Worship the leads people away from God



Jerry A Collins



v     How should we manage a complaint against us?

v     How can we avoid pride when we are recognized?

v     Why must we be careful about objects of worship?


One Sunday evening after our service, a group of women approached and surrounded me. One of them spoke up and in a derogatory tone, began questioning my remark in the morning service suggesting that everyone attend our mid-week harvest dinner casually. We would have a family atmosphere and enjoy eating together and a short program that evening. She then said, “Pastor, we should not be asking people to come into the house of God casually. We should bring our best to the house of God.” Some of the husbands were waiting in the wings and after a few waggled heads in my direction from the other ladies I gave some kind of weak response that I am sure was completely unsatisfactory to them. I want to suggest that these women and their husbands were and are idiots—utterly foolish and senseless persons—when it comes to an understanding of worship. That is the kind of worship that leads people away from God. It is the kind of senseless and foolish thinking that believes that a physical object—like a building—can have any validity for worship. We are going to learn that that mindset leads to a snare—an aid to worship—like a building or altar—becomes an object of worship. This chapter is the last of the life of Gideon and I wish that it ended on a brighter note. Many of the men God used began well but did not finish well.


It is never better to perpetuate conflict. Sometimes we will unexpectedly find ourselves in a conflictive situation. Other times we know that our decision will instigate possible conflict. I believe this is what happened to Gideon.

Strong words were uttered by the tribe of Ephraim v 1-3. First, they criticized him sharply vs 1. They were ticked off. A conflict has ensued. They had not been invited to participate in the initial conflict near the Hill of Moreh. These strong words by the men of the Tribe of Ephraim indicate that their place as the largest tribe in the north had been challenged. Actually, in retrospect, Ephraim’s prestigious standing should have caused Gideon to think twice before initiating such an operation. The defense of the surrounding regions had by and large been Ephraim’s responsibility. Being called into the battle at the last minute was beneath her position amongst the tribes. You might say that God chose the weak to put to shame the strong 1 Cor 1:27. Second, Gideon uses diplomacy to avert the conflict 2-3. Quick thinking and diplomacy—some might say flattery—avoided a serious family feud about to brew. On one hand Gideon and his clan initially got the battle started—the vintage of Abiezer, his tribe. On the other hand Ephraim’s mopping up operation netted the two leaders Oreb and Zeebthe gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim. Then their anger subsided. Find a way to manage your conflicts so they do not produce more conflict if all possible. We should go to war but we should not perpetually be at war. Sometimes our efforts to resolve conflict will make diplomacy necessary. We will have to give and take to achieve it. Don’t sin to make peace but if possible so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men Rom 12:18. So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another Romans 14:21.


No one should ever think that doing the will of God, will be an easy task. If you take seriously God’s will for your life as we have it declared to us in the Word of God, you will have to struggle and battle and fight to see it done. It will require courage and tenacity and determination. It will not just happen You will have to make it happen. Gideon had to fight to the very end to see God’s will to destroy the Midianites transpire vss 4-21. It will be costly.

(1) Expect weariness and rejection to make doing God’s will more difficult. Gideon and the 300 man army were already weary when they move to stage two of the battle vs 4. They traveled another 70 miles or so to catch up to the surviving force of Midianites, 15000 soldiers and their leaders Zebah and Zalmunna vs 10. So already weary vs 4, they still had more work to do to accomplish what God had asked. To make matters worse, two cities refused provisions for Gideon and his force. The city of Succoth v 5 refused them bread and the city of Peneul v 8 said and did the same. Both of these cities were beyond the Jordan river and perhaps the feared reprisals from the Midianites who lived adjacent to them. This attitude was tantamount to choosing to be in an alliance with the enemy. So Gideon curses both cities—similar to the curse of Meroz in Deborah’s song in 5:23. He will punish the inhabitants for hesitating and then refusing to help him. So we can expect weariness of some sort to set in and rejection from others to interfere with our fulfilling the will of God. This is why God will reward those who step out against the tide and perform God’s will everyday. This is why Jesus said to take up his cross daily and follow him. It is to be sought for every day and fulfilled completely until the end of our days.

(2) Expect it to be costly to complete the will of God 10. Gideon had to overcome the enemy as well as his friends and relatives (Ephraim, the 2 cities, the enemy, the leaders). This is why the will of God is so often discarded by us. We simply do not want to pay the price. We are tired of the cost. Gideon had the strength to pursue the enemy and he had the resolve to do it in spite of the fatigue and rejection and lack of support along the way. What does it take to stop you from doing the will of God?


We can conclude from this final episode that any physical object used for worship—from icons to buildings—can become an idol that leads the people away from God. Anytime you make a thing or a place sacred, you run the danger of it becoming a snare—the aid to worship becomes the object of worship. First, the men of Israel want Gideon and his sons to set up a dynasty to rule over Israel vs 22. Gideon wisely refuses vs 23. The Lord shall rule over you he says. This was the right thing to do. Second, he decides to set up an icon with the gold plunder from the Midianites earrings—43 pounds worth v 26. This icon became and object of worship and thus a snare to the people as idolaters. So Gideon does a rite thing and a wrong thing.

Gideon is like us: 1. He began following the Word of God and ended focusing on what he had made to God. Don’t lose site of the Word. 2. He served God but also his own interests. 3. He forgiven his hesitancy but unwilling to forgive hesitancy of the cities who had not seen evidence of his victory yet. 4. He told people God should rule over them but he created place and object of worship not prescribed in the Word. So he did a lot of good Heb 11:32-34. But his good did not result in next generation worshipping God. He destroyed the idols obeying God, served God in battle, refused to replace God as leader. But instead of teaching people the Law he set up place separating worship from faith based in truth. He was uninvolved in people’s lives—did not disciple the people or his household. Sort of retired right when in place of greatest influence he backed off.