Giving Allegiance to God

KEY VERSE: “Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: The Lord shall rule over you.” —Judges 8:23

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Judges 8:22, 23; 9:6-15, 55-57

AFTER the defeat of the Midianites, Israel was grateful and offered to make Gideon king over them and then have the kingdom pass on to his son. But Gideon was aware that God was head over Israel, and only the Lord could establish anyone as king. Therefore he refused the proffered honor. But he did celebrate his victory in a way that was not authorized by the Lord. He requested that the men “give me (him] every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.” (Judg. 8:24,25) From the gold, which was a considerable amount, Gideon made an ephod and placed it in the city. Gideon could have had in mind using the ephod in religious ceremonies which, of course, was also unauthorized by God. Regardless of the use for which it was intended, his conduct was improper. It proved a snare to him and to his family, and an occasion of idolatry to Israel.

After Gideon’s death, the people proceeded to renounce the Lord entirely, and to worship Baal as their god. Much of this could have been due to being misled by the golden ephod made by Gideon. The Lord manifested his displeasure, not by giving them into the hand of invaders, but by giving them up to their own base passions. Abimelech, a son of one of the concubines of Gideon, had ambitions to be raised to rulership over Israel, even though Gideon and his family had renounced interest in such a position. In order to succeed in this project, he accused his brethren of intending to seize the government, and to possess it with joint authority. He then pleaded that it would be better to be ruled by one prince than by so many petty tyrants. In this manner and with the help of his mother’s relations, he acquired the government. This all was without merit, nor did he have the capacity to handle such an important position. His assumption of power was in total disregard of the divine law, and in direct opposition to the method which God, the king of Israel, had hitherto employed of raising up rulers of his people, from time to time, as he saw good.

As king, Abimelech took money that had been offered to Baal and in every way used his authority to promote the worship of their new god. He was instrumental in barbariously murdering all the numerous members of the family of Gideon who could possibly give him some opposition in the future. Only one escaped, and this was Jotham. Mount Gerizim was near Shechem, and from it Jotham spoke to the people who were gathered for some public occasion. He called on them to desist from their ungrateful treatment of his father’s family and their malicious treatment of him. If they did not hearken to him, he said, they could not expect that God would hear their cry when trouble and distress came upon them.

In speaking to the people, Jotham used a parable, which is recorded in Judges 9:8-15. In this parable the disinterest and unambitious conduct of Gideon and his other sons, the folly and ingratitude of the Shechemites in making the basest of Gideon’s sons their king and in murdering the rest, the presumption and arrogance of Abimelech in coveting such an honor, and the consequences of such an unreasonable and disobedient procedure, are all beautifully illustrated. When Jotham had completed his discourse, he admonished the people that if they felt they had been gracious to Gideon and his descendants and if they felt they were blessed by Abimelech’s reign, then they should rejoice. But if not, “let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo, and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo and devour Abimelech.”—Judg. 9:20

Abimelech was passively accepted by the Israelites for a time, but the Shechemites became enraged at the king and arose against him. He was able to destroy all the men of the tower of Shechem by fire, but he himself, after being mortally wounded, was killed by his own armor bearer. Thus the prophecy of Jotham was fulfilled.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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