THE RESTLESSNESS OF GOD’S LOVE; THE EMMAUS ROAD
We see many sinful attitudes motivating the destructive actions described in the Book of Judges. Abimelech’s reign is one of cruel pride. Abimelech was a son of Gideon by a slave woman who lived with her father’s family in Shechem (Judges 8:30-31). His name means, “my father is a king”. Yet his father, Gideon, had given orders that neither he, nor his sons, were to establish a dynasty (Judges 8:23). Abimelech felt his father was wrong about that and so after Gideon’s death he decided that he would be king. But in order to do so he needed to eliminate the competition and slay his half-brothers. Those in Shechem saw Abimelech as one of their own and rallied to his support as he oversees the death of the seventy (Judges 9:3). Only Jotham, the youngest brother, escapes. However, Abimelech’s punishment for killing the seventy sons of Gideon soon catches up with him (Judges 9:53-56).
Jotham’s parable uttered from Mount Gerizim comes true. Abimelech, the bramble, accepts the position rejected by the more admirable olive tree, fig tree, and vine. The bramble would be the destruction of the men of Shechem and the men of Shechem would be the destruction of the bramble. The prophesied fire comes out of the bramble of Abimelech’s hot-headed pride to destroy his former support base, the people of his mother’s family- Shechem.
The nation of Israel, symbolized by olive, fig and vine, was chosen to reign under the rule of God over the nations. But it lost its power to rule when it ceased to yield to the rule of the one true God as their Sovereign King.
Gaal, son of Ebed, foolishly boasts of his worthiness to rule and challenges Abimelech’s authority. He earns the trust of the disillusioned of Shechem. But his foolish pride blinds him to Abimelech’s evil schemes and leads to his being driven out of Shechem.
Abimelech is destroyed by a woman who drops a millstone on his head. He asks his armor-bearer to draw his sword and kill him so it would not be said that a woman slew him.
It is interesting to note what is recorded in the Bible and how it tracks the motives of the proud Adamic nature. It is what we were born with.
Marvel not, Jesus said. You must be born again (John 3:3-6).
The first four cycles of deliverance involved God raising up judges who would help turn the people from serving idols to serving the living and true God.
We notice that there is no record that the judges Abimelech, Tola, and Jair, acknowledged God.
THE SIXTH APOSTASY (10:6f)
After the death of Jair, the sin cycle starts with the familiar words:
Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord (10:6)
(They) served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him (Judges 10:6).
The Lord is angry at sin and sells them into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites for 18 years.
Then the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals” (Judges 10:10).
- For the first time, the Lord refuses to save them.
The Lord must first let them know how completely given over to idolatry they are:
Judges 10:13-14 “Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you.  “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”
- DELIVERANCE? How will their prayers be answered? (We will read further on tomorrow).
What we read in verse 16 is revealing.
16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer. (Judges 10:16)
Whereas we have seen the motive of pride in the actions of men like Abimelech and Gaal, we can see the motive of God’s love in disciplining His people. “He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.”
The Lord is restless with love! We have the anthropomorphic expression of God’s strong desire to relieve suffering when he sees it, even when he knows it is the result of human disobedience.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Luke 24:13-53
We call the study of sermon composition and delivery “Homiletics”. The root word is the Greek verb ‘homileo’ which we find in Luke 24:14. Here the word ‘homileo’ is translated as “talking”, “conversing” or “discussing”. It is used to describe the activity of the two disciples of Jesus who were walking to a village named Emmaus, 7 miles from Jerusalem, after the resurrection of Jesus.
Luke 24:14 (NASB) 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place.
This is hardly the idea we have today of sermonizing. You get the picture that the disciples are fully engaged in a vigorous dialogue.
Jesus, unrecognized by his disciples, approaches them and contributes to the discussion. It is vitally important to welcome Jesus into the ‘homiletic’ activity of our preaching. Instead of merely lecturing our audience, we need to witness Jesus’ participation in the dialogue, as well as engage our audience with the conversation.
Notice the Sovereign activity of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Christ. He either opens eyes to recognize more of the truth of Who Jesus is, or He prevents eyes from seeing Jesus (v.16).
How often do we really recognize the Lord’s presence and the Holy Spirit’s illuminating power in our Bible study and in our discussions? How wonderful it is when we let Him explain to us all the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). He has given the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. He leads us into the discovery of the glorious reality of the Victorious Christ! (John 16:13).
Luke 24:32 (NASB) 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
READING FROM THE PSALMS: Psalm 100:1-5
Today we come to the great finale of these five psalms of praise.
Notice the verbs- ‘Shout joyfully’. ‘Serve’. ‘Come before Him’. ‘Enter with thanksgiving and praise’. ‘Give thanks’. ‘Bless His Name’.
Why? Because the Lord is God; He has made us. We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. He is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting. His faithfulness is to all generations.
Psalms 93 and 95-100 are known as “Royal Psalms” that emphasize God’s sovereign rule as worthy of praise.
Proverbs 14:11-12 (NASB) 11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed, But the tent of the upright will flourish. 12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
PRAYING FOR THE NATIONS
From the Prayer Guide “Operation World”
The Cook Islands
Geography: Over 100 coral atolls and volcanic islands 3,500 km northeast of New Zealand, 15 of which are inhabited.
Population: 19,933 Annual Growth: 0.87%
Official language: English, Cook Island
Geography: Area: 258 sq km; The world’s largest coral island.
Population:1,438 Annual Growth: -2.64%
Area: 47 sq km
Pitcairn is one of the smallest (47 sq km and 47 people) and most isolated territories in the world.
Population: 50 Annual Growth: 0.00%
Area: 12 sq km
Three infertile coral atolls 480 km north of Samoa.
Population: 1,206 Annual Growth: -0.12%
Answer to Prayer
Niue has effectively shut down its offshore banking industry, since it was becoming a money-laundering haven. Praise God for the commitment to root out evil practices. Pray for just and wholesome ways to earn a living – for islanders who already suffer from a lack of resources.
Challenge for Prayer
The strong Christian legacy of over 150 years – bordering on theocracy on some islands – is fading rapidly. Increasing numbers are nominal or even non-religious, and Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are the fastest growing groups. Pray for reversal of these trends and for new life to come to the mainline Churches.
PRAYER: Gracious God and Father, You have made Yourself known to us through the person of Your Son, who has demonstrated Your love and provided the reconciliation needed to have access to Your Throne. Thank You for this gift of heavenly citizenship. We humbly and gladly submit to Your rule. We know that in our flesh dwells no good thing. We rely on Your Holy Spirit to illuminate the victory of the cross and enable us to walk in it. Cause us to be mindful of the presence of Christ crucified, risen and glorified as we walk in the light as He is in the light. IN Jesus’ Name. Amen.
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742