January 12, 2021
Rev. Daniel Poon
Judges 8:33-35 talks about what happened to people of Israel after Gideon’s death. What kind of life did the Israelites lead during the different years of “peace in the land”? Let the Holy Spirit lead us to reflect on what kind of life we are leading as we live in the beautiful New Zealand where the pandemic is under control? Do we follow the lead of God? God gives us a great reminder in this chapter.
1. V1-6, Making Oneself King
Abimelech was the son of Gideon and his concubine, whose name means “my father is a king”. Abimelech was born outside of marriage, which was a problem in Gideon’s life. In Chapter 8, verse 22, Gideon said that he would not rule over Israel, but in fact, Chapter 9 tells us from the beginning, Abimelech was asking where it was better for you to have 70 people reigning over, or just one person. Though Gideon said that he would not be ruling, his 70 sons were in fact ruling together with him. Many times we say we exalt God, but are we truly humble and let God rule and reign in our lives, or do we declare with our mouth that God is our king, but in reality, we are the king for ourselves. We do not even teach the next generation, just like Gideon, when he died, his 70 children were still in charge. It was not easy for the people to be under one king already. Now that there were 70 kings, the lives of the people must be miserable. Abimelech was clever, he was able to catch this weakness of those people and went to persuade his relatives first. Usually the problems start with people close to us, so we need to be careful of how we influence others. When we tell people around us bad things, they also tell others. We must stay vigilant about what we say and do, even with our body language, tone, and expression, which will all convey what we think inside. Therefore, our heart must be right. When the heart is right, the message we express is positive, encouraging, and edifying others, bearing the fruits from the tree of life.
When Abimelech told all his uncles about this, they thought it was a good idea. We see the problem here. In the past it had been the God to choose the leaders, but here Abimelech promoted himself as the king. Not only that, but he also oppressed his brothers. What grows out of a wrong, unblessed marriage is a curse, not a blessing. So all Abimelech did was opposing, against His heart.
V3, the hearts of the people of Shechem “was inclined to follow Abimelech”. We see how sin enters our hearts. The hearts of Abimelech and Shechem were connected, which was a soul tie. The people of Shechem gave Abimelech the money from their idol, and the idol was then connected with Abimelech. With this money he “hired worthless and reckless men” to follow him instead of choosing warriors. When we are allied with the enemy and sin, we will live in ignorance and darkness. From the time Abimelech formed an alliance with them, his life became darker and darker. When we align with darkness, our lives will be more and more chaotic. On the contrary, when we light the lamp by God’s word in the morning prayer, we can see light within us.
V 5, Abimelech not only made himself king, but also killed 70 sons of his father. He got deeper and deeper in sin, all of which started when he just wanted to be the king himself. We want to be kings and masters by ourselves, have our own opinions, and disobey the authority. As a result, our lives will become more and more corrupt and dark. We need to ask God to help us live in the light of the Lord.
2. V7-21, Not Listening to the Warning
Gideon’s youngest son was Jotham, and he went into hiding, so he survived. His 70 brothers died on a stone, indicating that they had fought against Abimelech together, and only the youngest child hid.
V7, Jotham was not relying on his own strength to deal with his enemy in front of him, he spoke to the people on Mount Gerizim. Deuteronomy 11:29 mentions that the blessing should be presented on Mount Gerizim, Joshua 8:33, “…Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim…bless the people of Israel”. So Mount Gerizim was especially important to the Israelites. Jotham came here and said to the people of Shechem, “Listen to me, …that God may listen to you.”
V8-15, the oil from the olive tree could be used in the temple of God, so he would not give up his destiny to sway over the trees. What he said was that a king that reigns over other trees had no practical ability, instead only things that God has ordained are important. Do we value the position God has given us today, or do we blame others? Do we feel that our talents are buried? In your place, you must be grateful and rejoice, instead of feeling wronged or wasted.
In Jotham’s parable, the fig tree, the vine, and the olive tree were not willing to give up their destinies to do things that others wanted them to do but were not true. Finally, the trees found the bramble to anoint him as king. What a bramble gives us is pain and discomfort. When we choose the world instead of God’s leadership, we are as if we are under brambles all day without peace, only being stabbed.
V16-21, Jotham prophesied to the Israelites before running away, but this prophecy did not come from God. He was speaking ironically, saying that your joy and benefits come from a person, not from God, so the joy of your life is in the hands of this person. This is not a blessing.
V20, Jotham said to the people of Shechem, if you go your own way, Abimelech will burn you, and you will all fight against Abimelech. When we are not following God’s will, making ourselves kings, and ally with the world, our lives will gradually go downhill. Life and death are set before us as stated in the Bible. Which path are we willing to choose? If we say we are going to align this year, should we align with the world, or align with God, our authority, and the church, and then cross over together?
3. V22-57, Eating the Fruit of One’s Own Way
22-24, God told us the ending at the beginning of this paragraph of what happened to Abimelech and the men of Shechem. God is a God who keeps covenant and mercy. If we do not align with him, what will we do?
God is a God who keeps covenant, so leaders should do the same and keep covenant. Leaders who do not keep covenant will be full of violence against the people under them and kill those who do not listen. If a leader has the image of God, he will show understanding and love. What Abimelech brought to the people of Shechem was killing. As a result, his skull was crushed by a millstone dropped by a woman, and he was finally killed.
56-57, God will “repay”, his retribution is real and will never change. Do we fear, or do we feel that God’s retribution will not come? Are we willing to walk under the love and leadership of God?
May the Lord help turn our hearts back to God, not to compromise with the sins in our hearts, and not to align ourselves with this world. Help us not to be blinded by the temporary and unreal benefits of this world, not to make ourselves kings like Abimelech, but to be like the olive tree, fig tree, and vine in Jotham’s parable, and to value the destiny given to us by God – we are the children of God, aligning with the Lord, so we can bear the fruit of the tree of life, bring positive influence on people, and edify others.
士师记 9 – 从叛逆到灭亡
V 5, 亚比米勒不仅自己做王，而且杀死了父亲的70个儿子。他在罪恶中越陷越深，而开始只是不服气，想自己做王。我们很想自己做王、做主，有自己的意见、不顺服权柄，结果我们的生命会越来越走向败坏和黑暗，求神帮助我们活在主的亮光中。