Judges: Abimelech ruled for three years. Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem for killing Gideon’s sons. The men of Shechem started robbing people who passed by Shechem in the mountains. Abimelech knew it but did nothing.
Gaal came to Shechem, threw a party, and bad-mouthed Abimelech and Zebul, the official ruler in Shechem. Zebul warned Abimelech and encouraged him to attack the city and kill Gaal and his forces when they came out to fight. The battle was not conclusive so Abimelech stayed in Arumah but Zebul kicked Gaal and his relatives out of Shechem.
The next day, Abimelech saw the people of Shechem coming out to the fields so he attacked them. He captured the city and killed the people. However, some of the citizens escaped to a tower, which was also a stronghold and the temple of El-Berith. Abimelech and his men took tree branches, piled them against the tower, and set it on fire killing everyone inside.
Abimelech went to Thebez and attacked it. The people had a strong tower in the city and fled into it. When Abimelech approached the tower to burn it, a woman dropped a millstone on his head. He asked his armor-bearer to kill him so no one could say a woman killed him. That ended Abimilech. The curse of Jotham came true as God caused it all to happen.
After Abimelech, Dodo was judge for twenty-three years, and then Jair led for twenty-two years. After that, the people did evil in the sight of the Lord again going after other gods. The Lord let the Philistines oppress Israel for eighteen years. The Ammonites also attacked from the other side.
Israel cried out to the Lord for relief but the Lord told them to cry out to their false gods for salvation. The people admitted they sinned and resigned to God’s judgment. They put away their idols and served the Lord. The Lord couldn’t bear their misery any longer.
The Ammonites camped in Gilead and Israel gathered in Mizpah. The leaders of Gilead agreed that whoever led the attacked would be ruler over them.
Psalm: We are to praise God gladly and loudly with noise and music. We must remember he is our make and we belong to him. When we worship, it should be with thanksgiving and praise because he is good and his love endures forever. He is faithful to all generations.
Proverbs: The wicked will perish but the upright will continue and expand. People think they know the right way outside of God’s way, but that ends in death.
Luke: Two disciples were walking to Emmaus after Jesus’ resurrection. They were talking about what happened when Jesus walked near them but he kept them from recognizing him. He told them from Scripture that everything that happened to him had to happen to the Christ. When they got to Emmaus, he went in to eat with them. When he blessed and broke bread, they recognized him but he vanished. They went back and told the other disciples.
Jesus appeared to the disciples as the two were telling what happened to them. He spoke peace to them but they were frightened. He showed them his wounds, invited them to touch him, and ate food to show he was not a ghost. He reminded them that he had told them ahead of time that Scripture predicted everything that happened to him. He opened their minds to the Scriptures and explained his suffering and rise from the dead on the third day. Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all people starting in Jerusalem. He told them to stay in Jerusalem until the promise of the Father comes on them and they have power because they are witnesses.
Jesus then led them out toward Bethany, blessed them, and ascended into heaven. The disciples worshiped and returned with great joy.
What Stood Out
Judges: “And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech” (Judg 9:23).
Psalm: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth” (Ps 100:1)!
Proverbs: “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish” (Prov 14:11).
Luke: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit” (Luke 24:36-37).
Judges: Abimilech was not an appointed Judge over Israel. He was a usurper who did this under his own authority. Still, God allowed him to rule for three years. During these three years, there was no justice in Israel. The people of Shechem ambushed people who passed by and robbed them. They had no regard for justice or righteousness. The Bible says God sent an evil spirit between the men of Shechem and Abimelech. It sounds like their own evil desires would have been enough so that eventually they would have been at each other’s throats. However, this statement shows that even in the midst of evil governments, God is still in control. The timing was his and not that of the people. They may have thought they were in control or even that their gods were in control. But God orchestrated the whole affair.
Jotham pronounced his curse upon the people and then he fled. He had no power to fight against these people. This is something we need to consider as well. It is God’s job to avenge injustice. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:19 never to avenge ourselves. We need to leave it up to God who will repay. That is exactly what happened to Abimelech and the people of Shechem.
Psalm: There are many ways to worship God. A few days ago, we read about Gideon worshiping the Lord beside the enemy’s camp (Judg 7:15). I’ll bet that was a silent worship. Abraham’s servant simply bowed his head (Gen 24:48). Joshua fell on his face to the ground (Josh 5:14). Job shaved his head before worshiping (Job 1:20). Then Psalm 100:1 says to worship with joyful noise. It becomes evident that worship isn’t so much about our method but the attitude of our heart and the glorious majesty of our God. We certainly shouldn’t be hung up on the way others worship.
We need to have an attitude that rightly esteems God and that starts with him being our creator. It also requires we properly esteem ourselves as his people. (That’s usually the hardest part because sin gets in the way, especially pride.) It means we must be thankful. We can start by being thankful for his enduring love and his faithfulness.
Proverbs: The Old Testament people looked at life as the ultimate test of right and wrong. If you were wicked, you would be destroyed but if you were righteous, you would prosper. The New Testament looks beyond our short life on earth to eternity. Unrepentant sinners who don’t fall on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ will end up in hell even though they may have had riches on earth. Likewise, Christians will flourish in heaven though they may have had suffering in this life. The evil people look at what seems right to them but it ends in death – for eternity.
Luke: There have been some popular Christian songs that try to express what it might be like when we first see Jesus face to face. One is “I Can Only Imagine” performed by MercyMe and written by Bart Millard. The song expresses joy, awe, and worship in various ways, dancing, kneeling, and singing. Nowhere in the song is there an element of fear such as the disciples had when he appeared among them. I get the feeling that Cleopas and Simon who had listened to Jesus on the road to Emmaus didn’t have that same fear. They had already seen Jesus disappear but he had already opened the Scriptures to them. Because we have had Scripture opened to us, I think MercyMe’s song will better reflect our reaction than did the reaction of the disciples before they understood Scripture.
These brief appearances of Jesus after his resurrection also reveal that the new body Jesus received is something beyond our comprehension. It would be frightening for us if we didn’t have the Bible. One thing it reveals is that he has a spiritual body, one that can move in and out of the spiritual realm at will. Jesus can disguise himself so that people don’t recognize him. He can appear and disappear. His body is like angels who have done the same thing. We are told that our heavenly bodies will be like his (Phil 3:21). However, there will be one major difference. Since Jesus is God and has all the attributes of God (otherwise, he would not be God), Jesus must also be omnipresent and we will not be. Yeah, I know, some people say he can’t be omnipresent because he has a physical body. No, he has a resurrected spiritual body which according to Paul, is as much different from a physical body as a grain of wheat is from the plant when it is grown. Paul also says there are different levels of heavenly bodies, so there is no reason that Jesus can’t have an omnipresent heavenly body while we will not get that degree of body even though ours will be similar. Now that I’ve confused everyone, read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 and see if it makes sense. Also read Ephesians 3:17 which says Jesus dwells in our hearts by faith proving he is omnipresent.
It’s one thing to think about worshiping Jesus when I die or I’m raptured. It is another thing to worship him now. If I’m not doing it now, I’m going to have a problem when I die and face him. It is vitally important for me to worship the risen Lord Jesus.