In a time so much like today, God’s people in the time of Judges struggled to live out His commands without compromising with the evil world around them. Often, they failed, found themselves enslaved, and would cry out to God for deliverance. When they did, God would send a judge who would save them, but the people only remained faithful until the judge died.
Abimelech was one of those judges, and his story teaches us several lessons.
I. Judges 9:1-24. Gideon’s illegitimate son, Abimelech, was a terrible guy who went to his terrible family and gathered around him terrible people to do a terrible thing: he killed the seventy sons of Gideon, his half-brothers, all except Jotham, the youngest. As Jotham tells Abimelech and his family that they will destroy each other, he gives an extended metaphor that helps us today. The trees (the family) was trusting in brambles (Abimelech) to rule over them, but they won’t like the refuge that brambles offer. We must not put our trust in the things of this world but only God.
II. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Also, just because you’re being used by God doesn’t mean He approves of what you’re doing. Pharaoh teaches us this (Romans 9:17). So do the wicked men who put Jesus to death and probably thought they were doing the right thing (Acts 2:22-24). We must persevere in the face of discipline (Hebrews 12:11-17) and obey God’s commands so that we will not be disqualified for the prize.
III. Psalm 46:1-3. Thirdly, we must be careful in whose or what we’re taking refuge in. Our situation being so similar to God’s people’s situation in the time of Judges, we must be careful not to compromise with the world. The brambles are all around us, begging us to come rest in their shade: the economy, politicians, health, youth, friends, self-concept. These are all temporary and will melt with the elements in the heat on Judgment Day (Psalm 20:1-9). Christ and His work on the cross and at the tomb, however, are eternal. Only in Him, the King of Kings, may we take refuge and live.
In who or what are you taking refuge? Examine your life, the way you interact with others, your social media posts, how you spend your time. While calling yourself a Christian, you may find that you’re spending a lot of time in the shade of brambles.