Friday, July 8, 2011

The Book of Judges - Abdon


It is Friday and so we are continuing in our series through the Book of Judges.  This week completes a string of three minor judges.
After him, Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.  Judges 12:13-15 NKJV
Once again we know very little about our judge.  We do know that he was a man of wealth. We know that by the fact that his children and grandchildren all rode donkeys.  Donkeys were high class travel in those days.  A modern day comparison would be as though the man purchased 70 cars for his children and grandchildren.  We also know that after him, the time of peace was over.  Israel would once again rebel against God and fall under the oppression of a foreign nation.  The eight years of Abdon were the quiet before the coming storm.

One thing that is of note is the name Abdon.  The name means "servile."  That name is in stark contrast to his wealth and position of power, but it is a model that we need to adopt as Christians.  The idea of a servant-leader was personified by Jesus Christ.  Jesus is King of Kings and Lord and Lords yet He washed the feet of His disciples.  Jesus, perfect in every way, died for our imperfections.  We rebelled against our Creator and he made peace with us.  We must remember that example with any kind of authority we are given.  We are never to lord it over those we are in charge of, but to lead them as their example.  We should never think we are above any kind of so-called menial task, but be willing to perform even the lowest task of all as an example to those we lead.  The key to becoming great in the Kingdom of God is to be least among men.  It is the humble who are exalted, not the proud. 

The other message is that times of prosperity give us a tendency to forget God.  We have had three judges with nothing in terms of civil wars or foreign oppression to write about.  Considering the Bible tells us specifically that the people of Israel turned against God after Abdon's death, we know that they did not turn against God while he was alive. For three judges and a good amount of years, the people of Israel walked with God.  I think it is in this peace and security, that the Israelites forgot about God.  They did not need Him, or so they thought.  They did not remember that the God they were forgetting was the only reason they had that peace and security.  In turn, they turned from God and pursued foreign gods and fallen lifestyles.  We will see in our next installment that, once again, God allowed them to experience what life is like without God protecting them. We will see that when they fall into sin, God allows them to fall into the hands of their enemies.  Many of us have had similar experiences.  Many of us forget about God when things are going well.  We begin to trust in the peace and prosperity He has given us instead of Him.  When that happens, God will take those things away from us to make us turn to Him again.  I speak from my own experience and I am sure this is true for many of you as well, but it is amazing how soon we remember God when things begin to fall apart.  We may groan and complain when God allows trouble to come our way, but when we think about it, it is generally our own fault.  Sometimes when we forget the Provider, He must take away the provision.  Sometimes that is what we need when we begin to trust the provision over the Provider. 

Soon we will be getting into our next major judge, and it is one we are all familiar with.  That judge is Samson.  Samson comes in after a long period of oppression that begins in earnest after the death of Abdon.  The quiet before the storm is over.  The Israelites are again going to turn against God and God will again have to remind them just how dependent upon Him they are.  May we never get to that point in our lives.  Never forget that all that we have is given to us by the Lord, all that we achieve is that which is allowed by the Lord, and all of that can be taken away by the Lord.  Always trust in God and God will always provide. 
And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."  Job 1:21 NKJV

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