Text: Judges 1:4-6, Proverbs 22:7-9
Theme: What goes around comes around.
Date: 06/18/2017 File Name: Judges_03wpd ID Number:
In these verses we have a little-known story of the Bible. It is one that you will not find in a children’s Bible story book. It’s about a man named Adoni-Bezek. We know one essential thing about this man — he was a cruel sadist. He was the king of the town of Bezek. His name means “Lord of Bezek,” Bezek itself being a large town north of Jerusalem. To call Adoni-Bezek a “king” is something of a misnomer. He was not a king in the sense of ruling a country — like a modern-day monarch — or even of the stature of Israel’s kings. The word translated “king” in vs. 7 is normally translated that way, but it simply means “a ruler.” Adoni-Bezek was a ruler of what historians call a city-state. A large urban area and the surrounding countryside. That the city and its ruler are mentioned indicate something of its importance.
The text reveals that he was a successful ruler in that he was able to muster a force of 10,000 soldiers against the attacking Israelites. It is at Bezek that Judah defeats the combined forces of the Canaanites and Perizzites and 10,000 of the enemy’s soldiers fall. In a day when all battles were hand-to-hand fighting, to kill 10,000 soldiers of an opposing force is a route in every meaning of the word.
As we saw last week, the time of the judges was a troubled time in Israel’s history. Small rulers, and petty tyrants continually fought each other over the length and breath of Palestine. Adoni-Bezek had been one of the more successful of these petty rulers, for he had conquered 70 other kings. His treatment of them was the same for all — he cut off their thumbs, and big toes. The reason for the mutilation of his opponents is simple — he is rendering his opponent useless as instruments of war. Without a thumb these men would never be able to grasp a sword. And without their big toes, they would never be able to keep their balance in a fight.
But what goes around, comes around. When Judah defeated this evil Canaanite ruler, they discovered that Adoni-Beze kept the 70 kings he had defeated as slaves. They had become his “entertainment.” When it was mealtime he would usher them into his dining hall and throw them scraps of food to watch them fight, and grovel, and fall over each other as they clawed at the food with their thumb was hands. It was sickening sport.
But an amazing turn of events happened to Adoni-Bezek. When the tribes of Judah and Simeon defeat his army and capture him, they did exactly to him what he had done to the others. The consequences of his sin led him recognize the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men. “Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.” (Judges 1:7, NIV84)
This is an Old Testament illustration of Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7, NIV84). It’s a simple statement, with deep meaning.
1. stop and think – much that we reap, we never planted
a. somebody else did and we reap the consequences
2. let's look at the positive side first
a. we receive many blessings given to us by God for which we have performed no labor whatever
1) in fact, the Lord wants us to trust Him that he will provide all of our needs even as He provides for the birds of the air
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:25-34, ESV)
2) the Lord extends His common grace to all men
" ... For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:45, ESV)
3) think about it – God's indictment against mankind is that " ... when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful" (Romans 1:21)
4) yet God is abundant in blessing to both the lost and the saved
"Every good act of giving and every complete and perfect gift is from above, descending from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow cast by turning" (James 1:17, NIV)
"A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27, NIV)
b. not only are we blessed because of what God has done in our behalf, we are also blessed by what others have done
1) because of many who have labored we have entered into the blessings of their labors in the establishment of churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals and all the many other blessing we enjoy so bountifully
3. not only does this law operate positively, but it also operates negatively
a. we not only enter into blessings God has bestowed upon us for which we have not labored at all, and we not only enter into the blessings and benefits of the labors of others in this life, but we reap evil consequences because others came along before us and sowed the wrong seed
1) when a parent sows a critical spirit, and constantly finds fault with others, a child often learns to imitate them
2) we reap the result of our government’s leaders — when they make unwise or ungodly decisions the result is a nation that moves away from God
3) what is true in regard to government leaders is true with church leaders as well — as a deacon, a pastor, a Sunday School teacher — what you sow will be reaped by those that you teach or influence
4. what an awesome responsibility we have in the home, the school, the church and the culture
1. had anyone spoken to David right after his involvement with Bathsheba, and said, “David, before you are through you will have broken every commandment of the Lord on the second table of the Law," without question he would have emphatically replied, "Man, you must be crazy, I would never do anything like that!"
a. but He did!
1) he committed murder (2 Samuel 11:15)
2) he committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:4)
3) he stole (2 Samuel 11:4)
4) he bore false witness (2 Samuel 11:8, 21)
5) he coveted his neighbor's wife (2 Samuel 11:2)
2. but as bad as this was, it was just the beginning, for every one of these sins was to be reaped within his own family
a. we reap the same in kind as we sow
3. no one will ever sow cucumbers and reap sweet peas
a. neither can anyone sow that which is wrong and reap that which is right
b. the Apostle Paul stresses this fact in Galatians 6:7-8
1) we do not sow discord and reap unity
2) we do not sow sin and reap sanctification
3) we do not sow hypocrisy and reap holiness of life
c. he who sows to his flesh will reap just what the flesh can produce
d. but he that sows to the spirit will reap what the Spirit can produce
4. when David sowed to the flesh, he reaped what the flesh produced
a. moreover, he reaped the consequences of his actions even though he had confessed his sin and been forgiven for it
b. underline it, star it, mark it deeply upon your conscious mind: confession and forgiveness does not stop the harvest from coming
"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1)
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9, ESV)
1. the third law of sowing and reaping is that the harvest never comes immediately after planting
a. there is a time when you plant and there is a time when you harvest, but these are obviously not the same time
2. the harvest comes in a different season from the planting of the seed
a. this is just as true spiritually as it is physically
3. it is equally true whether you sow that which is bad or that which is good
a. Solomon speaks of this principle in his book of Ecclesiastes
"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days." (Ecclesiastes 11:1, ESV)
b. the principle is: Do deeds of kindness and they will later come back to you in like kind at a later time
1) in fact, the Apostle Paul encourages us not to grow weary in doing good works that bless others
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9, ESV)
4. but the negative aspect is true also
a. sometimes the Lord in His longsuffering waits years before He disciplines or judges for wrongs
b. again, Solomon speaks of this as well
"Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil." (Ecclesiastes 8:11, ESV)
c. because God does not judge sin instantly, men think they are getting by with sinning, while in reality they are not getting by with anything
"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable." (Isaiah 40:28, NIV)
ILLUS. Some of you remember the name Marion Jones. She’s an example of this reaping and sowing principle that We Reap In a Different Season Than When We Sow. In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, she won three gold medals and two bronze. She was considered one of the greatest Track and Field stars of the modern era. In 2004 an investigation began looking into her use of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2007 she was found guilty and stripped of her Olympic medals, and banned from future Olympic games. Seven years later after winning world fame, she was broke, her reputation ruined, and she served six months in prison.
1. the fourth law of the harvest is one of the most important aspects concerning the harvest there is
a. if it were not for this principle, no one would ever farm and no harvest would ever be picked
b. if a farmer only got back what germinated in the ground, he would be on the losing end of the process
1) what compensates for all his loss & makes sowing the seed profitable is that some seed reproduces itself 30, 60, and 100 fold
2. but this is not just true for the farmer; it is true for every person that has ever lived
a. it is true for the Christian & the non-Christian alike
3. it is true both negatively and positively
a. when we sow the wrong, we are going to reap more than we sowed
"Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail." (Proverbs 22:8, ESV)
1) God says that when a person sows "wickedness" he shall reap a harvest of adverse circumstances that involve sorrow, grief, suffering, and anxiety
b. when we sow the good we likewise will reap a harvest of good that eventually benefits ourselves and others
ILLUS. In the book of 1 Kings we have an interesting account of this principle. Abijam has just become King of Judah. He is Solomon’s grandson. We’re told that he walked in all the sins that his father did before him. That’s a reference to Rehoboam who was Solomon’s son. Under Rehoboam’s failed leadership the Kingdom split in two and Judah sank into moral and spiritual decay. But we’re told that God blessed Abijam’s reign for the sake of King David. Listen to these verses: "And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father. 4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem, 5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." (1 Kings 15:3-5, ESV)
1) I find great comfort in that passage – it reminds us that the sum total harvest of a believer’s life does rest on one failed crop
2) most of David's life was sowing the good, not evil, and as a result, God continued to bless many of the Kings of Judah for many years for David's sake because he had done that which was right
1. the fifth law of sowing and reaping flows out of the forth law
a. if one does not sow, he does not reap’
b. if he sows sparingly, he reaps sparingly
2. if he wants to reap a bountiful harvest, he must sow in a bountiful way
ILLUS. If the farmer only cultivates one acre, he can only reap what one-acre can produce. However, if he has 100 acres under cultivation, his harvest can be 100 times greater.
a. the Apostle Paul states this law clearly
1) he devotes two whole chapters in his Second letter to the Corinthians to the subject of giving
2) in the end he reminds us ...
"He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Corinthians 9:5)
b. If you want to be rich GIVE! If you want to be poor GRASP!
c. If you want abundance SCATTER! If you want to be needy HOARD!"
3. like all of the laws of sowing and reaping, this law operates both negatively and positively
a. the more one sows to the flesh, the more he will reap the corruption which the flesh alone can produce
b. but equally true, the more one sows to the Spirit, the more he reaps the blessings of a righteous harvest
1. whatever we did last year, last month, last week, even yesterday is over and past
a. nothing we do today can in any way change the record of what was sown and what was or will be reaped as a consequence
b. whatever has been produced stands as the record of our lives lived on this earth
2. the problem with all too many Christians is that they are not forgetting the past and reaching on to what is before (Philippians 3:13-14)
3. there is the temptation to do one of two things
a. First: We allow yesterday’s failed harvest to control tomorrow’s sowing
1) after the circumstances surrounding his sin with Bathsheba, David could have given up on ever serving God and redeeming himself
2) but he got his life straightened out, and God blessed him
b. Second: We use yesterday’s bountiful harvest as an excuse not to sow at all
1) in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of the Rich Fool
2) the man’s efforts have produced a great abundance of harvest, but what’s his response?
“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” (Luke 12:19, ESV)
3) you see, the harvest is not just about us
"God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift. 12What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else." (2 Corinthians 9:10-13, CEV)