Judges 8-9

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Chapter 8 – Gideon had fought a grand battle with his enemies, but let’s not forget WHO really fought and won the battle!  Gideon was willing to be used by God (with a little nudging in the beginning).  Gideon was an ordinary man being used by God to do the extraordinary!!  He was a great example of one who was faithful to Almighty God.  I was amazed at the way he dealt with the Ephraimites in this chapter.  They came at him angry for leaving the “clean up” or the “gleaning” to them rather than get their help in battle. Gideon could have come back with something like: “well…. Boys…. GOD picked me to fight and NOT YOU!!”  Yet, he remained humble, praised them, their talents, and how their job as the rear guard actually captured the enemies’ generals which calmed them down…. Another example of an awesome leader!!  In the end of this chapter we see Gideon turning down his people’s request for him to be their king because he wanted their focus to remain on GOD.  Israel’s king was the LORD and Gideon understood that.  He told his people that neither I nor my son will be your king because you already have GOD ALMIGHTY as your king.

But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.” (Judges 8:23)

The VERY next verse, we also see that Gideon was human.  He asked for the people to give him an earring which originally came from the plunder of the Ishmaelites.  They were happy to give him an earring….. 43 POUNDS of GOLD worth of earrings!!  He then made an ephod from the earrings.  The commentaries I have read say they believe Gideon was trying to do a good thing…to make something as a remembrance of their victory.  However, he made a human error.  Verse 27 tells us: “But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family.”   OUCH!!   HOW easy it is to have our focus changed in an instant.  Man will always let you down.. but God NEVER will.  We should not be shocked when our leaders (church, city, state, federal) fall … THIS reminds us that we must continually lift them up in prayer asking that they have a heart for God … and if they do not have a heart for HIM and do not want one that God will still use them in a way that will bless our nation and our people despite our leaders’ personal personal beliefs.

Gideon was most willing to be used by God. He was a great leader and warrior and most importantly he was faithful to and trusting of God. After he defeated the Midianites as God commanded, Israel lived in peace another 40 years. Interesting out of his SEVENTY SONS we are told of two of them – Jotham and Abimelech.  As good as Gideon was in the area of his strengths, he seemed to have struggles leading his family.

We end this chapter with Gideon’s death, and another familiar phrase … “as SOON as Gideon died, the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the images of Baal, making Baal-berith their god.”  SAD, SAD, SAD!!!

NOTE: Jerub Baal is Gideon when you read.

Chapter 9 — Abimelech was a piece of work, wasn’t he?  With Gideon dead he wanted to take his father’s place.  Abimelech was NOT a prophet or a judge… he just wanted to be in a very destructive way.  Abimelech’s mother was a Canaanite concubine and we are told in verses 1-3 that was with whom he surrounded himself.  Abimelech posed the question … do you want to be ruled by seventy men or just one man (pick me .. pick me)?  They pay him in silver and he hires “reckless riffraff soldiers” who would follow him.  He kills all of his brothers… on ONE stone.  However, Jotham, Gideon’s youngest son escaped by running for cover and was the only survivor.

Abimelech was declared ruler of the Israelites in Shechem, the site of many key biblical events.  (This was one of Abraham’s first stops upon arriving in Canaan, Gen 12, 6-7; during Jacob’s life this is the place Levi and Simeon killed all the men in Shechem because the prince’s son raped Dinah, Gen 34; Joseph’s bones were buried in Shechem, Josh 24:32; Israel renewed its covenant with God in Shechem, Josh 24; and we will see the kingdom of Israel split apart in this very city, 1 Kings 12.)

Jotham makes a speech from the top of a mountain so EVERY one could hear him.  In his parable the trees represented Gideon’s 70 sons; and the thornbush represented Abimelech.  Jotham’s point was that the “thornbush” would DESTROY the people he ruled (kind of the same way kudzu kills all vegetation it grows around,on, over…smothering the original growth)!! Israel would have no real protection or security under his leadership.

Jotham was correct.  Although Abimelech ruled for “only” three years he caused great tragedy for the nation.  Abimelech destroyed the city of Shechem..not just the people but also the land so nothing could be built on it for 150 years by pouring salt all over the land (9:45); burned the “tower of Shechem” (aka the city of Beth Millo, 9:46-49); and was finally killed at Thebez (9:53-54).  God did send an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem who acted treacherously against Abimelech (for killing Gideon’s 70 sons).  Keep in mind we cannot point fingers only at Abimelech because it was the PEOPLE who placed him in leadership.  OUCH!!  In the end Abimelech was killed by a woman who tossed a millstone out of one of the windows of the city’s walls and/or towers.  Women were often used in battle to toss things out of the city’s windows for times such as this.  Keep in mind… this would have been a HUGE insult to Abimelech to have been killed by a woman (not that he knew what hit him or anything!!) 🙂

We see in the story of Abimelech several things.  The first is we are reminded that God’s original plan was for man to be married to ONE woman and built a family together.  Each time we witness multiple wives and/or children from concubines and handmaids we usually see bring much strife upon the family….and often a nation… look at Ishmael; Jacob, Leah, and Rachel; and now Abimelech.  I am sure you can think of others.  As we read further, keep an eye on this topic and I bet your eyes will be opened.  I am not making a statement of judgment and I believe with all my heart in what Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  My purpose is to point out that when we follow God’s ways in obedience and honor to Him our lives won’t be easy but they certainly will go a little smoother and we will have peace and rest in HIM.

Second, God is a God of justice and mercy and grace.  Thank heavens he does not give any of us what we deserve.  And usually we do not see the consequences of our sin for a while.  However, our sins will be brought to light and there will be consequences that flow EVEN though we are HIS children.  God gave Abimelech time to see the error of his ways and come to know HIM… just as he does each of us….but Abimelech could not see God.

Finally it is a reminder that the people we surround ourselves with, and the people we elect into office (in church, in government, in schools, etc.,) are all people who can and will impact our lives.  So who do you surround yourself with, what are their beliefs, what are their actions? The people who surround us will have an influence on us.  And how do you go about choosing a church, electing officials, being knowledgeable about the people who lead our schools and communities??? They too will have an impact on our lives, our children, our homes, our cities, our states, and on our nations… we cannot remain in the dark when it comes to such huge areas of impact.  The Bible tells us this history so we can learn from it and hopefully make better choices and diminish some of the bad ones.  Isn’t it awesome to have a Godly point of reference??

We’ve seen the good (Gideon), the bad (Abimelech), and the ugly (the Israelites turning from God once again).  We’ve witnessed the humble, the prideful, the greedy, the jealousness….  What is your take away from these chapters?  How would you retell it to a friend if you were going to share it in 50 words or less?

Keep in mind as you read that we do serve a wonderful God who loves each of us so very deeply.  He has a special purpose for each of us in HIS kingdom plans.  His ways are not our ways … but HIS ways always are BEST.

Proverbs 19:21 –“Many are the plans in a person’s heart but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”  And one of my favorites is

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declare the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Need a little praise and worship music??? (It always helps me to remain focused on my Lord and Savior.

“I Give You My Heart” Performed by Hillsong

“Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord “ Performed  by Hosanna  Music

 

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