June 1, 2015
And when the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. Judges 9:55
LET IT GLOW
What a man! No, I'm not talking about Gideon, but one of his sons, Abimelech. If you like an action filled story, which actually happened, then read on. By the way, chapter 9 has 57 verses, so get comfy with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of iced tea. It takes a while to go through it.
What was the purpose of the high priest's ephod? It's purpose was to hear directly from Yahweh. It had 12 stones that covered the breastplate in 4 rows of 3, representing the 12 tribes of Israel (Ex. 28). Most notable of all the meticulous details were the Urim and the Thummin, 2 flat stones secured within the front of the vest. When exposed, they would somehow relay Yahweh's guidance and instruction to the high priests and ultimately to His people. (Priscilla Shirer)
Verse 27 tells us Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
Did Gideon set himself up as a high priest? As a king? Did Gideon strive to relate to God on his own terms? Was he making up his own rules in relating to God? Was it more convenient to commune with God using something he created? Here comes the sin cycle again.
God had given the victory over the Midianites who oppressed Israel for 7 years. Then Gideon rescued these Israelites. After meeting with Jesus, getting the victory, what does he do but go into his own idolatry. To beat all, he leads his brethren down that sinful road, too. However, they enjoyed 40 years of peace. Gideon had 70 sons, one called Abimelech ruled 3 years.
No where is Abimelech called a judge; rather, he is a usurper attempting to be a king, a self-appointed king. How did he do this?
- He appealed to his mother's relatives on his behalf.
- He convinced them that he should rule over them.
- This backing would be needed to overpower Gideon's other sons who were apparently vying for rulership, although not clearly stated here.
- Evidently, his mother's relatives spoke on his behalf and convinced the rest of the leaders of Shechem that they should follow Abimelech.
- They gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver. He used it to hire scoundrels to kill his brothers.
- All but one were killed, except the yourngest, Jotham, because he hid himself. so 69 were killed with one stone, which may have been a formal execution rather than a battle. (verse 5)
- The men of Shechem made Abimelech king over them. (verse 6)
Do we get sneaky, go behind the scenes, in order to get our way? Or do we seek the Lord and His will?
LET IT GROW
Jotham told a parable of the trees in reference to his brother Abimelech. In the end, Jotham challenged the men of Shechem to choose whom they would serve. Jotham ran for his life, of course. The parable revealed that God would bring revenge for such a horrific act.
Abimelech reigned 3 years in this area, then soon problems arose. God sent an evil spirit between him and the men of Shechem so they wanted revenge for Abimelech having his brothers murdered. Apparently there was jealousy, distrust, and hate that developed toward Abimelech.
The spirit of animonisty that developed between them is viewed here as a result of God working in human history. That evil spirits can be commanded by God, and His giving them permission to work their evil desires is as old as the story of the book of Job. (Falwell)
The activity of the Shechemites was bad for business. They had a band of armed men ambushing the trade routes, thus depriving Abimelech of the revenues that could be collected by taxing the caravans passing through his territory. This rebellion was led by Gaal, which was calling for a return of Canaanite control of this area, and challenged Abimelech to come fight him.
What happens next?
- Zebul, the lieutenant governor in charge of Shechem, sent word to Abimelech to warn him of the rebellion going on there and to come at night to ambush the city.
- He took the advice, surrounding the city with 4 companies of his army.
- This resulted in Gaal being wounded and driven out of the city along with his men. You can read the way Abimelech conquered the cities of Shechem, El-Berith and Thebez.
- The people of Shechem ran into a field, where they were ambushed by Abimelech. He was so angry that he sowed the field with salt, which symbolized a permanent barrenness (Deut. 29:23).
- The men of Shechem took cover in their tower.
- As Abimelech went to set fire on the tower, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. While dying, Abimelech called his armor bearer to kill him with a sword so no one could say a woman killed him. And that ended the cruel Abimelech's reign. Thus God repaid him for the wickedness Abimelech did in murdering his 70 brothers and the city.
Prideful Abimelech could not be killed by a woman so he had his armor-bearer kill him with his sword,, similar to the ending of King Saul.
What can we take away from this graphic story? God Himself was actually sovereignly in control of the affairs of man. (Falwell)
We better take seriously God's warnings in His Word, to only worship Him.
(My wow, is not in admiration of Abimelech. I shake my head at him in disgust.)
LET IT GO
...of any pride in my positions, and be a servant instead.
...of control of my life and let God have it.
...of the world's way and follow God's ways.