Abimelech, the self-appointed leader!

Scripture reading for March 12: Judges 9-12

All authority come from God and the Bible declares that God places people in authority. (Psalm 75:6-7)  When God places someone in authority, His anointing and counsel guide that person.  The person must stay under God’s anointing and follow His directions closely.  As we have observed the various leaders so far in Scripture, we see how God has placed them where He wanted them and used them as they followed Him.

For example, Gideon was a man placed by God in a position of leadership.  Gideon interacted with God to be certain of what to do and how to do it.  He certainly was not perfect and made some glaring mistakes, but brought peace to the land for a period of time.  He had 71 sons and a large family.  When Gideon passed away, a leadership crisis arose.  The Israelites went back to idol worship and one of Gideon’s sons sought to take over.

Abimelech arose to take over his father’s place.  Abimelech was the son of a slave girl.  He had 70 brothers who were produced through his father by other mothers.  He went to his mother’s town and relatives and proposed to take over leadership.  They paid him some money from an idol temple and he hired mercenary soldiers. They then killed 69 of his seventy brothers.  Jotham, the youngest, was the only one who escaped.  Jotham spoke a word of prophesy from Mt. Gerazim at Abimelech’s coronation ceremony then quickly escaped.  He basically pronounced a judgment on Abimelech’s leadership and those who followed. (Judges 9:7-21)

The Scriptures state that God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem.  God did this to avenge the shedding of innocent blood of the seventy brothers.  Abimelech and the citizens of Schechem had conspired to commit that murder and now they would become enemies themselves!  (Judges 9:22-24)  This evil spirit would destroy them both and was God’s judgment on a self-appointed leader and those who joined with him in rebellion!

What can we learn from this today?  God does place people in leadership for our good, protection, and blessing.  When a leader follows the Lord, the people and leader are blessed.  When someone tries to place themselves in leadership by his own power, craftiness, or manipulation, then both the leader and those who scheme with him come under God’s judgment!  We must be vigilant today in our country.  Politics and media are always at work trying to manipulate people.  Politicians use religion and try to destroy their rivals.  In the workplace, people scheme and plot to get advantage.  In the church at times, people seek to appoint themselves.  Beware– God’s judgment will come on those who appoint themselves!

Shechem’s punishment: “So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech.  They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside.  So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.” (Judges 9:49)

Abimelech’s punishment: “Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it.  But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Abimelech had his armor-bearer kill him so he did not die at the hands of a woman.

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2 thoughts on “Abimelech, the self-appointed leader!”

  1. Pastor, do you think that the foolish vow of Jephthah was literal? Do you think he sacrificed his daughter like a burnt offering or that he just offered her to stay a virgin for her entire life in service to ‘whomever’? I’ve always thought this was such a tragic thing for him to vow that. Joy

  2. Dear Joy, I am not sure what actually transpired here. This was the time of Judges, when every man was doing what was right in his own eyes. This man was zealous for God and made this vow as a sacrifice to God, not thinking of possible consequences I am sure. God had it recorded but surely was not pleased with it. However, a vow made to God is to be kept. Ecclesiastes 5:2-7 is a warning against making hasty vows and not keeping vows that were made. I wonder of Solomon was thinking of this incident as he wrote? In any case, it is one thing to vow something to God that costs you, but quite another to commit someone else’s life or ability to have children! I would think that he should have confessed his foolishness and asked the Lord for directions. This is a question that will be fully answered in heaven! God bless, P. John

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