Bro Segun Ariyo
I am aware that everyone of us know that once a race begins, it must have an end … For us that God is just helping into this lifestyle (the consecration of a Nazarite), we see the need for the Lord to bring us some salient warnings that will help us in our journey with the LORD and things that will make us to last … It is possible for a man to run a race and he finished strong, but he runs on somebody’s else tract. So, if we must finish strong, we must finish well, and we must finish right. I will just attempt to look at things, not necessarily people, but things that could finish a man before that man finishes his assignment…
The book of Judges Chapter eight, verses twenty – two to twenty – seven:
“And the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden rings, because they were Ishmaelites)
And they answered, we shall willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.
And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold, beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the king of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.
And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon and to his family”
Gideon was the man God raised when Israel was under a very great oppressing hand of the Midianites. He was a very brave man. He was a very strict man… a man without compromise. When the angel came to visit him in chapter six (of the book of Judges), something interesting happened… The angel waited for a long time to watch what Gideon was doing in a secret place, to see whether Gideon carried God to his farm. And he looked at Gideon under a very difficult situation, he was threshing wheat in the winepress.
Naturally, you thresh wheat on a threshing floor and only press wine in a winepress. Winepress is a hole, whereas threshing floor is a flat surface: where you separate a shaft from the wheat. But because of the Midianites, it was not possible to put the harvest of your wheat on a plane ground for people to see, lest the Midianites swept on it and take them away. So Gideon took this wheat inside a winepress in a hole, and there was where he was threshing. And it was not easy for you to use stick to be striking wheat inside a hole. It is a difficult task. Many times the stick will break and Gideon will go and look for another.
Other farmers will simply sell their wheat and the shaft together, and asked their customers to go and eat it like that. It was a state of emergency! But for Gideon, he was not going to eat the wheat and the shaft together, he must separate it. Even though it may be difficult, but Gideon will not bend the rules. Gideon will not lower the standard. Gideon will not compromise, even though nobody was there and he could have done it without anybody challenging him, but Gideon insisted on doing it right.
Gideon’s insistent must have caught the fancy of the angel. And the angel said “The LORD is with you”. Only a man who carries God’s presence will behave like this. A man who is aware that God is where he is will not change the goal post in the middle of the match. Only a man who understands that the prime eyes of the LORD is always going to and fro to seek and locate evil doer will not change the standard, will not use a false measure to sell to his customer. That was Gideon, the man that God raised to raze the citadel of the Midianites and to rescue the children of Israel from their grip.
You know how Gideon actually took his life in his hand and pull down the altar of Baal in his father’s house. That was a great risk and yet he was not going to change the task. You know how Gideon, when he was asked to prune ten thousand foot soldiers to three hundred and yet he was going to battle with unusual instrument: lantern and earthen pot. That was not an instrument to fight such a militant people like the Midianites. He was a great man … a courageous man. He went with three hundred people and God gave him the victory.
After the battle, the people came to Gideon and said, “Look Gideon, don’t be a judge. Please be a ruler. Be a king over us. Rule over us, we will accept you and accept your lineage; even though you are not from the lineage of Judah. We will accept you as our king. Rule over us! Let your children and your generations become our king in Israel”. Gideon said “I will not rule over you, the LORD Himself shall rule over you”. What a great heart! What a consecration! What a man who had chosen to be different from others! What a man who have chosen not to be enticed by the funfair of the office of a king!
I think a man who would not seek for position, who will not seek for power, a man who would not compromise godly standard would also handle gold effectively. I thought so. But suddenly, Gideon said “I just want a request. I want to make a request”. I know because the people had actually sold their heart unto Gideon, they have regarded him as a man of integrity; anything he will ask for, they would be ready to give him. Gideon said “I have a request”. And they said “What is your request?” And he said “Your golden rings, can you give them to me? I just want to have a medal I can hang on the wall of my house. Just an award, just to be called MON, that will be alright. I don’t want to be the president, but I will not mind an award – Member of the Order of the Niger! That would be sufficient for me”
The people gladly gave their gold unto Gideon … And Gideon trying to make it looks spiritual, made the gold into an Ephod. I know you remember an ephod … the Priest’s garment. He made it an ephod, and he put it in his city, and hung it somewhere. So that he will remember “Yes, even I am not the king, I will be looking unto this medal as an award which I collected as a result of my exploit in Israel.” Whereas it looks simple, the bible says “the entire people of Israel prostituted after it, and it became a snare unto Gideon and his family” What is a snare? Is there other word for a snare? It is a TRAP. Now, when a rat enters into a trap, won’t it continue its journey?
You see the foolishness of Yoruba tradition. When they want to name a child and some churches are still doing it. Then they have dried fish … dried rat on the table; and they would pray for the child. They said, “With the head of a rat, the rat goes through its path …” And my question is: If the fish had successfully swum in the sea, what is the fish doing on the table? If that rat had actually passed through his path successfully, what is it doing on the table? There was a day, with the head of the fish; it enters into the net of the fisherman. It is foolish to do such senseless thing as a foundation for a life. “And it became a snare unto Gideon” Not only to Gideon, it became a snare unto his family. Where God wanted them to reach, they couldn’t travel there, because God trapped them.
Now, I know that these are the days when money speaks; these are the days when we like to make impressions. These are the days when we rate men by the kind of cars they use; by the kind of clothes they wear; by the kind of houses, you know structures they have on ground. I want to beg of you, that several people that would have become greater than what they became, even in the bible days, were only shortchanged because of the snare of gold. Money finished Gideon; money could not allow Gideon to continue for a long time. His children, you only need to go and read history, the story of Gideon. You will see how his children killed themselves because money became a snare unto his family.
As we go, I want to let you know that the consecration of a Nazarite will make your life attractive. The consecration of a Nazarite will make you a respective person in the society. Several people will trace the victory of their lives to you. They will trace their deliverance … their healing to you. Some of them will call you pathfinder, because by you they discover their paths in life. But beware of the offering that will come after. Be careful of gold that will be deposited at your feet. I wish you will walk upon these “gold”, and you will not hang them above your head.
The trouble of Gideon was that he took that gold and he raised it above his head. I wish that on the clothes where they poured the gold, Gideon will walked over it and continue his journey. Because he lifted that gold above his head, it became a snare unto his life. I like to pray that your life will not be cut short by money. That gold will not be higher than you, that money will not be raised above God… I desire that God will bring us such help for us to know that, whereas gold will play a part in our journey, in the execution of our ministries. But excuse me; don’t raise it above the ground. The day you raise money above the ground, and you put it on a pole higher than you are, that would become the end of your journey. God would find no alternative than to withdraw from your life.
Men who overrated gold might be making noise today, you can be sure that in a short while, you will see that they have never made any progress. I think movement must result into displacement. If it doesn’t result into a displacement, then there is no movement. A swing door appears to be moving, but is not because it would still come back to its centre. I wish you will ask God to give you money that is commensurate with your grace. Otherwise it will disgrace you, and that is the truth…
This write up is a transcribed from the message delivered at one of our Interdenominational Retreats. We trust God to grant you the grace to be part of the next meeting for your spiritual growth and profiting in the business of the kingdom of God. Shalom!