When you stray as a parent, your children will oftentimes amplify that sin. It’s a harsh reality and I’ve seen it over and over.
Gideon was a hero of the faith (Heb 11:32). He obeyed the Lord and with the Lord’s help delivered the Israelites from the Midianites. But he stumbled a bit at the end of his life. He took the gold from the spoils of war and made an ephod. The Israelites prostituted themselves with it and it became a snare to Gideon and his household (Judges 8:27).
When Gideon passed away, the Israelites amplified that prostitution and worshipped and served the Baals. It wasn’t that it was just another god, it was a god that promoted sexual liberty. Same as the Asherahs. Therein the temptation.
And while the people tried to make Gideon king, he refused. (Although ironically he named one of his sons Abimelech which means “My dad is King). But the seed was planted and now Abimelech, Gideon’s son wanted to become king. He deceived his brothers and the lords of Shechem into making him king which was against God’s wishes. Then he just killed off his brothers.
Instead of condemneing Abimelech, the lords of Schechem coronated him. Huh? Right after he slaughtered his brothers? Only one brother, Jotham, escaped.
Evil continued to spiral down. The lords of Schechem should have stopped Abimelech but they were passive. They were too caught up in their own lives.
Finally the Lord said no more. He sent a spirit to allow division between the lords of Schechem and Abimelech. Interesting what was happening in the physical was a manifestation of what was happening in the spirit.
In the end after some awful and ugly battles, both the lords of Shechem and its inhabitants were killed and so was Abimelech. They had sinned against the Lord and had done evil, and so the Lord had put a stop to it.
“In this way, God turned back on Abimelech the evil that he had done against his father, by killing his 70 brothers. And God also returned all the evil of the men of Schechem on their heads” (Judges 9:56-57).
So this raises several questions.
- Did God really send an unclean spirit to cause division? I actually believe he did. I think evil is often knocking on the door wanting to do more and at times, God allows something bad in order to accomplish his greater purposes. Evil doesn’t have the final say, but God allows it for a season to do his ultimate will.
- Is God vengeful here? Not at all. Israel was a special people in a very specific time of history. They were in covenant with him as a nation which is not like any other nation on earth. He was teaching them that evil must face justice. Both the lords of the house of Schechem and Abimelech had been deceitful, treacherous and evil.
Interestingly it’s not just that Abimelech had deceived and murdered his brothers, but his crime was against his father:
“God turned back on Abimelech the evil that he had done against his father, by killing his 70 brothers” (Judges 9:56).
Gideon had dishonored his father, a violation of one of the Ten Commandments of Moses. But worse he had dishonored him by murdering his family.
God is a just God. He is patient hoping that all will repent. But there comes a time when he will indeed act against the evil that is committed. Would God be good and just if he did nothing about evil?