Curse of Jotham

Judges 9:42-57

42 The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelek. 43So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. 44Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. 45All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

46On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. 47When Abimelek heard that they had assembled there, 48he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” 49So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.

50Next Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. 51Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. 52 Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. 54Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. 55When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home. 56Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

Introduction

“If God is love, why did He prepare punishment for disobedience?” This is one sided common view or interpretation of nonbelievers about God’s love. The definition of non-believers about love is not the standard we emulate. Mankind has no definite standard of love. God alone can perfectly define what love is. He is love and perfect.

Western nations have different view of love from eastern nations’ view of love. Each person may have similarities of worldview but there are still differences. Therefore, God’s definition of love should be the standard used when evaluating anybody’s love.

God is merciful and forgives the repentant person but He is also just. And, He punishes all who disobey. He made it clear that He has already prepared punishment for disobedience. Someone might ask, “What if a person is obedient but disobey later?”

The Lord said in Ezekiel 33:12, 12“Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’

The word ‘disobey’ is more properly interpreted as rebellion or willfully and intentionally resisting the will of God as compared to accidental or unintentional. Just imagine a bank manager who faithfully managed a bank but then he decided to rob the bank. Would you not punish him or would forgive him because he served 20 years?

Someone may still challenge the Scripture and say, “Will God really do that?” Such mindset exposes little understanding of God or none at all. When God warns us of punishment, faith in Him inspires us to obey and not to challenge His word. As we grow in our faith, obeying God becomes enjoyable and disregarding His will is undesirable.

Have you considered if it is God’s will to curse? Is it acceptable to the Lord for believers to speak negative things against others or to pray for imprecatory prayer? Imprecatory prayer is to invoke or call down (evil or curses) upon a person.

Jotham shouted in Judges 9:19-20, 19So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”

Normally, when one warns of the consequences of wickedness, it will be interpreted as curse. What Jotham shouted was his interpretation of God’s law. Indeed, Jotham’s warning came into reality. Both Abimelek and the Shechemites were ruined.

1. Ruin

44Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. 45All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

The bonding between Abimelek and the Shechemites has deteriorated and they helped to destroy each other. Abimelek ruined the city of the people who helped him to destroy his brothers and install him as their king. He destroyed his very own people.

Jesus teaches in Luke 11:17, 17Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.

And that was exactly what Abimelek and the people of Shechem did when they fight each other. Abimelek’s hunger for power clashed against the unreliable disloyalty of the Shechemites has led to the fulfillment of the curse of Jotham against them.

It’s also God’s way to punish both Abimelek and the Shechemites for their wickedness.

David Charged Solomon

When King David and his loyal men were escaping from his son Absalom, a man from the tribe of King Saul named Shimei cursed David. After Absalom died and David returned to Jerusalem, Shimei asked David to forgive him. David promised not punish him. After David made Solomon king over Israel, he ordered him not consider Shimei innocent but to punish him according to his wisdom.

King Solomon sent for Shimei and instructed him. In 1 Kings 2:36-40, 36“Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. 37The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.” 38Shimei answered the king, “What you say is good. Your servant will do as my lord the king has said.” And Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.

39But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maakah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, “Your slaves are in Gath.” 40At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath.

When Shimei went to search for his runaway slaves, he decided his own death.

Solomon’s wisdom was given by the Lord. This display of Solomon’s wise ruling teaches us that we do not need to feel abandoned by God when someone do us wrong.

What happened to Shimei and others who made the life of King David difficult proved that it is no joke to disregard the warning of God. He says in Psalm 105:15,

15“Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

The Lord attentively observed everything we do. Lifestyle of righteousness will be rewarded and wicked lifestyle will be punished or repaid by the Lord.

2. Repay

52 Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. 54Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. 55When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.

56Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

Previously, Abimelek and his men used fire to destroy those who sought refuge in the temple of Baal-Berith in Shechem. Not satisfied with destroying their own people, they went north to the city of Thebez, and tried to use the same strategy to burn those who sought refuge in the strong tower but Abimelek died there.

Those troubles between Abimelek and the people of Shechem were recorded as God’s way to repay their wickedness against the son’s of Gideon. Is it helpful to know?

The narrative of the fulfillment of the curse of Jotham should help us understand how God executes His judgment. He set His time for punishment. We should not think God will abandon us. Trust that God doesn’t ignore wickedness toward us. In His right timing, those who have done wrong will surely repay the wrong they have done.

It teaches us in Romans 2:6-11, 6God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.

We admit, it’s hard to forget. It’s not easy to put behind any maltreatment done to us. But when Christ’s Spirit reigns in our heart, our focus would be changed. Christ does not want us to be enslaved by ill feelings toward others. Therefore, we need to always seek and be filled with the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is far better experience than allowing ill-feelings to dictate our mindset and lifestyle.

Human wickedness vs. Filled with the Spirit

The image of ill-feeling and filled with the Holy Spirit is pictured contrastingly in Acts 7:54-60, 54When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 

60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

The members of the Sanhedrin were furious when they were told about their disobedience to the law. Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and was not scared but gladly welcomed their maltreatment even unto his death.

It is not easy to forgive those who mistreat us but when filled with the Spirit of Christ, we welcome persecution more gladly not because we can but because the Lord empowers us when the Holy Spirit bears fruit of joy and peace in our life.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life is the more wonderful life experience than all the things that this world can offer. The fruit of the Spirit defines life with God in heaven.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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