Judges 9:14 | Vote for Brambles
Gideon was asked to be King. He refused reminding the people of Israel that their King is God and God alone. After Gideon’s death one of his 70 sons wanted to take the people up on the offer to be king. So he made a power move to achieve that. This power move was financed with money collected at an idol’s temple by naïve family and involved associations with worthless characters in society. This sounds familar and we find nothing has changed. Even today Christians vote for Candidates that have that have raised money from the world. So how should Christians vote in a sin filled world?
4 And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. Judges 9:4 ESV
Parable of Brambles
The final power grab was cemented by the murder of all of Gideon’s sons. Just like any new king would do in the pagan countries that Israel should have removed from the land. Gideon did not want to be king and he did not want his sons to be king yet they were all murdered as if they were rivals to a throne. One son Jotham Gideon’s youngest escaped. Jotham if he was seeking a kingdom could have mounted an army to fight his brother for power. But like Gideon he wanted no King for Israel but God. So before he fled he told a parable that included a curse on the people who supported the evil acts of his brother.
8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ Judges 9:8-15 ESV
Parables Make you Think
Christ used parables extensively in his teaching and it should be no surprise to see God speak to the people in parables in the Old Testament as well. Here Jotham speaks even to Christians in current society as we vote and install leaders. Each of the trees that were asked to be king refused because they would need to give up the blessings that they provided to everyone.
The olive tree would stop providing oil, the fig tree would stop providing sweet fruit, and the vine would stop providing the wine to cheer the hearts of men. Finally the bramble is asked to be King. Unique among these trees, vines, and bushes is the bramble. The bramble would be able to provide an authority and cover between other nations or God and the “trees” that called the bramble to be king. “Come take refuge in my shade” the bramble tells them. However the bramble warns that his shade will only be of benefit if the leaders called him in good faith.
In contemporary society leaders are called to protect borders and keep order. They are needed. But some people want leaders that will provide for them with money or power. How can they manipulate the system to provide a benefit to themselves? Activits and corporations make a regular practice of this in today’s society. Votes are given to those that will do the most for a particular class, or culture, or type of person not what is best for society as a whole.
Voting for Power
When you vote why do you vote for the person running for office? Abimelech wanted power and the people who voted for him wanted to share in that power. Abimelech killed all of his brothers because of a lust for power and money. Cain killed a single brother because of jealousy and God in mercy let him live. What can be said for a man who kills 68 of his own family not for passion but because of a lust for power? What can be said for the leaders who supported such naked evil?
All people are sinners so looking for a perfection in any man is a waste of time. The question then is are you voting in good faith for one of these brambles to lead this country? Or are you supporting them because of a lust for power? Do you want bad leaders to do bad things to your enemy? Will these Brambles unfairly crush the enemy to your side of the argument?
God Will Not Honor Selfish Votes
For the leaders that supported Abimelech it was a clear cut condemnation. A king was not needed and it was not Gideon’s wish that any of his sons would be king. The way power was consolidated with the blood of many men is one of the most shameful acts in the Bible. Jotham’s rebuke and curse is plain to see in that the shade provided by the bramble would also be used a trap and fuel for an all-consuming fire to the people who sought to install him in power. Paul puts it this way to the church in Rome.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:2 ESV
Government Power is God Given
These people that supported and put Abimelech into power must now submit to his rule. When he becomes a tyrant and evil King that generation has no say in having him removed. In fact in just a few short years they grow tired of his oppressive ways and try to have him removed. (Do you want to win power with a man that will kill so many of his own family? You get what you deserve)
22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, Judges 9:22-23 ESV
God is just and what was done to Gideon’s family would not stand so just as Jotham proclaimed the bramble became a trap of complete destruction.
45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt. Judges 9:45 ESV
Be Careful Who You Want in Power
As a Christian we must submit to the governing authorities in whatever land we live and if we are fortunate enough to have some degree of choice in our leaders then we should pray for them and take the vote seriously. However do not turn to politicians and government to save because they are always a bramble that can be the tinder in any fire just as quickly as they can be a shade and protection from the outside forces. Put your trust completely in Christ and weigh your motives when voting.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Ephesians 4:15 ESV
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