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Judges: Broken People — Faithful God: When Followers Fail

Judges: Broken People — Faithful God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Theme: Israel should have condemned Abimelech’s treachery, but instead they coronated him as king. This is what happens when a nation becomes anesthetized to evil, and refuses to judge it as evil.
Theme: Israel should have condemned Abimelech’s treachery, but instead they coronated him as king. This is what happens when a nation becomes anesthetized to evil, and refuses to judge it as evil.
Date: 08/06/17 File name: Judges_09.wpd ID Number:
Date: 08/06/17 File name: Judges_09.wpd ID Number:
Last Sunday evening we looked at Gideon’s sad legacy. A man who began as a fearful farmer, became a faithful warrior, but morphed into a frightful leader. But, if you know the story, his legacy is not finished. In chapter nine we encounter the story of his son Abimelech. He is the son of Gideon by a mistress Gideon has stashed away in the city of Shechem. Shechem is important in many ways. It’s a commercial hub sitting at the confluence of several important trade routes. It’s the place where “Jacob’s Well” is located, and it’s the burial place of Joseph who insisted that his bones be taken “home” whenever the Hebrews left Egypt. It’s at Shechem where Joshua establishes a covenant with Israel, and put in place the statutes and laws of God just before he dies. It’s also a city that was never conquered by Joshua, and thus the Canaanite population had remained intact and had intermarried with the Jewish population.
Last Sunday evening we looked at Gideon’s sad legacy. A man who began as a fearful farmer, became a faithful warrior, but morphed into a frightful leader. But, if you know the story, his legacy is not finished. In chapter nine we encounter the story of his son Abimelech. He is the son of Gideon by a mistress Gideon has stashed away in the city of Shechem. Shechem is important in many ways. It’s a commercial hub sitting at the confluence of several important trade routes. It’s the place where “Jacob’s Well” is located, and it’s the burial place of Joseph who insisted that his bones be taken “home” whenever the Hebrews left Egypt. It’s at Shechem where Joshua establishes a covenant with Israel, and put in place the statutes and laws of God just before he dies. It’s also a city that was never conquered by Joshua, and thus the Canaanite population had remained intact and had intermarried with the Jewish population.
When Gideon dies Abimelech makes his move — he goes to Shechem to convince his uncles that he is the more logical choice to rule over them than any of the legitimate heirs of Gideon. They agree, and Abimelech assembles what can only be called a rabble of thugs, who help him in his quest for power.
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Like a ruthless dictator, Abimelech did what he thought he had to do to get ahead, and then to stay ahead. The story of how his rise to power is found in the first six verses of chapter nine.
“Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2 “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood.” 3 When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” 4 They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelech used it to hire reckless adventurers, who became his followers. 5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. 6 Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.” (, NIV84)
These murders are systematic and serial — one at a time on one stone, an astonishing slaughter took place. It’s a gory scene. One after another, Gideon’s legitimate sons were herded toward their inevitable doom. ILLUS. Abimelech takes a chapter out of Machiavelli’s The Prince, where Machiavelli writes, “Whoever seizes a crown, unjustly and violently, must, if cruelty be necessary, exercise it to the full at once, in order to avoid the necessity of beginning it anew every day.”
After this gruesome event is complete, another ceremony takes place: the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered ... to crown Abimelech king. Last week the title of the message was When Leaders Fail. I suppose tonight’s message could be When Followers Fail. The citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo made a colossal error of judgment in choosing Abimelech as their king, and, if you know the story, their decision comes back to bite them. , , .
All of Israel should have been morally outraged. Unfortunately, all of Israel had become morally anesthetized. The story of Abimelech is not so much the story of an individual's quest for power at all costs — it is that, but it's more — it's the story of a society that lost it's ability to make value judgments about individuals based on their conduct and character, because it had abandoned God's Word as its guide and authority.
1. this obviously flies in the face of everything society is currently trying to tell us about judging
judging
2. what does Jesus mean when he says, judge not?
a. does He mean that Christians should never have any opinions?
a. does He mean that Christians should never have any opinions?
b. does He mean that Christians should always take a middle-of-the-road position so as not to offend anyone?
as not to offend anyone?
c. does He mean that Christians must be tolerant of all views in all situations regardless of how morally repugnant they may be?
regardless of how morally repugnant they may be?
d. does He mean that we should view all religions as equally authoritative, all behaviors as equally authentic, all attitudes as equally credible?
behaviors as equally authentic, all attitudes as equally credible?
3. when Jesus says judge not, many people have interpreted that to mean we are not to engage in any form of analysis or evaluation of others — particularly their moral lives
engage in any form of analysis or evaluation of others — particularly their moral lives
ILLUS. This is ridiculous because we make evaluations and judgments every day. We choose one restaurant over another. We choose one product over another. When you got married you made a judgment — this person exceeds any other choice I could have possibly made.
choose one restaurant over another. We choose one product over another. When you got married you made a judgment — this person exceeds any other choice I could have possibly made.
a. this idea of non-judgmentalism forbids us from opining that another’s conduct, views, or attitudes might in any way be wrong, and something we just don’t want to be a part of
views, or attitudes might in any way be wrong, and something we just don’t want to be a part of
1) this is the one passage of Scripture known by every reprobate and enemy of Christianity, and they beat the Church and God’s people over the head with it
Christianity, and they beat the Church and God’s people over the head with it
2) they may know nothing else of the Bible, but be assured they know this one “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
“Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
3) it is used as a weapon by the worldly, the lukewarm, the trouble-makers, unbelievers and false teachers in an attempt to disarm the children of God
unbelievers and false teachers in an attempt to disarm the children of God
4) we are told that condemning sin is judging ... that reproving, rebuking and exhorting is judging ... that preaching the exclusivity of the Gospel is judging
exhorting is judging ... that preaching the exclusivity of the Gospel is judging
A. THE SCRIPTURES COMMAND US TO JUDGE
1. Jesus commanded righteous judgment
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” NASB95
a. the same Jesus who tells his hearers, Do not judge, or you too will be judged, (, NIV84), tells his disciple in to judge with righteous judgment
(, NIV84), tells his disciple in to judge with righteous
judgment
b. when we make value judgments about another person or group, that judgment must be based on true, honorable, upright and incorruptible standards
must be based on true, honorable, upright and incorruptible standards
1) these incorruptible standards amount to righteous judgment
c. but that begs the question — what does it mean to judge with righteous judgment?
1) Jesus gives us the answer in John’s Gospel
“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (, NASB95)
d. when it comes to discerning good from bad, right from wrong, moral from immoral, ethical from unethical, righteous behavior from sinful behavior, we must not judge by our personal standards
ethical from unethical, righteous behavior from sinful behavior, we must not judge by our personal standards
1) self-righteousness is not the source of righteous judgment
e. nor must we judge by the culture’s standards
1) let’s be honest — in recent years cultural standards of behavior can be changed by the whim of a federal judge
by the whim of a federal judge
f. we judge another’s conduct and character by the principles God has outlined in His Word
Word
1) where God speaks, we must speak and where God is silent, we must be silent
2. we simply cannot go through life with a moral neutrality
2. we simply cannot go through life with a moral neutrality
a. the consequence is moral relativism where every man does what is right in his own eyes — and no one has the right to judge!
own eyes — and no one has the right to judge!
b. and folks — if ya don’t know it — that’s were we are in out culture today
3. without making value judgments concerning the character and conduct of those around us, how could we abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good?
around us, how could we abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good?
a. when Abimelech started rounding up Gideon’s sons, Israel should have discerned that the man was evil and unworthy to be their king
that the man was evil and unworthy to be their king
4. the greatest peril of our day is not too much judging, but too little judging of spiritual falsehood and human evil
falsehood and human evil
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world." (, NASB95
5. there are times when tolerance is not a virtue
ILLUS. Suppose you’ve been called to jury duty. And suppose that the trial you hear is for someone accused of capitol murder. Now, suppose that one of the jury members stands up in the middle of the trial and says, “I’m sorry, but I have no right to judge this person. It could be that he was destined by God to murder this person, if he did it at all. And who am I to judge him and his motives? Maybe God made him a murderer. We should just set him free. And while we’re at it, we should set all prisoners free. What right did any jury have to pass sentence upon them? None of us are in a position to judge other people’s actions.”
someone accused of capitol murder. Now, suppose that one of the jury members stands up in the middle of the trial and says, “I’m sorry, but I have no right to judge this person. It could be that he was destined by God to murder this person, if he did it at all. And who am I to judge him and his motives? Maybe God made him a murderer. We should just set him free. And while we’re at it, we should set all prisoners free. What right did any jury have to pass sentence upon them? None of us are in a position to judge other people’s actions.”
a. well, after this person was escorted from the courtroom the trial could go on
b. folks, part of our job in society is to judge between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical
moral and immoral, ethical and unethical
1) to abdicate that responsibility is to invite anarchy and ruin
2) Jesus never suggested that we should turn a blind eye to evil or pretend that other people were faultless
other people were faultless
B. OUR JUDGMENT NEED NOT BE HARSH
1. here is where I think a lot of Christians go wrong — and pastors are not exempt
a. we think that to pronounce judgment upon sinful character or conduct requires grating, rasping, and acerbic condemnation
grating, rasping, and acerbic condemnation
2. may I suggest that we look to Jesus as our model?
a. our Savior rarely used harsh words toward those caught in sin
1) he never condoned it, and he never brushed it aside
2) but when He confronted it, He didn’t brow-beat and scream
b. when He did become harsh, He unleashed it upon those who pretended to be religious and righteous, but in who in reality were no better than the people they were condemning
religious and righteous, but in who in reality were no better than the people they were condemning
3. when confronting evil, immorality, unethical behavior, or theological error we must be firm and maintain our convictions
firm and maintain our convictions
a. we must, as Jude tells us, contend for the faith
b. but we need not be angry and condescending as we do so
c. we need to spend at least as much time offering hope and solutions as we do in pointing out the error
pointing out the error
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, a good teacher, and patient. The Lord’s servant must gently teach those who disagree. Then maybe God will let them change their minds so they can accept the truth. And they may wake up and escape from the trap of the devil, who catches them to do what he wants." (, NCV)
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." (, NASB95)
1. Jesus clearly taught, judge not
a. but, we must look at the verse in context of the rest of the passage
2. Jesus does not condemn his listeners for making value judgments concerning others
a. He condemns them for make value judgments based on hypocritical standards
A. THE KINDS OF JUDGING THAT ARE CONDEMNED
1. 1st, hypocritical or self-righteous judging
a. this is the point of verse 3, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
1) what right do we have to condemn another when we are guilty of the same sin, perhaps to a greater degree
perhaps to a greater degree
b. the Lord is here condemning the critical spirit who judges self-righteously, without mercy, without love
mercy, without love
ILLUS. Bertha was the most miserable person I had ever met in my life. I think she felt miserable about herself most of the time. As a result, it was miserable to be around her most of the time. Bertha was one who had a critical spirit and a judgmental attitude. No matter how much effort someone put into a project around the church, it was never done quite right. No matter what her kids did, they never quite measured up to what she wanted them to be. I remember one time when Bertha chewed on me for twenty minutes. My sin? I had graciously received a love offering from a couple for who I have performed their wedding. “A real pastor,” she told me, “would have refused it.” I told her, “Bertha, I’ve done any number of weddings where I didn’t receive any kind of offering.” To which she quickly responded, “Yea, and you remember the ones who didn’t pay you, don’t you!” A confrontation with Bertha was a no-win situation.
miserable about herself most of the time. As a result, it was miserable to be around her most of the time. Bertha was one who had a critical spirit and a judgmental attitude. No matter how much effort someone put into a project around the church, it was never done quite right. No matter what her kids did, they never quite measured up to what she wanted them to be. I remember one time when Bertha chewed on me for twenty minutes. My sin? I had graciously received a love offering from a couple for who I have performed their wedding. “A real pastor,” she told me, “would have refused it.” I told her, “Bertha, I’ve done any number of weddings where I didn’t receive any kind of offering.” To which she quickly responded, “Yea, and you remember the ones who didn’t pay you, don’t you!” A confrontation with Bertha was a no-win situation.
2. 2nd, judging without sufficient evidence
a. we are also forbidden to judge things we cannot know such as motives and secret thoughts of others
thoughts of others
"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God." NASB95
ILLUS. Most of you are aware that I am not a big fan of the modern Name-It-and-Claim-It movement. I have been, on occasion, rather critical of it. But I am critical of their theology. Some of which – in my humble opinion – borders on heresy. What I don’t have the right to do is judge their motives for service. That is outside the realm of my personal knowledge. It’s easy to say of these electronic church personalities, “They’re in it for the money.” But without sufficient evidence the Bible says I have no right to make the judgement
and-Claim-It movement. I have been, on occasion, rather critical of it. But I am critical of their theology. Some of which – in my humble opinion – borders on heresy. What I don’t have the right to do is judge their motives for service. That is outside the realm of my personal knowledge. It’s easy to say of these electronic church personalities, “They’re in it for the money.” But without sufficient evidence the Bible says I have no right to make the judgement
3. 3rd, making a law where God made none
a. the Bible forbids judging a man a lawbreaker when there is no law to be broken
b. when we make laws where God made none, we are guilty of sinful judging
1) this is the kind of judging the Apostle Paul condemns in his letter to the Christians at Rome
Christians at Rome
"Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him." NASB95
B. EVALUATING OURSELVES BEFORE WE EVALUATE OTHERS
ILLUS. Faults are like the headlights of a car; those of others seem more glaring than your own.
own.
1. if we are going to judge righteously, how do we go about doing that?
a. we must remember that we are still sinners ourselves
b. we must ruthlessly and thoroughly evaluate ourselves first
c. we must judge according to the truth, therefore, we must study the Scripture
d. we must always speak the truth in love
The story of Abimelech is not so much the story of an individual’s quest for power at all costs — it is that, but it’s more — it’s the story of a society that lost it’s ability to make value judgments about individuals based on their conduct and character, because it had abandoned God’s Word as its guide and authority.
The story of Abimelech is not so much the story of an individual’s quest for power at all costs — it is that, but it’s more — it’s the story of a society that lost it’s ability to make value judgments about individuals based on their conduct and character, because it had abandoned God’s Word as its guide and authority.
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