Sermon – Chaotic kingship (Judges 8:33 – 9:57) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 9 of 10

Chaotic kingship

Rory Kinnaird, Judges 8:33 - 9:57, 24 March 2024

Rory continues our series in the book of Judges, preaching from Judges 8:33-9:57. In this passage we see the reign of Abimelek as king over God’s people - we see the horror in the details, the purpose in the big-picture, and what it all means for us today. There is a Q&A with Rory and Pete on the book of Judges, following this sermon.

Judges 8:33 - 9:57

33 As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god. 34 And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side, 35 and they did not show steadfast love to the family of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.

9:1 Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family, “Say in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.”

And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.

When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

16 “Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved—17 for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, 18 and you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative—19 if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” 21 And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother.

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25 And the leaders of Shechem put men in ambush against him on the mountaintops, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way. And it was told to Abimelech.

26 And Gaal the son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his relatives, and the leaders of Shechem put confidence in him. 27 And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and reviled Abimelech. 28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? 29 Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Increase your army, and come out.’”

30 When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now therefore, go by night, you and the people who are with you, and set an ambush in the field. 33 Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city. And when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do.”

34 So Abimelech and all the men who were with him rose up by night and set an ambush against Shechem in four companies. 35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from the ambush. 36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!” And Zebul said to him, “You mistake the shadow of the mountains for men.” 37 Gaal spoke again and said, “Look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ Oak.” 38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them.” 39 And Gaal went out at the head of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him. And many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate. 41 And Abimelech lived at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives, so that they could not dwell at Shechem.

42 On the following day, the people went out into the field, and Abimelech was told. 43 He took his people and divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. And he looked and saw the people coming out of the city. So he rose against them and killed them. 44 Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, while the two companies rushed upon all who were in the field and killed them. 45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

46 When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-berith. 47 Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 And Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do as I have done.” 49 So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about 1,000 men and women.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home. 56 Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57 And God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Well, that's some story. There's a few questions Rory's put up there for us just to chat through. It doesn't matter if you get through them all on our tables. If you've come back, online, then just think through those questions, and Rory will get up in a in a few minutes and open that passage up to us.

Well done, Rory. It should give me a round of applause, I think. Okay. Let's let's draw those conversations to a close. I'm gonna I'm gonna attempt to try and deal with that passage.

As you can see, it's not the most happy passages in the world. And also I can't read or speak as well as those blokes on that, on that thing. So do forgive me for that as well. If you don't know me, I'm I'm Rorian, 1 of the members of staff here, and, hopefully as we read through this, we will see why it's important to read and why god has given us this in his word. So let's, let's pray together.

And then we'll we'll get stuck in. Let's pray father. We we read these stories and, Sometimes we can think, well, what is this gonna do with anything? And, we can be confused and we can think this is very violent. But there is a reason that you have given us this.

And so we pray father that as we look at this story, that you will help us to see why, that you will help us to see our own hearts, our own evil, but we also pray that as we look at this, you will show us our need for a great savior in the lord Jesus Christ. So we do pray for your help now in Jesus' name. Are men. I wanna begin by by saying that throughout the history of mankind, humanity has been notoriously poor at picking its leaders. You just have to look at our own country don't want to get into too much politics, but we had a prime minister who lasted less than a month even.

So we're not great although maybe not electing, but we're not great at picking our leaders. Often we go for favoritism often people are chosen due to nepotism. It's it's a family or friend link. Often we we go for the wrong qualities in a person to be our leader because they are a little bit like us, or they're a little bit likable, but they have no no actual qualities that are needed to be a leader. And not only that or as humanity notoriously poor at picking leaders, but I also think that there are often leaders who are completely disillusional about their own abilities.

They're not fitting to to be a leader. They're not competent to be the person that leads their country or their people. As a history teacher, I think that there's not many more of his examples of both of these things than, every every preacher's favorite example, Adolf Hitler. But you think about Adolf Hitler, right? We say he's not the greatest, he he doesn't have the greatest leadership qualities to be a leader.

He had some, but he it wasn't a good man. Was he? Yet he was the person that they that they picked. He wasn't He didn't take it by force, although he was pretty violent as we see in this story. He was elected by the people.

People are poor at choosing leaders, and leaders are often disillusional about their own abilities. That's what we see today in this passage. Chapter 8 verse 33 to 35 You'll see that that really is a kind of conclusion of Gidian's life he's died. We'll read that now. No sooner had Gidian died.

Than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Bales. They says, look, baal beareth as their god and did not remember the lord God who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jared Bell that is Givyan in spite of all the good things he had done for them. So, yes, that is a conclusion to the story of Gideon after he dies but that is also a summary I think of chapter 9. The people are not showing faithfulness.

To Jerabail, the 1 who'd contended with the false gods, to Gideon and to Gideon's family, and that is exactly what we see here. In this story. I've got 2 points today. My first point is twisted kingship, twisted kingship. We begin, chapter 9 by being introduced to this character we saw last week, Abimelech.

Now, who is Abimelech? Well, you'll notice in verse 1 that he is the son of Jerabail. He is actually the son of Gideon, the last judge. But not only is he the son of Gideon, if you remember his name, as Ben told us last week, is my father is king. Now, who named him that?

Was it his dad or his mom? We don't know. But we'd know also if we go back to chapter 8, and verse 31, his concubine, Gideon's concubine, who lived in Schechem also bore him a son whom he named the Viblic so. He is the son of god's judge, but he is the illegitimate son of Gideon. He is a man who has been born in shame.

This is not an honorable birth. This is not someone that has got a good birth. This is a shameful birth. And you can imagine, you can imagine a Bimolek has has grown up bitter and shameful and full of hatred, not just for his dad but for everything that his dad stands for and his dad's family. That's a bimmelec.

The illegitimate son of Gidiom. And so Abimlet comes. He comes to his brothers on his mother's side because he doesn't like his his dad's side. He comes to his, brothers and he says, listen, lads. What's better?

70 sons of Gillion who's not nothing to do with you, then ruling you, or what about me? Hey? What about me? I am 1 of your own. I'm your I'm your family.

I'm your own flesh and blood. You'll notice there, he says. Surely it's better that 1 person rules you rather than these 70 people who are god's anointed person's sons. And so that they go and they they ask they ask that that the people of Shechem in verse 3 and they're like, yeah, yeah, we like this because remember that people notoriously poor at picking their own leaders. And so they say, oh, well, absolutely, and they sing that chat.

He's 1 of our own. He's 1 of our own, a bimber leg. He's 1 of our own. Right. That's their song.

And so what do they do? They come They go to the the temple of Belle Barrett. They get 70 shekels, 70 shekels, 70 brothers, and they give it to him. They give it to him to use to get rid of his brothers. And so with those 70 shepherds, he goes out and he gets himself a gang.

And it's such a such a great way of describing it, isn't it? He gets this gang in verse, 4 He used it to hire reckless scoundrels. I love that word. Scoundrels, and they became his followers. Records.

These are a violent mob of followers. They are reckless. And actually the word is worthless. This is a worthless pretender with a worthless gang. And this violent gang goes to Gideon's hometown of Ophra.

And Abimelech seizes his 70 half brothers or he thinks he does and 1 by 1 on a stone, he murders his brothers. 1 dad, another 1, another 1, another 1, another 1, another 1. He is willing to sacrifice his own family for the position of king. Except he misses 1. Did you see that?

In verse, 6. Sorry. Yeah, verse 6. Nope. Verse 5.

Sorry. Got there in the end. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerabell escaped by hiding. He misses 1. So he's killed 69.

I imagine He's probably lost count after you get, I guess, about 20, you lose count and he re doesn't realize that he's miss Jotham. And so he thinks he's got rid of all the rulers, all the rightful rulers of Israel, and he thinks now is the time and the shechemites come and they've they've paid him the money to get rid of the brothers and they all come and they have this great ceremony, a pomp. And and and they they line the streets, they bow down, they say, oh, Abilak, you are a great king. And they crown a bimolek at the at the great tree at the pillar of Shecken. And Jacob hears about this.

And what does Jokum do? Well, he climbs up Mount Geerism, and it's interesting because Mount Geerism is the place of blessing of god's people. So Joshua went up to Mount Garrison, and he said, I will bless you people of god but this is not a blessing that Jotham pronounces here. He pronounces a curse in the form of a fable. This is the place of blessing becomes actually the place of cursing.

And so he climbs up this this mountain that overlook shechem, and he tells this story and you think, well, what sort of story will he tell? Well, obviously he'll tell a story about trees because that's where everyone does. I want to care somebody story about trees. Yes? So there he goes, and he comes and he says, well, I'll tell the story about about trees.

And he says, well, look, the the the the the the seeders of LEab they come together and they think, well, do you know what we need? We really need a king. So we better go, you know, head hunting here. And so they come across 1 tree, CV, and it's the olive tree. They think, wow, this this this olive tree, he's got a lot of good about him.

Let's ask if he will come and be our king. And that's got I don't know if anyone else realized that pun, but he says, should I give up, should I give up my, sorry, should I give up my oil by which both gods and humans humans are honored to hold sway over the trees? I love that. That's great, Great pot. He said, no.

I've got a good thing going here. I'm I'm making olive oil. I'm I'm kind of a big deal. I'm happy with my position here. So they think, okay, well, we can't get the olive tree.

Well, let's get on to LinkedIn. Alright? Or here's a here's 1. Here's a suitable candidate. The fig tree Oh, he's got some good fruit.

Victory? No. I'm giving fruit to people, and I'm happy. Okay. So, okay.

Well, what should we do? Oh, look at this tree's got a loads of award winning wine. It's a vine. To go to the vine. Will you be will you be our king?

Nope. I've got a I've got I've got a good thing going here. I'm I'm I'm an award winning winner. Not me. And so they've they've had these people that could be good kings, these trees that could be good kings, but they have no desire to hold a position that they don't think they're fit for.

They're they're happy where they are. And so they're getting desperate these old seeders, and they think, well, where shall we turn to next? Oh, well, oh, well, we there's a mister b ramble here. Yeah. Bramble, e looks interesting.

I suppose a bit different. We know we always want someone different. He's a thornbush. And so they come to the thornbush and they say, well, will you be our will you be our king? And look at his response in verse 15.

The thorn bush said to the trees, if you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade. But if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon. He'll be your king. Now, can you see the ridiculousness of this image? Oh, if you want me to be your if you honestly want me to be your king, you come and you shelter, you hide under my shelter.

It's a thorn bush. Can you get the pick of your magic? Lebanon, by the way, of massive, right? Can you imagine the picture of the all these sort of the the rains coming and they're all trying to shelter underneath a, a a a thorn bush that that will will set them on fire. Right?

It's it's like, if it's actually boxing out out there, and I have a little cocktail, you know, those cocktail umbrellas. Right? Come on everybody. Get underneath this. Right?

It's not worth it. It's not worth while getting onto this thing because it's not gonna work. So the explanation of this whole favorable comes in verse 16 to 19. Look with that. Look at that with me.

Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek King? Have you been fair to Jerabayle and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of million, but today you have revolted against my father's family. You have murdered his 70 sons on a single stone and have made a Bimolek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shepard because he is related to you.

So have you acted honorably and in good faith towards Jerab Dale and his family today? If you have, may Abimelech be your joy and may you be his too. But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you the citizens of Shechem and Beth Milow, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of shechem, and Beth Millow, and consume Abimelech. Here's the explanation. Just as a thornbush has no right.

To be the shelter place, to be the king of the cedars of Lebanon. A Bimmelec has no right. Is not worthy. He is worthless to be the king over god's people. He's a thorn bush.

You can see how unworthy he hears in verse 18. He's a murderer. He's murdered his 70 sons on a single stone. He sacrificed them so that he can be king. And look what else it says and have made a bim about the son of his female slave.

King over the citizens of shechem, just because he's related to you. He is not worth it. He's an illegitimate son. He has no right to be king. He's illegitimate.

He is not god's anointed king. Did he notice that's different? All the other leaders of god's people have been anointed by god, have been raised up as god's judge yet Abimelech is a pretender. He is a usurper, and he's 1 who has a highly, highly inflated view of himself. Completely disillusionable, but highly inflated means he's just air, worthless.

He's a worthless king, and has no right to be 1. And yet it is this 1 who the Shekamite choose to follow. People are notoriously poor at choosing their kings, and people are disillusioned about who or why they think they should be gink. But it's actually a lot worse than this. It's a lot worse than this because actually what they're doing is rejecting god as king.

They're rejecting god as king by by choosing their own king, it's similar. We we read about it last week when when the people in 1 Samuel ask Samuel for a king. God says they have rejected me as the king. That's what they're doing here. And everything in this story shows us that they're rejecting god as king.

The name Bail Barrett means lord of the covenant. They have replaced the guard of covenantal faithfulness, and they have made their own god and said, he is our god of covenant. In fact, the the sight of the crowning, this this, at this this tree at the pillar of shechem. That is the place where Abraham and god, where god made covenant with Abraham. That is the site also in which Joshua reestablishes covenant.

It's it's shouts about God being a covenantal and faithful God who keeps his promises to his people and the people of shechem and say, we don't want that god. We will have our own god of promise. We will have our own king. And can you can you see how offensive this is to god? This is total evil.

Yeah. This has been the story since the fall. You go back to the Garden of Garden of Eden. I've got there. In the Garden of Eden, god it was king.

And yet the serpent comes and says, make yourself king. Make me king. And so they stop listening and following the king of the universe, and they decide to listen to their own their own stuff. They start to listen to a serpent isn't it interesting what the devil has called in this world? He is called the ruler of this age.

He is called the prince of this world, which is very, very pertinent because in verse 22, it says Abimelech had governed That word governed is like that of a prince. See, the the devil is the the great pretender. The devil is the great usurper. And if we don't follow God as king, we follow him in some way as king. We listen to him as king, and we make ourselves king, and we choose to follow other kings.

But we're not able to wear that crown. That's far too heavy for our little finite heads. And so what's what what what what what is the question as well is who do we follow? Who are the kings that we are choosing? Are we making ourselves king?

Are we deciding to listen to our own voice? And you know, every time we sin, we're not listening to god as king. We're listening to ourselves as king. We're saying that my word rules above god's word. Every time that we decide to say, follow what the world has to say.

We're saying, well, actually we're listening to what the world has to say. We're choosing them to be our kings and not listening to god as king. And so we are totally wicked. Can you see can you see the wickedness of this? This is evil because we are not listening to the king of the universe.

We're we're committing high trees and every single 1 of us, we're committing high treason. We're usurping the god of the universe. We're saying that I deserve to be the 1 that rules or I should listen to other rulers. I'm replacing god with other people. And we choose worthless and empty kings.

We reject the tree king. Do you know what the word joker means? The word jotun means the lord is perfect. The lord is perfect. He's worthy.

He is a worthy king. He's not worthless. He deserves all praise, honor, glory, all of our service, all of our devotion. He is the perfect king who rules with justice. And so the question comes, will he allow this to stand?

Will he just sit back and go, okay, you can do what you wanna do? Or will he listen, as Jopen says, listen to me so he listens to what you have done? Will he respond to Jacob's curse? The answer is a resounding yes. So here's my second point.

Destructive judgment, destructive judgment. So there, Abimelech is he's been printing, if that's if I can use that as a word, I know it's not a real word. Don't worry. He's been doing that for 3 years. It's actually the shortest time period that we get in judges 3 years.

But we see in verse 23 to 24 that actually god is the 1 who's really ruling yes. Yes. A biblical's there as a as a pretender and he's governing in some sense. But actually god, if you notice in verse 23, is working and he is ruling. Look at verse 23.

God stirred up animosity between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, so that they acted treacherously against Bimelech. He did this in order that the crime against Gerabelle's 70 sons, the shedding of their blood might be avenged on their brother, Abimalak. And on the citizens of Shechem who had helped him murder his brother. So here they are. God is actually working in behind us.

He's not gonna let things slide. God cannot allow sin to just lie there and be still. He must judge. And so he begins to do that and and he puts that into action and you get this animosity and you get this trek tree and the people of shekin who, who wanted him as king now turn against him, and it starts with them being highwaymen. They're like, foreigners of dick turpin, if you know who he is.

Highway men robbing, his citizens, And then it goes on because you get this this bloke called Garl sort of Ebeds. And and and did you notice before they were willing to put their confidence in A bim a leg, but now they're starting to put their confidence in him. And so they're thinking we're gonna actually trust in goal now. We we we think he's a better king for us, but remember the word notoriously poor picking our kings. And so there they go, they go to God.

They have this great party apparently. They go picking grapes. They stamp all over them. They make wine. They go to the temple of their garden, they start having a few drinks.

Now the problem is when you have a few drinks, you start getting a little bit cocky and a little bit confident in your own ability. Which is exactly what golf does. Here he is. He's running his mouth off isn't he? He's boastful.

He's thinking, who's this a bim a little glad? Who is he? Is he that special? Him and his in his little crony zebra. You know, it would be better if we serve someone else, wouldn't it?

It would be better if served, Haymore, the father of shek now Haymore means ass. So in other words, it wouldn't be better if we served an ass than older Bimelech. It wouldn't be that, you know, and everyone thinks that that that they would do a better job, don't If you just need to follow a sports team and listen to fans, they can always do a better job than the manager. If only I was in charge, This will be a much better ship. That's what they're say it's already saying.

If only I was in charge, then we would then we would be happy So he's loading Abimelech, which is funny because his name means loading. He's loading him and the and the cursing Abimelech. The problem is that as he's doing that and he's getting all cocky, his evil gets gets wind of this, and he's not very happy because he's saying, oh, I'm not I'm not having that. So he sends a word to a Bimlet. He says, Bimlet come down with all your men, and you're gonna set your own ambush.

Yes, they've been ambushing you. You're now gonna ambush them, and so that's what they do. They come at nighttime. They all hide down and then Zeeble and and God go for a nice little morning stroll, little coffee, little, little, little, little walk around the old ramparts of shechem. And as they go, they come to this city gate.

And as they look, just as they get to that gate, the men, Abimlex men are coming down the mountain and and god's like, oh, it looks like there's some men coming down there. Look, look. Zeebles, Zeebles, very, very clever. No, it's your eyes, mate. Need to get them tested.

Should have gone to spec savers. You've had a few too many drinks the night before mate, playing, playing on your eyes. I said, no, no, no, there's men, there's men coming down. I can see them and how good is this line? Did you notice it?

Where's your big talk now? Girl. Yeah. Who who's not singing anymore? You thought you were hard, but you're not that hard, are you?

Don't know if you've ever been caught out like this. You've you've made some pretty big posts in your life, and maybe you've said you're better than someone or or or that, you know, and then that person's present and someone's called you out on it and you think, oh, goodness. I feel like an absolute fool. I imagine goals going through that now, but he's been backed into a corner. Because of his because of his because of his boasting.

And so he says he goes out and he takes his men and he tries to fight them And look, the result seems to be over before it started. It's absolutely smashed. And you think, well, okay, he's beaten goal. Surely that's where it's gonna finish. But the problem is when people like this who have over inflated egos who are very proud.

They can't stop there. He is absolutely furious that he has been challenged. And so the next day, the people of shek can probably think that's it. It's over now. We'll go to our field as normal.

We'll just do as we normally do, but I think Malek is furious, and he must have his vengeance. And so with his company there, he goes and he attacks unsuspecting people. He tears down the city. He puts salt on it, which symbolizes that he's condemning condemning this place to destruction. And then he hears about this tower.

He's thirsty for blood. A bit more like. He's thirsty for vengeance. So he marches to this this tower where people are hiding, and it's in this place called Zalman. He finds a load of branches, which is funny, isn't it?

Cause the curt remember the curse. He chops down these branches. He tells his men to do it as well. He sets it on fire just like that 1000 people dead. It's a horrible story, this, isn't it?

So much violence and so much gore. And you think, well surely he'll be satisfied that now, but he's like his dad. If you remember his dad, he he also went on a bit of a rampage. He's like his dad that he hates, and so he hears about thebes and he thinks, well, Let's do the same thing, and he hears there's a tower there. So he goes there.

He besieges. He catches it. And, and and you feel like, oh, this is just gonna be this exactly the same as before. And so the people here that that he's common is on his rampage, and they all start legging it to the tower, like, like beforehand. Apart from you, you've got this 1 woman who's, struggling to get there because she needs to take her up a millstone with her.

And you could imagine and her her husband, like, come on love, leave the upper mill stone. We don't need to bring it everywhere we go. She's now, I love my upper mill stone. I must take it with me. And there she is.

They're getting closer and there she's No, I'm gonna tick my upper millstone. That's important, that. And so here we go. Oh, well, they're in a tower. Last time they were in a tower, I set them on fire.

I'm gonna do the same thing, and so he proceeds to try and do it. And as he's stacking up that woods, next to the fire, he looks up, and he sees a woman with a huge upper mill stone and around. And she launches it at his head and cracks his skull, which is continued theme and judges of using just everyday tools to kill people with, you know, JL used a 10 peg. Shamgar used an ox goat. Samsung's gonna use a donkey's jaw bone if the list goes on.

What's his name? Hehood, he makes himself a sword. She uses an upper mill stone. Maybe she's done this before. I don't know.

She didn't practice him. But remember who this is. This is a Bimolek. He is egotistical maniac. He's big on image.

And so there he is thinking, oh, no. I've been trapped in the head with a by a woman. Well, how disgraceful this is. And quickly, he runs to his armor bearer and says, look, this is so disgraceful that I've been killed by a woman. Run me through with your sword.

To which he does, and then they go home. That's the story of Abimelech. Good story? What does that mean? Well, here's the explanation.

Verse 56 to 57. Thus god repaid the wickedness that Ibimolek had done to his father by murdering his 70 brothers. God also made the people of Shaq and Pay for all their wickedness the curse of Jotham, son of Jerabail came on them. See that? Guards must judge, sin.

He repaid the people of Shaqam had to pay for. A Bimlet was repaid for the wrong he did, bought thinly. A Bimelech killed his 70 brothers on 1 single stone. A Bimelech was killed by 1 single stone. A bit of elect started his life in shame.

He was shameful in the way that he grabbed power. He got his power. He was exalted then, but his life ended in shame. And the people of Shechem for choosing the wrong king for allowing him to kill his brothers for following him, they are bent just as Jotham had said. And here's the thing, god judges evil.

God judges the evil of us when we choose our own kings, when we make ourselves king, God judges it. When we reject him as king, god judges. Jesus tells a story in the new testament in Luke. It's actually a verse coming up on here, actually. In Luke 19 27, he tells a story about 10 minors and he says this, those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me.

God judges evil, and he judges evil today. And we might not always see it. We didn't see it always in this story. It didn't always look like he was judging evil, but he was judging evil. And yes, some people had to wait.

There was a 3 year wait, but god must judge evil and he does judge evil in this story. And he uses the sin of humanity to judge evil. There is consequences when we choose our own kings and we make ourselves king, and that is evident in this story. The Bible says that god gives us over to our sinful desires. He allows us to go, but when we go and we and we and we flirt with other kings and we make ourselves king, it will end up destroying us.

God has to judge sin and he's doing it right now, but he is gonna do it in a fuller sense in a future day. He judges sin. He will judge sin. He promises that the prince of this world, the devil himself, will be completely destroyed. He promises that all those who follow their own king and make themselves king will be judged for eternity.

God judges evil. He will judge evil, and we deserve the judgment of god upon ourselves because we have made ourselves king, and we've chosen other kings. We deserve judgment because we have committed treason. But mercifully, that time is not now. Even in this story, the whole people are not destroyed.

Mercer, that final judgment is not now. But the time is now. The time is now to choose to follow the right king. The time is now to follow a king that can save us from ourselves. Because that is what the people need.

You'll notice they're not enslaved by any king, an enemy king. It's all themselves that they need saving from. We need saving from ourselves. We need a king who is perfect. We need a king who is just.

We need a king who is totally the opposite to a bim lek, and you've all guessed what that king is, who that king is, it is the lordy Christ himself. Ben, Ben used Philippians too last week. We're teaching it for rooted. It's superb this song. And Philippians too says this.

It's coming up. In your relationships with 1 another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who being in very nature god did not consider equality with god something to be used to his own advantage. Rather. He's the king of the universe. Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man.

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross. Therefore, god exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus, every niche of bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is lord. To the glory of god, the father. There is a king who is worthy. There is a king in Jesus who was anointed by god himself.

The spirit came upon him. He was the anointed chosen king of God. There is a king who people did not choose. They chose to reject him. There is a king who who rides in on a donkey to Jerusalem to to show his kingship.

There is a king whose head isn't crushed but crushes the head of the enemy. There is a king who is not distracted to everyone else, but actually takes the very fire of god's judgment upon himself. There is a king who starts with honor He's the son of god in eternity. He starts with honor, but he comes down in shame. He becomes a human.

He becomes a servant. He washes the feet of his disciples. He goes to across the most humiliating and shameful and disgraceful death ever to take the judgment of god upon him to be rejected and abandoned by god himself, yet he rises to glorious honor again, not shame honor, shame, but honor, shame, honor. There is a king whose head is worthy of the crown. He can wear it.

He can wear it. If we wear the crown, it crushes us, but he can wear the crown because he is worthy. He is worthy. So what about you? I don't know.

Where you are in this room in terms of your relationship with Jesus, but if you have never bowed the need to God as king, if you have never bowed the need to god king the lord Jesus Christ. Then today is the day to bow the knee. Today is the day to say Jesus is king. He's the king of my life. He's my savior.

Or you trust in him. See how worthless the things of this world are. See how unworthy you are to be king, how unworthy the things that you listen to are and see how worthy Jesus is to be your king. See the joy that he can actually give you. Don't keep choosing.

Don't keep on making yourself king because this story tells us if we do those things, god's judgment is coming. God's judgment is coming. It is coming. I say the time is now. The time is now to confess that Jesus is lord.

Will you do that tonight? Judge is here but judgment is coming. No better time to confess that crisis king and Christians. Let us repent for when we go away from our glorious king Jesus. Let us repent from when we stop listening to his words.

And we listen to our own, and we listen to people in this world. But let us praise god. That Christ is the worthy kink, and that Christ took the judgment for us so that we're not destroyed. Let's do that now. Father, we thank you for this story, and we thank you that you are a god who is serious about sin You're serious about our evil and our wickedness.

And because you are a god who is completely committed, to justice for you are a perfect king. You must judge it. And so he prays you for that. And it scares us, and it should do. But we also praise you.

That for those who trust in your perfect king, the lord Jesus Christ, you have offered us a way in which 1 can take our judgement. Christ takes hell on a cross. So that we're not destroyed. So let us revel in the lord Jesus Christ father. Let us see more of him.

Let us love him more. Let us see that he is truly worthy. Let us praise and honor and glory and serve him and him alone. And so we pray these things in Jesus' name. That was terrific stuff, wasn't it?

We thought we would do a question time. We've got a few few minutes we won't go on too long, on anything you want, really, but if you want it on this passage or, on anything in judges, or any questions that you have. So, let's, turn on our tables and chat through things and see if there's any questions. And if it's about this particularly, then Rory will come up and answer them. So the question is about, having 70 70 brothers or 70 kids, and is that is that number significant?

Because very often, you know, there are these little details and they are very significant, like names and numbers and stuff like that. I don't know. What do you think? Come up here and join me. I I'm not sure, actually.

Obviously, there's the 70 shackles seems to symbolize a shekel per head, so they're not they're not valued too highly. As you say 7 and 10 are often very significant numbers in the bible. I didn't read anything though that suggested that this time it was significant, but I guess it's a good conjecture or something worth investigating Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, 7 is normally for god, isn't it?

So, I'm not sure where it quite means that. Yeah, but good. The the when when you're reading passages like this, you've got to ask those questions and because that helps you, informs you. And you might say, oh, no, that that that seems to have a significance here, and I think it's this. And other times you think, no, that's just a sort of fairly random number if you like, you know, 69 or whatever.

But that, but that's how you have to, you know, put together the bible, isn't it, and understand the passage. It's really exploring those those little themes. Yep. Anything else? Pot, I don't know.

So so so so we just have to say. So, I loved the description of the woman taking the miller stone up the tower. Yeah. I mean, that was a little bit of exact, you know, not exaggeration, but, you know, it's filling in the storage. Did did she take it up the tower?

Was it already up there? Well, it definitely wasn't up there to start off with because where you grind is is actually not up on a roof of a tower. So it's definitely brought up. By her. So I whether or not she thought this might come in handy.

I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I tell you what is we were just talking about this. I don't know if you've been struck by this throughout the book of judges. It's that god raises up women who who the people don't think are valuable, and he uses them mightily. So the story of J. L and Sisra, he he uses a woman to deliver his victory and and so they're very much exalted in these stories, and the same with this woman, I mean, you know, she must have been quite a strong woman if she's lobbying her old up at Bill Stone, is Ed?

But yeah, I think, I think there is something significant in that he uses again, a woman. And again, that sort of I love, I know, said about it. I love the fact that they have always these tools that they use. They're like everyday tools and God will use the everyday tool to to strike the blow against the enemy, which is weird because it's 1 of their own, actually. Yep.

Why why didn't god do it simpler to bring people back to god's will? Yeah. Well, this is it's not even re not even really brought back to his will. No. They just go home.

I think that the story is he's he's a judging god, and he he will not, he will not allow sin just a lie. And I think health, I I I was trying I don't mind on this, but I was trying to show that just because we don't always see god's judgment doesn't mean he's not judging. And I I think that story of where, you know, I was thinking about using illustrations where that there are times in history where people rise up and they displace a government, and then they end up turning in on themselves. There's a great story in Revelation 17 where this is vividly brought to life. And I think that's what's going on here.

It's like, I am judging, and I will judge in the background. It looks like you're governing I think that's great comfort, isn't it to to many nations where there's evil dictators. They think that they're governing and they're just little princes, and god is judging. In the background, and he does it, and then he does it with a quite big effect at the end. So I I don't think it's necessarily going, bring you back to my will.

It's I'm judging you. But I'm I'm I'm not saving you from an enemy. I'm saving you from yourselves because they're clearly They're not even enslaved at this point. Yeah. I mean, there's judgment and there's there's all kinds of judgments.

The very the whole chaos of the event is judgment. This is showing what people are like when they choose to take on kingship is needed. And, when they choose to move away from god, and that's the world we're in. You know, it's chaos, isn't it? There's chaos everywhere.

Yeah. And here it's particularly sort of boiled down chaos. It's interesting, isn't it? It takes 3 years. You know, so I I I guess a Bimolex thinking I'm pretty cool for 3 years.

And then suddenly there's a millstone on his head, and he didn't he did not see that coming, and nor did anyone, but god clearly did. And then the next 2 judges after that, I mean, there's hardly anything said about them, but there's 45 years of peace. After that. So you don't quite know what goes on immediately after after Abimelech's dead, but you've got, I think it's Toller and tolling chair, is it, and someone else. And, we're not really told much, but they saved Israel and and god, raised them up.

So we're not sure what's going on. But this is the world we're in. It's chaos. It's absolutely chaos. No 1 knows what to do, do they?

You know, there's wars, there's rumors of wars, there's all kinds of things going on. There's evil men in power, look like they're they're secure and and they're not, are they? So why doesn't God do it what was the question, why doesn't he do it sort of simpler? Well, he could have wrapped up the world, you know, part of it is to keep us looking to Christ. Part of it is to show us just how sinful we are.

Part of it according to Romans is is storing up Roth, so that we can just see how how sin, stores up so that he will then judge So we would never be able to argue with him when he judges and say, oh, well, come on. It was only a little it was only a single lie He allows that to grow. He allows the sin to grow and the chaos to happen. So that actually when he comes with, we're absolutely overjoyed. Those of us that love him.

And when he judges, no 1 can say, well, that wasn't very helpful, and that was a bit too harsh. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's the stuff.

Preached by Rory Kinnaird
Rory Kinnaird photo

Rory is a trainee pastor at Cornerstone and oversees our Youth Work with his wife Jerusha who is also a youth leader.

Contact us if you have any questions.

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