Summary: Corrupt Leadership: America in her prosperity has been given much but done so little with it...and now it appears God may be taking the prosperity away. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
From Bad to Worse
We began last week looking at Abimelech, a truly bad leader, and we continue with more about him and the next 2 judges after him, and it goes from bad to worse...not because they were more evil than him but because God gave them everything they needed to recover as a nation and they piddled it away and did nothing with it. And America in her prosperity has been given much but done so little with it...and now it appears God may be taking it away as well.
Politics is often a quest for power, and power can corrupt. What's the old saying? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! We all know of individuals who’ve been seduced by power and do whatever it takes to get to the top. It’s been said that politicians are only concerned about the next election, whereas statesmen are concerned about the welfare of the next generation.
Abilelech was one of Gideon’s 70 sons. Abimelech was an opportunist who usurped power through violence and treachery. Nowhere does he even acknowledge God as Lord of Israel. If he were in America today he would probably say, "We are not a Christian nation, but we are a nation of Jews and Muslims, Christians and Hindus, and people who don't believe. [Obama quote]
The Jews had been fighting external enemies; now they’re burdened from internal corruption, far more insidious than invading armies. And America's wars seem to be on her own soil today like never before. From healthcare to jobs, the fight is more at home than usual. And even when it comes to terrorism, the top of the news is about trials of terrorists here at home...our eye is so far off the ball on terrorism that soon we'll be fighting the real terrorists back here on our soil once again!
Abimelech vs. his 70 brothers -- We hear of sibling rivalry from the beginning of time—Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers—and now Abilelech against his 70 siblings. He convinced the people of Shechem, his hometown, to crown him king. He promised to look out for their best interests when he consolidates power; what we call “political favors”.
The outcome of allowing the ungodly to assume public office is aptly described by William Penn: “If we are not willing to be governed by God, we shall be ruled by tyrants.”
Abimelech’s claim to the throne was on the basis of being a son of Gideon, who had been offered kingship. The motive for his ambition was not to serve his people, but to gain power. As a son of Gideon, his name meant “my father is king”, and Abimelech felt he might take the throne his father declined. But there were many other potential contenders. With ruthless efficiency, Abimelech rounded up his 70 brothers, and had them brutally and publicly executed. He was inspired by his father to lead Israel, yet revealed hatred toward his father by murdering his brethren. His atrocity went far beyond what we might categorize as “dirty politics”.
Last time we looked at the parable of 3 valuable trees, native to Israel, which are offered kingship but refuse—however, the thornbush accepts with a provision, vs 15: “If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade.” That would be quite impossible—there is no shade, comfort or protection from a thornbush, which is Abimelech. Jotham drove home the point of his fable with a curse, vs 20—fire will come from Abimelech, who will also be consumed. It was folly for the people to make such a wicked man their king—they would reap consequences and suffer ruin under his rule.
Why did the people let this happen? God’s people had become Canaanite in their character; rather than stand for God, they broke their covenant and adjusted to the values of the godless culture. We have to guard against being shaped by our culture, especially when leaders do not model godly behavior.
In the days preceding the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin declared, “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.” God raised up opposition to Abimelech, and He can use human means to oppose all leaders who refuse to live for Him. In Jotham’s prophetic fable, he stated that fire will come from the thornbush and consume the people—when the people of Shechem finally had enough of Abimelech and rebelled against him, he and his forces took branches and set fire to the walls of the city temple, and a thousand men and women perished in the flames.
1 The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
God allows people to attain public office, and He can remove them.