Monday, June 13, 2005

Searching for the Joy - 13

Jud 9:19 - "If then you have done what is true and upright to Jerubbaal and his family this day, may you have joy in Abimelech, and may he have joy in you;"

I had forgotten about the story behind is about so I looked it up.
Jotham is the youngest son of Gideon (Jerubbaal). His other brothers were ruthlessly murdered by their brother Abimelech (Jud 9:5). Jotham’s response to this is to give them a scathing and sarcastic rebuke starting in Judges 9:9.

What Jotham is saying is “You have about as much chance of being happy with Abimelech as king (and he with you) as you as you did right by killing my brothers.” He is calling a curse upon them.

So where’s the joy?
I guess I’m glad that God treats me with kindness and grace and not as I deserve. He could hold a grudge or cast a curse on me. Instead by His Son He offers to cleanse me of all my unrighteousness, forgive me, heal me, and bless me. I can only say “Thank you Jesus for the cross”


Richard said...

Another way to look at Jotham's curse and God's punishments for misdeeds is to see them as natural consequences rather than artificial inducements.

For example, "if you want to grow big and strong, you must eat your vegetables" rather than "if you want to have desert tonight, you must eat your vegetables". Growing is the natural result of eating well, desert is an aritificial inducement set by parents dedicated to the growth of children.

A child would typically experience both kinds of advice as they grow up but might not be able to distinguish between the two types. Likewise, as children of God, we should expect both natural consequences and artificial inducements. We also have difficulty distinguishing and we view God's favor and curse as an artificial inducement rather than a natural consequence.

But perhaps true joy is a natural result. Perhaps Jotham's words echo this sentiment. A joyful relationship comes from honorable dealings. A cursed relationship comes from treachery.

Richard said...

Way off topic, but as a father, I find this passage in Judges highly disturbing. Jerubbaal (Gideon), the father of Abimelech seems to be the cause of a lot of this "succession" trouble.

Sure he claimed not to be a king and just a servant of the Lord. But what on earth was he thinking when he named his son "my-Dad-is-King" (the literal translation of Abimelech)? No surprise that the succession was a bloody one with all that confusion. King David didn't do that great of a job raising his family either.

As I come to realize what a big difference a father can make and just how horribly wrong things can go, my heart sometimes trembles. Leaf through the bible and the only good fathers you find are possibly Zechariah, and of course Joseph the husband of Mary.

Michael said...

It's an interesting thought Richard but I would disagree that it's a "natural" result.
"What goes around comes around." Not always. Life isn't fair.
I'm very glad that it isn't.
God takes what would seem the worst thing that could happen, His son dying on a cross, and turns it to the greatest good, my salvation.
He says forgive your enemies, be kind to those hurt you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you.
How can that be right?
God's idea of right and wrong, good and evil, action and consequence are very much higher than ours.