The Overlooked Legacy of Gideon
By Joshua Winslett, Beulah Primitive Baptist Church
Gideon is a very recognizable character in the Biblical narrative. He and his 300 are used to motivate Christians in their individual warfare and pilgrimage (Judges 6-8). However, his example in his later years equally serves as an example for believers to consider. Like most judges in Israel, Gideon experienced miraculous victories through the sovereign power of God. Gideon was used to deliver the Israelites from both their own evil doings and the Midianites. Yet, directly after his death the cultural dynamics of the people moved away from God. How does this happen after such a gracious, undeserved deliverance given to them by God?
It is true that many times a generation will forget the immediately preceding history (Exodus 1:8). Whereas this is true, this does not seem to be the case for the generation following Gideon. Three things happened that affected the next generation’s trajectory. First, after the people asked for Gideon to be made king, though he declined, he (Gideon) made a golden ephod. This ephod, or golden breastplate, was probably used as a sign of prestige that he would use a civil ruler. These ephods were also used for religious worship and it is possible that Gideon had started his own “contemporary” worship service. Gideon went a long way from the humble unassuming servant he once was to a stumbling stone to those around him. This small action is said to be a snare to Gideon, his family, and make the nation unfaithful (Judges 8:27). This event is given greater gravity when we see how his son, Abimelech, killed his own brethren to usurp kingship over Israel and soon died in disgrace.
This is an instance that believers, especially Christian parents, should note. Gideon is a judge who did mighty things for his God. Yet, the legacy he left his children was less than faithful. Gideon was the mighty military leader of his time but children followed a different close-to-home example. We can seem to be exemplary models of Christianity to the watching world, but our children will follow the real. They will see what we really worship. They will pattern the habits that only they see. Just as Gideon’s household culture created an individual to whom sought prestige and authority.
We have to ask ourselves, what do we really worship? What is it that captivates our time, attention, energy, and money? If we really desire to know, we need only look at our children. If we prize riches, they will prize riches. If are attention is more focused on recreational activities over the love and worship of Jesus Christ, then we can equally expect to see our children follow that pattern.
Gideon, who is an example of faith in Hebrews 11:32, is also a warning for all Christians to know that our actions can have immense consequences on our children. They will follow a legacy that many do not see. May they see real, authentic and biblical Christianity.