by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: Judges 8:18-9:21; Psalm 107:1-43
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Judges 8:27 “And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.”
Judges is a difficult book to understand. There is a tendency for readers to read into the morality of the leaders chosen to lead Israel. Yet, I feel that is not the point of the book. The point of the book is that even though Israel did many evils against God; He was still merciful to raise up judges to lead a new generation. Most of these judges (like the kings that came after them) are definitely full of flaws. Yet, in the midst of an evil generation, that was perhaps the “best” they could get. Why didn’t God send Jesus right away? I don’t know. Maybe the time is not right with God.
Judges is on the whole, a tragic story. Nevertheless, it is a realistic one. The fact of the day is that even under God’s mercy and grace, Israel’s sin just keep piling up. Don’t we have the tendency to do likewise? Hence, we need not focus too much on the morality of Gideon’s effort at making an ephod which caused himself and Israel to stumble. For all of Gideon’s growth in courage and piety, he was still very young in his new found relationship with God. Rather, the focus should be on the author’s repeated “sighs” that Israel was at it again; making an idol over something, and this time it was even on something that was meant to be sacred or religious.
When our hearts and minds are not right with God, we can potentially make an idol of anything, everything. For example, we can make an idol out of the object of the cross. This happens when the cross is not there to remind us of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but more like an instrument of our superstitious beliefs to “ward off” satan.
Some might even come to idolise the form, personality and style of musical worship (and worship leaders). Hence, musical worship no longer is a means by which we worship, but rather musical worship becomes the object of worship. Some might even come to idolise the Bible; when he is so proud of his knowledge of the Word and despise those who seem “weak”. Or even the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, when some would misuse them for a very personal (but wrong) reading of the Word.
Oh Lord, what have we done with the sacred things you have given to us as means of our relationship with You? Help us Lord, not to make an idol of the good things you have given, but to use them as means to know and love You, as the Lord of our lives. Amen.