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The Bramble King (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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January 1, 2021 6:00 am

The Bramble King (Part C)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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January 1, 2021 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the Book of Judges (Judges 9)

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Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

A man can give a sermon, or you can preach in the office place, or someone overhears you, and is moved enough to move to the Lord. And you may never know, many times you never know, who is being impacted by just being a righteous preacher, or a preacher of righteousness.

Otherwise the stories are just depressing and not realistic, because the realistic factor is that people get saved from hearing people say things that are righteous. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Judges.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Today Pastor Rick continues teaching through Judges chapter 9 and his message called the Bramble King. Unfortunately Jotham is talking to the wall, brick wall. You know, we don't know. There are people in the audience during these events when the righteous stand up and preach that may have genuinely been moved by these things, but their attention is placed on the key characters.

And so we know that to this day is the case. A man can give a sermon or you can preach in the office place with someone. Someone overhears you and is moved enough to move to the Lord. And you may never know, many times you never know, who is being impacted by just being a righteous preacher, or a preacher of righteousness. Otherwise the stories are just depressing and not realistic because the realistic factor is that people get saved from hearing people say things that are righteous. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. Well, verse 21, then Jotham ran away and fled and he went to Bier and dwelt there for fear of Abimelech his brother.

How tragic. He ran from his brother because his brother was a mass murderer. Verse 22, and Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years. Again, no evidence that his reign really extended. We don't know where Bier is as mentioned in verse 21, but we have no evidence of his authority really spilling out and the writer just maybe just throwing that out there to say, you know, nobody contested he was king.

But it would be hard to make a case for it. You don't see about, you know, the coronation of Judah came and Ephraim came and the tribes. You don't have any of that that you see, of course, when Saul and David are coronated. Well, in fact, when Saul was coronated, there were those protesters.

We're not going to have this guy rule over us. Verse 23, God sent the spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech that the crime done to the 70 sons of Jerubabel might be settled and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother who killed them and on the men of Shechem who aided him in the killing of his brothers. Several times, three or four times in this chapter we read, it brought up the 70 that were killed. The 70 because this was of course a horrific event. The shielding that Abimelech would have had had he been God anointed and appointed is not there.

It's absent. And within three years, his relative success, relative to what's coming, is collapsing. God permitted the natural tendencies of these characters to run their course.

He didn't play put no stops in place. This guy is this guy over here is a creep and this guy over here is a creep and I'm going to let them go together because that's what those kind of people do. Birds of a feather flock together and they're going to get together and they're going to turn on Abimelech and I'm not going to stop it.

And that's what's going on. Isaiah 66, verse 4, God speaking to the prophet. So I will choose their delusions and bring their fears on them because when I called no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear, but they did evil before my eyes and chose that in which I do not delight.

They chose it. They didn't care about what God says. We read these words and when we stumble we say, but Lord, I do care and I don't want to stumble. Well, the wicked don't care. They don't make that prayer. They're not interested in what offends God unless they think he's going to punish them. Still, they really don't care what God thinks because they don't have a relationship with him.

Before I became a Christian I didn't care what the Bible said, but now it's a whole other story. Verse 25, and the men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains and they robbed all who passed by them along the way and it was told Abimelech. The men of Shechem set men in ambush against him. What do you mean him? There's not Abimelech riding through here being ambushed.

It's his interest. This was a trade route and unrest stirred up in Shechem. Abimelech's not living in Shechem at this time and they're hitting the trade routes which means they're taking his tariffs, the money he's getting from these caravans going through, the trust of the people is being challenged, they're coming under the shade of his branches.

It's not working. He's five miles from Shechem, and that'll come out in verse 41 in Arumah, not it's a rumor, but Arumah is the name of the village where he is, and so the bramble king is losing money. He's losing control. He's not protecting. He's not offering relief, the shade that he promised. Verse 26, Ga'al the son of Ieb, and they'll repeat that enough times, just for me.

They just did it for me. Came with his brothers and went over to Shechem and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. So here's an upstart going to come on the scene now. Ga'al, another opportunist, but he's not as successful as Abimelech in his unprincipled ways. Him and his buddies, they're probably the ones robbing all who pass by along the way.

He's probably got his hands in it anyway. Verse 27, so they went out into the field and gathered grapes from their vineyards and trod them and made merry, and they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and cursed Abimelech. So their vineyards, as some pronounce it, produce this fruit for them. This is now July, June-July, the grape harvest, a time when armies go out to war also.

Again, alcohol is influencing these individuals. They have their harvest, they've made their grapes, they wait for it to ferment and do what it does, and then they start drinking it, and the inhibitors are gone, and they start vocalizing their resentment towards Abimelech, and they do it publicly, they're railing against him, and now that's the beginning of the end for them. Verse 28, then Ga'al the son of Ieb said, who is Abimelech? And who is Shechem? That we should serve him is not the son of Jeroboel and his, is not Zerboel, his officer. Serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem, but why should we serve him? And so Ga'al, he argues that these guys are not Canaanites, they're not from Shechem, they don't belong here, they're outsiders. How'd they get here?

Who is this guy? And I've already mentioned, you know, Simeon and Levi hundreds of years ago and what happened here, the history, they're still mindful of these things. You know, there'll be folks still, you know, arguing a civil war if humanity went on another 2,000 years, they should still be arguing, and that's every civil war problem, you still have their, you know, people just not forget. So they're railing against Abimelech and they also go against his deputy, Zebul, and he's in Shechem there, he's going to get word of this, it's going to come back to bite them. And instead of saying, you know, Abimelech is incompetent and doesn't care about us, they go with his ancestry.

He does, he's not one of us. It's all messed up. Verse 29, if only this people were under my authority, here we go. You just want to roll your eyes when you hear that.

This is Absalom at the gate. Those people that come into a church try to steal flocks, steal people over to their Bible study. It's the same, they do this, believe it or not, they have no shame in doing it. You know, they used to hang horse thieves for a reason.

You just, some things are very important and you shouldn't mess with them. What he is doing, these guys, they're stealing their own fate, he says if only this people were under my authority, then I would remove Abimelech. And so he said to Abimelech, increase your army and come out. You don't mean that, do you? In other words, he sent a message to Abimelech, I'm challenging your authority on the battlefield.

We're going to fight this out. Verse 30, then Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gael, the son of Iyab. His anger was aroused, because they cursed him too. And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly saying, take note Gael, the son of Iyab, and his brothers have come to Shechem.

And here they are fortifying the city against you. Why I'm so glad that they don't name Gael's brothers and behind each brother say, the son of Iyab. But verse 32, now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. So Zebul is in Shechem, he's the governor of, or the deputy of Abimelech. He hears all this, he sends a note to Abimelech, they're challenging you to a fight, you need to get here quickly, you know, move at night and lay low until sunrise and then pounce. That's his advice in verse 33. And it shall be as soon as the sun is up in the morning that you shall 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 you find opportunity.

So the informant blows a whistle and he also, he's not really an informant, he's an official of Abimelech, but he blows the whistle and he gives instruction. And again, Abimelech is in Aruma, so he's not too far, five miles or so. Verse 34, so Abimelech and all the people who are with him rose by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. So Abimelech, verse 34, and all the people who are with him rose by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. Then Ge'el the son of Eab went out and stood in the entrance to the city gate. Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from lying in wait. And when Ge'el saw the people, he said to Zebul, look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains. And Zebul said to him, you see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men. Well he's deliberately stalling, giving more time to Abimelech's troops to converge on the city before Ge'el rings the alarm. Verse 37, so Ge'el spoke again and said, see, people are coming down from the center of the land. And another company is coming down from the diviner's tibbereth tree. Verse 38, and Zebul said to him, where indeed is your mouth now with which you said, who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?

And not these people whom you despise. Go out, if you will, and fight with them now. So Zebul, it sounds like pouring, like I'm saying, you know, the bull. Zebul, anyway, he's taunting Ge'el, and he's saying, well, you've been talking all this, you know, talk now, how's your chance to put up or shut up? So he doesn't have a choice, he's got to fight or just be killed.

He can't run back, he's got to, they're too close, so you've got to do something. Verse 39, so Ge'el went out leading the men of Shechem and fought with Abimelech, and Abimelech chased him and he fled from him, and many fell wounded to the very entrance of the gate. That's the gate of Shechem. Then Abimelech dwelt in Arumah, and Zebul drove out Ge'el and his brothers so that they would not dwell in Shechem. Verse 42, and it came about on the next day that the people went out into the field and they told Abimelech, and these are Abimelech's troops, so he took his people, divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field. He looked and there were the people coming out of the city, and he rose against them and attacked them. So the Shechemites are launching a counterattack, and Abimelech got word of it, so he put people in place for this, and he's ready for them. Verse 44, then Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, and the other two companies rushed upon all who were in the fields and killed them.

So that's the end of that battle. Verse 45, so Abimelech fought against the city all day. He took the city and killed the people who were in it, and he demolished the city and sowed it with salt. It's hard to sow with salt.

The fabric just doesn't stay together. So, this spreading salt over the land is symbolic, because you'd need an excavator and dump trucks to come in and actually put salt all over the place so much so that nothing could ever grow there again. It's a symbolic gesture, just according to the, it's just not practical.

I know some commentators will say they put, but just think about it. How much salt would it, how much gnocchi spore would it take to put in your backyard if you've ever tried that? So it's, and you know, you got to mine the salt, be a waste of salt, just not practical. So it's a symbolic gesture that I condemn this city and nobody's to come back here. That is the idea in this case of doing it.

Now again, it's one of those not so important points that if you want to argue, it's not worth arguing. But as I'm reading it as a Bible student, I'm in my head trying to picture this. How much salt would it take to really ruin the soil so that nothing would grow there?

You'd need lots of salt. And anyway, so we move on to verse 46. And now when all the men of the Tower of Shechem had heard that they entered the stronghold of the Temple of the God Beareth, verse 47, and it was told Abimelech that all the men of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together.

Perhaps they were thinking, you know, they run into the strong tower, that's a fortified position, a bunch of stones make this elevated structure, and they feel relatively safe there, and it's a temple, so they feel that he's not gonna, maybe he won't bother them because it's a religious shrine. Of course, he's going to turn it into a furnace and kill them all. Verse 48, Abimelech went up to Mount Zalman, he and all the people who were with him, and Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bough of the tree and took it and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, what you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done. So some believe this all is covered over three days or so, I think it's a little bit more than that, but not very much more, and that would then too, you know, you can't bring the carts of salt in also. So what he does is he takes the people and by leading by example, he chops down a bough and he drags it to the, instead of just saying, giving the order, go chop up some branches and bring them so we can set this stuff on fire.

It's kind of dramatic, but he says, what you see me do, you do it and let's hurry up and get it done. So they're gonna pile all this brush around the tower and they're gonna set it on fire and they're going to smoke out and burn up those inside this tower. Verse 49, so each of the people likewise cut down his own bough and followed Abimelech, put them against a stronghold and set the stronghold on fire above them so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women.

That's pretty intense. They had to be packed in that place to begin with and they had nowhere to get out and whoever did not burn up died from lack of oxygen, inhaling the smoke. And this is the parable, just as Jotham's parable prophesied, let fire come from Abimelech. In verse 20, the bramble king, the bramble is good for nothing but kindling fires. That's just what he, that's the parable was so spot on. And he destroys those who supported the coup and the curse is, is partly fulfilled. Remaining is the death of Abimelech. Verse 50, and Abimelech went to Thebes and encamped against Thebes and took it. Apparently Thebes joined the rebellion with Shechem and we just have to connect that dot. Verse 51, but there was a strong tower in the city and all the men and women, all the people of the city fled there and shut themselves in. Then they went up to the top of the tower. Thebes had to have heard the story. So Thebes does a little something a little differently. They're going to take a millstone and they're going to break it up.

Again, you have to think through this. Millstones, even the upper millstones, they're not light. And just seeing somebody tug it up a tower and then some lady pick it up and throw it over the side is not realistic.

And I've got evidence for that. But, because you look at this, what's a millstone doing at the top of the tower? They're not hiding out, you know, milling stuff up there, are they?

No, it's, again, it's a piece of a millstone. And again, I'll get that out. My point is, they heard about what happened. They're planning, if he comes up the next to this wall, we're going to be throwing stuff down on his head. I like that about these Thebesians. They're like, were there any Thespians in Thebes?

I don't know. Anyway, they weren't acting. Verse 51, but there was a strong tower in the city and all the men and women and all the people of the city fled there and shut themselves in. Then they went up to the top of the tower. Verse 52, so Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire. So he says, look, that just just worked in Shechem.

This is gonna work like a charm, guys. Watch this. He's writing the military manual of the Jews to how not to fight against a fortified position. Verse 53, but a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech's head and crushed his skull. Well, if it were the whole millstone, he would not have survived, likely to say to somebody anything.

It would have just killed him. But she throws off this piece of a millstone. It clunks him.

He knows he's gonna die. This, again, finds its way into the military manual of Israel's tactics against fortifications because David, David, in his shameful execution of Uriah, tells Joab, pull close to the tower, to the city walls, to the fortification, but leave Uriah there. Well, Joab sends the message back to David that Uriah was killed, we attacked the wall, and David says, why do you, well, let me just read it. Second Samuel 11, verse 21. It says, Who struck Abimelech, the son of Jerubasheth, that's a variation of Jerubabel, was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone?

You see, there's the clue, because it just bugged me. I mean, how do you get a millstone? Who takes it up there? That's like, you know, I don't know, it's like taking a wheelbarrow on an airplane. It just doesn't belong there.

Clunking into the people in first class, not a good start. Anyhow, who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebes? That's what it says in Second Samuel 11 21. Now, you may say, this really doesn't do anything for me.

Sorry, I like it. I got to see the realities, because that's where the lessons are. That's how we learn, and when we, you know, make up things or see things that just aren't practical, I think we get into trouble.

And so, if something is, you know, pressing on you when you read, and I say, I need to find the answer out, then that's not bad. Verse 54, and he called quickly to a young man, his armor baron, said to him, draw your sword, kill me, lest men say of me, a woman killed him. So the young men thrust him through, and he died.

Well, again, he said to young, they must have dragged him away, because I would, I'm not coming near you. This might have more millstone pieces up there, lying next to you. When he says, draw your sword, I would have said, this is no time for artwork.

I like that one. Anyway, what a wasted life. Here's the Bramble King. Nothing good recorded about him.

The triple disgrace of his day. He's not killed in battle, technically. I mean, he was, but not by a sword. He wasn't in a sword fight.

He got it. And the fact that in his society, of course, being killed by, to me, being killed by anybody is not good. But anyhow, that was a disgrace as a soldier. He was killed by a piece of millstone, a farmer's tool, and not even the whole thing. So, you know, he calculated all this very quickly, this dying breath.

Just kill me, okay? And the armor bearer, unlike Saul's armor bearer, who hesitated, he's not, listen, this would be an honor, because I never liked you. Verse 55, and when the men of Israel saw Abimelech was dead, they departed every man to his place.

Now, what's probably not quoted is the song they were singing, something to the tune of ding-dong, Abimelech's dead. Verse 56, thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his 70 brothers. And all the evil of the men of Shechem, God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham, the son of Jerubabel. And so the curse from verse 20 of chapter 9 is fulfilled, and both Abimelech and the people of Shechem were dealt with.

And it is a tragedy, but that's our story. Thanks for tuning in to Cross Reference Radio for this study in the book of Judges. Cross Reference Radio is the teaching ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. If you'd like more information about this ministry, we invite you to visit our website, crossreferenceradio.com. You'll find additional teachings from Pastor Rick available there, and we encourage you to subscribe to our podcast. By doing so, you'll be notified of each new edition of Cross Reference Radio. You can search for Cross Reference Radio on your favorite podcast app, or just follow the links at crossreferenceradio.com. That's all the time we have for today. Join us next time to continue learning more from the book of Judges, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-08 23:16:24 / 2024-01-08 23:26:28 / 10

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