TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 9-12
Abimelech’s rise to power and his subsequent death; the oppression of the Ammonites; Jephthah’s deliverance of Israel and vow to God.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Although Gideon’s fame as a courageous judge of Israel is secured in biblical history as the story of his life comes to an end in chapter 8, the seed of sin he sowed (Jud. 8:27-31) bore some awfully bad fruit in chapter 9. In this chapter, God details for us the consequences of the “house of the proud” (Prov. 15:25) in the life of Abimelech, the son of Gideon by his concubine. Abimelech’s whole motive and purpose in life was power! He wanted to be King at any cost (vs. 1-4). Do others see you in this same pursuit of prestige, power, and/or position? Take an honest look at the motive behind your service for Christ to determine whether it is really for Him, or for you. Prior to coming to Christ, the Bible says we were all driven by our pride, and our pursuit of power and/or prestige. Many have simply changed the arena from which they seek to exalt self. Whereas it used to be the world, now it is the church. God forbid!
Abimelech is also a warning to all parents...for whatever we do in moderation; our children will do in excess. Abimelech ended up murdering all his siblings except one (Jotham) to get the position he so greatly desired. But God always pays his debts and no sin goes unnoticed. Abimelech was killed by a wise woman (Prov. 1:20-33) who fled to a strong tower (Ps. 61:3) by a rock (I Cor. 10:4) that she dropped on his big head! Note that Jotham, whose name means “Jehovah is perfect”, escaped being murdered by running to Beer (which means “the well”; a place where you can go to get water – Eph. 5:26).
Once again, in chapters 10-12, we find Israel in one of their repeated cycles of sin. The real issue is that they we willing to serve any god who would make them happy. They wanted their own way, their desires fulfilled, and their ego boosted. It is a collision course for disaster! The choice to serve self is sin, and sin always leads to sorrow and death (James 1:15). It becomes increasingly difficult to understand, much less to tolerate, the blatant foolishness and rebellion of God’s people Israel. How could they possibly experience all of His blessings, and repeatedly turn their backs on Him? And yet, how can we, who likewise, have been overly blessed by God, and have even seen the consequences of Israel’s choices, do less than make a final end to our own flirting with the world, the flesh and the devil? We must, once and for all, make the decision, “That it is ENOUGH! I am not my own, I have been bought by the blood of God’s dear Son, and sin will not control me an!
y longer!” When we cry out to God, broken by our sin, we can be sure that He will hear us, and deliver us from its dominion. (Rom. 6:12-14).
In keeping with their pattern, Israel cried out to God once again (Jud. 10:10), and once again, God sent them a deliverer. This time it was Jephthah, another incredible picture of Jesus Christ. Jephthah was a might man of valor who was the son of an harlot (Jud. 11:1). He was rejected by his brethren (Jud. 11:2-3), and went away to live in the land of Tob (which means “blessing, joy, beautiful, and righteous”). While he was in Tob, he gathered vain (or “empty”) men unto himself. He was later called home by Israel during a time of tribulation to deliver them from their oppressors. He then came back as the captain of their salvation (Jud. 11:6). Likewise, Jesus was a mighty man of valor who was accused of being an illegitimate child (John 8:41). He was rejected by His brethren (Luke 19:14), and went away to a place like Tob...a beautiful place of blessing, joy, and righteousness (Ps. 48:2). While He is there, He continues to gather empty men and women to Himself as wo!
rshippers. He will come back during the Great Tribulation to deliver Israel, and to be the Captain of their Salvation (see Heb. 2:10 and Rev. 19)!
Though to this point, Jephthath was a beautiful type of Christ, he made a horrendous mistake by vowing a vow to God that resulted in him foolishly and sinfully burning his own daughter as a sacrifice, supposedly to God (Jud. 11:34-40)! Jephthah’s mistake was in thinking that there is something that we DO to EARN the blessing and/or favor of God. He thought that by vowing his vow, he could get God on his side. The irony was, God was already on his side! No human work can earn God’s graciously given favor (Eph. 2:8-9), or make you the recipient of more of His power (Acts 1:8). He gives it all to us freely (I Cor. 2:12). Though this is an incredibly sad chapter in Jephthah’s life, and an incredibly sad chapter in the Bible, it is also a blessing in the fact that God has set His Book apart from all others because of His honesty regarding its heroes. Other examples include Noah, David, Solomon, Elijah, et al! In the end, Jephthah was faithful to a God he just didn’t under!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As THE STRONG TOWER– Judges 9:51 (Psalm 18:2, 61:3)
Through JEPHTHAH – Judges 11-12 (see Highlights and Insights)