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Judges 9:1-57

 

“And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying, 2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you?  remember also that I am your bone and your flesh. 3 And his mother’s brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words:  and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother. 4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. 5 And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone:  notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself. 6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem. 7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. 8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. 11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. 13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? 14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. 15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow:  and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon. 16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands; 17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian: 18 and ye are risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;) 19  If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you: 20 but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo, and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech. 21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother. 22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel, 23 then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: 24 that the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren. 25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them:  and it was told Abimelech. 26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem:  and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech. 28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebal his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem:  for why should we serve him? 29 And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech.  And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out. 30 And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31 And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee. 32 Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field: 33 and it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city:  and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion. 34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies [400 men]. 35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city:  and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait. 36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebal, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains.  And Zebal said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men. 37 And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim. 38 Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them. 39 And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate. 41 And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah:  and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem. 42 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech. 43 And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid in wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them. 44 And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city:  and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them. 45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt. 46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith. 47 And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an ax in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done. 49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women. 50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. 51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to break his skull. 54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him.  And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place. 56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren: 57 and all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads:  and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.”

 

Introduction

 

[Audio version: https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED635]

 

“Judges chapter 9, we have come to the end of the life of Gideon, great man, great warrior, certainly a man with flaws and faults, but a man who genuinely loved God it seems, and served God.  End of his life, we find sadly with many wives, and on top of the many wives and the 70 sons, a concubine.  Ah, I don’t know why you need the concubine with the many wives and the 70 sons, and who knows how many daughters.  But that’s the condition we find him in.  He refused to be the king of Israel, they wanted to make him king, and he refused that.  But sadly he names this one son from the concubine Abimelech [which means] “my father is king.”  Though he refused to be king he named his son Abimelech, “my father is king,” it’s interesting.  And he had sown some of the seeds of the trouble that would be in the next generation, he had made an ephod of the gold he took of the Midianite earrings, and it became a place of idolatrous worship.  The nation was [supposed] to be going to Shiloh, to the Tabernacle.  No doubt they had turned away from that, and now they’re giving more credence to Gideon and to this, probably it was a memorial in his heart, meant to commemorate a great victory of God, but it turned to an idolatrous practice and was wrong.  And sadly it is, and God tells the truth about his people, it marks in some ways the end of his life.  Verse 33 in chapter 8 says this, “And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.”  That’s interesting, “lord of the covenant,” Baal-berith, just like Baal-peor, there are different forms of Baal in the different areas of Israel.  They went a whoring again, after Baalim and Baal-berith their god.  Interesting to see one life, and how effective one life that’s given over to God can be.  Of all the years of Gideon they didn’t do this, God had granted great victory, he judged Israel for 40 years, it says that Israel had rest for 40 years, but when Gideon is dead and gone they begin to turn away again.  Now, that is a picture of what it says ‘That there was no king in Israel in these days.’  We’re going to see his son Abimelech try to be king, God’s not going to recognize that, because his testimony was ‘There was no king,’ but Abimelech set himself up, but there was no king.  And it’s looking forward to the days of Saul and finally David the king that God would recognize.  But there’s no king in Israel, and because there was no central ruler, the plague was ‘Every man was doing what was right in his own eyes.’  Again, not every man doing what is wrong in his own eyes, sadly, every man was doing what is right in his own eyes, and what was right in their eyes, it says, was evil in the sight of the LORD, and it was destroying the nation, even though it was right in their own eyes.  [Comment:  how is that happening right now in the United States of America, and worldwide too?  see https://unityinchrist.com/topical%20studies/America-ModernRomans6.htm]  Verse 34 says “And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:  neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.” (verses 34-35)  Now it goes on to describe that.

 

Abimelech Runs A Slick Campaign To Become King Of Israel

(And Kills 69 Of His 70 Brothers)

 

“And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren [i.e. she was a Shechemite] and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,” (verse 1)  now no doubt he is shunned by his 70 brothers, because they are, it seems, the sons of legitimate wives, he is the son of a concubine, so he seems to be shunned by the rest of Gideon’s family, that is in Ophrah.  So he goes to Shechem, to his mother’s household, and that family, and he says, “Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” (verse 2)  Now he’s a good politician here, he’s reminding them that he’s family, they can trust him, and he says ‘Isn’t that better than the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, of Gideon?’  But there’s no evidence anywhere, there’s no credence, there’s no plan for the 70 sons of Gideon to do this, there’s not even hint of it in Scripture.  So he’s, unlike politicians today, he’s setting up a straw-man, and then running a campaign in regards to something that’s not even real, not even going to happen, [I think Pastor Joe is saying “unlike politicians today” tongue-in-cheek, because our politicians often do this.] and he persuades them.  “And his mother’s brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words:  and their hearts were inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.” (verse 3)  [now he is a really good politician, getting his family to campaign for him, because they were Shechemites, and he was both of Gideon and Shechem.  He’d get by just fine in our day and age, running for office 😊]  “And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.” (verse 4) so they give him, sadly, money out of the house the idol, Baal-berith, and it seems all Israel, it makes no positive comment about the sons Gideon, we don’t know if they’d fallen into this worship too, but the very money that pays the price of their death comes out of the house of the god that Israel’s following now.  “And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone:” upon a particular rock, maybe the one that Gideon had sacrificed the oxen and the altar of Baal he had torn down and so forth, we don’t know.  Now this is a mass public execution, the 70 sons of Gideon. “notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.” (verse 5)   One of them named Jotham, which means “the LORD is upright” slips away, the youngest one.  Abimelech comes with the money from Baal-berith, it’s not a lot of money, the amount that it tells us here, but it was enough to hire vain and light men, violent men.  No doubt he needs their help to slaughter 69 other men, and there’s a mass execution here, he slaughters his half-brothers on one stone, “notwithstanding” it says “yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.”  “And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.” (verse 6) “Millo” means a rampart or a tower, no doubt in Shechem.  Now, they’re initiating a Canaanite practice, of having a king.  God tells us, when he comments in Judges, there was no king in Israel, so he never recognizes Abimelech.  But they make this man, this murderer, their king.

 

God’s Prophecy Through Jotham

 

“And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.” (verse 7)  Now Joshua had stood in this very place, and it says he had set up a rock there, Joshua 24, verse 25 and 26, you don’t have to turn there, ‘Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem, and Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God and took a great stone and set it up under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.’  It says they make him king there by this oak, right where Joshua had set up a stone, and made them swear to worship the True and Living God.  Now Shechem is down in the valley between mount Ebal and mount Gerizim, Gerizim is the mount of Blessing, Ebal was the mount of Cursing.  When they came into the Land they stood there and reiterated the Law, and all of Israel said “Amen,” they stood in the valley.  Now here comes Jotham, and he stands up on mount Gerizim, the place of Blessing, and it’s 800 foot above the valley, and it’s a natural amphitheater there.  You can stand on Gerizim or Ebal today, and I’ve been in the area, and you can hear whatever’s spoken on top of there, it’s a natural amphitheater.  So he stands up there, where Israel had renewed their Covenant, and he stands up there, and this is what he says ‘You men of Shechem,’ “Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.” this is a call to repentance.  The reason that he’s asking to listen to what he has to say, is because he says if you listen to what I have to say, then God will hearken unto you.  No doubt that means in repentance, ‘that if you listen to what I’m saying here today, and you understand it, then when you go to God, he will hearken unto you.’  And it’s first a call to repentance.  And tells now this picture, it’s an idiom, it’s a soliloquy, it’s symbolism.  This is what he says, now you can imagine, everybody looking up to see this little guy up there, 800 foot up, they’re hearing what he says.  “The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.  But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness,” which is always a picture of the oil produced by the olive tree, “wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?” (verses 8-9) he says, ‘Look, should I leave my calling?’ it’s interesting, Gideon wouldn’t take the place of king, Othniel had no desire to be king, Deborah had no desire to be queen, each of them remained in their calling, certainly as a Judge, understood what God had called them to do, and were not tempted to enter into something God hadn’t called them to do, or were not tempted to enter into something higher than God had called them to do in regards to the estimation of men.  There’s a carnal temptation there all the time for anyone to leave the calling that God has on their life, and to get politically involved, or to get involved in some other thing where you have accolades of man, and you’ve left off the very thing that God has called you to do.  The olive tree says, ‘no, God’s designed me, my calling is to produce my fatness, that by me, both God and man may be honored, the oil from the tree producing the light in the lamps that lit up the Tabernacle, the lit up the homes, there was light, you know, this olive tree saying, no my calling is to produce light in Israel, not to be king, should I leave the calling of God, should I leave what I’m supposed to be doing?’  “And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.  But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?” (verses 10-11)  is that my calling, to forsake God’s purpose, to do some other thing?  “Then said the trees to the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.  And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?” (verses 12-13)  Now the olive tree, the fig tree and the vine are all a picture of Israel, but the point here is, leaving the calling and the purpose of God to do some other thing.  “Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.” (verse 14) now they’re listening to Jotham.  The bramble, the thorn, and Abimelech is listening to this, the thistle, the bramble, is worthless.  “Come thou, and reign over us” the trees say, “And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow:  and if not, let fire come out from the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” (verse 15) like politics makes this claim all the time, here’s a bramble, a thistle that’s saying ‘You can trust that I can produce shade,’ well that’s true if you’re four inches tall [I’ve actually seen a 7 foot tall thistle, with beautiful blue flowers, photographed it at Fort Foster, Kittery Point, Maine, with a blond girl named Maria, who was about 5 foot, 5 inches tall, standing next to it for height comparison, so they can get tall].  The whole idea of this soliloquy is how ridiculous it is, what’s been done, the sons of Gideon have been slaughtered, and this half-breed as it were, this man from the concubine of Gideon, a murderer and an outcast now, is trying to usurp his authority, saying ‘trust in my shadow,’ “and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” (verse 15b)  Now of course, the bramble, the thistle was used for kindling.  One of the problems we have in our country now is some of the forest fires we see is because of people care so much about the environment that they don’t want to let the forest service clear out the underbrush, the undergrowth and the brambles, and we lose whole segments of our forests.  The idea is, the fire as it begins, often begins in the brush, the brambles, the thistles that are underneath.  So here’s this thistle saying ‘You come and trust in my shadow, and if not, then let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’  “Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely,” now he’s challenging them, Jotham, “in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands; (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:  and ye are risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)  If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:  but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.” (verses 16-20) and it says “And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.” (verse 21)  not the kind of Beer people go to when they’re in trouble.  It would take Abimelech a long time to get to the top to get to him.  He’s saying, your alternative at the end of all of this is joy or fire.  Well that’s the truth in our lives even today, at the end of every human being, joy or fire.  And he says here, ‘If you’ve done right, and Abimelech’s the right guy, then you rejoice in Abimelech, and let him rejoice in you, you deserve each other.’  ‘If you’ve done foolishly, then let fire come out from Abimelech,’ he’s like a bramble, ‘and devour you, and let fire come out from you and devour him,’ and then Jotham runs away, we never hear from him again.  As we follow this along, this is a prophetic utterance.  Because what we’ll see as we study through, is in fact, that Abimelech burns Shechem, and he burns Millo, and then he’s killed, fire, he's struck on the head, we see the exact things that he said were the things that took place.  So, a very interesting picture, and then it just says he runs away.  We have no record of where he goes [he went to Beer, which to me may be a  reference to Beersheba, which is far to the south, which would have been safety for Jotham], and we never hear from him again. 

 

After Three Years God Renders Judgment Through Abimelech With Fire On Shechem

 

It says, now just time goes by, “When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,” (verse 22) we hear nothing of those three years, “then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:” (verse 23) now Abimelech is reaping what he’s sown, he had dealt treacherously with the house of Jerubbaal, now it’s coming back.  Isn’t it interesting, God waited three years.  You know, if I was God [laughter], you wouldn’t have waited three years, would you?  You’d have started that afternoon.  Isn’t it interesting, he waits three years.  Because the initial call was, ‘hearken unto me you men of Shechem,’ the reason being, ‘that God may hearken unto you.’  There was time for them to say ‘What we’ve done is foolish, we’ve chosen the bramble, and we’ve forgotten the purpose and the calling of God, made the foolish choice, God forgive us,’ time was extended to them, three years.  Isn’t it interesting?  And after three years, God begins to work.  Now he’s sovereign throughout.  He allows a lying spirit, a demon or fallen angel to come and to be begin to sow discord, strife, division.  It says “And when Abimelech had reigned for three years over Israel, then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:” (verses 22-23)  Something begins to happen behind the scenes in the spirit, God doesn’t let injustice just go forward, he’s not indifferent about that, God is not indifferent about the murder of 70 men, he’s certainly is not indifferent about the abortion of 54,000,000 babies either.  And look, again, when I say that, if you’re here this evening and you’ve had an abortion, and if you’ve repented of that, God sees you as clean, as Jesus Christ, and you have a reunion in heaven, waiting for you.  And many of us have done so many things, particularly before we came to Christ, we’re so thankful for the blood of Jesus, we’re forgiven, we’re cleansed.  But God takes note of one big mouth, Abimelech, who is a murderer, he’s not getting away with anything, he’s not protected.  You know, he can have walls of a castle around him, but God sends a spirit that can go right through the walls and begin to do the work that will be his dismembering and downfall of his little self-setup kingdom here.  “the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:  that the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.  And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them:  and it was told Abimelech.” (verses 23c-25)  So they’re herding the trade route here, no doubt Abimelech was taking tribute, taxes, and these groups of bandits now go in the mountains, they’re lying in wait, they’re watching, they’re scrutinizing the territory, they’re waiting for a chance to kill Abimelech, and in the meantime they’re raiding these people in trade, no doubt, the caravans in the trade route and so forth.  “And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem:  and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.  And  they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes,” probably in June, July then, it seems they’re gathering grapes, “and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and curse Abimelech.  And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is this Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is he not the son of Jerubbaal?” now he’s pickled, now it seems, “and Zebul his officer?  serve the men of Hamor” who had been a Canaanite “the father of Shechem:  for why should we serve him?” the son of Jerubbaal, “and would to God this people were under my hand! then I would remove Abimelech.  And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.” (verses 26-29)  ‘Tough guy, get your guys and come out!’ so this guy’s got Beer-muscle right now, he fled to Beer too, so he’s been drinking.  You know, when you drink you get much bigger, get much stronger, you get much more fearsome, everybody else gets smaller [in your own eyes, is what he’s saying], and that’s happening to him here.  So he says ‘Abimelech, get your army and come on out here and I’ll face you down.’  “And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.  And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.  Now therefore up by night, thou and thy people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field:” surround the city and hide yourself, “and it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early,” because he knows all these guys are going to have a hangover, “and set upon the city:  and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.” (30-33)  So he helps him set the ambush.  Now behind the scene, remember, there is this spirit that the LORD sent to manage all of this.  “And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.” (verse 34) [and Israelite company was 100 men, so this is 400 men.] they surrounded, they came into the area in four companies.  “And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city:  and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.” (verse 35) so he rose up in the morning, one of those mornings, I remember them from before I was saved, and you know, you’re drinking tomato juice, all kinds of strong coffee.  He went out and stood in the entering of the gate, he’s rubbing his eyes, strong coffee, “and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.  And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains.  And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.” (verses 35b-36)  Zebul said ‘Naw, you’re seeing the shadows of the mountains as if they were men,’ Gaal had a hangover, said ‘What’s all that gray stuff coming down the side of the mountains?’ Zebul says ‘You got a hangover, that’s the shadow of the clouds coming down the side of the mountain.’ you know, it’s just getting light.  “And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.  Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou sadist, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised?  go out, I pray now, and fight with them.” (verses 37-38)  that’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it?  ‘Where is thy mouth?’ the fear of all sinners on the day of judgment.  You know, I’ve got a relative on the West Coast, I remember one time witnessing to him, and he said ‘Yaa, someday I’ll stand in front of him, I’ll give him a piece of my mind,’ I’m thinking ‘oh man.’  Somebody’s going to say ‘Where is thy mouth?’  A lot of people say that, don’t they, they’re going to give God a piece of their mind, ‘Man, he’s not fair,’ and they’re going to stand there, they’re going to tell him, and when God brings judgment, and this is God’s judgment, because there’s a spirit working behind the scenes, Abimelech is coming, God orchestrated this, and Zebul now says to Gaal “Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech,  that we should serve him?” ‘now you’re going to find out who Abimelech is.’  is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.  And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate.” (verses 38-40)  Daniel tells us that God sets up one man over a nation, takes another down, and sometimes God in his purposes even sets up the basest of men, and Abimelech is no-good, God’s allowing him now, Jotham’s prophecy was fire will come out from Abimelech and destroy you [you, the city of Shechem], and fire will come out from you and destroy him.  “And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah:  and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.” (verse 41)  [I think Zebul was trying to save the city from Abimelech by getting rid of the trouble-maker, but it’s not gonna work, as we’ll see.]  “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.  And he took the people, and divided them into three companies,” because he knows where Gaal is, and this is his dad’s old trick, isn’t it, Gideon had divided his 300 into three different companies, “and laid in wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.  And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city:  and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them.” (verses 42-44) so Abimelech gets to the gates so the people can’t get back into the city, the other two companies flank them and come in and destroy them, “And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.” (verse 45) so they could never grow any crops again or anything.  “And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into the hold of the house of the god of Berith.  And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.  And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an ax in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.  And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.” (verses 46-49) the prophecy of Jotham.  He goes into the woods, cuts down somewhat of a branch or a tree, begins to drag it towards the tower, says ‘I want everybody to do the same thing I’m doing,’ so they’re going to gather all this foliage against the tower there in Shechem.  Now the fortresses in those days, particularly in Israel, many of them were made of limestone.  The Romans used to do this, they would come in and pile branches, logs against the walls of the city, set it on fire, and limestone maintains an enormous amount of moisture.  Well when the fire would dry out the limestone it would begin to crack and fracture, and the walls would actually come down.  And here, no doubt, this tower comes down in the midst of these flames and all of those men die there at Shechem, and it says a thousand men and women.  Baal-berith wasn’t much of a help. 

 

Now God Renders Judgment Down Upon Abimelech

 

“Then went Abimelech Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.  But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.  And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.” (verses 50-52) so he’s doing the same thing, he fights his way in, he’s going to put the branches around it and so forth, no doubt his men are pushing in behind him, and verse 53 just says, “And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull.” come on, what’s her name?  It’s a certain woman, maybe we’ll meet her in heaven.  She cast a piece of a millstone upon his head, and it broke his skull.  “Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him.  And his young man thrust him through, and he died.” (verse 54) this guy’s more concerned about his reputation than his soul.  [They didn’t have any concept of soul back then, the Old Covenant only promised good crops and physical blessings for obedience, never eternal life as the New Testament describes it.  Again, as Numbers 11:13-39 points out, Moses states that he wishes all Israel would have God’s Holy Spirit put upon and into them, whereas it was only a special 70 men receiving it at that time, to be of assistance to Moses, who received God’s Holy Spirit.  As Ezekiel 37:1-14 makes clear, and the Jews understand this, there will come a time when all Israel (and the world) will be brought back to life and be offered God’s Holy Spirit as well as being given a time to live on farms, etc.] ‘You know, I may go to hell, but I don’t want on my statue, memorial, I don’t want it to say some woman killed me.’  And the Hebrew indicates the upper part of the millstone, which was held by hand, it was about 27lbs.  So you could imagine somebody up in a tower dropping a 27lb frozen turkey on your head, you get an idea what that would do, not a pleasant experience at all.  Here’s Abimelech, cruel, ruthless, sinning, God had waited three years, he refused to turn, refused to turn, he refused to turn, and what happens, as always happens, his sin finally put him into a situation he couldn’t get out of.  No doubt he saw the woman, I don’t know if he looked up, I don’t know if she said ‘Abimelech, hello,’ there was this millstone in her hand, ‘see how this feels.’  So he must have looked up and seen her, and he couldn’t back out because everybody was pushing against, and his sin had put him in that place, he was unable to escape from it.  And you know what, if the Lord deals with this, and deals with this, and deals with it, and he’s patient, sometimes he’ll wait for years, sometimes we look at someone whose compromised in sin and think, ‘God, why aren’t you dealing with this?’  And God is merciful and he waits, and he waits, and he waits, and he waits.  But ultimately if we don’t repent, our sin gets us into a place we can’t escape from, and the lesson is learned the hard way then, the hard way.  And that’s the position here that Abimelech gets himself into.  This woman, he’s thinking ‘This is an embarrassing thing to have on my tombstone as a warrior, here lies Abimelech with a crushed skull from a woman on top of the tower.’  He didn’t want  anybody to know, so God put it in a Best-Seller and sent it around the world in all different languages [chuckles].  ‘He called to his armourbearer and says Do me a favour, kill me, I just don’t want anybody to say a woman did it.’  “And his young man thrust him through, and he died.  And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.” (verses 54c-55)  Listen, verse 56 is monumental, “Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren: and all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads:  and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.” (verses 56-57)  Thus God rendered, and he always does.  Look, we just went through this long chapter.  What it’s telling us here, is all of the details are just facts, it’s just giving us the story. God was merciful at the beginning because Jotham said, “hearken unto me, men of Israel, that God may hearken unto you.”  He had challenged them and called them to repentance, in the beginning, and told them this parable, this soliloquy, and told them, and they understood exactly what he was talking about, and he had given them a chance.  And God then had waited three years after Abimelech had taken the throne before he sent this evil spirit and started this process.  All of those things were under the sovereignty of God.  There’s never an Abimelech whose getting away with injustice.  There’s never a wicked man (or woman) anywhere in the world that’s getting away with anything.  There’s never a righteous man that goes unnoticed.  There is never a son or daughter of God who has repented, you may live in obscurity and no one may ever know who you are or know your name, but God notices everything.  God notices everything.  And there is no child of God whose living in compromise and sin, whose getting away with anything, because he chastens the sons that he loves.  It is unpleasant, but it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  Look, there is in the process, a sovereign God.  And he’s not like he’s busy with somebody else, you know Makmud-Aminijab is so crazy and so dangerous that God can’t really watch us.  You know, if you’ve raised kids, you know it’s like that, you have a bad one, you just do, there’s lessons in that, God gives you one of those, little Charlie Manson, if you don’t watch him every minute he’s gonna do something to the rest of the kids.  And the other kids know, your attention’s on him, they can get away with stuff.  We had one of those.  When my wife would get on the phone, she’d be talking, and all of a sudden she’d say ‘Wait a minute,’ whoever she was on the phone with her, ‘the house is quiet, he’s into something.’  I remember one time she got off the phone looking for him, she found him in front of the refrigerator, he had taken out all of the eggs, they were broken all over the floor, he’s standing in the middle of a puddle, he’d taken all of the grapes, they were all over the floor, all around, tomatoes, everything, he’s standing in this big lake of goo, taking stuff out, and she comes and looks and says ‘What are you doing!?!’ and he spun around, put his hands over his rear end and said ‘I didn’t do it,’ already protecting his proboscis, he turns around, and of course he slipped in the eggs, ‘Boom!’ right on the floor.  But when you have one of those, they get your attention.  And sometimes we think God is like that.  No, the truth is, his attention is equally divided between over 6 billion [now around 7.8 billion] people on the planet, saved and unsaved.  His sons, his daughters, those whom he’s drawing by his Spirit, those who have turned away, the wicked, God is completely cognizant of all, there is no wicked man getting away with anything, there is no righteous person who is suffering that God doesn’t take notice of.

 

“Thus God Rendered” -- You Reap What You Sow

 

And all this whole chapter is the small details, the momentous thing is here, “thus God rendered,” that’s the whole story of the whole chapter, everything else is just details, “thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech.”  We’re told in the New Testament, ‘Be not deceived, God is not mocked, as a man sows, that’s how he reaps.’  [so be careful what you sow, and pull up those weeds and burn them.]  You sow one thing, that’s what you reap, it’s a law, it’s a law of nature, go watch it. If you plant apple seeds, you’re not gonna get oranges, it’s never gonna happen.  It’s a law in nature to speak to us, you’ll always reap the same thing you’ve sown.  Now I thought it was interesting, years ago, when Princess Dianna died, and Mother Theresa, they died the same week, I mean, Mother Theresa should have died long before that.  She was in bad shape, God kept her alive, you have these two renowned personalities held in front of the world in one week.  One had everything and died with nothing, one had nothing and died with everything.  You know, people want to live like Princess Dianna and die like Mother Theresa, it ain’t gonna happen, it ain’t gonna happen.  As a man sows, that’s how he’s gonna reap.  First law, unavoidable.  Secondly, you always reap later than you sow, there’s a season of sowing [and then a season of growing], and there’s a season of harvest.  Somehow we lose track of that, Abimelech lost track of that.  You know, we’re used to instant on televisions, instant breakfast, instant cameras, instant whatever we want these days.  And we’re not used to duration of time.  A hundred years ago, in an agricultural society everybody understood these processes, they watched.  Jesus said ‘the husbandman goes out and he looks at the seed he’s planted, he watches day and night, and first it puts forth the shoot, then the ear, he watches, he knoweth not how, he sees the miracle of it,’ but the harvest always comes afterwards, so no one, not Abimelech, no one’s getting away with anything.  People feel they’re getting away with something because the hammer’s not coming down.  Paul says ‘Men misinterpret the mercy of God, because God’s not judging, but his longsuffering is there to bring people to repentance,’ his tenderness and his longsuffering are extended not so we can sin, but so we can wake up and come to repentance.  Because the last rule of the harvest is, you always reap more than you sow, you sow to the wind, you reap the whirlwind, you put one seed in, you get a whole tree.  Now look, by the way, we say two things about that.  Put that on the good side, ‘I try to do my devotions [prayer & Bible study for us normal Christians], I get up and I read the Word a half hour every morning, I’m not sure if I’m growing.’  You do that, and this is what’s unavoidable, you will reap what you’ve sown.  If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap life, that’s what the Bible says.  You just want it right now.  You read a half hour every day, and five years from now your life will be different.  And ten years from now it will be vastly different.  And I’m gonna want to know you 50 years from now if you read the Bible a half hour every day of your life, you’re going to be rich for everybody.  The problem is, that harvest comes later, but it also comes in greater measure than you sow it.  Listen, those of you who feel like your marriage is hopeless [it was], or a relationship [it is, two of my adoptive daughters deserted me], or some other thing you feel you can’t make any progress or a ministry, if you sow to the Spirit, the law is, you can only reap what’s good, you’re not gonna reap bad.  You know, that’s why we do, we’re doing [can’t figure out the word he’s using] series in church here, it’s so Biblical about what to do in our marriages [see https://unityinchrist.com/topical%20studies/HowMarriageWorks.html], if you sow good in, your spouse may be offended or whatever, you’re going to get good out, it’s the only thing that can come back, if you sow good in.  It takes time.  It’s not easy.  We don’t like waiting.  I have observed over many years in ministry three things that usually bear good fruit, time, prayer and unconditional love.  We hate waiting, we fall asleep while we’re praying, and we’d rather choke somebody than give them unconditional love, but I’m telling ya, time, prayer and unconditional love bear remarkable fruit.  Let’s go back to the negative side, for the sinner, here’s the wonderful thing for you and I, because we’re under the New Covenant in Christ [see      https://unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm], we may sin, we may go AWOL, we may become a prodigal, we may do things that are completely wrong, but if we go to God in genuine repentance, he is able to shorten this process, because Christ bore it all on the cross for us.  It doesn’t mean this, if I go out on a Friday night, I get drunk and I get in a fist fight, and I go to club somebody, and I hit ‘em on the back of the head and I break my wrist, and I get a cast, and I’m walking around with a cast, it’s not like ‘Oh God, I’m so stupid,’ and then God’s going to heal my wrist, it doesn’t say that.  God’s going to let me wear that cast and it’s going to tell me how stupid I am for weeks, because he wants me to learn, too.  But in the spiritual realm, I’m forgiven, if my repentance is real.  But God renders, wonderfully he renders unto us on behalf of Christ, who completed and bore it all on the cross for us.  And it says ‘he made him who knew no sin to be sin, that you and I, that he might render to us the very righteousness of Jesus Christ.’  ‘Thus God rendered,’ that’s the story for every Abimelech, everything else is just details.  Chapter 10…

 

Judges 10:1-18

 

“And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. 2 And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir. 3 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years. 4 And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead. 5 And Jair died, and was buried in Camon. 6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served him not. 7 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. 8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel:  eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side of Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. 9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim;  so that Israel was sore distressed. 10 And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. 11 And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? 12 The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. 13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods:  wherefore I will deliver you no more. 14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen:  let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. 15 And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned:  do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. 16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD:  and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. 17 Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead.  And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh. 18 And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

 

Next Judge, Tola, With The Hidden Meaning In His Name

 

“And after Abimelech” I know you were wondering what happened after Abimelech, “there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.  And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir” (verses 1-2)  I know if you were wondering if that happened after Abimelech.  We’re going to have several of these, let me read the next one, “And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.  And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.  And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.” (verses 3-5)  Just in case you’re wondering about those two guys.  This is what happened after Abimelech.  Isn’t it interesting?  Listen, after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola, his name means “worm,” I don’t know either.  ‘Honey, you know what I think we should name him, worm.’  ‘I don’t know, you know, what about Mosquito?  No, I like worm.’  “There arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah,” Puah means “splendor.”  You know, as you listen to him, it seems like Puah should mean “worm” and Tola should mean “splendor” the way they sound, but Puah means “splendor,” the son of Dodo, which means “loving” or “loved of God.”  You know, we toured Israel with David Asiel for years, he’s a friend, Orthodox Jew in Israel, you hear people who know him say ‘Dodo, dodo,’ it’s an endearing term.  Doesn’t sound like it in English, I understand that.  Now look, Tola judges Israel for 23 years, and he dies, he’s gone, buried in Shamir, we’re not even sure where that is.  Two sentences, he judges Israel three years longer than Samson, we’re going to have chapters on Samson.  Samson judges Israel for 20 years, Tola judges Israel for 23 years, and delivers them.  We have two sentences, and he’s gone, and his name means “worm.”  We have a very interesting usage, I’ll read it to you, you don’t have to turn there, Psalm 22 says this, ‘My God, my God, why haste thou forsaken me, why art thou so far from helping me and the words of my roaring.  O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not, and in the night season, and am not silent.  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel, our fathers trusted in thee, they did trust and thou didst deliver them, they cried unto thee and were delivered, they trusted in thee, and they were not confounded, but I am a wormToleth” here, same word, ‘and no man, a reproach of man, despised of the people.’  It’s going to say here ‘They divided my garments, they pierced my hands and feet,’ it’s Christ describing his experience on the cross, and he says ‘I am toleth, a worm.’  Now, Tola, “little worm,” diminutive, same word, some places it’s translated “scarlet,” because the animal, this little worm was famous for the die that would come out.  When this animal, this little worm was going to lay eggs, it would crawl up a tree and attached itself to a tree, and the eggs would hatch inside of it, and the young would feed on it, and that’s where they would receive their life from, and the mother then would die, and split open, and this red colour would run down the tree, and the offspring were given life by the sacrifice of the mother.  Jesus said ‘I am a toleth, I’ll give my life on the tree, and the scarlet colour can run down so that my offspring can have life.’  There was a judge, his name was Tola, he was the son of Splendor, the son of Loved of God, and he dealt in Shamir in mount Ephraim and he judged Israel 23 years.  God knows exactly who he was.  He has two sentences, and he had a more profound ministry than Samson.  Look, I say that because most of us, you serve the Lord, you think nobody knows, I know Christians that have that wonderful self-image, I’m a worm, ‘Lord, what could you ever do with me?’  You’re not a worm, you’re a son of God or a daughter of God, Jesus Christ became the worm that we are, he bore all of our sin on the tree, paid the price in full.  And we can have an impact on our culture and on our family, on the people around us.  One man, Gideon, the whole nation was influenced by him for 40 years.  One man, Tola, we know nothing about, steps on and off the page, a beautiful picture of Christ, he judged Israel for 23 years, longer than Samson. 

 

Next Judge Is Jair, Which Means “To Enlighten”

 

After him arose Jair, which means “to enlighten.”  “And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.” (verse 3) two years longer than Samson.  “And he had thirty sons” not sure why we’re told that “that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.  And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.” (verses 4-5)  Now not one conspicuous act is recorded about either one of them, interesting, God takes note.  He deals with the Abimelech’s of this world, he takes note of them, he renders, and he will render to the Tola’s and the Jair’s among us, of us also [Genesis 12:3 goes both ways].  (we really have to travel at light-speed to finish this up) after these 22 and 23 year periods 

 

The Stage Is Being Set For The Next Two Judges: Jephthah & Samson

(After These Two Judges Are Gone, 45 Years Later, The Children Of Israel Go Back To Worshipping  False gods, Idols)

 

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.” (verse 6) this is where the writer wants to bring us, “and the gods of the children” more specifically “of Ammon,” Molech, “and the gods of the Philistines” Dagon.  Now we’re going to move to two major judges, Jephthah, whose going to set Israel free from Ammon, that’s why it tells us they served the gods of the children of Ammon, that will set the backdrop for chapter 11, and two chapters looking at Jephthah, “and they served the gods of the Philistines,” that will set the stage for chapters 13 to 16, the life of Samson.   So that’s being put in front of us here, and in serving those other gods, they “forsook the LORD, and served him not.”  “And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.” (verse 7)  We’re going to set the stages now for the deliverance from those two servitudes.  “And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel:  eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side of Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is Gilead.  Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.” (verses 8-9) that’s always bad, when you’re sore distressed.  “And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.” (verse 10) ‘Eh, we’ve waited 18 years, maybe we should try crying unto the LORD,’ I’m always amazed at that, I at least, I’d be crying, I’m crying in no time.  18 years, amazing.  They cried unto the LORD, “saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.” We’ll pick up here next time we get together, “And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? the Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.” (verses 11-12) how did the LORD say that unto the children of Israel?  What do you mean “the Lord said”?  Where?  It doesn’t tell us.  Some voice is raised, we’re not sure how the LORD speaks to the children of Israel.  Earlier in the Book it says “and a prophet showed up,” don’t know his name, don’t know where he came from, he disappeared.  Here is says somehow the LORD spake to them, and the LORD does, never has a problem.  Tola may be gone, Jair may be gone, Gideon may be gone, but the LORD has no problem speaking.  And the LORD spoke to them, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? the Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.  Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods:  wherefore I will deliver you no more.  Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen: let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” (verses 11-14)  Now he's going to produce real repentance.  ‘You’ve served these gods, now you’re in a mess, go cry to them, see if they deliver you.’  You know it tells us in Ezekiel that sometimes God bound the nation up to her adulterous affair, God said ‘You like idols, he sent Nebuchadnezzar, let me give you a free ride to the land of idols.  You want to worship idols, I’m gonna send you to the capitol of idols, and you can have a party there until you’re sick of it, 70 years.’  And there are times, we’re told, when God binds someone over to their adulterous affair, to the situation they want, gives them over to it, in his mercy, and lets them reap what they’ve sown so that they become sick of it.  What we’re going to see is after this, the children of Israel, their repentance is real.  It says they put away the gods, they followed the LORD, you could see their repentance, it wasn’t just mouthing ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ it was a change in their life that lined up with what they were saying, and then it says ‘God was merciful, God was grieved for their misery, God is always merciful.’  But sometimes he’ll let that happen in our lives.  I had an uncle in New Jersey, Marine, he was at Iwo Jima, World War II, great guy, had a farm, had a gentleman’s farm there, raised some goats, raised some stuff, had some chickens.  He had this dog, and the dog started to kill the chickens, for some reason once the dog killed the first chicken, this dog loved chickens, and my uncle would beat the dog, and just the dog was a slow learner.  So one day my uncle caught the dog with a chicken in his mouth, and he took that chicken and wrapped it up with duct tape to his neck, tied it there, that chicken was there for a month on that dog.  Ah, he’s dead, you can’t report him to the SPCA, just listen, this is a story, you’re supposed to learn something.  He tied the chicken there, of course that dog wasn’t allowed in the house, that chicken stunk, that dog was walking around going Whif!, trying to get that chicken off.  When my uncle took that chicken off there, that dog never went near a chicken again for the rest of his life.  Sometimes God will do that.  He’ll tie the chicken to our neck, he's say ‘OK, have it now, call out on your chicken,…’ and we finally say ‘Uncle,’ he loves us, the chastening of the Lord is not pleasant, but  it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness, you know, sometimes we can be so stubborn, so rebellious that God finally says ‘Alright, go on, have it,’ and when we’re sick of it, and we will be, and when we’re broken, and we will be, and more repentant, and we will be, and when it’s real, and we’re willing to bring our life in line with our words, that’s the fruit of repentance, he’s there, and he’s merciful, and he’s waiting.  And his wisdom is very evident…Judges chapter 11, we’ve got to back up a few verses, ah chapter 10 set the stage for the last two judges for us, for Samson, because it tells us that they’re subjugated to the Philistines in the south [the southwest], and for Jephthah, because we’re hearing that they’re subjugated to the Ammonites, verse 8 in chapter 10 says for eighteen years, and then they start to cry out to the LORD, and again, and I’m amazed, it would not take me eighteen years.  Ah, we are an interestingly stubborn lot, 18 years in subjugation before they start to cry out to the LORD, and the LORD basically tells them ‘Let the gods that you’ve given your lives to bail you out,’ he says in verse 14, “Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.  And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned:  do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.” (verses 14-15)  And again, there must be a prophet here, we’re not given anything particular, it’s not the role of a judge to be speaking like this.  Reality seems to be setting in, and notice verse 16, it says “And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD:  and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.”  Repentance should always have arms and legs on it.  John the Baptist, remember, he said to the Pharisees and scribes, ‘Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, don’t think to say in your hearts you have Abraham as our father, he’s able to raise up children from these stones,’ but he told them that they should bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, he said it should be seen.  Here, you know, ‘I’m sorry I’m doing, I can’t believe I got into this, I should be doing this,’ then if it just goes on, but if  there’s real repentance and there’s real confession, it’s agreeing with the Lord, homolagao, saying the same thing, then there should be a change in the way we live, it should be visible, it should be evident.  And it says here, in their repentance “they put away the strange gods from among them,” it took them 18 years, “and they served the LORD:  and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” (verse 16) if you can imagine that, a loving Father, the LORD’s soul was grieved with the misery of his people.  They had turned from him for 18 years, they had done abominable things worshipping Molech the god of the Ammonites, and now turning back to him and crying out, it says his soul is grieved, broken, God’s broken heart for the misery of Israel.  Look, again, remember, the only reason that we can have a relationship with a son and a daughter, is because we’re created in his image and likeness, and before the worlds were formed, his Son was offered.  The only reason we can love a son, a daughter, a spouse, is because we have in being created in his image and likeness, we have the capacity for relationship (cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13).  And to him that is highest of all capacities, because therein lies the love of God.  The fact that we can have a kid whose a prodigal, who goes out, and we don’t know what they’re doing, we get mad at them, and when they come back years later, and they’re coming back with the right attitude, and we start to see ‘Man, they’ve really changed,’ how our hearts can break, how we can be grieved for the pain and the difficulties they’ve had, and we see that here, it’s because we’re created in his image and likeness, he’s grieved for the misery of Israel.  “Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead.  And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.  And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon?  he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” (verses 17-18)  [This is where they are, there were many “Mizpah’s” in Israel, Mizpeh just meaning “a fortress, tower.”]

 

    Location Of Mispah

 

That sets the stage, they lack a leader.  The children of Ammon have gathered  now against them, because the children of Israel are pulling away to some degree, and now they say ‘where are we going to get a leader?’  “Now Jephthah” there was no chapter break when it was written, and we’ll begin next week…  [transcript of a connective expository sermon on Judges 9:1-57 and Judges 10:1-18, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]


related links: 

Audio version: https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED635 

We’re in the New Covenant.  What is that?  see https://unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm

We shouldn’t be involved in politics, why?  see https://unityinchrist.com/topical%20studies/America-ModernRomans6.htm



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