Your link text

A Bible Lesson
on Givers and Takers

In this Bible lesson on givers and takers, Abimelech is the taker and Christ is the giver.

To fully understand the gift of giving, a Christian must understand or experience the horror of one who takes from others. So, the writers of the four lessons in December decided to show the contrast between the takers and the givers.

The first Bible lesson on givers and takers starts with the taker, Abimelech, who kills to get what he wants.

The following three studies concentrate on Christ's way—the way of giving—giving in love.

One is short-lived, and the other lasts forever.

A Bible Lesson on givers and takers:
Abimelech's Way - The Wrong Way

In Judges chapter 9, Abimelech saw something he wanted—He desired to be king—and he took it by killing his 69 brothers.

Contrast his attitude with what Christ did. Christ came to give,
serve, and make the world a better place for all.

Christ gave His life for you and me.

What happened to Abimelech?

He was king for only three years. Then, a woman killed him by
dropping a stone on his head. Ironically, Abimelech had killed his brother with a stone.

What were the lives like for the Israelites after they entered the Promised Land? The short answer was that it was up and down, good and bad. It was good when they followed God and
sought the ways of the Lord. It was bad—very bad—when they turned from God.

The History During the
Period of Judges

From the time the Israelites entered Canaan until they demanded a king, the leaders of Israel were judges. The era of kings in Israel started years later when Saul was appointed the first
king. Then, of course, David was the second king of Israel.

The first eight chapters of Judges tell of the life of Israel with God as the leader of the Israelites and their life when they turned from God. The Israelites' first mistake was not following God's instructions to drive the Canaanites from the Promised Land. As a result, the Canaanites would forever be a problem for Israel.

God made it very clear to the Israelites that they were to drive the Canaanites from the land. The Israelites had been in Goshen, Egypt for more than 400 years. In Goshen, they were separated from idol worshippers and lived in peace.

The Israelites traveled to the Promised Land which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the land of Canaan was inhabited by people that worshipped other gods and idols.
God chose the Israelites to be "a holy people to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6). It would be necessary to drive idol worshippers from the land.

God further instructed the Israelites to destroy their altars, break down their sacred pillars, cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images. They were further instructed to not
marry the inhabitants of the land.

But the Israelites did not follow God's instructions. They did not drive the pagans out of the land. The evil left in the land caused pain and trouble to the Israelites for many years.

The History of the Period of Judges

The period of judges began after the death of Joshua in the early fourteenth century BC. It continued until Saul was crowned king of Israel by the prophet Samuel in 1051 BC, a period of about 300 years.

The tragedy of this period was the widespread act of the Israelites refusing to continue to follow, obey, and recognize the one true God. At times they would follow God only to be led
astray by idol worshippers.

First, because of following false gods, they would suffer. Then they would call on God, and God would send a leader to lead them back to Him, and they would prosper.

This cycle continued throughout the period of judges.

Abimelech's Evil Desire

Abimelech was the son of Gideon, who was also known as Jerubbaal. Gideon had died, and Abimelech sought to rule over Shechem. He planned to eliminate his competition—namely, by
killing all of the other sons of Gideon. Abimelech pays thugs 70 pieces of silver to help him kill his brothers.

All were killed except Gideon's youngest son, Jotham. Jotham provides his fable in verses 7 through 15 in Judges chapter 9.

Abimelech's Conspiracy to Rule Over Shechem – Judges 9:1-15

Verses 1 - 3:

1 Then Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal (Gideon) went to Shechem, to his mother's brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, 2 "Please speak in the hearing of all the men of Shechem: 'Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon) reign over you, or that one reign over you?' Remember that
I am your own flesh and bone."

3 And his mother's brothers spoke all these words concerning him in the hearing of all the men of Shechem; and their heart was inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, 'He is our brother."

Abimelech coerced his brothers from his mother's side of the family to support him for the king of Shechem since Gideon did not leave a clear successor of leadership. This happened for two
reasons: God had not established a hereditary monarchy in Israel, and there were sixty-nine other sons of Gideon (Judges 8:30) who might also want to succeed their father.

Verses 4 - 5:

4 "So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men; and they followed him. 5 Then he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, was left, because he hid himself."

The brothers—on his mother's side—gave him 70 pieces of silver as "start-up money" to establish his leadership. Instead of using the money for good, he used the money to hire worthless and reckless men to kill all his brothers, ensuring there would never be a challenger to his leadership.

Only Jotham, the youngest son of Gibeon, survived; he had hid himself.

Verse 6:

6 "And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem."

Who was worse; Abimelech, who did the murdering, or the men of Shechem, who approved of it? Abimelech was an ungodly leader given to an ungodly people.

Earlier, Joshua had placed a copy of the law of God under the terebinth tree. And now Abimelech is being installed as king of Shechem under the same tree. The law was there, but Israel refused to read and heed it.

Jotham's Warning-
The Fable of the Trees

Verses 7 - 15

7 "Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and cried out. And he said to them:

"Listen to me, you men of Shechem,
That God may listen to you!
8 "The trees once 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,

'Should I cease giving my oil,
With which they honor God and men,
And go to sway over trees?'
10 "Then the trees said to the fig tree,
'You come and reign over us!'
11 But the fig tree said to them,
'Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?'
12 "Then the trees said to the vine,
'You come and reign over us!'
13 But the vine said to them,
'Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?'
14 "Then all the trees said to the bramble,
'You come and reign over us!'
15 And the bramble said to the trees,
'If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!'

Jotham was the only son of Gideon to escape the massacre at the stone (Judges 9:5). Here, he told a parable to rebuke the men of Shechem for their choice of Abimelech as a king.

The trees sought someone to anoint a king over them. In their search for a king, they approached the olive tree, which turned them down because he was busy producing olive oil.

Next, they approach the fig tree. The fig tree also turned them down because it did not want to stop producing its good fruit.

Then they approached the vine. The vine refused because of the excellent work it was doing.

Finally, the trees approached the bramble. The bramble gladly accepted the opportunity to rule over them. He said if you anoint me as king, you can come and take shelter in my shade. In
reality, the bramble produced no shade. His political sale pitch was to convince the trees to anoint him, king. The bramble being the worst choice available.

The Consequences of Choosing a Worthless Person

Jotham interprets the fable for the people of Shechem by reminding them that they had not acted in truth and sincerity in making Abimelech king. Instead, they had killed and deceived to
get what they wanted.

Jotham continued by telling the people that fire would come from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem. The end of the story would be tragic for Abimelech and the people of Shechem for allowing the anointing of Abimelech as king.

Abimelech reigned over Israel for three years. Then, God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech for the crime of killing his brothers and with the men of Shechem who helped kill the brothers.

Abimelech attacked the city of Thebez. All the people of Thebez locked themselves in a strong tower in the city. As Abimelech was about to burn the tower, a woman in the tower dropped a
millstone on Abimelech's head and crushed his skull.

The Fate of the Taker

Yes, there are takers in this world. However, the ultimate Judge will rule as God did with Abimelech.

Verse 56-57:

56 "Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads,
and on them came the curse of Jotham, the son of Jerubbaal."

This Bible lesson on givers and takers is about the story of the taker.

Next week we will study the giver and how His rule worked out.