Over and over in the Bible we are given examples of people who were used by God that either had made serious mistakes in their lives or had character flaws, I believe to remind us that no one is perfect. I’m the kind of person that strives toward perfection so I’m often disappointed when I read about someone who had achieved a great victory and then screws things up by doing something really stupid.
Gideon is no exception. Idol worship can take many forms and in Gideon’s case it took the form of an ephod which was meant to be worn by the high priest. It came to symbolize God’s direction of his people. The ephod can be thought of as a kind of personal GPS system. The ephod was supposed to be the instrument God used to direct his people, but eventually, the ephod came to be viewed as the source of direction instead of God.
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Gen 12:1). The word translated perfect, tâmîym (taw – meem´) means complete or to be complete. From God’s perspective, perfection is getting the job done. When God instructed Abram to walk before him, he was basically saying, you do the moving, I’ll do the directing, and together we will reach the desired destination.
One of the drawbacks of using a GPS system is that you can become dependent on it and no longer think about what you are doing. I have gotten lost using my GPS system because I wasn’t aware that it was malfunctioning. I’ve learned that I need to pay attention and check what it’s telling me to do against my own knowledge and experience of the area I’m traveling to.
When God wants us to do something, he always tells us, either through his clear communication to us individually or in the Bible which is his general direction for everyone. If I have not received any instruction from him, then that means I am to just go about my daily business and wait until he reveals the next step I am to take.
Gideon may not have realized that God was done using him, that his job was complete. If Gideon would have just gone home after defeating the Midianites and lived the rest of his life as a normal, typical person would, he would have been credited with having lived a perfect life. But that is not what he did, he made an ephod and kept it close by so that he could consult it for direction instead of God, it became a sort of good luck charm that he thought would keep him out of trouble, “and all Israel went thither a whoring after it” (Judges 8:27).