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The Bible In A Year: Day 103

Judges 7-8
Psalm 103
Luke 19:1-27

Judges 7-8

Gideon rallies an army to resist the Midianites, and they numbered over 30,000 men. But God tells Gideon they had to reduce the number of men going into battle, because he didn’t want them to think they won their own victory, he wanted it to be obvious that it was due to divine intervention. Through a couple different cuts, they go from the original 33,000 down to 300 men.

To rout a force the size of the one they were facing, while they only fielded a force of 300 could only happen through the direct intervention of God. Even the tactics and psychology warfare employed by Gideon wouldn’t be enough to account for such a lopsided victory. The Midianites were defeated so soundly that they fled across the Jordan and were chased far into the east, and even their kings were captured and executed by Gideon.

He made an ephod. “What’s an ephod?” you may ask. An ephod was a piece of the ceremonial dress of the high priest, in Leviticus it’s described as a linen garment that the priest would put on below the jeweled breastplate. In Samuel King David wears a linen ephod while dancing before the Ark of the Covenant. But Gideon’s ephod is made form the gold that was given to him in the previous verses. Scholars are not sure exactly what the biblical author meant by “Gideon’s ephod” except that we can see the outcome of it.

We also don’t know the motives of Gideon as to why he made this ephod, because the text doesn’t give any details beyond verse 22. Maybe he was trying to bring more national recognition to his hometown and force the hand of the high priests into moving the Tabernacle and Arc from Shilo to Ophrah. If that was his reasoning then it’s no wonder why i5 has a bad outcome, he would’ve been grasping at the prerogative of God just as Adam and Eve had done so long ago. But that is all speculation.

So without knowing exactly what his ephod was, or why he made it, how can we come to any conclusion about the effects of this ephod? Thankfully the author is crystal clear on this point. The fashioning of this ephod cause “all of Israel” to “play the harlot” and it became a snare for Gideon.

The Israelites eventual came to worship this thing that Gideon had created, and they became idolaters with it. Israel is the bride of God, and the Church is the new Israel. We have been betrothed to God, and will join Him in the eternal wedding banquet of the Lamb at the end of all time. But in turning away from God and serving idols, the Israelites made themselves as harlots. Harsh language, but accurate considering how they broke their vows to their betrothed and went off with another.

And this also should teach us to not allow ourselves to be ensnared by things around us and in our lives. The gold that was used wasn’t evil, the shape that it took when crafted into an ephod wasn’t evil, it was the ends that it was employed to that made it evil and a snare. The habit of worshiping the creature instead of the creator (Romans 1:25) was something they learned from the pagans that still lived among them because of their initial failure to drive them out. It was the bad influences in their life that led them to worship a piece of gold, rather than He who created the gold.

Luke 19:1-27

Jesus enters Jericho and a man named Zacchaeus hears about it and goes to try and seek out Jesus, but when he finally sees him it’s actually Jesus who was seeking him. Not only was he a tax collector, he was the chief tax collector. He was very wealthy, but in a direct contrast with the previous wealthy man that he spoke with, Zacchaeus doesn’t need to be told to give away his wealth, he volunteers to give half to the poor and make restitution to anyone he’s stolen from. He isn’t attached to his wealth like the rich young ruler, and so it’s not a stumbling block for him.

In virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner: Jesus blesses Zacchaeus for his pledge: “If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them, or to return the equivalent in kind or in money, if the goods have disappeared, as well as the profit or advantages their owner would have legitimately obtained from them. Likewise, all who in some manner have taken part in a theft or who have knowingly benefited from it – for example, those who ordered it, assisted in it, or received the stolen goods – are obliged to make restitution in proportion to their responsibility and to their share of what was stolen.

CCC 2412

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Judges 9
Psalm 104
Luke 19:28-48

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