Practical Application of the Word of God
The Hebrew word for snare in Judges 8:27 is moqesh, which means bait, lure, trap, or stumbling block. I’ve discussed before how I wonder sometimes about Gideon being listed among the great cloud of witnesses of faith in Hebrews 11.
He is though. And it makes me think that’s an excellent reason to stop and consider our own lives as Christians and examine them closely and deeply for snares, traps, and stumbling blocks in our worship of, our devotion to, and our allegiance to God.
Our modern society is a mirror image of the time of the judges of Israel, which is summarized in the last nine words in the last verse of the book: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
As Christians, we are affected by the society around us, as Lot was affected by the society around him in Sodom and Gomorrah. Often, we’re not even aware of how much society rubs off on us, but it becomes apparent in the outward manifestation of our relationship with God and to His word.
What we specifically want to look at are two questions. Who and what do we as Christians worship? Who and what as Christians do we obey?
Within the answers to these two questions will lie our snares, traps, and stumbling blocks.
Christians will always quickly answer “God” to both of these questions, but I challenge each of us to consider that answer and to really scrutinize that answer, based on God’s words and His instructions on how to worship Him and what He demands, as our Creator, in terms of devotion, service, and loyalty to see if that’s true.
It’s important to remember that a 99% truth is still a lie, because 1% of that is not true. God requires 100% from each of us to Him in our commitment, our relationship, our loyalty, our devotion, our service, and our obedience.
Anything less than 100% is unacceptable to Him and should be unacceptable to us.
The first area that can be a snare, trap, or stumbling block is idolizing people. In other words, we can, over time, make mere human beings like ourselves equal to or greater than God and His word, and eventually, we routinely substitute them for God.
This is idolatry, but it’s everywhere in the Christian’s landscape.
The idolatrous altars of individual people are extant in a Christian’s purview.
How many times have we heard “well, XYZ said it,” in a reverent, genuflecting tone that conveys whatever that person said as being equivalent with the very word of God?
How many sermons have we listened to where peoples’ words were read and/or referred to much more than God’s own word?
How many times have we heard the people in leadership positions within religious organizations referred to as “important” or as having “a higher calling?”
How many times have we heard individuals given the credit for spiritual instruction instead of God?
Yet, these examples, which we can all nod our heads about, are not only not scriptural (prove me wrong!), exalt individuals above God as objects of worship.
And, of course, there are those individuals who just exalt themselves above God with no help from anyone else. They claim to be prophets, apostles, and the two witnesses and they make God-like demands on their congregations.
They demand all of their congregants financial and material resources as a demonstration of faith (God claims only 10% of the increase of what we earn from our labor).
They demand rigorous and lengthy indoctrination (one group makes potential congregants wait two years before they can attend services) of their organization’s written materials (not God’s word).
They demand that congregants cut off all contact with anyone not in or loyal to their organizations, including family, friends, and other loved ones (yeah, show me that one in God’s word).
The second area that can be a snare, trap, or stumbling block is idolizing humanly-devised religious organizations.
Most, if not all, religious organizations routinely claim that each of them is “the one and only” true Church that God is working with. They drill loyalty to the organization over loyalty to God and His word.
These religious organizations see themselves – the entities and the people they have in leadership positions – as the ultimate source of truth and knowledge, not God’s word.
In many ways, this subtly discourages people from studying God’s word and instead encourages them to study the religious organizations’ writing, since the organizations already have all the same answers God has.
And many people do just that. That’s another stumbling block, snare, and trap, because when we accept as the truth fallible human words (we don’t know it all, we don’t have all the truth, and we certainly don’t have all the answers) over God’s word, which Jesus Christ Himself said is truth, then we’ve become idolatrous.
And the reason these are snares, traps, and stumbling blocks is because they’re not in your face. Instead they are subtle messages, actions, and words that get repeated again and again until our minds gradually accept them and become trapped by them.
A trap is something you can’t see. By the time you realize a trap is there, you’re already in it and imprisoned by it.
You can break free of it even after you’re ensnared, but it’ll cost you and it will be painful (look at animals that break free from traps meant to catch them and, at best, there’s a lot of blood left behind, and, at worst, the limb that got caught).
But the ultimate purpose of a trap is to kill. And that is the intent of these spiritual traps, snares, and stumbling blocks.
Satan puts them there, but we are responsible for knowing about them, being aware of them, and avoiding them. God gives us that ability through His spirit, His word, His wisdom, and His discernment.
Are we asking for and seeking those things through our relationship with God continually, or have we been lulled into complacency and forgetfulness by our own lack of diligence and commitment to our part of the covenant that we made with God at baptism?
I can answer for myself only. You can answer for yourself only.
But we need to always remember that one day Jesus Christ is going to ask the same question and we will have to answer to Him as well.