The battle was over. The Kings and leaders of the Midianite armies were dead and their armies dead or scattered. The Israelite collaborators at Penuel and Succoth had been disciplined or executed.
Because of this miraculous victory the the men of Israel were ready to have Gideon be King over them (Judges 8:22). Gideon refused in accordance with the instructions of Moses, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you. (Judges 8:23).
Then we find one of the saddest words found in the annals of heroes of any era. This word, where it is found in scripture, dealing with the affairs of God and men, usually brings no good with it. The word: “YET”.
Gideon refuses to be made King over the Israelites and take glory that belongs only to God; however, (YET) he decides that he should get something for his trouble, (just to dedicate to God):
"24Yet Gideon said to them, "I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil." (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25They said, "We will surely give them." So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil.
26The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels' necks." (Judges 8: 24-26)
It is with the gold he receives that he makes an Ephod and sets it up in his home town, perhaps to commemorate the victory. But it fell into use by the Israelites as an object of worship. Pretending not to want to rule, Gideon has begun to deceive himself by degrees. The account further says that Gideon had seventy sons by his many wives, (a sign of a ruler wishing to ensure his continued reign) plus one son by a concubine whom he named Abimelech. The meaning of this name: “Father is King”. This Abimelech, in his lust for power and wealth, has his seventy brothers killed at the same time, and is himself later killed in a battle by a woman who drops a millstone on him.
Even so, God allows Gideon to live to a ripe old age, and Israel has peace for forty years. But as soon as Gideon is dead, the cycle that ends centuries later with the destruction of Israel and Judah begins again:
"33Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, (R)that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made (S)Baal-berith their god.
34Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side;
35nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel." (Judges 8: 33-35)
In this we see the character and fate of the unchanged, un-regenerated heart. No matter what good it may first intend, the end is always the same: evil. Only when God has made us new creatures in Christ Jesus are we capable of not sinning (though we do). And in the end, when we leave this body and live in His presence, we will finally be incapable of sinning.