Sunday, September 2, 2018

Take care of what you got

For the first time in ten months, I taught Sunday School.  And it was good to be back.  And for my comeback, I taught on a parable I didn't understand for the longest time until I heard Brooks preach on it about a year ago.  It is in Luke 16:1-12.

Basically, there is a wealthy man who has a manager that is going to have to fire because he was being dishonest with his money.  The manager, let's call him Bob, was frightened and had to figure out a new source of income.

So he went to one of the men who owed the rich man money and said, "How much do you owe?"  "800 bushels of wheat."  Bob said, "Why don't you just pay me 400 bushels?' 

Bob went to another guy and said, "How much do you owe?"  "1000 jugs of oil."  Bob told him he only had to pay 800.

At the end, the wealthy man took back Bob and he had new friends.

At first, it seems like Jesus is praising Bob for cheating the rich man out of his dues. But then you remember what tax collectors did.  They would take more money than the people owed so that they could make a profit.

Suppose I worked for a library and some child had a late book and owed a dollar for a fine. If I took only a dollar, I would have to give it to the librarian, and I wouldn't have any left.  But if tell the kid he owes 4 dollars, then the library gets its dollar, and I get 3.

Basically, Bob was making the people pay more than what they owed to the rich man to make money himself.

But do you know what's more valuable than money or houses or cars or iPhones or even your friends?  Knowing Jesus.  What are we supposed to do with what we know about Jesus?  Share it with people.  Tell them how they can become right with our holy God even though we have sinned and sin can't be forgiven.

You see, we all have sin.  And if that sin goes on in itself, we can't see God or live in heaven with him.  But Jesus said that he would take the punishment for our sins by what he did when he came to earth.  He lived the only perfect life and then died on the cross.  And since he was perfect, he came back from the dead.  Knowing this and believing Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of our sins and to live in heaven.  Nothing is more valuable. 

So, what if I treated Jesus the way Bob treated the rich man's money?  I would probably go to my friend and say, "To get to heaven, you need to pay for your sins.  You need to know Jesus, but first you also have to life a perfect life starting now, oh, and give me $100."  Is that good?  No, because the only thing you need to do to get to heaven is to know Jesus.  He will make you good.  Knowing him will make you want to obey his commands.

Finally, I turned to John 1:35-37 to see how telling about Jesus was done correctly.  John the Baptist had two disciples.  Then Jesus walked by, and John said, "This is the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world."  The two men turned and followed him.  John didn't say to first get baptized or sell their money to the poor.  He said to follow Jesus and nothing more.  And his job was done.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

For my students: past and present

It's a new school year and for young people and CBC/CCS, I've missed a whole year of your lives.  And there's people before then in Loganville; I've missed 5 years of your lives.  Right now I'm watching you all from a distance and wanting to get back in to teach the Bible and to make disciples, but for now, I'll just give some advice.

1. If you were once a student of mine either in after school or at Sunday School and you see me and I say "hi" to you, seriously folks, say "hi" to me.  What is wrong with you?  I know many of you are in 4th grade and starting to mature, but if saying "hi" to adults is not cool or immature, choose to be uncool and immature.  Life is too short to care what other people think other than God and those he has placed over you.  Don't set age limits on your friendships and be friendly.

2. Be careful of your anger.  I have one main person in mind when I write this, but it can apply to all.  In fact, I can write this to myself.  Nothing makes me sadder than to see my young friends making the same mistakes over and over when it's relating to people who either anger or annoy them.  But remember, you have somebody who is already angry at injustice in the world, both in general and against you.  He is God.  He sent his Son Jesus to die for your sins and even the sins of those who have wronged you.  And he will correct all injustice.  So you don't have to do anything.  To do so is to say, "I'm better than God and know better what I'm doing."  That is idolatry and that is sin and not okay.  But Jesus died for you and you can come to him for forgiveness and correction.

Also remember, he has placed parents and teachers in your life if you need a visible reminder that God cares about injustice and is already angry so you don't have to be. 

Also, when I've been in situations where I was provoked to be angry or rude, I've found it helpful to look the people in the eyes.  Also, looking people in the eyes is the hardest thing for me to do and I can't stand it.  But practice looking people in the eyes and you may find that these people have souls and are hurting too, which is why they are hurting you.  It doesn't excuse it, but it will help you understand.  I don't know who I'm quoting, but remember, "You have more in common with people you disagree with than you do with God."  Let us all remember that, both you and me.

3.  My old students in college, I'm mostly thinking of Aubrie.  I miss you.  When you started middle school and decided to start having my dad teach the class at Trinity Grace instead of me, I regret not carrying on that class.  If I could start over, I would have split the class boy/girl and taught you.  You were always amazing and you still are, and I hope you are still growing in your faith now.  Say "hi" if you read this and maybe we can do some kind of spiritual formation. 

For both you and the ones I still see, you never outgrow your time with old Sunday School teachers/ children's ministers.  I consider myself a fellow student with you and in church situations, we are all one family.  Let's not break those ties.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Judges: Oh, Shibboleth!

I'm supposed to be moving on to Samson soon.  But here's the part of Jephthah's story that gets forgotten by me and others, but it also introduced the term "shibboleth" into out culture.  In our culture, "shibboleth" means, "a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important."

It's not a good thing.  

But anyway, this story goes back to Jacob's family.  Jacob had two wives and two concubines.  Their soap opera is found in Genesis 29-30.  Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved Leah, but Leah was the older one, the first wife, and the one who bore six of his 12 sons and one daughter.  Rachel finally had two sons.   Her first was Joseph.  Jacob loved Joseph the best and adopted his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own.  They became tribes in Israel.  Apparently, those two tribes must have had bad blood or something.  Or possibly it was the two Joseph tribes versus Gilead, which was a clan of Manasseh who stayed on the east side of the Jordan river.  Jephthah was from Manasseh and fought to save Israel from the Ammonites.

Ephraim came late and said, "Why didn't you call us to help with the Ammonites?  We're going to burn down your house."  Jeph replied that he did call, they said no, and he won.  Why are they causing this drama now?  So conflict brewed and a battle was fought.  Gilead won.  And then, if ever an Ephraimite tried to cross the river, a guard would tell him, "Say 'Shibboleth'".  Ephraimites could only say, "Sibboleth."  If he said it without the "sh" sound, then the guard would kill him.

Sometimes I wonder about Jephthah.  Did losing his daughter over his foolish vow tip him over the edge?  It seems many men after some personal tragedy usually do something to ruin their reputations forever.  It seems like the incidents that got Bill Cosby in trouble with sexual assault happened after he lost his son to a murder.  It seems that RC Sproul, Jr. kept falling off the wagon with vices after he lost his first wife to cancer.  It shows two things.

1) When people suffer a loss, don't let them be alone.  They are suffering and need Christians around them to remind them of God's promises and his commands.  They need support.  If hurting people go unsupervised for long, their wounds will explode into further trauma.

2) If you suffer a loss, look to the past mistakes of others and never say, "this won't happen to me."  Keep going to church or start going.  Endure the awkward conversations and the dumb things that people say.  And remember, although life is hard and people fail you, God has never made a mistake and will never change.  He has not stopped loving you, and he will keep you until he calls you home.  Believe in him.  Don't be alone, and don't just lay down and die.  Do what Switchfoot says, "I dare you to move.  I dare you to life yourself up off the floor."  

I experienced a really bad job loss in October.  I didn't stop even though I wanted to.  It turns out my life was not over.  I got a job at a restaurant, and in the new year I began running for my sanity and volunteering for a pregnancy center.  I also go involved with Celebrate Recovery and my music skills have improved much.  I still feel very alone as some tragedies have more stigma than others, although that should not be the case.  We all have problems and we all need God's grace and to show God's grace.  But I also need to beware that I have to work harder not to make the same mistakes as before.  I don't know how I'll do it but I must move forward.

And Israel moved forward with three judges before Samson: Ibzan, Elon, and Abdan.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The basement and the God upstairs

Years ago I read some book by Francis Schaeffer.  I can't remember the title but I was fresh out of seminary wondering what to do with my life.  In that book, Schaeffer had described people in this house and God was supposed to be on the roof.  In today's terms, we would see the people in a basement or ground floor and God on the first floor.  It can also be said that we are in some machine and God is outside the machine.

Pre-modern people believed that people could escape the ground floor and go up to the first floor where God is.  Either that or God could come to the ground floor and bring us up.  But they believed in God and could have some kind of access to him.

Modern people believed that God was upstairs but that we couldn't get to him and he wasn't going to try to get to us.  The underlings in the basement had to make a utopia based on that belief.

Post-modern people don't believe in anything outside the basement.  This ground floor is all there is.  Even if there is a staircase or elevator, they've blocked it up and can't get upstairs and God can't get to us. 

I read that book and wrote a song that I hope to upload again someday called "God in the Machine."

Last week I read an article entitled, "When Ground Floor Projects Are Pushed One Floor Up."  It is based on the same house/machine assumption.  Stephen McAlpine is looking at the sexual revolution.  Whether its the ability to have lots of heterosexual sex without restraints, or the LGBT agenda, or abortion rights, or the wish to have children without having sex, it has all become a religion.  And it confirms my beliefs that if there is no God upstairs, then there is nothing else to live for.  We must live for our pleasures and our whims because it is all we have.  And its a poor substitute for the perfect and holy God, so it must get wilder and wilder as we get bored with it.

And it makes me thing of the women at the pregnancy center that I volunteer for and the one I volunteered for in the past.  They all are in sexual relationships outside of marriage and having children but at the same time they think that they are Christians.  They think they can serve both God and the sexual culture.  But we must find a loving way to tell them that they cannot do so.  Either you believe that there's a God outside the machine who you must serve or your go against what he has revealed in Scripture and have unmarital sex which leads to pregnancies, some pregnancies to abortions, and all of it to broken relationships and struggling to make ends meet. 

Is it judgmental for me to say all this?  Maybe.  I know I'm not perfect either and am also struggling to make ends meet.  But the main thing that kept me from having sex before I got married to Tim was my belief in God and that he has commanded to not commit adultery.  In fact, the main thing that kept me from pursuing same-sex relations is my belief in God and that he has made marriage and sex to be between a man and a woman with no room for questions.  And I'm in a healthy relationship now that is not entangled by previous relational baggage.

And I have had many people say, "well, 'adultery' simply means that you can't have sex with someone other than the one you are married to, but if you are both unmarried than you are fine."  But if you are unmarried and having sex and then break up and marry someone else, then you've already cheated on your spouse.

And I've heard just about every argument for people trying to reconcile Christianity with LGBT identity.  "God made me this way."  "That was only a cultural command."  Look, from creation, God made man male and female (binary) and commanded them to get married and have children.  He commanded sex within a male and female marriage and forbid it outside that context.  And he would not forbid you to do something and then make it impossible for you to carry that out.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says he will always provide a way out for you if you are tempted.  I can understand having strong emotions for someone, but that is not a call to be in a romantic relationship with them.  It could just simply be a call to a really good friendship.  People simply do not know how to be friends anymore because they live in a basement, have blocked up the stairs to the first floor, and have found no substitute for God other than this meaningless thing called sex.  And there is no way out of this machine until God breaks in and rescues you.

And he did that by sending Jesus to die for your sins.  There was no way to approach this holy God and live because you would die with your sins.  But God send his Son to die for your sins.  Jesus also lived the only perfect life and credits it to all who will believe in him.  It is only that way you can come upstairs and meet your God. Will you choose today between sexual perversion and serving Jesus?  You can't serve both.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Judges: The story of Jephthah

At last I get to the story of Jephthah.  I finished Gideon.  I lightly touched upon Gideon's son Abimelech, but I'm not going to do a blog about him because it's painful for me to read Judges 9.  It's very detailed and rather confusing.  He was not a true judge or king of Israel.  He rose up after Gideon died, killed all his brothers, and tried to rule Israel.  Eventually, they all turned against him and he died. 

Then Israel had peace and worshiped the Lord again.  Tola came from the tribe of Issachar.  Then Jair came from Gilead from the part of the tribe of Manasseh that lived east of the Jordan river outside the promised land.  Jephthah would come from this same clan.

Abimelech was the son of a concubine and was ridiculed by his brothers who were born do Gideon's wives.  Gideon was from Manasseh's tribe, but from the west side of the Jordan.  Jephthah was born to a prostitute and was ridiculed by his brothers through his dad's wife.  They disowned him and he moved out into the wilderness.

But then, Israel began to worship the false gods again, and God send the Ammonites to oppress them.  Jephthah had joined a band of ruffians who wreaked havoc around the country.  He must have done a good job with the thug life.  When the nation of Ammon rose up, his brothers finally found a use for him. 

Jephthah had many flaws, as we will see toward the end of this blog, but he proved to be a godly man.  Much godlier than Abimelech.  He did not seek leadership.  He sought the Lord when he was asked to lead.  And he made his brothers repent of their sins against him before he would say yes.  But he never sought revenge against them.

Despite God's mercy on Jephthah, you can still see that he was influenced by his wayward culture.  Before he went to fight the Ammonites, he made a vow to the Lord that if God would give him a victory, then he would sacrifice the first thing that came from his house as a burnt offering.

The fact that he made a vow in the first place is a problem.  God called him to leadership.  He should have had faith that God would give him the victory without having to make a rash vow.

But here's the bigger problem: the first thing to come out of his doors was his daughter.  His only daughter.  Apparently, when Jeph made his vow, a burnt offering would include a human life.  Not just his dog or a sheep, but his own daughter and only child.  If there had been proper education in Israel, Jeph would know that God abhors human sacrifices and that he drove the pagan nations out of Canaan because they burned their children as sacrifice to their gods.  Why would he do the very thing that broke the camel's back in causing God to say, "It's time," when he drove out the pagans?

Some commentators, including my Old Testament prof from Erskine George Schwab, and one of my favorite bloggers David Murray, conclude that Jeph didn't actually kill his daughter.  They suppose that the story was open ended enough that the girl convinced her dad to not kill her but to let her live as a virgin the rest of her life and serve God in the tabernacle. 

I want to believe that.  I really do.  I love Jephthah and consider him a great guy.  He apparently learned from his father's error and had only one wife.  He tried his best to follow the Lord.  Anything good about him is purely God's grace, which is true for all saved people.  But I somehow think, and Matthew Henry agrees, that Jephthah went through with it and sacrificed his daughter.  Many people were dedicated to the Lord such as Samson and Samuel, but they didn't remain virgins.  Samuel had sons and Samson was a player.  Prophetesses such as Huldah and Deborah were married.  Virginity is not necessarily next to holiness, though it's required if you are unmarried.  Perhaps Jephthette (the Bible doesn't say her actual name) decided to never marry in exchange for her life, leaving Jeph without an heir.  But maybe Jeph actually did kill her.

And one more thing: atheists like to use this story to explain that the God who they don't believe in approves of human sacrifice.  "See, he's a monster after all."  To them, God doesn't exist and he's a monster and they hate him.

But God hates human sacrifice and murder.  He did tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, but stopped him at the last minute and provided a lamb as a substitution.  That showed Abraham that a sacrifice would be provided for our sins one day in Jesus.  But God did not stop Jeph for some reason, and his daughter seemed willing to go along with it.  But at this time, people had mostly stopped following the Lord and those who did were terribly compromised.  It also seems quite pagan that the Israelite girls would go off for four days every year to mourn Jephthette as a tradition.  Girls that never knew her. 

But God left the story open ended to perhaps conclude that Jeph did the right thing and spared his little girl.  Or maybe God didn't tell us because he didn't want the Israelites thinking that human sacrifice was alright.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hagar: What did happen, not what should happen

In order to get more Bible reading in, I downloaded Matthew Henry's Commentary to my Kindle and have been reading it alongside my Bible.  My plan succeeded, and I'm being fed more from the word and have been having a better attitude about life, though I will always have a long way to go.

I love Matthew Henry and his Reformed views on things, but I just could not help quite disagreeing with his views on Hagar in Genesis 16.

This is the part of Genesis where Sarai gets tired of Abram not having kids so she suggests that he sleep with her servant Hagar and have a son through her.  He does that, and it results in Hagar getting pregnant with Ishmael.  She knows this and starts showing contempt for Sarai.  Then Sarai starts abusing her, possibly giving more work to do.  Hagar gets overwhelmed and runs away.

Matthew Henry considers her running away from Sarai a sin.  I don't know if it's sin or not, but it's a perfectly natural response to her situation.  Abraham and Sarah (their later names), brought her into their marriage without consulting her.  They never talk to her or use her name.  They only talk about her and then Abraham uses her to get a son.  It is only when she runs away that God appears to her, calls her by her name, and treats her like a human with rights and feelings.  He tells her to go back to Sarah, serve her, and bear Abraham's son, Ishmael, who God will bless.  Although he is not the promised son that would be born through Sarah, he's still Abraham's son and will be blessed, too.

I'm writing on this for the second time this year for two reasons. 

1). I'm about to write about Jephthah, and Bible naysayers like to try to discount the faith by using both his story and Hagar's story.

As for the case of Hagar and other concubinage in the Bible, liberals like to say that God commanded childless women to provide a handmaiden for the man through which he can have a child.  We can't realistically expect men and women to save sex for marriage when God commanded such things.

But that was never the case.  God has never desired for a man to have sex with anyone other than his wife, whether he gives them children or not.  It was the culture in Mesopotamia to do that and one that Sarah adopted that God never commanded.  Things that our Bible heroes do are what did happen, not necessarily what should happen.  God still took the situation and used it for his glory and our redemption, but what he expressly desires is for one man to have marital relations with one wife and no more.  Adam never had more than one wife.  And Noah had only one wife along with his three sons who only had one wife each.  All the population of the earth comes from them.

And as we see in this story, God is the only one who tried to treat Hagar with dignity and honor.  Only when he did, then Sarah and Abraham began treating her the same.

2). I read this article that broke my heart.

Basically, these men on this show who are married to each other desired a child.  So one of them chose an egg donor from a catalog, used his sperm to create a child, and this woman bore the child.  The network filmed the childbirth on the show without her consent, and the men gawked at her anatomy in the process. 

I find it appalling that somebody can purchase a child out of a catalog, manufacture that little girl, and then add her to the household like she's an accessory.  Just a fashionable purse or poodle to support your lifestyle.  Meanwhile, the woman who bore the child and carried her inside her body for nine months has no rights in the process and will have no relationship with her baby.  This baby will have no woman in her life close enough to talk with as she gets older and reaches puberty.  Both mother and baby are used as objects to satisfy the desires of this richer people who are already living a lifestyle outside God's will.

It reminded me of Abraham and Sarah in their treatment of Hagar.  They wanted a child but did not want to wait on God's timing.  They just used another woman to be a surrogate with no consideration of her desires or dreams. 

But as God redeemed their situation, God can redeem this situation.  All children are in God's image and must have rights.  God can reach the two men on this TV show and save them from sin and reform them, just like he did for Abraham, Sarah, me, and you.  He can reconcile this little girl to her mother.  Perhaps they can all teach the world that sexual sin does harm people outside of those committing the sin.  Innocent people get caught in the trap and lose their dignity as humans when it goes unrepented.  But God is so merciful and can still save people such as that in bring Christ into their lives.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Judges: Gideon, a weak man from a weak clan in Manasseh

The Israelites still search for a Savior.  So far, they have had Caleb, Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, and Deborah.  All were good people who did their jobs.  And they brought Israel back to worshiping the true God.  But they all died, and the people went right back to cheating on Yahweh with gods who would allow them to get drunk and sleep around.  God rescued them from Israel and then other oppressors over and over again, but they kept going back to their adulterous idolatries.  So this time, God sent the Midianites who didn’t even let the people eat their cattle or raise prophets.  It was like working at Piccadilly on a Sunday night.  Swarms of hungry, irrational customers come, touch our pies, decide they don’t want it after all, and then give it back to you without paying for it.  And you have to throw it away because you can’t put it back on the line.  They care nothing that they are wasting the company’s food and money.  They only care about their entitlement issues.

Okay, rant over.  The Midianites were so much worse than this.  The people were starving, which let them to thresh their grain in hiding.  This led to our friend Gideon, who was found doing that very thing inside a winepress.

I have to laugh every time I read Judges 6:12 when the Lord calls Gideon a mighty warrior.  (It says Angel of the Lord, but as with all cases when the Angel of the Lord appears in the Old Testament, it proves to be so much more than and angel.  It is God himself.  And if God appears in a body, then it has to be Jesus.)

Gideon is no warrior.  He is a poor boy having to do his farming behind closed doors so the enemy doesn’t see him.  Even after God raises him in power, he makes foolish mistakes in his old age through pride.  Gideon is no warrior.

But God is a warrior.  And God will not be upstaged by anyone, which is why he likes to include unlikely characters in his plan for redemption.

First Gideon argues that God has let the enemy wreak havoc on his country.  How could a good God let that happen?  And like all people who ask this question, they forget how often they have betrayed the Lord who said that disobedience of his commands, cosmic treason, would lead to death.  God is very patient with Gideon and says, “Go in the strength you have.  Am I not sending you?”

Then Gid says that he is from a weak clan in Manasseh.  How can he do anything?  God says the same thing.  Just go.  “I’m the one sending you.  I will give you power.”

This is where Gideon gets annoying.  He asks God for a sign.  Not for the last time.  God is so patient with us.  He lets Gideon go get a goat and a cake of bread to sacrifice him.  And then, this is where the Angel of God proves that he is actually just God.  He consumes the offering, making Gideon afraid of his death because he’s seen God.  But God calms him down and tells him to cut down his dad’s Asherah pole. 

Gideon’s own family was involved in Baal worship, and Gideon had to ask why God was sending Midian to Israel.  But he knew about God’s sacrifices which means, they had somehow blended the two religions, which God commands we should never do.

Does this happen today?  Are idolatrous practices so commonplace in our culture that they somehow show up in our homes and get syncretized with our Christian worship?  Do we follow horoscopes or have Ouija boards?  Do we watch shows on HBO where we know there’s going to be lots of nudity just so we can be caught up with our neighbors on the show?  Who are we trying to impress?  Certainly not God who calls us to be set apart and to worship him only and to obey his commands.

So Gideon went and tore down his dad’s Asherah pole.  The people wanted to kill him but his own dad, Joash, stood up for him saying, if Baal is god, then he can defend himself.  If not, then Gideon’s done a good thing.

So the town gave him a new name, Jerub-baal.  The man who tears down Baal.  Impressive for such a poor boy that nobody loved.

Afterwards, Gid annoys God with two signs that he will lead Israel against the Midianites.  One night he wants God to make a fleece all dewy but the ground to be dry.  The next night, he wants God to make the fleece dry but the ground all dewy.  Once again, God is very patient with this slow guy and does it.

Chapter 7

Now, Gideon gathers his brethren from the tribe of Manasseh to fight the army.  But God wants a small army, because if a huge army wins, people will say the army won and not God.  So, Gid dismisses anyone who is afraid.  But there are still too many people.  So Gid sends them to a stream for a drink.  The ones who gathered the water in cupped hands were dismissed.  You know, then ones who would still be able to see an enemy coming as they drank.  He dismissed the wise ones.  He kept the ones who knelt down and lapped the water like a dog. 

This reduced the army to 300 foolish men, so that the people would definitely know that God won the war. 

Then, before the battle, Gideon still couldn’t sleep, so he took a nighttime stroll toward the camp of Midian.  He overheard a Midianite saying that he dreamed a huge hunk of bread came and crushed the whole camp.  This emboldened him and led him to take his army and defeat Midian, making their presence flee from Israel.  They even captured the kings Oreb and Zeeb and killed them. 

I’m beginning to see that while we are waiting on Jesus to come, God sends people to lead who are weak simply because we need to keep our focus on God and not ourselves and our heroes.  From the time Jesus left this earth on his ascension until now, God has sent many people to lead the church and even lead it back from trusting in man and not God.  He sent people like Augustine who in the fall of the Roman empire reminded the people that God’s city is much better than man’s.  The Romans had a god for everything that did not keep them from falling, and the true God has given them a better home that is not of this world that they will see someday.  But he had flaws.

Martin Luther came along and led Christians back to putting the Bible at the center of theology and looking to Christ alone for salvation, not Christ plus a plethora of saints and his mom.  But he had a quick temper and said anti-Semitic things that last to this century.

Calvin took Luther’s first steps and systematized them, but even he had a quick temper.

Spurgeon is one of my heroes, but he fell for evolutionistic thinking. 

Even my most current hero, RC Sproul, had flaws.  He loved Thomas Aquinas a bit too much.

While they are all good men, they had feet of clay and we still look to he true Messiah who does all things perfectly and will make all things right.

Chapter 8

Later on, the tribe of Ephraim complained that they weren’t being used in the war against Midian.  But Gideon replied that they never offered to help and didn’t even offer to feed the troops.  They just sat back and watched.  But for now, he would not retaliate because he had to still fight Zebah and Zalmunna. 

Then all the people try to make him king, but he refuses, because as God planned, there is no way Gideon and his army defeated the Midianites.  God did. 

Just the same, there was something in Gideon’s pride that wanted to be king.  He ended up making this gold ephod (a priestly vest) that the people ended up trying to worship.  The tabernacle where God wanted everyone to worship was in Shiloh in Ephraim, and Gideon still had bad blood with them.  So he tried to worship God in a way that God did not command, which is always wrong, and will always lead to false God.  “False worships made was for false deities,” says Matthew Henry on this chapter. 

Also, he married many wives and had 70 sons.  God never wanted people to marry more than one person at a time, but having many wives guarantees a dynasty.  And he had one son through a concubine who eventually killed all 70 of those sons, making Gideon’s secret desire naught.  Plus, the concubine’s son was named Abimilech (son of a king).  And he fought for his right to be king and failed.  And the people began to follow false gods again, never learning their lesson.

But the next big judge, Jephthah, was also born to a man who slept with a prostitute.  Like Abimilech, he was ridiculed by his siblings born to wives of their fathers.  But he became a godly man, and I look forward to his story.