Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Polygamy and Such ~ Abimelech

Gideon's family was huge. From what was recorded in the book of Judges, it seems that he had 72 sons (Judges 8:30, 9:24). Obviously Gideon had more than one wife. He had many. Abimelech was one of his sons from a maidservant concubine. He was very ambitious and when Gideon died, he was determined in his mind to become king.  Gideon had refused the kingship because he believed that it was God that was their ultimate authority. Abimelech killed all of Gideon's sons except Jotham (Gideon's youngest) who escaped, in order to claim the title of king.

Raising 2 or 3 kids is a challenge. I can imagine 72+ (I'm sure there were some girls born too) children with several wives incurred tremendous pressure and problems.  Polygamous marriages started with Lamech, one of Cain's sons. (Genesis 4:19). It became common. Even some great men like Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon had multiple wives which became problematic for all of them.

I read somewhere that God looked past polygamy in the Old Testament so that the world would be populated.  The definition of marriage was set from the beginning! God heart for marriage is recorded in Genesis 2:24:
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24 
It is pretty clear and simple.  God is love and there is no dark side to him at all. He wants the best for his people and he designed life in the richest and fullest way so that problems would be minimal. He also gave mankind free-will choice. Man can accept or reject God's abundance. It is a choice.

When man goes his own way, it is not God's fault; it is man's problem. When things don't work out well, no one can blame God.  He has provided. It is man that walks away from abundance when he thumbs his nose at the gifts and blessings of God.

God is not some old crank control-freak. If somehow that idea has creeped into your thinking it is important to get to know God the way he really is. You can't love and trust someone that you don't know. The Word of God is the best way to do that.  It is great to just read through the various records and ask God to show you what you need to know to build a relationship with the Father and his son. We can get robbed of the relationship privilege, if we constantly lean on others to keep us in the loop.

The book of Judges is full of human drama and the Hebrews were constantly going through up and down cycles between belief and unbelief. Human nature is in full view in it's records. It is much like human nature today. It is a daily, hourly, minute by minute walk. God responded when they came back to him. He helped them get out of the situations they got into when they honestly humbled themselves and asked for help. God still does the same today!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Resurrection Every Morning

The sun is rising and starting to spread its rays, through the trees, bouncing off the water and back up into the incredibly blue sky.  It is a majestic morning full of expectation. God created the dawn and it is a beautiful imagery of his faithfulness and love.



I was reading this morning about the trek of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary made to the grave where they put Jesus after his crucifixion. Unbeknownst to her at the time, it was the scene of the resurrection. What a magnificent dawn that was for her!
28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen,... Matthew 28:1-6a
Mary Magdalene and the women went to tell the others that he was gone from the grave and they all ran back to the grave to see for themselves. After they left, Mary stayed behind weeping that he was gone.  As she was leaving, she saw someone whom she assumed was a gardener until he said: "Mary". It was Jesus!

Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Jesus. Jesus had delivered her from a whole lot of darkness when he first met her. Now he was presenting her with a new dawn. He told her to relay a message to the others;
..... go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17b
That day was a dawning for each of us as well. As Isaiah said long ago about God: "he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned."(Isaiah 50:4) The resurrection of God's son paved the way to open the door for us to have an intimate relationship with God every morning. The beauty of the rising sun reminds us of that every day.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Allegory in Judges 9:7-15

In Judges 9:7-15, there is a beautiful tree allegory. It is a story told by Jotham, Gideon's son. Gideon had 70 children, 69 who were killed by Abimelech after Gideon died. Abimelech was a son of Gideon by a concubine in Shechem. Abimelech wanted to be king.  In the previous chapter we read that Gideon had declined to become a king insisting that God was their ruler. Jotham was the lone survivor of Abimelech's malicious devilish ambition.
7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. 
8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees? 
12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon. Judges 9:7-15

Each plant is a comparison (by implication and representation) and illustrates God's blessing on his people. The olive tree was a valued tree in that area. It had many uses such as oil for lamps, cooking, medical uses, food and cosmetic.  The wood was used in furniture.  It was a symbol of peace and plenty to the Hebrews.

The fig tree was the most fruitful tree. It's fruit was sweet. It was a symbol of fruitfulness.  Jesus Christ used the fig tree in Mark 11:112,13,20,21 to teach.

The third reference is to the vine which produced grapes. It was also considered a valuable plant. Jesus Christ is the true vine in John 15:1. God is the farmer. The vine represents spiritual blessings.

All three of these plants turned down the request to rule over the other trees because they were more useful functioning as they were meant to function. They delighted in serving in their own unique ways.

The fourth plant, the bramble was a dangerous plant due to thorns and its ability to burn. It wasn't very useful but readily delighted in the opportunity to be over the other trees. It was low to the ground so the promise of being able to trust in its shadow was vain.

Leaders like Abimelech are dangerous, thorny and cruel. They always grow over boundaries they have no right to mess with. They are not ministering and not to be trusted.
Proverbs 25:19: Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
Jesus Christ was a wonderful example of a 'Lord'. He was and is a representative of God's love. It is through his life people can utilize their usefulness to others to the fullest. He is the true vine and the one who is alive today and he building God's church.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we got to talking about respect and the current culture. He made a statement to me t...