By now we see a clear pattern that continues to repeat itself in the same recurring cycles: beginning with the phrase-they did evil in the eyes of the Lord; followed by He handed them over to So we read these accounts of apostasy followed by oppression which God allows which then leads to distress which results in the people crying out to the Lord and in His mercy, God delivers them once again.
Understand this truth: Gods judgment through- out history has been to give people over to the consequences of the life they have chosen to lead. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. ( Galatians 6)
Sometimes it seems God is slow or even remiss in judging sin. But Scripture is consistent in these three truths from Genesis to Revelations regarding Gods judgment:
- Judgment comes unseen.
- Judgment comes after a wait.
- Judgment comes through the outworking of human sin.
Be not deceive, God cannot be mocked. ( Galatians 6:1)
Our Lord Jesus taught us to pray- thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. His kingdom at this time is unseen. It will come after a wait. We know this- we are closer now to His Kingdom coming than ever before. It comes through the outworking of human sin. As sinfulness becomes more and more obvious, we are reminded of what Jesus told us the world would be like when He came. He said it would be like it was in the days of Noah. How was it during the time of Noah? The Lord saw how great mans wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. ( Genesis 6) Jesus also said as it was in days of Sodom and Gomorrah so it would be at his coming. We see these signs clearly today. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is recognized, actually honored and celebrated in our country today.
Now today we find ourselves in our study of Judges in the aftermath of Gideons death. His family is not shown kindness and the people soon forget what the Lord God who rescued them has done.
What we are about to study is about a political campaign- not a whole lot different from what political campaigns are about today. It is also about a civil war. The higher the office, the more ambitious the ones running for the office are. The campaigns today for the highest office of our country are expensive, continuous, and seem to divide us one against the other more than unite us. Politics have become vicious name-calling, dirt-throwing, muck-raking affairs which reveal the raw ambition and zeal that men and women have in pursuit of power and fame and money. It is selfish ambition that fuels their quests for the most part. Jimmy Stewarts portrayal in Mr. Smith goes to Washington was a great movie which revealed what happened to a young man filled with ideals and wanting to serve his country discovered in the halls of power in Congress. His famous line in the move is about lost causes- he quotes his fallen hero who once said: Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for.
It may seem we are fighting for a lost cause- but I assure you as this story and scripture bears out- we are on the winning side, despite the appearances. Our cause is not lost. We must realize that God in His wisdom uses the tool of human rebellion to bring down those who rebel against Him. Listen to these encouraging words from Psalm 37: Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. A little while and the wicked will be no more
Todays story is the story of Abimelech, the son of Gideon by a concubine who lived in Shechem. His name, and we do not know if Gideon named him or his mother, but his name must have been something his mother would use to build his ego. His name means literally-my father is king. Perhaps his mother filled his mind with ambitious dreams- telling Abimelech he could be anything he set his mind to be. Achieving the ambition of becoming king was the driving force of Abimelechs life.
The story of Abimelech is the story of selfish ambition and pride. It is told in the context of a political campaign. There is nothing wrong with ambition as long as the ambition is healthy; mixed with genuine humility; for the right reasons and controlled by the will of God.
Many feel in life, like politics, you have to wage a campaign to get ahead. Promoting ones self and always looking to take advantage of an opportunity to look good in the eyes of those who are important and can help you achieve your ambitions. If we are to soar on wings like eagles let it be wings the Lord has given us and the wind He provides not our own hot air of ego and pride and self ambition.
Jesus told his disciples ( and us) : If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. ( John 8)
The truth will set you free when you apply the truth through obedience to every issue in your life: your goals, motives and sense of self-worth. Abimelech was seeking security and purpose from worldly sources: personal success; status; wealth; power and the approval of others. And as much as we look at Abimelech and find him to be a despicable person- we also realize we harbor many of the same tendencies and desires to be approved by others to gain a sense of self- worth.
And thus each of us began our search for significance- looking to satisfy some inner, unexplained yearning for something. We searched for people to love us- approve us. We strive for acceptance and our desire drives us to perform our very best to be recognized. All of this is for a need we all have- a need for self-worth.
Now do not despair- this desire for self-worth is God given. And since it is God given- it can only be satisfied by Him. I spent 31 years searching for what would fill this emptiness, this longing. And when I found Him, I realized the Lord had found me. He had been after me for years. No wonder He was called by the song writer the Hound of Heaven.
We must remember our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked- who can know it?
WE need the guidance of the Holy Spirit dont we? God desires truth in the inner parts- Psalm 51.
What we must recognize in our search for significance is the deception of the enemy. From the beginning Satan, the father of lies, distorts the truth so his deceptions appear to be reasonable and attractive. His main thrust is this: you can have greater significance apart from God.
So people believing this lie, believe their self worth comes from their performance and the approval of others. They become caught in the performance trap and in order to feel good about themselves they must meet the standards of others. Praise or compliments from others feed their desire and they starve without them. They fear failure more than anything and are driven to perfectionism.
Others must be approved by the in-crowd. They fear rejection and attempt to please others at any cost. They will smoke their first cigarette, take their first drink, engage in immoral sexual behavior, and belittle others- all to be accepted by the in-crowd or a particular individual.
When failure occurs in these areas- they find someone to blame: parents, spouse, God, the devil, and the unfair employer, teacher etc. They will lash out in anger.
Others will experience shame for their failures. I am no good, I am worthless. I cannot change, I am hopeless and fall deeper into destructive behavior. They will withdraw and isolate themselves.
God has the answer and the solution to all of these needs. Let us now look at his campaign for King waged by an ambitious, significance-seeking young man named Abimelech.
How angry he seems and how desperate he is to be recognized. Perhaps because he was not a legitimate heir- he felt slighted by his father, Gideon. We do not know his reasons. However, we can see his life is void of the Lord God of Israel. He has decided whatever he gets in this world he will have to get it for himself. He is utterly determined to be somebody- to be the king.
Lets look at his campaign- his campaign speech and platform all designed to get him elected and crowned as king. Someone has said- how do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving! Clever politicians seems to have the ability to take the temperature of the crowd and give them what they want.
We live in a world of thermometers and as Christians we are to be thermostats. Jesus said I wish you were either hot or cold- but you are not. You are lukewarm- I am going to spit you out. ( Revelation 3) Do you know how we have become lukewarm? WE got away from what made us hot- from our source. Like a hot cup of coffee left neglected and forgotten on the kitchen counter, we have become room temperature. Lukewarm- having fallen to the level of the temperature around us- conformed by the world.
You want to see the result our lukewarmness: in the last days- People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God- having a form of godliness but denying its power. ( 2 Timothy 3)
Do you wonder where were the people of Israel? Where were Gods people? How did this man become king? What we are seeing is a cycle they kept repeating- but if we apply the truth to our own lives and our own country- we find the story is as true today as it was in the days of Judges.
Indifference is what described the people of Israel in the days of Abimelech. Indifference is a result of lukewarmness. Are we standing up and standing in the gap today for Gods truth? Or are we lukewarm, indifferent and more interested in me and mine?
I am one of you. My mother is from Shechem. Better to be ruled over by one of your own than the 70 sons of Gideon. He appeals to their selfish natures and says- I can best take care of your interests. Your interests are the same as mine. I am one of you. In doing so, Abimelech made the Israelites and Gideons sons to be the source of their problems. Make the other person(s) the villain. Discredit the other party, the other individual. Do you see this is what Satan did in the Garden of Eden? He discredited Gods character by insinuating, God was withholding good from them. God could not be trusted to look after their best interest. Today- guess what? We are still at it- one political party discrediting the other party. One individual discrediting the other individual. But even more dangerous and more bolder- people are discrediting the Word of God and His Church and those of us who believe it.
Today Christians and the Word of God are no longer looked to as the solution to the problem, but are looked at as part of the problem.
More and more we see people seduced by the lies of the enemy- because they do not know the truth.
Abimelech has a platform that appeals to the self interest of the majority of the people. He gets campaign funds from the group most interested in seeing their lifestyle continuing and not threatened. He gets it from the temple of Baal. He murders the 70 sons of Gideon, his half-brothers having convinced the people of Shechem they are a threat to their way of life.
The Blame Game still works. Get rid of those people and we will be all right. Hitler convinced Germany the Jews were the cause of their problems. Get rid of them- and the problem would be fixed. And this was in Germany, a 20th century Christian country, the land of Martin Luther.
Abimelech hires mercenaries to do his dirty work. For with power comes might and by power and might- Abimelech satisfies his selfish ambition but he must continue to fight to keep it.
Today, and I include both political parties, are nothing more than well-dressed, well-mannered, 21st century equivalents of Abimelech. And we continue to choose them for the wrong reasons and the wrong qualities.
Successful politicians and Abimelech was one, are successful at seduction. Today, we live in what many call the Advice Age. From Dr. Phil to Dr. OZ and their benefactor Oprah, they can tell you how to have a better life. Our thinking is influenced by those we view as experts; who offer rational explanations and reasons for our problems. We live in a time and place where we are bombarded from the moment we turn on our televisions, radios, open the newspaper, being persuaded and manipulated to conform our thinking to a secular world view. The great seducers throughout history have one thing in common: they can use the natural needs and instincts of another person for their own selfish ends. These seducers employ the language and gestures of dialogue, trust, intimacy and personal rapport with consummate skill.
We look at Abimelech and the murderous acts he commits and the atrocities he commits in burning a tower with over a 1000 men, women and children in it and shake our head at his callous indifference to human life. All the while living in a country which declares it is the inalienable right of a mother, to end the life of her unborn baby.
In the middle of this story we have the first parable in the Bible- told by Jotham the only surviving son of Gideon who escaped the mass murder of his brothers. He tells a parable of trees who went out to anoint a king for themselves. They appealed to the olive tree, the fig tree, and the grape vine and all refused. None wanted to sacrifice their valuable oil, sweet fruit or sparkling wine. Indifference will never lead to self sacrifice. Let someone else do it. There is a lesson to be learned here from these three trees. They thought more highly of themselves than they ought to think. Who made them what they were? Who gave them the gifts they had? God. And God gives each of us gifts and places us in the body, His church to minister to one another to the glory of God. But in order to bring glory to God we must decrease that He can increase. The three trees did not want to sacrifice. Abimelech is ridiculed here by Jothan as a thornbush. A bush that grows about 2 or 3 feet off the ground; it produces no useful fruit, provides no shade and is only good for starting a fire. Abimelech was certainly going to provide fuel for fire.
In fact the fires of hell were prepared for the devil and his angels and those who choose him choose one who cannot provide anything but fuel for fire and thorns for fruit.
Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.
In the end all seduction is self- seduction.
When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and entiece. Then, after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. (James 1)
Now for some GOOD NEWS. God knows you need a sense of self-worth. Jesus said- your Father knows you have need of these things. Self-worth is crucial to our emotional, spiritual and social stability. This hunger for these things is God-given, and only God can satisfy them. Rebellion is the attempt of man to find security and purpose of life apart from God.
Here is the GOOD NEWS, the moment you trusted Christ many wonderful things happened to you:
- All your sins are forgiven- past, present and future .
- You become a child of God.
- You receive eternal life.
- Your are delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
- Christ comes to dwell in your heart.
- You become a new creature.
- You are declared righteous.
- You enter into a love relationship with Almighty God.
- You are accepted by God
Let these truths sink in and transform your thinking- for as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.
I am deeply loved by God.
I am completely forgiven by God.
I am fully pleasing to God.
I am totally accepted by God.
I am a new creature complete in Christ Jesus.
Now let me tell you four things required to change your thinking
- Encouragement of others.
- Application of the truth of Gods word through obedience
- Power of Gods Spirit.
I believe time is as critical a part of this process as anything. For it is in waiting we grow impatient. Also remember our hearts are deceitful above all else. Your old nature has developed an elaborate defense system of deceit to protect itself. It will take time and the application of Gods truth to set us free from long held false beliefs.
We are re-programming our thinking by replacing the lies of the enemy with the truths of Gods Word. Our thoughts are seldom neutral. They either reflect beliefs on the Word of God or beliefs based on the worlds values.
Be not conformed by the world , but transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will. ( Romans 12)
CHRIST IS OUR KING. HIS WORD, THE BIBLE CONTAINS HIS PLATFORM.
The Bible is our doctrinal guideline. Gods Word generates life, creates faith, produces change, frightens the devil and causes miracles.
The Word of God heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, imparts joy and overcomes temptation and adversity.
Gods Word infuses hope, releases power, cleanses our mind, brings things into being and guarantees our future forever.
I cannot live without the Word of God. It contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, it histories are true, and its decisions immutable.
Read it to be wise. Believe it to be safe. And practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you.
It is the travelers map, the pilgrims staff, the pilots compass,the soldiers sword, and the Christians charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heavens gates are open wide and hells gates are closed. Christ is the grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.
It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
AmenCopyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14