God’s Hand of Justice Displayed

Wendy Blight

Day: 33 | Plan: Joshua-Judges

Today’s Reading: Judges 9

Judges 9:56 (NIV) “Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.”

Today we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of sibling rivalry gone very bad. Judges 9 tells a tragic story of wickedness and treachery that ends in a powerful display of judgment from the One who is the Judge of all the earth. (Genesis 18:25)

As we begin today, keep in mind this New Testament biblical principle, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).

Our story centers around Gideon’s son, Abimelek, and his desperate attempts to establish himself as king of Shechem. He wanted control regardless of who got in his way, including his own brothers.

Abimelek rallied the people of Shechem to aid him in killing 69 of his 70 brothers in a mass execution. Only Jotham escaped. He climbed to the top of a mountain, rebuked Abimelek and the Shechemites, prophesying fire and destruction would come against them if God found their actions dishonorable. (Judges 9:19-20)

The people rejected Jotham’s warning and made Abimelek king. Three years into Abimelek’s reign, God’s judgment began its descent. “God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem … in order that the crime against [Gideon’s] seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem ….” (Judges 9:23-24).

Sounds a lot like the New Testament principle we learned above, doesn’t it? A man reaps what he sows. God will rain down consequences against those who intentionally and habitually dishonor and disobey His commands.

A power struggle arose between Abimelek and the Shechemites. Through an informant, Abimelek learned of their plot against him. Filled with rage and consumed with revenge to settle the score, Abimelek slaughtered his own people. One of his most vile acts was incinerating 1000 Shechemites who had taken refuge in a tower.

His murderous actions did not appease the hatred consuming Abimelek’s heart. When he learned the citizens of a nearby city had conspired against him, his murderous heart advanced against them with the intent to burn them alive as well. But, as he approached the entrance, a woman dropped a large stone on his head and cracked his skull. Not yet dead, his pride led him to ask his armor-bearer to finish the job so that no one could say he died by the hand of a woman.

Abimelek reaped what he sowed, fulfilling both Jotham’s prophetic words and the words of Judges 9:23-24. God repaid Abimelek for his wickedness. (Judges 9:56-57) His hunger for power corrupted his judgment. In his mind, the end justified the means. Never once did he seek God’s will or ask for His wisdom. Abimelek sought to write his own story, and it came to a terrifying, tragic end.

Why did God not intervene earlier and allow all those people to die? Was He giving Abimelek time to repent and seek God? Was He waiting on the citizens of Shechem to turn from their sinful ways as well? Scripture provides no explanation. What we do know is God’s ways are higher than ours; His timing is perfect (Isaiah 55:8-9; Acts 1:7), and He calls us to trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We also learn that God keeps His Word. He has warned us, just as he warned God’s people through Jotham in Judges 9:15-21. When we choose to walk in disobedience, driven by pride and self-satisfaction, and ignore His spoken truths, there will be significant consequences. We will reap what we sow.  

Prayer: Father, stories like this are hard to read. But I know that every word in Scripture is meant to teach me. You are the Judge of the earth. You hold me accountable to live according to Your Word. Help me to glean what You would have for me from this story. Remind me that I need to seek Your wisdom in all I do. I need to seek Your will, not my own, no matter how badly I want something. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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