Possessing the Promises
Abimelech (Judges #5)
There is a music group called The Bad Examples
• Abimelech would be a likely member of that group
• He is an example of what not to do to possess the promises of God
• This guy’s all bad
• No victory for God’s people, no deliverance from false God’s, no moral direction, I can find nothing good about his judge.
• Little background
• Son of Gideon
• Mother is a slave woman from Shechem
• Judges 9 tells his story
Gideon has died and the people fall into idolatry
• Although Gideon wasn’t king he was thought of as one
• The people had requested he rule over them but he denied
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 thinks differently – he does want to become king
• His plan
o Go to Shechem, home of his mother and rally up some support
o He has to get rid of his brothers – 69 of them
o No problem – we’ll kill them all
o He hires some hit men, they go to Gideon’s home and each of the brothers are killed. All but one. Jotham – he escapes and later returns and tells a little parable about his half-brother. In short he calls him a thorn-bush and predicts that nothing good is going to come out of having Abimelech as king. He predicts that they will end of killing each other. It all comes true.
• Abimelech does reign for three years – the shortest reign of any of the judges – before an adversary arises, a guy named Gaal.
• This leads to an all out battle where Abimelech meets his end as a woman drops a millstone on his head. Actually that doesn’t immediately kill him, but not wanting to leave behind the disgrace of being killed by a woman, he asks his assistant to kill him. He does and that’s the end of Abimelech.
I do feel some sympathy for Abimelech
o We all want to do something great with our lives
o He’s a man with ambition who wants to do something great
o He goes about the wrong way and instead of finding where he bo0loings he ruins his own life and the life of others
o How can we know when we’re pursuing God’s plan and in doing so possess the promises that he has for us.
o Look at Abimelech as an example of what not to do
It’s All About Abimelech
o He’s all about Self-promotion; all about image
9:2 `Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’
9: 54 Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, `A woman killed him.’ "
o No one has suggested to him to be king.
o Danger sign: We are pursuing greatness and no one seems to confirm our ambitions. We become blind.
It happened in the jungle one day. A lion with a big ego went around asking the other animals who the king of the jungle was. “Who’s the king of the jungle?” the lion roared at a monkey. “Why you are, Mr. Lion,” said the monkey with fear in his voice. The lion went on and found a zebra. “Who’s the king of the jungle?” he snarled. “There is no doubt about it. You are Mr. Lion,” said the zebra. Seeing a turtle crossing his path the lion bellowed, “Who’s the king of the jungle?” Scared out of his shell the turtle said, “You are Mr. Lion. You are the king of the jungle.” Then the lion came upon an elephant. Once again he roared out the question, “Who’s the king of jungle?” The elephant used his trunk to grab the lion by his tail. He spun him around over his head several times, dunked him in a mud hole, and slammed him into a large tree. Dazed and dirty the lion said, “Just because you didn’t know the correct answer was no reason to get upset.”
o Sometimes all indications contradict what we want but we pursue it anyway!
o This account gives no indication that anyone thought Abimelech was to be king
o It was all about ego!
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. (James 3:13, 16)
o No humility
o Victories often come down to this trite old maxim: Be humble or stumble.
o If it’s all about you, you’re probably not on the road to spiritual success
o As Christian workers, worldliness is not the trap which most endangers us; nor is it sin. The trap we fall into is extravagantly desiring spiritual success. Never seek after anything other than the approval of God. Unless the worker lives a life hidden with Christ in God, he is apt to become an irritating dictator instead of an indwelling disciple. Oswald Sanders, My Utmost for his Highest
Means Do Not Justify the Ends
o Let’s say Abimelech thought it was God’s plan for him to be king
o The way he goes about it is all evil -- The senseless murder of his brothers
o His thinking – God wants me to do something great and the only way I can do it is to kill a bunch of people!
Habakkuk 2:12 Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime!
o We may not be killing people so we can be kings, but we do have a false thinking – God wants me to be happy so he wants me to get there by any means I can.
o So if I have to sin, I’ll sin.
o God’s wants me to provide for my family and if that means I need to compromise now and then that’s what I’ll do
o God wants me to love life and experience all the joys of life and if that means a little immorality then that’s what I’ll do
o God wants me to be at peace and if a few lies here and there will get the job done, that’s what I’ll do
o Satan’s oldest trick
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ " "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
o Whenever we start justifying sin with this rationale that God wants me to be happy we are on shaky ground!
o Sin will ultimately bring you nothing but trouble!
Don’t spread Disunity to achieve your goals
o I see that there may be some exceptions, but generally if your ambitions can only be met by setting people against each other, then you’re on shaky ground
o That’s the tactic Abimelech uses – he sets his mother’s people against his fathers people.
o Sows disunity. He highlights differences. Rather than bringing people together for a common cause he drives people apart for his own personal gain.
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
No Word from God
o The covenant name for God, Yahweh, given to God to Moses at the burning bush is not found in chapter 9. The word God is used, but the generic term. In the NIV the covenant name is translated LORD. Although it is found 134 times in Judges not once in ch. 9.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. KJV
When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy. NLT
o We were critical of Gideon asking for signs, but at least there was a dialogue with God
o Abimelech doesn’t look for any signs at all. He doesn’t ever look upward.
o If we want to possess the promises we must have a sense that we are being guided by God
o How do we know? Good question.
o I look for some peace through prayer, mediation, and counsel of others
o I don’t think God is going trick me
o We must look to God for guidance
Psalm 25:4-5 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Been looking for direction: God has some. He’ll give you what you’ve been looking for – a peace that can’t be found anywhere else. A confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right. A hope that someday we’ll be free from all earth’s pains and enjoying a life that is beautiful beyond description.