Apr 2 (Daily reading: Judges 8-9) Looking back to 7:25-32, when Gideon tore down the altar to Baal, some people wanted to kill him. His father Joash called his son Jerubbaal, which means, “let Baal plead.” He said, “If he (Baal) is a god, let him contend for himself, since someone has torn down his altar!” We must beware of committing idolatry by empowering and defending the gods of our own creation. No idol, no selfish ambition, no prideful pursuit, can stand before the one true God, who said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3).
Gideon would appear to continue in this spirit when the Israelites asked him to rule over them. He said, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you” (8:23). But then we are mystified when he made an ephod which became an object of worship for the people. The ephod was a vestment of the high priest, so you must wonder what Gideon’s motivation was. A sidenote in my study Bible shows that even though Gideon refused to be a king, he may have felt differently in his heart. He named one of his sons Abimelech, which means, “my father a king.” We do not know if this means that Gideon had a secret ambition to be a king. But if he did, Abimelech could have been shaped by what was in his father’s heart, for he himself became king (9:6). This initiated a tragic period in the life of Israel. God would later say to Samuel concerning the people’s desire to have a king: “They have rejected Me from being King over them” (1 Sam. 8:7). Israel would suffer greatly because they did not allow God to rule over them. May we not make the same mistake!
– Al Gary