Judges 9:14 | Vote for Brambles

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Gideon was asked to be King and 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 and so he made a power move to achieve that. This power move was financed by with money collected at an idol’s temple by naive family and involved associations with worthless characters in society.

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

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 has 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

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 contemporary 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 because he 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, but 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? People 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.

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 flesh 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. Trump and Clinton are not saints so 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 and you don’t really care if they unfairly crush the enemy to your side of the argument? As a conservative Hillary is a nonstarter for me to support. Her world view in regard to how government should be used does not align, she actively supports abortion which is the murder of children up until the day of birth, she lied about what happened in Libya to protect herself politically, and she sees herself so above the laws that should apply to all men when she kept her own email server for what could only be to hide conversations from the freedom of information and future historians. Trump on the other hand is a wild card. He does not care about ideological things like abortion but only to champion his own name “Trump”. He says he will build a wall to keep immigrants out of the country and he says he will ban Muslims from entering through visa programs to the cheering of Middle America. Racists and bigots have come out of the woodwork to attack anyone that does not support Trump. Would my vote for him lend credibility to the evil that surrounds this billionaire?

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

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.

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

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

Judges 8:23 | Vote for …

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It is political season and a new president will be elected soon. The choice at this point in the race makes some angry and some excited. The emotion that some have wrapped up in the candidates is greater than even those that follow sports teams in devotion. There is no logic or reason for some because it is all about party affiliation. Strawmen have been constructed and the opponent must be demonized and dehumanized so the hate can spew forth. Neither of the candidates are moral people. Both crave power and earthly temporary success or transformation. Their followers may stand to benefit financially or otherwise if elected but in the end all of it is temporary. Sometimes a leader is unanimously chosen because of great success and the people come to force them into position. Gideon was successful enough as a general freeing Israel from the surrounding aggressors that the people wanted him to be more than a judge they wanted him to be more than even Moses. They wanted him to be a king.

23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” Judges 8:23 ESV

The people wanted to Gideon to rule so that his success would be passed onto them so they could say to the surrounding nations “Look there is our King he is greater than your king that died at his hands”. Gideon rejected this advance because he knows that the success that was achieved with just 300 men was done to give God glory. Gideon tried to remind the people that God would be their king and ruler. It was God that saved them. It was God that provided for them. The same is true today. Do you want a Democrat or a Republican to be your ruler? Or do you trust Christ as the king of Kings? The Bible narrative tells us that the nation of Israel continued to ask for a ruler so they could be like other nations.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 1 Samuel 8:4-5 ESV

Samuel a prophet who is judge over Israel is advancing in years so the people come to him and tell him to appoint a King as successor. When Samuel inquires to the Lord for their request God agrees but it is not His desire or plan for the people.

7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 1 Samuel 8:7 ESV

How many Christians look to the government and politicians to save them, to guide them, or to provide for them? God never intended for government to be our King. That is His role. Is God not our heavenly Father providing all that we need? Why do we look first and only to government and the corrupt people running it to provide for our needs? Certainly the government has a role and we need a judge to maintain law and order but the emotional view of our doom or salvation being based on who is in office is the height of unfaithfulness to God. Look at God’s warning to the people who demanded a King.

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18 ESV

Why can we not put our trust in God to raise up people to lead when the time has need? Even Americans have not learned. Americans should be the first to understand that no kings are necessary and Government is not our salvation. Even in the time of Christ they wanted a King to rule over them.

15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:15 ESV

And why did the people plan to make Jesus King right there even risking war with Rome? Because they were focused on the temporary things of now. Jesus had just served food to the five thousand with only a few loaves and the people wanted that kind of power to be theirs. Is that not how politics work? Feed us and care for us. Lead us in battle. Make us successful. All the while God is there and able to do all those things without either of people who are trying to be elected.

Go and vote this year. Pick the candidate that speaks in alignment with your values or pick the candidate that will do the least harm. But do not look to any man or woman to save the country, laws, values, or whatever is most dear because that comes from God and God alone. The fact is that we already have a King His name is Jesus.

16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelations 19:16 ESV