into slavery, then the KINSMAN REDEEMER was responsible to buy the Israelite out of slavery
If someone was killed or murdered, the job of the KINSMAN REDEEMER was to make sure the family member was answered with JUSTICE in Numbers 35
If someone ever lost land, the KINSMAN REDEEMER was responsible to buy back the family land that had been forfeited in Leviticus 25:25
In Deuteronomy 25:5-10, the KINSMAN REDEEMER was responsible to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow
That’s what Ruth is, a childless widow
So Ruth comes to Boaz and asks if he would be willing to marry her
She puts herself in this position of trust to Boaz, who has already shown her great kindness
Boaz would love to do so, but there was a NEARER KINSMAN REDEEMER (Wonder who that could be 🤔?)
There is a DEFINITE CONNECTION between the KINSMAN REDEEMER of the Old Testament and JESUS CHRIST in the New Testament
Leviticus 25:48 remember that anyone who has fallen into slavery, the role of the KINSMAN REDEEMER was to BUY THAT PERSON OUT OF SLAVERY
What has Jesus done?
He has made us his brother IN ALL THINGS
He has forfeited HIS LIFE TO REDEEM US
That is why Jesus Christ is OUR KINSMAN REDEEMER
Jesus sells himself into slavery so that YOU AND I CAN HAVE LIFE
Pray for Fr. Mike
Pray for each other
These are some long readings we will get into and they may seem difficult, but STICK WITH IT!!
These are God’s words, and they are SO SO GOOD
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, may your name be praised. May your name be glorified. May we know who you are and lift up our voices and our hearts to always honor you and always praise you and always thank you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”