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Feb 9, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 40

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Conquest and Judges

You led Israel triumphantly into the Promised Land.  They failed to teach their children, and instead did what was right in their own eyes: Help me to keep my eyes on you and teach others what is truly right.

Reflection

The heartbreaking story of Jephthah and his daughter in chapter 11 illustrate the binding nature of vows in the ancient world.

Don’t worry about getting all the details of these stories.  Focus on the main strokes:  whether Israel is faithful; the things that draw her away from God; things and people that keep her from being absorbed into the Canaanite culture; and so on.

Today’s Reading

Judges 9-12

Today’s Question

How does Abimilech rule differently than Gideon did?  What is the result?

Join the discussion below!

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  • Gideon seemed to be reluctant in being a leader for God and God showed patience with Gideon. Gideon became a judge and was a man of honor.
    In regards to his son, Abimelech, born of his concubine, he was a dangerous person. I was amazed how he was able to manipulate all the people that surrounded him and still got away with evil and injustice all for his glory, not Our Lord’s glory. Abimelech even made a pact with the Baal worshippers to safeguard and protect them! What ever happened to the covenant with the Lord, Our God?
    This might be a stretch but I would think that this is the first time I have experienced a real false Christ coming within the midst of a people in the books of the Bible that have been in the Challenge Series. Abimelech wanted everything for himself alone, not for God. The people seemed to be fooled by him and had their own wake up call, especially after the towns were destroyed by him. In the end, he was not well liked at all by anyone.
    Again, what a wake up call! I need to be prepared at all times for the likes of Satan!

    • It is interesting that you see Abimelech as an antichrist. There were several Abimelech’s in the past century. Stalin, Hitler and Mao come to mind. In in this century we have the Kim dynasty (notably Kim Jong il and Kim Jong un however that family has been in power for several generations) Yet we are amazed and ask ” How did the people allow this to happen?” We need only to look at Judges 9:1-3
      1 Abimelech, son of Jerubbaal, went to his mother’s kin in Shechem,a and said to them and to the whole clan to which his mother’s family belonged,
      2 “Put this question to all the lords of Shechem: ‘Which is better for you: that seventy men, all Jerubbaal’s sons, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ You must remember that I am your own flesh and bone.”
      3 When his mother’s kin repeated these words on his behalf to all the lords of Shechem, they set their hearts on Abimelech, thinking, “He is our kin.”

      We can find statements similar to this in every tyrant since Abimelech. Oh the wording is a little different to fit the situation (in Hitler’s case it started out as economic prosperity and ended with the “super race”) And the people do not see that this is only a variation on the promises of Satan in the Garden of Eden

      • Good insight on the past antichrists the world has experienced. I was thinking while reading these chapters and the question Sarah posed, could this be Satan taking advantage of the Israelites while they were without a leader?

        • It seems to me that the Israelites just prefered to listen to Satan aka Abimelech rather than Gideon. Remember in Chapter 8 22:23. Gideon told that the Lord was to be their leader;
          22 The Israelites then said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son, and your son’s son—for you saved us from the power of Midian.”
          23 But Gideon answered them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you. The LORD must rule over you.”

          I think this a really key verse.
          My thinking is that the Levites were falling down on their responsibility of religious leadership.

      • Sadly, there ARE many people throughout history and even today like Abimilech, in positions of power and self-serving, merciless and corrupt. We have to pray for God’s judgment and justice.

        My prayer is for the leaders of our country and around the world, locally and nationally. May there be respect for the dignity of ALL human life. This is not limited to the unborn, but encompasses all off God’s children… the elderly, the sick the poor, and all those who struggle and suffer. As in today’s Gospel, Jesus is calling US to be the Light of the world. “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)

        • I pray every day for our leaders and I let them know that I am praying for them. Whenever I write to my congressmen to express my opinion I alway end the letter with you are in my prayers and I mean it.
          All authority comes from God. The leaders have free with to use it toward their salvation or damnation

  • I have just been through a time called a desolation period by St. Ignatius of Loyola, in which evil has tried to take root in my life. I lost my equilibrium during this time and was floundering about like a boat tossed on the open sea without a rudder…very unpleasant of a time…but with prayer, guidance from my Spiritual Director, questioning, and trust, I can see what it was that was the root of my problems…sometimes God puts us in a bad situation to find out something about who we are…my advise is don’t give Satan the time of day…don’t give him a hook…if you do he will catch you and drag you down further…just stop where you are, and ride out the storm, seeking God and what He is trying to show you…you will not have to wait long…(by long I mean more than a few weeks, maybe longer)…whatever time is needed for you to learn what God is showing you so you can move on. So be patient and :..the saying that we should always remember in these times is: God never will abandon you. Trust in Him. He will come to your aid, if you but call on Him…

    • Very sound advice, Beverly. It’s so comforting to know that we can trust in God and He will never abandon us. Remember the words to Jesus, the Divine Mercy: “Jesus, I trust in you”.

      I love your analogy of being tossed on the open sea without a rudder. It reminds me of the talk I did on “Ideals” for Cursillo.

      “A person without an authentic ideal is like a sail boat, without its mainmast, out on the open sea, drifting aimlessly or tossed about recklessly with devastating consequences… Without the mast, you would drift haphazardly, unable to get very far if the wind is calm… or tossed about by raging winds… aimlessly, going in circles, or perhaps even find yourself sinking… In the past, I was like a sailor without a compass. I may not have all the answers now, but I finally have both hands on the rudder. And I’ve also learned to make the most of the journey. I appreciate the sun and the wind on my face as I set sail on the sea toward the horizon; I learned that persevering through unexpected storms makes me stronger; and once in a while I get to see a rainbow…”

    • Thank you for these words of wisdom, I have really been struggling with something I felt certain God wanted me to do, but it seems that in my effort to please God with my obedience, satan got in the middle and messed up my mind and I became very unpleasant to others and very difficult to live with. In the Bible study I am doing at Church the final thought was to have faith in God and to trust in His ways. I will have a better week because I know who satan is…..pride! I will trust in God’s ways and pray for greater faith!

      • I am learning that God brings us peace…we find him there…if we have a struggle there is something within us that needs to be corrected or recognized in someway or another. One of the things I found is try to think back to what you were thinking about the last time you remember having peace…usually there you will find an indication of what it is that at issue…and meditate on that…and how it relates to your present troubles. At least this is how I found my root problem. This answer came over the coarse of a couple of days meditating on it. Writing in my journal and trusting in God to be my guide. TRUST, TRUST, TRUST. All we need is the faith of a mustard seed…Jesus says….

        • Three years ago I found a beautiful garden ornament – a 3 dimensional heart with the words “Trust in God”. It lives in the flower bed facing my kitchen window. I especially love seeing that first thing in the morning.

          • How beautiful!! What a wonderful thought to think upon in the morning hours….LOL

  • Abimilech sought leadership in his own right, whilst Gideon did not seek leadership but accepted it from God, knowing that without God he would not succeed. Whilst Gideon sought guidance from God and obeyed Him, Abimilech went his own way and murdered his own brothers in a bid to seize power.

    It seems to be the choice we all have in our every day lives. Do we grab what we want trampling others in the process and maybe break some of the ten commandments? Or do we turn to God acknowledging that we can do nothing without Him, seek His help and obey Him? I would like to say that I always do the latter, but the truth is that sometimes I fail and go for my wants or what I think God wants. If I could but always follow and LISTEN to God, He would fulfill my needs and maybe my less harmful desires. Whilst I haven’t (and God-willing I won’t) taken a life, the times when I haven’t followed Him are the times I have damaged my soul or not been an example of living the faith. Whilst the world seems overrun with Abimilech’s, we also have many Gideon’s and I reckon that one Gideon with God on his side is worth a thousand Abimilech’s.

  • Just an aside today is the 40th day of our Bible Study. We have spent as much time in the study of the Bible as Lent The most glaring difference I see between Gideon and Abimilech is that Gideon is called by God Ablimilech gets his power through fratricide (wrong since Cain and Abel). In Chapter 8 :22-23
    22 The Israelites then said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son, and your son’s son—for you saved us from the power of Midian.”
    23 But Gideon answered them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you. The LORD must rule over you.”

    The Israelites do not listen to Gideon instead they listen to Abimilech. He causes confilct among the tribes of Israel and generally weakens the entire structure of their society .

  • Gideon, the unlikely hero, loved God in spite of his flaws. Abimilech is the epitome of wickedness. Fortunately, God punished him in the end for his evil deeds. It’s interesting to note that Abimilech was killed by a woman, but even at the end there is no evidence of remorse. Rather, his pride is his last “deed” of his legacy… having his attendant finish him off so nobody could say that a woman defeated him! Funny that history doesn’t even mention the name of this woman.

    Another woman not mentioned by name is the daughter of Jephthah, though she is the epitome of “faithfulness to the father”. In a way, she is a female version of Jesus, who was obedient to her father and willingly accepted the sacrifice of her own life to bring honor to her father…

    One thing that struck me about Gideon is that God found favor with him, blessed him, and rewarded him for his faithfulness. This in spite of having seventy sons by multiple wives, which as we now know was not part of God’s original plan of “one man – one woman”. This tells me that we can all have hope in the power of God’s forgiveness of our many failings. He will still bless us, as long as our internal hearts are pure and faithful to the One True God.

  • In my life, and I am sure in many of our lives, we have met Gideons and Abimilechs personally or witnessed them. We have also witnessed their leadership and commitments (or lack of) to the ways of God. For the Abimilechs that may be in our midst present day, may we be an example to them as to how to live for our God. May the power of the faithful rebuke any power of the Abimilechs. And may God continually invoke his power over these present day Abimilechs and either have success enlightening them or provide swift judgement to them.

  • Gedeon refused the rulership offered to him and his descendants after his victor, as being a usurpation of the rule of Yahweh. Abimelech, his son, abandoned Yahweh for Baal and secured kingship for himself through his kinsmen in Shechem, then inhabited by a mixed population of Israelites and Canaanites. Abimelech’s mother is from Shechem, so his desire to inherit Gideon’s status and rule from Gideon’s Israelite heirs likely indicates a Canaanite power grab in the region. His rule, unlike his fathers which was divinely given, was marked by slaughters of his brothers and much evil that was repaid by The Lord (see V 56,57). This has weakened all of Israel.

  • Gideon explained to the people that God is their ruler.
    Power consumed Abimelech and . Abimelech’s covenant was not with God. As I read the chapters, I surmised that Abimelech was a vessel of Satan.

  • I am confused that so many comments say that Gideon was such a swell guy when at the end of the day he abandoned God and gave into idolatry.

    “Gideon made an ephod (idol) out of the gold and placed it in his city, Ophrah. All Israel prostituted themselves there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household.” (Judges 8:27)
    It could even be argued that the evil Abimelech was the fruit of Gideon’s apostacy.

    • I’m not sure either, Craig. You refer to verse 8:27. Then there is no mention of anything else about it till verse 8:33, “But after Gideon was dead, the Israelites again prostituted themselves by following the Baals, making Baal-berith their god.” Note the first few words, BUT AFTER GIDEON WAS DEAD. This implies to me that the Israelites had a time of NOT worshipping the false gods, because they started up again after his death. I have no idea, but it seems to me that part of the story is missing…

      We do know that all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. But, thankfully, we don’t have to let our sins define who we ultimately are. When we repent, we are forgiven.

      • Thank you Marianne. Just when you think you have a hero he falls, but then there always seems to be more to the story.

        • Gideon was a holy man until his death. He made the idol to remind Israelites the permanent presence of God among them, they did not get the meaning and started to venerate it (All Israel prostituted themselves there). This Gideon’s act was “………..a snare to Gideon and his household…… “

          • “Little” Gideon mistake. Not ever God’s will. That’s why the Bible says: “snare to Gideon and his household”.

      • “…..after Gideon was dead, the Israelites again……” it says AGAIN, and this time worshipped BAAL.
        The first time, they adorated the idol Gideon made (misunderstanding goodwill) to show God’s presence among Israelites.

  • The difference can perhaps be summed up by ruling for the good of others (Gideon) and ruling for the good of oneself (Abimelech). Although, I have to agree with Craig’s comments about Gideon being beguiled by the idolatry – this behavior flies in the face of all that he espoused in the name of the Lord.

  • Gideon and Abimelech both had faults. Gideon did not grab power but certainly grabbed spoils and feel into idolatry as a result where as Abimelech was a power grabber killing his own brothers but he seemed wiser in battle and seemed to be used by the Lord. The people were weak and fell away from the Lord repeatedly. It is a long struggle for them to learn to listen to His voice and be faithful. Look at our society today. Our is a post Christian society. 57 million babies killed in abortion and now the elderly are at risk. God is so patient.

  • Whenever I read the story of Jephthah and his daughter, as I am reading -I still wish for a different ending.

    • Lori, I hear you.

      I fell apart reading this section, but then reminded myself that the New Testament brings in a loving God, which puts my mind to rest. I know I need a stronger faith in walking with God the Almighty. It is times like this that I pray for a stronger faith and walk with the Lord.

  • God tests the different leaders of the people, maybe not so much to see who is the finest leader, but how do the people make choices in their own personal lives between good and evil. Chapter 8:33, explains when Gideon died. “the sons of Israel turned again and played the harlot after the Ba’als. and made Ba’al.be’rith their God.” After Abim’elech died, Chapter 9:55-57, “God repaid the crime which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers, and God also made all the wickedness of the men of She’chem fall back upon their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jo’tham the son of Jerubba’al.” It is the people as an entitiy that God thrives to see them, to turn away from their “original sin” of Adam and Eve, and seek the glory of God as Jesus finally taught them after witnessing his sacrifice on the cross.

  • The ongoing forces of men stepping in to lead the groups by force and power, ongoing struggle all without the approval of God. And, all through the trials God has Jephthah to lead the Israelites and let’s him know he will allow him to take over. This is still us today, people seeking hips man power, blind leading the blind without a burning heart for God.

    The Jephthah’s vow really struck my heart and caught me off guard. I’ve read this gospel before, but this particular scripture made my heart ache, so so disheartening to read in today’s time. I do understand that Jephthah took the vow and for that totally believed in God no matter what. Such a powerful strength in God that I so lack. I need to strengthen my belief in God so so much more. Powerful scripture, but very tear jerking for me today!

    Amen!

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