Judges 9 – Part 2QUESTION: Bramble Leadership - 2ANSWER:Judges 9 – Part 2
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
“Anyway, after Gideon dies, the A-man, Abimelech, goes to his home boys in Shechem and says, ‘Hey, one of Gideon’s sons should succeed him as the leader and just because he didn’t want to be king, doesn’t mean that I don’t.’ Or at least something along those lines.
“He talks the men of Shechem into supporting him and they give him 70 shekels of silver out of the treasury of the temple of Baal in their hometown. So Abimelech’s entire campaign to be king is funded by a campaign contribution from Satan. This is not going to turn out well.
“In verse 4 it says he took the Baal money and ‘hired worthless and reckless men and they followed him.’ Now the A-man has a posse of guys who probably closely resemble the demonic hordes in a Frank Peretti book.
“They saddle up and go to Gideon’s traditional home in Ophrah and kill all of Abimelech’s half-brothers, all the sons of Gideon. They behead the whole family and line the 70 heads up on a big stone. Nice guy, huh? Sounds like ‘Scarface’, some drug kingpin from the movies. ‘But,’ says verse 5 ‘the youngest son of Jerubbaal – or Gideon - was left because he hid himself.’ His name was Jotham.
“The bad guys all go back to Shechem in triumph and make Abimelech their king. His coronation, according to verse 6, was ‘beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem.’
“Now, Shechem was an interesting place. It’s name means ‘shoulder’ or ‘ridge’. It was located on the slopes, probably a ridge, of Mount Gerizim. Abraham, as he migrated to the Promise Land, built an altar under a terebinth, or oak, tree at Shechem. Did you catch that? Was this the ‘pillar’ by which Abimelech was crowned? Hmmm.
“The peak of Mount Gerizim overlooked the city and made a nice, natural pulpit. Jotham, the sole surviving son of Gideon’s many wives, climbs up on Mount Gerizim and gets everyone’s attention.
“What he says is the first parable in the Bible and, I believe, sets him out as a prophet unaware. The parable covers from verse 8 through verse 15. The story/sermon gives us great insight into God’s heart toward leadership.
“In a nutshell, it says that the trees decided they needed a king. So they went to the olive tree – the most valuable tree in the region at the time – and said ‘Reign over us!’ But the olive tree said, ‘Should I cease giving my oil, with which they honor God and men, and go to sway over trees?’
“So, in turn, the trees go to the fig tree and the grape vine, progressing downward in worthiness. They both have the same answer as the olive tree. Why would we leave our fun, worthy callings to be ‘promoted over trees?’
“Did you get that? When you are serving the LORD, doing massive evangelism, deep discipleship, huge pastoring, don’t you dare leave to go take on an administrative leadership position, especially if the chief reason is the care and feeding of your fat and fragile ego. Oh, if the American church would listen to this parable.
“Finally, the trees go to the bramble and say, ‘You come and reign over us!’ Wow. The bramble is a thorn bush. It was the most worthless plant in the world. It did not bear fruit and clung too low to the ground to provide any shade. It was truly low-down, good-for-nothing. Man, does that sound like a bunch of our self-aggrandizing politicians in America or what?
“Now, watch what the bramble says! ‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you, then come and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’Judges 9 – Read Part 3!