Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Judges 9-12; November 17, 2011

Ladies, tonight we are talking about rejection. Everyone can suffer from rejections; adults as well as children. Most of us are familiar with rejection of some form. Have you known the betrayed of a good friend? Have you been rejected by someone who promised to never leave you,  been excluded from the activities with “party crowd” at work or in your neighborhood, passed over for a particular job at work or church, denied an invitation to a family celebration, you can fill in the blank: these are all forms of rejection. Rejection hurts deep at a level that attacks our very self-worth and significance. I remember in my childhood inviting a friend to our church picnic, then she ran off with my best friend leaving me all alone.
It is hard to be a newcomer fitting into an existing circle of friends. If you see someone “new” or someone sitting alone out here or in your core, reach out to them. My hope is that no lady ever drops out of CBS because she did not feel welcome. That is the goal of CBS to make everyone feel comfortable, confident and cared for.   
But remember the rejection from "man" or woman is never an indicator that we are rejected by God. God can use even those who have been the most rejected as we saw in this lesson. He has a place for you and a divine purpose for your life.  
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Opening Prayer
Tonight we will talk about Abimelech and Jephthah; both dealt with rejection from their families. But they handled it in two entirely different ways. Abimelech allowed his feelings of rejection to power his revenge. Jephthah was rejected by his brothers as well, but he went off to build a life for himself and became a mighty warrior and a follower of the Lord.
Let’s open God’s Word to Judges 9.
·       Abimelech gains a throne through treachery (9:1-57).

As we learned last week in chapter 8 of Judges the Israelites wanted Gideon to rule over them but he refused saying “the LORD will rule over you.”  30 He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech.
Why so many wives and so many children? I had questions about these leaders of Shechem that crowned him king. Also, where were the other tribes when the 69 sons were beheaded one at a time? Surely Abimelech couldn’t hire that many men with 70 Shekels.
Different commentaries offered some insight. A concubine could be a lawful but secondary wife. Her children were not entitled to an inheritance from the father. This concubine, named Druma, (according to Josephus) seems not to have been taken into Gideon’s house, but lived at Shechem, where Gideon travelled as the judge to settle matters. The name Abimelech means, my father is king, or my father hath reigned. The name was probably given by his mother, a name which might encourage him as he grew older to seek a position by his father's right.
Remember Joshua 21:20-21 tells us the Levites were allotted towns from the tribe of Ephraim: they were given Shechem. (a city of refuge for one accused of murder) The people of Shechem were chiefly Israelites but included Canaanite citizens that had been allowed to stay.
Abimelech decided King sounded pretty good to him. He gathered support in Shechem from his mother’s people. Sounds kind of like a political election with promises and working out deals to benefit the home folk.
After Gideon’s 40 years of peace, Abimelech begins his reign with financing from the temple of Baal. He hired men who were "worthless and reckless."  Men, who were completely void of conscience, had no regret of doing wrong.  69 half-brothers slaughtered; laid one after another upon the same stone, like an execution; or perhaps serving as an altar on which they were sacrificed to Baal.
Ladies if you will turn to page 94 in your book there is a chart that lists all of the Judges, the oppressors of the Israelites, and duration of each. Notice that Abimelech is listed not as a Judge but as an oppressor. Also, see there were two judges before Jephthah and three after him, all unremarkable and will not be mentioned tonight.

Judges 9:6 Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered crown Abimelech king.
 Giving him the title of king indicates the strong Canaanite influence. Canaanite chiefs were called kings, but Israel had no king. Abimelech directly disobeyed the will of his father, Gideon. 8:23 “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.”
Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.
Matthew Henry “ This bold and daring move was done without asking counsel of God, without which no king was to be set over Israel, and by a single city, without the knowledge, advice, and consent of the body of the people of Israel: by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem; the place where Joshua placed there as a testimony between God and the people, and here, in the same place where Joshua convened the people of Israel, and made his last speech to them.” What a desecration of this important landmark!
v.7  The only surviving brother, the youngest, Jotham climbs Mt. Gerizim (Mount of Blessing) and shouted, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.” Jotham’s parable-compared his brothers to important trees too busy serving to seek the throne. Abimelech is compared to the thornbush. What kind of shade can a thornbush produce? Jotham then delivers a prophetic curse. Judges 9:20 …let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech. Before the men of Shechem could make the 20 minute climb to where Jotham stood, he ran and hid.
22 After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, 23 God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem.
When Abimelech stormed the tower at Thebez to set it on fire 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Ladies, here is a nameless woman who was used of the LORD to take down a heartless tyrant. God can use whomever he chooses to fulfill his purpose.
looks more Greek, but you can see the woman holding a millstone.
56 Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57 God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap
*God permitted the devil, the great mischief maker to set friction between these two. He is an evil spirit and God not only keeps him on a short lease, but sometimes uses Satan to serve His own purpose.  God used Abimelech to defeat the Baal worshiping Shechemites.
God can and will use each and every one of us for His own purpose, regardless of the rejection we have suffered, regardless of our background.

·       God raises up Jephthah as Israel’s judge (11:1 - 12:7).

Enter Jephthah, another rejected son, driven by his brother out of his home. V. 1 His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. But instead of revenge and murder, Jephthah left home, became a mighty warrior and God used him in a mighty way to rescue His people. He was so successful that the elders of Gilead came to find him in the land of Tob. Instead of sulking and turning his back on his hometown, he agrees to fight the Ammonites.  Jephthah recognizes that the LORD will be in every victory.

Jephthah tries to reason with the Ammonite king, reminding him of their earlier rejection of the Israelites as Moses leads them through the desert. 23 the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the enemy out before his people Israel. 24 You take what your god Chemosh gives you.
27-Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”  28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him. Ladies this is another means of rejection-to be ignored. But God is still in control.
29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. When God poured out His Spirit on this man,  Jephthah then went to fight and God gave him the victory. Ammon was totally subdued.
Indeed, God can use even the most rejected people for His purposes!

Jephthah’s experience is not unlike that of Winston Churchill. The British leader had been out of favor politically between the World Wars. Churchill's political career began when he became prime minister and head of the Ministry of Defense early in World War II, Churchill wrote  "I felt as if I was walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour,"
Jephthah served 6 years, fewer than any other judge.  He refused to harbor a grudge from his rejection. Jephthah is remembered for his great faithfulness to God (Hebrews 11) and his willingness to be used to deliver his people from the Ammonites (1 Samuel 12:11)
Proverbs 21:2-3 All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.  To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Just a few comments on the foolish vow Jephthah made to the LORD.

30  “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
What did he think was going to come out of that door? The problem is he didn’t think. From triumph to brokenness, Jephthah’s only child, a daughter came out of the door. Honorable and obedient, she submits to her father.
35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”
Jephthah certainly was despondent either way you translate this scripture. He would have no legacy, no grandchildren.
37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
Eight commentaries and various resources feel that the vow was fulfilled by her service to the LORD, to remain a virgin and never marry.
First- Child sacrifice was paganistic and would never be permitted in the temple; masculine form of the word “whatever”. Psalms 106:35-38, Isaiah 57:5 JV McGee, Warren Weirsbe, Clark’s, Barnes, Gill’s, Reis, Wesley, Matthew Henry 
Second We read in Leviticus 27 a person can be redeemed from a hasty vow. Sacrifices are from the male of the flocks
39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.  Third- She is lamenting her virginity, a vow never to marry.  
From this comes the Israelite custom 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Lastly, God was able to use Jephthah even after his blunder, because Jephthah had the courage to go on. He was not condemned for his vow. Jephthah is mentioned favorably in
1 Samuel and Hebrews 11.

SLIDE 12  Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Conclusion –These two sons knew rejection, they just handled it differently. Jesus knows what it means to be rejected. Of the 76 times the word rejected was used in the NIV bible almost all referred to the rejection of incarnate Christ or to Israel’s rejections of God’s laws and commands.
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  
1 Samuel 8 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.
It is some measure of comfort to know our Savior understands rejection. He knows what it feels like. The one rejection that Jesus suffered is greater than any we will ever face. As he hung on the cross, God turned his back on His Son, because Christ became sin. Jesus suffered that rejection from His Father in order to redeem us. 
My dear friend, there is no need for you to be rejected by God. Jesus paid it all. Do not leave tonight without knowing Him as Redeemer.

Ladies tonight will you choose to dedicate your life to the work God has planned for you? He will accept you just as you are.
Look around this room tonight, 20 or so ladies are not here. By tonight every member should have phone numbers from most of the ladies in your core. If they have missed 2 times in a row, give them a call and say you missed them.  You may never know what rejection another lady in this room has suffered. Let’s make a conscious effort to reach out to someone that you are not acquainted with (in your core or out here in the large group.) Give them a smile, make them feel welcome.
Love one another, as I have loved you, so you must love one another.  John 13:34
Let us pray.

THANK YOU TONI for doing the last two lectures.