Gideon made an ephod from all this and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. Then all Israel prostituted themselves with it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household. – Judges 8:27
After Gideon and his army of 300 had defeated their Ishmaelite enemy, he took their gold earrings, melted them down, and made an ephod (something like a shirt) that would be worth about $1.1 million today. Gideon then put it in a place where it could be viewed by interested parties and where it soon became an object of adoration (or, at least, some sort of lucky charm) that initially reminded the people of their victory, but later on replaced their dependence upon the Lord. Over time, instead of worshiping the God who gave them the victory, the people began to worship the memory … or feeling that the past victory induced.
Reminders or remembrances of past victories can become substitutes for an abiding, current relationship with the Victor. Places of worship, tangible objects, and intangible feelings such as beloved memories may be honored, but if held too tightly they will eventually begin to rot like two-day old manna.
Our task, as Christ-followers, is to always be moving forward … gaining new territory … experiencing new victories, while honoring the One through Whom we conquer. If we too strongly hold on to the past, we are in danger of missing the present and ultimately forfeiting the future. Past victories make great idols, but lousy gods.
If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future. – Winston Churchill