May 4, 2023
“Now the weight of the gold earrings that he [Gideon] requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants and purple robes...”
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“Now the weight of the gold earrings that he [Gideon] requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments, pendants and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were around the camel's necks. Then Gideon made it into an ephod and set it up in his city, Ophrah. And all Israel played the harlot with it there. It became a snare to Gideon and to his house. Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon.” Judges 8:26-28 (NKJV)
I have been in the music business for all of my adult life. While I no longer earn the bulk of my living as a touring musician, there was a time (in my mid-late 20s) when my band, Big Tent Revival, was very successful. Every time we had a #1 radio song, the record company would give me a plaque commemorating the success. Every time I was nominated for a GRAMMY or Dove award - another plaque. Pretty soon, the entire front room in my home was devoted to my success in the music business. But eventually, it became a source of pride, a distraction in my own home. It was as if my success, and the display thereof, had become an idol. How? Because it put too much focus on my past, to the point where it kept me from making faith steps into the future for fear of jeopardizing my coveted legend.
Gideon, the former coward-turned-military-hero, had an idea. He did not want to set up a political dynasty, but he definitely wanted to be remembered as a hero. So, he made a monument to his military conquests: A golden ephod made from spoils of the military campaigns he led. And whose gold did he take? The Ishmaelites.
“Then he said to them, “Let me make a request of you: Everyone give me an earring from his plunder.” Now the enemy had gold earrings because they were Ishmaelites.” Judges 8:24 (HCSB)
Remember Ishmael, Abraham’s son, with Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave?
“Then the Angel of the Lord said to her [Hagar]: You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your cry of affliction. This man will be like a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will live at odds with all his brothers.” Genesis 16:11-12 (HCSB)
Once Gideon’s golden ephod (to be worn by a priest) was installed on permanent display, the people of Israel saw it as a “good luck” charm and idol of past victories they could worship, as opposed to trusting God for future victory.
Eventually, I took most of those music business plaques off the walls of my home. Some went to storage, and others made it to my office. Being successful is not a sin; it just can’t dominate our lives. We tend to worship the success the Lord brings instead of worshipping God, who has brought our success.
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©Steve Wiggins 2021