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Judges 9

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, APRIL 26

                                                  

SCRIPTURE:  JUDGES 9

This is an interesting chapter.  At the end of chapter 8, Gideon died.  The nation of Israel had chased after the god, Baal.  And the people quickly forgot about all the good that Gideon had done for them. 

At that point another character comes to the forefront.  His name is Abimelech.  He is not one of the judges that this book is named after.  He is instead a son of the late Gideon and Gideon’s Shechem concubine.  Abimelech is the one whose name means “my father is a king”.  But instead of living up to that name, Abimelech decided that he would be king.

His approach to that was to go to the leaders of Shechem.  They were quickly convinced that Abimelech was their man.  They took some money out of the temple of Baal that Abimelech used to hire some mercenaries.  The fact that he accepted this money is indicative of the fact that Abimelech had turned his back on God and was now aligned with Baal.

At that point, Abimelech set out to kill all of his brothers so that there would be no threat to his throne.  He killed them all but Jotham. 

The end of verse 6 mentions Abimelech and his crew meeting at the oak of the pillar at Shechem.  This was probably the “oak of Moreh” where the Lord appeared to Abraham to give him the Promised Land.  It was also near the site that Moses read the blessings and cursings from the Law to Israel.  And it was there that Joshua gave his last speech.  In other words, this was a significant place. The sad thing is this wasn’t a moment when the nation of Israel was coming back to God but going away from Him.

In verse 7, we find Jotham on Mount Gerizim.  It was from this mountain that Moses actually read the blessings of the Law to Israel. Jotham shares a parable from this very place.  By the way, this is the first parable recorded in the Bible.  It was a parable about which of the trees would rule over the rest of the trees.  The solution was that the bramble would do that.  The application is Abimelech was that bramble.

As the chapter continues, another man, Gaal, decided he wanted to be king.  The leaders of Shechem agreed and forced Abimelech to fight for his “throne”.  It was in the midst of this fight, that a woman dropped an upper millstone from the tower and hit Abimelech in the head.

You might remember from yesterday that the method of death was very important to a soldier.  Abimelech’s death was a disgrace for a couple of reasons.  One, he was killed by a woman.  Two, he was killed by a rock not a sword.  You might argue that Abimelech was killed by his young sword bearer but 2 Samuel 11:21 points out that it was the woman who dealt the death blow to Abimelech.

So what are we to make of this chapter?  One thing we can take away from this is the place of ambition in the life of Christ followers.  Ambition can be a devastating characteristic of anyone particularly a Christ follower.  The reason that is true is pride often drives ambition and pride often causes us to do stuff that we should not do.  That was the downfall of Abimelech.

On the other hand, if we are sure of what the Lord is calling us to do, then some Spirit controlled ambition is often necessary to have the faith and courage to step out into the unknown.  The unknown, by the way, is often the direction that God calls us to.  That is why it is called faith.  But the point is ambition is not necessarily bad.  It is, in fact, often necessary to move an individual or a church to the next level.  The key is to make sure that the source of that ambition is believing God and trusting Him which is an antidote to our pride.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Judges 10

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, APRIL 27

                                                  

SCRIPTURE:  JUDGES 10

Although the first five verses don’t specifically say so, we can assume from the context that the people of Israel experienced peace during the 23 year rule of Tola and the 22 year rule of Jair and his 30 sons. 

If you remember the circular pattern of Judges: the nation is at peace and things are good is the top of the circle; the nation turns away from God takes us down the circle; the nation is invaded and subjugated by the enemy is the bottom of the circle; the nation finally cries out to God takes us back up the other side of the circle.  You may also remember that every time this circular pattern completed itself, the entire system went lower or further away from God.

When we get to verse 6, we are starting that slide downward away from God.  But notice this time is not just the worship of Baal.  The people of Israel had a total of seven different kinds of gods they were worshipping.  As the end of the verse says, they forsook the one, true God. 

An interesting thing happens when you skip over to verses 11-12.  Remember they were worshipping seven different kinds of gods.  And now we find where the one, true God had delivered them from seven different nations.  I am not sure there is necessarily a correlation between the two.  But it does seem somehow more than a coincidence. 

Because of the Israelites turning away from God, He opened the door for the Philistines and Ammonites to invade the nation.  That first year they crushed and oppressed the people of Israel.  That oppression continued for 18 years. 

As I have read through and studied the Book of Judges, I have often wondered how long I would have to be crushed and oppressed before I cried out to God.  I want to think it wouldn’t take much crushing or oppressing before I would wise up and turn back to God.  On the other hand, we humans are a weird bunch.  It is crazy what we can get used to.  And so the Israelites endured oppressions for 18 years.

Finally, the Israelites had absorbed all they could and tried to turn back to God.  In verses 13-14, we find where they were still serving all of those false gods that were listed at the beginning of the chapter.  As a result, God was in no mind to help them.  In fact, He told them to go get their other gods to help them. 

The Israelites finally decided that they should indeed get rid of all of their false gods and rely upon the one, true God.  The nation then gathered in Mizpah to fight the Ammonites.  But there was a problem.  In verse 18, they didn’t have anyone who would start the fight.  In other words, they didn’t have anyone who would lead them into battle.

Leadership is necessary for every level of our culture: the family, the church, the country.  Where there is no leadership, there is no progress.  Where there is no leadership, there is no accomplishment.  Where there is no leadership, those who would follow are stymied and stopped.

We all need strong leaders in our families, churches, and country to move us forward.  Without leadership we will never know success only failure.  Strong leadership is absolutely necessary in every aspect of life.

 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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