Abimelech -- Who’s in Charge

Lessons on Having It Your Way with God

Judges 9



James Trafficant

Born into a working-class, Catholic family in Youngstown, Ohio, He graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School in 1959 and the University of Pittsburgh in 1963 (where he was a standout in football), was drafted into the NFL at number 276 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1963, and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and another from Youngstown State University. He was the executive director of the Mahoning County Drug Program from 1971 to 1981 and sheriff of Mahoning County from 1981 to 1985. While serving as sheriff, Traficant made national headlines by refusing to execute foreclosure orders on several unemployed homeowners, many of whom had been left unemployed by the recent closures of steel mills. This endeared him to the local population, which had long derived its wealth from steel and steel-associated businesses.

In 1983, he was charged with racketeering for accepting bribes. Traficant, who represented himself in the criminal trial, argued that he accepted the bribes only as part of an undercover investigation into corruption. Traficant was acquitted of the charges, becoming the only person ever to win a RICO case while representing himself.

Publicity from the RICO trial increased Traficant’s local visibility. He was elected as a Democrat to Congress from Ohio’s 17th District, defeating Lyle Williams, a three-term Republican incumbent. He was reelected eight times without serious opposition.

On April 12, 2002, after a two-month federal trial, a jury found Traficant guilty of bribery and other charges. He was sentenced to a federal prison, where he is currently serving eight years. He was expelled from the U.S. Congress on July 24, 2002.


I. I have a dream--Develop a fixation on what you want.

There is a tendency for us to want to dictate to God what his role in our lives should. We want to tell God how to write His deliverance story.

9:1 Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2 "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."

8:22-23 The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us--you, your son and your grandson--because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian." But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you."

Abimelech wants to be made king. Abimelech seeks to write his own story.

Common struggle: James and John Struggled with it.

Mark 10:35-37

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."

36 "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.

37 They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." NIV

II. Help me make my dream come true--Depend on self-promotion.

I’m a fan of Bravo TV’s "Top Chef." I like the competition, I like the recipes, but I am also fascinated by shameless self promotion on the show. Every contestant has individual camera time toe talk about how good they are, how good their dishes are and often it becomes how terrible the other contestants are. For many the way to their dreams seems to be through shameless self promotion. During season 5, Stephan Ritcher, made it all the way to the finals not just on his cooking skills but on his shameless self promotion.

3 When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our brother." 4 They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelech used it to hire reckless adventurers (unimportant vain men), who became his followers.

III. Make the dream reality--Succeed at any cost.

„X Five Athletes Banned from Olympics on Doping Charges

„X 5 Jamaica track athletes test positive for doping

„X 6 Olympic athletes test positive for doping

„X 6 Austrian athletes get lifetime Olympic ban

„X 10 athletes test positive for banned substances

5 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. 6 Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.

IV. Lesson of the Trees--Ignore the consequences.

A Cuban taekwondo athlete and his coach were banned for life after Angel Matos kicked the referee in the face following his bronze-medal match disqualification.

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