Judges 9:7-21 – Abimelech, Trump, Clinton: Let Us Just Look In the Mirror

Posted: September 5, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 9:7-21
Jotham’s Parable

This parable reminds me of the US elections back in 2016. There was a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. These were our choices. Because of rural and suburban America’s tiring of the liberal agenda of urban America, the media that urban America controls, there was this backlash against Hillary Clinton, who to rural and suburban America represented their greater fear (a socialist state where we were smothered by taxes to redistribute wealth and to support programs for which they disagreed wholeheatedly). On the other side of the election coin, the one shouting the loudest was the one who got heard. In the process of winning the Republican nomination, he was the Bob Rumson of the movie, The American President, starking Michael Douglas. There was a speech that his character, President Andrew Shepherd, gave at the end of the movie that was very memorable and very appropriate to our nation at this time:

I’ve known Bob Rumson for years, and I’ve been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn’t get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it. Bob’s problem is that he can’t sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.

During the process of winning the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump was like the bully in the school yard. He spent more time literally making fun of his Republican opponents than he did anything else. He scorched the earth within his own party with his schoolyard bully politics. It did not seem to matter that his name calling and character attacks in response to real questions, Mr. Trump never really answered questions and stated his position on pertinent issues to our nation. Don’t get me wrong here, I am philosophically a conservative Republican myself as I believe it represents a belief that hard work should be rewarded and everyone benefits from our nation’s collective hard work. I don’t believe in the level of government influence in our lives that takes away the incentive to work hard that Democrats generally espouse. However, in Trump, our party generally fell for the Bob Rumson bully on the playground. The profound words of Andrew Shepherd have proven to be true. That, ladies and gentlemen, in the new America is how you win elections. Scorch the earth in your own party til its fractured beyond repair, make America afraid of all things that are not of 1950’s America, and be the biggest bully on the block. America loved Trump’s bravado about who we want to blame for America’s problems but it was not, we are learning, about any great care for our nation’s problems.

To Mr. Trump, all of this has been done to claim a prize. To be the king. He wanted the office and not necessarily the job. He wants the accolade. He wants the laurel for his head. He wants the adulation. He wants the power. He wants the ego massage that winning the presidency would allow him. It was the big prize. It was the one thing that he could conquer that had not attempted to conquer yet. He is style without substance. He wanted to be President not because of some altruistic need to serve the public. It was all about the chasing the girl more than marrying the girl. He wanted the conquest not the relationship.

I blame the state of the nation for why a meglomaniac such as Trump can win an election. We are a nation now of celebrity worship and where we worship things with no substance. Just think how popular reality shows about celebrities that are vapid and are sound and fury signifying nothing. Just think how popular we have made these people whose shows are about the excesses of their eccentricities. We glorify anything sexually oriented to the point that sex is our god and kids now think that having a baby is a badge of honor more so than wearing a wedding ring before a child is born. The general downward spiral of our attention span as a nation and our lack of willingness to pay the price for the problems that our country has to develop long-term solutions for them. We are immediate gratification Americans now. We are not willing to make the sacrifices and live by the moral code that our grandparents lived by. Just listen to us complain about taxes but yet if in the process of reducing taxes that the government might take away our pet program that pumps money in our local economy … then … that’s a whole ‘nother story. We want what we want and we want it now. American credit card debt is the highest it’s ever been and it is now OK to build up great debt and walk away from it. Trump is us. He is what our nation has become. Hillary Clinton is no better. She just didn’t shout as loud as Trump. Those who elected him and her within the respective parties no longer care about the morality of the one they support. We have a lack of options of presidential candidates because we are a people who measure policy and politics in the immediacy of sound bites and political spin. We have indeed become the fickle nation that the movie, Wag the Dog, warned us about.

The reason that I say these things is that this parable and this whole section of the rise and fall of Abimelech reminds me where we are as a nation and we see the same in the nation of Israel in this passage. Let’s read through Judges 9:7-21 together now and then we will talk about this idea further:

7 Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, “Listen to me, O men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8 Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my fatness with [a]which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good [b]fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ 12 Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’ 14 Finally all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 15 The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in [c]truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’

16 “Now therefore, if you have dealt in [d]truth and integrity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and [e]have dealt with him [f]as he deserved— 17 for my father fought for you and [g]risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian; 18 but you have risen against my father’s house today and have killed his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your [h]relative— 19 if then you have dealt in [i]truth and integrity with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the men of Shechem and [j]Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from [k]Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech.” 21 Then Jotham escaped and fled, and went to Beer and remained there because of Abimelech his brother.

In this passage, we see that Jothan’s parable of the trees represented Gideon’s 70 sons, and the thornbush, of course, represents Abimelech. Jothan’s point was that a productive person would be too busy doing good to want to bother with power politics. A worthless person, a thornbush, would be glad to accept the honor, but would destroy his people in the process. Abimelech could offer the nation no real protection or security. Jothan told this story to snap the people back into their right senses. He did not want them to appoint a leader who had low moral character. As we examine our leaders, we should examine their motives before we allow them to ascend to positions of power. Do they want simply want the praise, power, and prestige or do they want to really do good for our nation and are willing to take criticism to do what is right for the city, county, state or country. Do we want to be these good trees who are productive and provide benefit to the nation or do we want to listen to a thornbush because it shouts the loudest.

In the previous passages, we see that because of the lack of moral leadership of Gideon (a guy who started well but finished poorly), we see that the nation immediately fell back into idol worship and all the moral excesses that go along with that. We are the nation of Israel today. We produce leaders that we have now because they reflect who we are. We produce celebrities of low character because that’s the world we worship. We are what we worship. It is no wonder that our choices in 2016 were no better than what we got. They are us. They are what we produce now. We are immediate gratification. We are blame someone else for it. We are short attention span America. We don’t really care as long as we can have our three cars, a boat, a jet ski, an oversized house with an oversized mortgage. We want our politics determined by what you can spin into a 30 second sound bite. We don’t care because we want to be left alone to pursue that which makes us feel good. That was Israel then. That is America now. That was how conditions were right for a ruthless man such as Abimelech to rise to power then. That is how Donald Trump became President now. He is us and we are he. The same was true in the time of Abimelech.

Well, Mark, you pretty much blasted us in this piece. Are you being Bob Rumson in a way? Pointing out what’s wrong but not having a solution to fix the problem. My only solution to the problem of where our country is headed is to pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. I pray that our nation will have another Great Awakening where the Holy Spirit moves people back to Christ. I pray that we will realize how far we have drifted from God and return to Him. I pray that the polarization of hate that is on both sides of the political spectrum right now will be replaced with reason. I pray that our nation will turn away from its immediate gratification, do what makes you feel good, I am my own god mentality and return to the one true God. I pray that we examine ourselves. I pray that there is revival in America where we come to love the Lord again. I pray that we as a nation of people begin to open their eyes to how far we have strayed from God. I pray that God will raise up men and women of courage in our nation to reclaim it in His name. I pray that we learn from ancient Israel’s mistakes but we see ourselves in ancient Israel. May the mere fact that our choices in the last election be a clarion call to men of conviction, men of courage, men of Christ-like character will awaken from their slumber and run for office at the local, state, and national levels. Let us think less about our creature comforts and more about what God wants for our nation.

Amen and Amen.

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