No Bragging

Judges 9:30-41

30When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. 31Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. 32Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. 33In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them.” 34So Abimelek and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies.

35Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place. 36When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” Zebul replied, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.” 37But Gaal spoke up again: “Look, people are coming down from the central hill, and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.” 38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!” 39So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelek. 40Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. 41Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.

Introduction

Seminary students discussed about the use of word “proud.” A seasoned pastor asked an inexperienced seminarian, “Aren’t you proud as a father if your children are doing well in school?” Most if not all parents have some indescribable feeling when their children are honored in school. To be proud of is a common description of such feeling.

How can we reconcile the idea as proud parents and as believers in Christ?

It teaches in James 4:6, 6God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

Children wish their parents to be proud of them. To be “proud of” your children, is this a right term believers should use when God opposes the proud? To be proud is a waste because God oppose it? If we don’t want to be opposed by the Lord, what is an alternative to “I’m proud of you!” expression? “I’m so glad for you!” “I rejoice for you!”

Not long after Gaal and his clan relocated to Shechem, he expressed his wish in the hearing of the people of Shechem to make him their leader so that he could destroy Abimelek. Previously, Gaal said in v.29, 29If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘Call out your whole army!’”

The people of Shechem put their confidence in Gaal. But Governor Zebul, the deputy of Abimelek heard that Gaal wanted to challenge the authority of Abimelek.

1. Challenge

30When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. 31Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. 32Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. 33In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them.” 34So Abimelek and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies. 

Like most proud people, Gaal was careless when he challenged the authority of Abimelek in Shechem. Gaal may have been very confident that with the help of the people of Shechem, he could destroy Abimelek. Why? The people of Shechem helped Abimelek, murdered the sons of Gideon, and installed him as their king.

God has already filled the hearts of the people of Shechem with rebellion when Gaal challenged the authority of Abimelek. The people of Shechem killed the sons of Gideon. So, to spark hatred, Gaal reminded them that Abimelek was also Gideon’s son. Previously, Gaal said in v.28, 28“Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek?

Gaal identified himself as Shechemite and they transferred their loyalty to him. He assumed that he can destroy Abimelek if the Shechemites help him. Yet, his bragging was reported to Abimelek by Deputy Zebul, and planned how to defeat Gaal.

Abimelek and the people of Shechem were former allies, yet they destroyed each other later. God has been using such strategy to defeat the enemies of His people.

Destroy One Another

In one situation, the Ammonites, Moabites and the men of Mount Seir conspired to attack Jerusalem. King Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord. He proclaimed fasting throughout Judah, and he appointed men to sing praises to the Lord.

It says in 2 Chronicles 20:22-23, 22As they began to sing and praise, the Lord  set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

It was not mentioned what God did for them to destroy each other. Perhaps, one nation wanted to have a bigger portion of the plunder if they defeat Judah. Of course, the other nations would not agree and wanted to have fair share. They may have been “counting the chicks before the eggs got hatched,” so to speak.

Such is a common story line in western movies. Robbers help to destroy each other even before they have secured their loots or stolen goods. Churchgoers are not exempted from such mistake of destroying each other just as Apostle Paul warned.

He says in Galatians 5:15-17, 15If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 

It is human nature to promote one’s self. The desire of the flesh is to brag about one’s accomplishment. We want to accumulate more things for us to avoid being looked down but unmindfully or unconsciously, we want also to be better than others.

After Zebul, the city governor reported to his boss Abimelek, they attacked. Gaal and the Shechemites tried to fight Abimelek but Abimelek chased Gaal.

2. Chase

35Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place. 36When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” Zebul replied, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.” 37But Gaal spoke up again: “Look, people are coming down from the central hill, and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.” 38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!” 39So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelek. 40Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. 41Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.

Abimelek chase Gaal, why? Gaal bragged that he will destroy Abimelek, right?

Is it reliable to support a person who brags about something that has not been proven? Gaal had no record of leading anybody to battle. He was actually relying upon the support of Shechemites to defeat Abimelek. The Shechemites were not reliable supporters because they were easily persuaded to transfer their loyalty to Gaal.

This has similarity to the experience of the Lord Jesus. After Jesus fed thousands of men, women and children, they shouted and proclaimed their support for Him when He entered Jerusalem. Yet, the same group of people betrayed Him and shouted for Him to be crucified. A similar situation also happens in church setting.

Church Split

A group of churchgoers supported a very eloquent pastor and they decided to form another church. But the same churchgoers decided to part ways with the pastor they supported at first. Those kinds of people have no loyalty to anybody. Anyone who can satisfy what their itching ears want to hear, they would follow.

When they join a church, those kinds of people are not easily detected. They are expert in deceiving others by pretending to be genuine believers. What should we do as a church? Churches may have experienced similar pretensions in their midst.

The Lord Jesus tells a parable of the weeds in Matthew 13: 27-30, 27“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

As much as we want to have genuine believers join us as church members, there would always be pretenders in our midst. Should we worry about them? The Lord didn’t order us to worry about them. He will deal with them accordingly at His designated time.

When Gaal pretended to be someone who can lead the Schemites against Abimelek, his selfish pretension did not materialize. Unfortunately, Abimelek tried to be king of the people of Shechem but after three years, he was also destroyed.

God allows pretenders in the church because He is a loving God. God wants everyone to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus.

It says in 2 Peter 3:9-10, 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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