Gideon is one of the most spoken about men in the Old Testament for reason. He was an awesome man. God used him to bring about deliverance from Israel’s enemies on a grand scale and gave them peace afterwords for 40 years. Fantastic story, incredible man. But there is more to the story.
He had 71 sons, 70 were the children of his wives that grew up with him in his household and in their community. One son, Ablimelech was from his concubine a woman who was servant in a neighboring town.
When Gideon died, Abimelech went to the elders of his city and said “my father is dead, do you want 70 men to rule over you from another city, or just one who is your own relative? They said we want only one so they gave him money and he hired mercenaries to kill his 70 brothers and became king.
Gideon after a great victory refused to be king. He said I will not rule over you, but God will rule over you. Ablimelech not only was made King where his father had refused but he wiped out his fathers legacy by murdering his brothers. His rule was short as he ended up being ambushed by his own people, then burning all the leaders of his hometown who had originally financed his coup to the crown and was killed shortly thereafter by a woman who crushed his skull with a rock.
Crazy story, I just found it myself last month while up camping. I’ve heard and read of Gideon many times, but never saw the back story and how the choices he had made destroyed everything he had built.
Quick subject change then we’ll get back to Gideon: What we do at ManAlive works because of the small group period. If a man comes in the room with a problem, that problem at it’s core is almost always a relational problem that is repaired ironically through the building of healthy relationships. As we are learning to do those relationships in our small group, picking up some tools, learning how to talk, touch, and feel, we’re surrounded by successes and failures. We are encouraged by the former, we learn from the later. Gideon is a biblical view of both. On one hand we are all encouraged by his life, what he did, and the revealed character of God. On the other we hand there is lesson in the story that will protect us if we allow ourselves to learn from it.
Gideon did great things but he had a compromise in his life that came back to bite him. Was it that big of a deal? I mean, concubines where a common practice back then right? Even the great Kings of of Israel had them. They were kind of like a wife, but not really. Lower status at best, they were kept women used for sexual purposes, their children did not enjoy full inheritance rights along with their siblings of the wife or wives. Maybe Gideon couldn’t or wouldn’t marry her because she was of lower economic status as she was a servant. Even if she was his wife which she wasn’t she lived in the next town over and she raised Gideon’s son Ablimelech there separate from a father and the community of his influence. Out of this scenario Gideon because he couldn’t control his penis, because he compromised in this area, because he didn’t embrace the mistake and raise his son in his own household it reeked havoc on all that was dear to him after his death when he wasn’t available to protect it.
I know that lesson here is obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. No matter how many great things you have done it can be wiped out in an instant by compromise. By lack of self control. By the removal of relationship, lack of fathering, and correct parenting and marriage modeling as is should be done.
In the next chapter of Judges the narrative moves on to Samson. An angel appears to a barren woman and tells her she is about to have a child that will do great things and that he should be kept holy from birth (Nazarite vow). The husband wants to double check the instructions so he prays that the angel will return. He does and tells him exactly the same thing i.e. keep the child holy from birth. The father wants more direction and asks what shall be his mode of life and the vocation of the child. The angel says again, he shall be kept holy with out adding any instructions but the reminder to be holy.
The answer to to the questions of life is holiness. If you are ever wondering Gods direction for you, it’s clear what is important: Be holy. In heaven the elders see God and go back down to their face repeating the words holy, holy, holy. He is holy, we are to be holy. Had Gideon stayed holy his family line and legacy would have remained fully intact. That he messed up doesn’t remove what God did, but It could have ended so much better.
Our mandate is to be holy as he is holy. With every action, with every plan. Like the father of Samson don’t get weighed down by the details of mode of life or vocation. When we live holy, it’s all good all the time. In our past, in the moment, in the future, and in the legacy we leave.