Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” And Gideon said to them, “Let me make a request of you: every one of you give me the earrings from his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, “We will willingly give them.” And they spread a cloak, and every man threw in it the earrings of his spoil. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars that were around the necks of their camels. And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. So Midian was subdued before the people of Israel, and they raised their heads no more. And the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. Judges 8:22-28.
After Gideon’s victory, he resisted the call of the people to rule over them. He insisted that God was their king. Gideon got this, but the people did not. They instead worshiped the ephod that Gideon had requested as a trophy.
Gideon had broken down the altar to Baal, and had cut down the Ashera poles and burned them, but he didn’t realize that he was creating another idol. To him, an idol was a specific thing, but he didn’t recognize the principle of idolotry.
Many Christians scoff at statues of saints and call them idols, but fail to see that they obey their pastor or their denominations rather than God. Or they set aside seeking the kingdom of God for the seeking of money or prestige. We must all live not by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God, not the bullet points of our pastor’s sermon.