March 21, 2007
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Following Scripture Verses
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- And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.
- And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer?
- God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
- And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
- And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.
- And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?
- And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.
- And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.
- And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
- Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.
- And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host was secure.
- And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.
- And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,
- And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.
- And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?
- And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
- And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.
- Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
- And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
- And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
- Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.
- Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
- And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
- And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
- And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.
- And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.
- And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
- Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
- And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
- And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
- And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
- And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.
- And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.
- And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:
- Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.
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- And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,
- Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.
- And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.
- And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
- And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
- And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.
- And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
- The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
- But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
- And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
- But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
- Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
- And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
- Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
- And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
- Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;
- (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:
- And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
- If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:
- But if not, 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.
- And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.
- When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,
- Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
- That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.
- And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.
- And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.
- And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.
- And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?
- And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.
- And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.
- And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.
- Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field:
- And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.
- And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.
- And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.
- And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.
- And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.
- Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.
- And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.
- And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate.
- And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.
- And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.
- And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.
- And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them.
- And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.
- And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.
- And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
- And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.
- And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.
- Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.
- But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.
- And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.
- And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull.
- Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.
- And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.
- Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:
- And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.
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Thought for the day:
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Two different thoughts come to my mind as I read today's selection. First of all, I find the response of the Ephraimites to Gideon's victory interesting. Judges 8:1 says,
"And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply."
Gideon had won a great battle by the hand of the Lord, and in so doing had liberated Israel from the bondage of the people of Midian. Yet immediately upon his return he is accosted by those who wanted to complain about their lack of involvement in the project. Look at their accusing question - why didn't you ask us to help out? Apparently the Ephraimites wanted a gilded invitation hand-delivered to them on a silver platter. Perhaps they wanted Gideon to beg them for their assistance. The truth is that Gideon had sent out a plea throughout several of the tribes, and undoubtedly the children of Ephraim had heard about the gathering of soldiers. Even if they hadn't heard, they certainly could have taken the initiative themselves to drive out the enemy. However, none of that happened. The Ephraimites sat around and waited until someone else got the job done, and then criticized the fact that they weren't personally invited to help. This is, unfortunately, very typical of some Christians. They can sit in church month after month and do virtually nothing to help the cause of Christ. Opportunities for service come and go, but these folks never volunteer to assist. Then one day a special event of some sort takes place, and the pastor asks a particular individual to help (probably someone who has volunteered in the past), and all of a sudden those who have ignored the opportunities for months on end are now offended because the pastor didn't ask for their help too. It is worth noting that Gideon actually did ask for the participation of Ephraim in the ultimate destruction of Midian. Apparently that wasn't good enough. In addition, since it is obvious that the whole battle was miraculous anyway, there was really no place for any of the tribes to receive glory, for it all belonged to God. Yet apparently these Ephraimites were more concerned about their own legacy than they were about God's honor.
Don't be like the children of Ephraim. If you see something that needs to be done, volunteer to do it. Offer your assistance whether specifically asked or not. Don't get offended if someone else is given a task that you wanted to do. After all, the glory all belongs to God, and it is our responsibility to do what we can, to the best of our ability, for Him.
The second thought comes from
Judges 8:23. There Gideon states,
"I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you."
What a tremendous declaration this is! Gideon is the judge whom God has chosen. He is the leader by divine mandate. Yet his attitude is such that everything is pointed towards Jehovah. Look at the implications of his words. First of all, he is acknowledging God as the sovereign Leader of Israel. All worship and praise and thanks belong to Him. Second, he is revealing that the Lord will be making the decisions, and that Gideon will simply carry them out. How often those of us in leadership positions forget that we are simply stewards of that which the Lord has given to us. At best we are "unprofitable servants" (
Luke 17:10), and we are unworthy to receive the praise that in truth belongs to God. Also, we can ignore the fact that God is the Decision Maker, and that it is our responsibility to carry out His wishes. We don't get to draw up the plans; we get to put the Lord's plans into action.
How much better our churches would function if both the membership and the leadership understood their responsibilities, and carried them out! Above all, may both groups realize that the whole focus of ministry is to bring glory to Christ.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery