Like we said last time, after Gideon died, the people went back to their old ways. They began worshipping Baal and living wicked lives. Why would the people worship a wooden statue? Because a statue doesn’t expect much. The people wanted to do their own thing and they knew that God would require obedience and sacrifice. Here is an example of just how wicked their lives had become.
Believe it or not, Gideon had 71 sons! After he died, the sons took over as the leaders of the Israelites. One of his sons, Abimelech, wanted to be the ruler all by himself. He went to the town that his mother was from (Shechem) and persuaded the people there that it would be better for them if he were their king. The people agreed. The town took up a collection from the Baal Temple for Abimelech and he spent the seventy silver coins that they gave him on some soldiers.
Abimelech took his soldiers to his fathers house and killed sixty-nine of his brothers. One of his brothers named Jotham escaped.
After three years, God decided it was time to stir up some trouble between Abimelech and the town of Shechem. The whole town began to badmouth the Abimelech. But he had spies in the town. They reported back to him what was happening. Abimelech knew that it was a matter of time before the whole town would revolt against him, so he wanted to make the first move. He took his army and stationed them outside the Shechem city limits. The men of Shechem were no match for Abimelech and his men and when they came out defend their city many of the Shechemites were killed. The rest ran back and told the people to hide in the temple. Abimelech told his men to gather some branches. They laid the branches at the base of the temple and burned it down, killing the people in it. The rest of the people ran to the center of town where there was a huge tower. They took refuge in it, but Abimelech told his men to get more branches. He laid the branches at the base of the tower and has Abimelech was leaning over to start them on fire, a woman dropped a brick off the roof of the tower. It landed on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull.
Abimelech was barely alive. “Take your sword and kill me!” He told one of his soldiers.. “I don’t want it known that a woman killed me.” So the soldier finished him off.
The Israelites went through several more judges (rulers), but they continued to turn their backs on God. God grew angry and took His hand of protection off the Israelites and they fell into the hands of the Philistines and became their slaves for forty years. Do you realize that God’s hand of protection is upon you and me? Our lives are so fragile! God is the sustainer of all things. Which means that He keeps everything and everyone going.
God sent His angel to the wife of a man named Manoah. The couple had not been able to have children, but the angel assured them that they would have a son. The angel also said that their son must be dedicated to God as a Nazirite. (Which meant that he could never get a haircut, never drink alcohol or never touch any dead thing).
When their son was born, they named him Samson. God blessed him as he grew. His parents kept their part, and never gave him a haircut.