Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Judges 9:1-2 (NIV)
Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood.”
Be Careful Whom You Follow son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to his uncles and all his mother’s relatives and said to them, “Ask all the leading men of Shechem, ‘What do you think is best, that seventy men rule you—all those sons of Jerub-Baal—or that one man rule? You’ll remember that I am your own flesh and blood.’”
“Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal (Gideon) went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives, and said to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother’s father, “Speak now in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that seventy men, all of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ Also, remember that I am your own bone and flesh.” -AMPLIFIED
Now we will look at a few of the consequences of Gideon’s choices. Yes, Gideon has died, but sadly some of his choices had a devastating affect not only on his own family, but also on the people of Israel as a whole.
We need to remember that Gideon had no desire to become king of Israel; he outright declined that invitation. Instead he went home, married many wives, including a Gentile, and had 71 sons. One of those sons was Abimelech, who was the son of the Gentile woman, a woman from Shechem.
We find that once Gideon has died that his son Abimelech decided that he would take upon himself the mantle that his own father declined and felt unqualified to take; ruler of Israel. Abimelech sought to rule by eliminating all his opposition and compaction. He did this by killing all the other sons of Gideon. That is all but the youngest, Jotham. “He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding.” -Judges 9:5 (NIV)
Abimelech took upon himself a job and position that God never intended for him to have. We can see from Judges 9:6 that he even allowed the people to set him up as their king. “Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king.” (NIV) We are actually told that Abimelech ruled for three years in verse 22 and he began his inaugural kingship by disposing of his half-brothers as his coronation sacrifice.
Abimelech’s half-brother Jotham, who had gone into hiding when the killing began came out of hiding long enough to confront the people at the coronation of Abimelech. Jotham spoke these words to the people, “Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!” -Judges 9:16-20 (NIV)
If only the people had taken heed of the warning that Jotham had given them, but they did not. Jesus shared an important truth that we can all learn from, “He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” -Luke 6:39 (NIV) He also warned his followers of this, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.” Mark 13:5-6 (NIV)
Beware! We are told to be careful of the company we keep, but even more importantly we must be careful of the person that we are following. If they are not a righteous, godly leader then they may be leading us down the wrong pathway. We will find out tomorrow of the disaster that Abimelech was headed for and how he dragged the people of Israel along with him.
Lord, give me wisdom and discernment when it comes to following others. Allow your Holy Spirit to open the eyes of my heart so that I can see clearly. Too often people follow others blindly; which I think is what happened in Abimelech’s story; I do not want to be a blind follower. Instead, I want to have my eyes and heart firmly focused on you. Help me to follow so close to you that there is no opportunity for me to wander off the path that you have set me upon. Jesus, I will follow YOU!