About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 9

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Abimelech (ch. 9:1 - 57)       

 

Chapter 9 is the story of Abimelech.  He was one of Gideon's many sons.  He was not born from one of Gideon's wives but born from a concubine.

 

Verses 1 and 2 tells us that Abimelech went to Shechem where is mother, Gideon's concubine came from.  There he asked his mother's clan if they'd rather have all 70 of Gideon's sons to rule over them or would they rather just have him rule over them.  This was a no-brainer as they say.  The clan chose Abimelech to be their leader because he was their kin.  The people gave Abimelech 70 shekels of silver from the temple of Baal.  You can see right off the bat things aren't right.  Those in Shechem worshipped Baal and Abimelech had no problem taking money from the temple of Baal .       

Note in verse 2 and throughout this chapter that Gideon is not called by Gideon.  He's called by his other name that we've seen before.  Chapter 9 calls Gideon Jerub-Baal.  I think this is significant.  Jerub-Baal means Baal killer.  Gideon is being compared with Abimelech and when Gideon is named by Jerub-Baal the comparison states that Gideon killed Baal while Abimelech was Baal's friend.   

        

Verse 5 states that Abimelech killed all of his brothers but one.  This tells us that Abimelech probably had problems with his brothers.  Some Bible teaches suggest that Gideon's concubine was in fact a Canaanite.  This would have helped account for the difficulty between Abimelech and his brothers. As we know, Israeli men often had Canaanite concubines and wives. 

 

Verse 6 tells us that after Abimelech killed his brothers he was crowned as king.  It is clear that those who wanted Abimelech king didn't care about his moral character.  As long as he promised what they wanted, he could be king.  I suggest that this is what is happening in the western world today.  We don't care about the moral life of our leaders.  We just care about what they can do for us.  The simple fact is that if a leader is morally deficient, then the way he conducts government affairs will be morally deficient as well.

 

Note the word "king" in verse 6.  Even though the text says "king', Abimelech wasn't a king in the sense of King David.  He was simply the political leader.    

 

Verse 7 states that Abimelech was crowned king by his clan.  We need to understand that Abimelech wasn't king over all Israel , only that part of Israel where he lived among his clan.  We also need to understand that the ceremony was a mixture of Judaism and Baalism, something Yahweh would not permit.    

 

From verses 7 through 15 the son of Gideon who was not killed by Abimelech tells a prophetic parable. Jotham wanted the men of Shechem to carefully listen so God would listen to them.  This parable was meant to call these people back to the true God. 

 

I will let you read the parable. This is the meaning.  The olive tree produces oil.  This would be God's calling.  The fig tree's calling was to produce fruit.  The vine's calling is to produce grapes for wine.  The trees of the field were asking the above trees to leave their God given gifting to rule.  It's forsaking the will of God to be somebody in the world.  God's calling in His kingdom in our lives is more important than a secular calling of the people.  Too often God's people leave their place in the kingdom for a place in the world.

 

Back in the 1988 U. S. election, Pat Robertson, found of the Christian Broadcasting Network, ran for president of the United States.  I asked Earn Baxter, a well known Bible teacher, what he thought of that.  He said that he had no problem with Robertson's decision to run for president as long as Robertson understood that he was taking a demotion if he ended up being president.  Baxter viewed president as being less important than a preacher of the gospel.    

 

Since the above three trees refused to leave their God called position, the trees of the field asked the ordinary bramble bush to lead them.  The bramble would except the offer under the condition if the other trees are cut down and submit to them, under it's shade.  The bramble has little shade because it is low to the ground.  You might say it is a weed tree.  The point is that those in Shechem choose a poor quality leader to submit to.  As long as Abimelech could lead them and provide for them those in Shechem would submit to him. 

 

I see a parallel to this today.  Our nations will elect sub-quality leaders, as long as that leader can offer personal peace and prosperity.  The quality of national leaders in our day is not as it once was, and we suffer for this lack. The same might be true in parts of what we call church.  One thing we should note here concerning church is that Abimelech's clan chose him because he was their relative.  In many instances today when one man builds a church group, and, when he retires, his son automatically takes over.  I suggest that this is not New Testament thinking.  First of all I believe in plurality of leadership, but to the point here, just because someone is a son does not mean he should take charge. Church isn't a business where the son inherits the church.   

 

Note in verse 16 the words, " if you have been faithful to Jerub-Baal and his family ",   suggesting that Abimelech was not a son from a legal marriage but from a concubine.  Verse 18 clearly says that Abimelech was "the son of a slave woman", or, a concubine.

 

Jotham's speech from verse 16 to 21 is simply stating that you people of Shechem will get what you deserve.  You chose an inferior dictator.  What happens from here on out is a product of your own choice.

 

Verses 22 and 23 tell us that after Abimelech ruled for three years, "God sent an evil spirit between him and the people".  From verse 23 to the end of the chapter we see the result of God sending this evil spirit.

 

The evil spirit caused dissension between Abimelech and his people.  To make a long story short, the rest of this chapter relates how the people killed Abimelech in battle.  The final straw for Abimelech came when a woman dropped a large stone from overhead that fell on Abimelech, cutting his skull open.  Abimelech had one of his men stab him with a sword so people wouldn't know that a woman killed him.  This is a bit ironic, because of course, we all know now who killed Abimelech.

 

The sending of this evil spirit was God's will.  We need to understand that God uses both satan and evil spirits as His tools at times.  He used evil to bring Jesus to the cross.  He will use the anti-Christ at the end of this age to bring Israel to her knees and the world into judgment.

 

We should also understand the reason why God used an evil spirit to eventually kill Abimelech.  There are two things going on here.  One is the Abrahamic Covenant.  He that blesses Israel will be blessed and he that curses Israel will be cursed.  Abimelech, though being a half Jew, acted in a manner unfavorable to Israel and for this reason was subject to the curse of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

 

The second thing to consider is that the Law of Moses demands the death of a person when he commits murder without just cause.  God himself made sure that Abimelech received proper punishment.

 

Note the last verse  of the chapter.  God made the curse of Jotham, from the parable we saw earlier in the chapter come on the people of Shechem.  Not only did Abimelech get cursed, so did the people for their part in the whole wicked scheme. 

 

I think as nations we have something to learn here.  We can elect a wicked leader.  God will deal with the leader and he will also deal with the nation, and his dealings will not be favorable to the nation.  His dealings will be dealings of judgment.  We our coming to the place in the western world that we will elect men and women who will give us what we want, will give us personal peace and prosperity.  In the electoral process we don't really care about the character of the people we elect.  We don't care about their family life, their honesty, their bad character.  We just care that they give us what we want.  Those in Shechem didn't care what kind of person Abimelech really was.  Both us and our leaders will be judged for this, because in the end, such leaders lead us away from God.  Also, in the end, at the end of this age, the world will freely give allegiance to the anti-Christ.  The world will freely submit to him because despite the loss of freedom he will offer personal peace and prosperity.

 

Note as this chapter ends that "God pays people back for their sin".  The Bible clearly teaches that God is the avenger of sin, not us.  We need to know that God will pay people and nations back for their sin.  Sooner or later, He will do just that.

 

 

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