Focal Passages: Judges 9
Is this a portrait of America’s future? This chapter tells us of a nation with a corrupt politician and credulous people. Abimelech, the son of Gideon and his concubine, had an ambition to be king. The problem was his ambition was to the point that he was willing to sacrifice innocent lives and lower every moral value in order to be king. His life and its effect on the nation of Israel ought to alarm us to the possibility of it happening in America.
In our nation, we have many politicians and very few leaders. Decisions made in Congress have been based upon polls instead of principles. Government leaders have governed according to what was best for their personal agenda instead of the people of America. They have considered the actions of groups, but not the authority of God.
In the conclusion of his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln stated, “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I do believe America’s government should be “of the people, by the people, for the people;” however, we must never forget that this nation is also “under God.”
As part of his campaign to become king, Abimelech propositioned the men of Shechem to elect him because it would benefit them. Like many politicians, his campaign promise was based on votes instead of values. Now, the men of Shechem accepted the offer and contributed to Abimelech’s campaign. We are told the finances came from the temple of Baal-Berith.
Rarely, if ever, does a person or group contribute to a politician’s campaign without expecting something in return. Abimelech’s acceptance of a campaign contribution from a temple of Baal offers insight to the corruption of his heart. Furthermore, to ensure the competition was eliminated, Abimelech returned to his father’s house and murdered his brothers.
Abimelech’s inauguration as king took place beside the terebinth tree in Shechem. This tree was spiritually significant to the Children of Israel. It was there that the Lord appeared to Abram and promised to give him that land. It was there that Jacob had buried the idols as he called his family to go back to Bethel. It was there that Joshua delivered his final address to the people of God. And so, Abimelech incorporated a little religion on his new reign.
The same thing happens in America. Certain government leaders will attend a religious service and then advocate abortion or gay marriage. Our political correctness has resulted in a leadership crisis in government. The truth is that most nations get the kind of leadership they deserve. Israel had it and America has it.
The cries of Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal and only survivor of Abimelech’s massacre shortened the inaugural celebration. Jotham then told the people a parable, the first in Scripture. He compared Abimelech to a bramble, which meant he was useless, worthless and ruthless.
William Penn said, “Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.” Jotham had the courage to tell the truth to people who didn’t want to hear it. As Christians, we must take a stand in an ungodly culture for what is right and tell the truth even when the majority doesn’t want to hear the truth.
God’s judgment fell upon Abimelech just as Jotham said it would. In this chapter, we are reminded that God will judge evil. We learn that if godly people are unwilling to serve, evil men wind up leading the nation. Finally, we learn that evil people, sooner or later, will be judged.
— Lancaster is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Rockwood.