SanLo Community, an update for the week of October 7, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Judges 9:16-21, 50-57, “God, are you there?” Have you ever felt God wasn’t around when you needed Him and wondered, God, are you there? Like Israel, it’s easy to think God is not concerned about your hardships when He is silent. Tim Keller, well known Christian author and pastor, captured this sense of abandonment by saying, “God may be silent but He is not absent.” How do we know this? How do we know God is not absent in His silence? Another way to ask this question is, How do we know God is always present?
1) We know God is always present through His faithful FOLLOWERS. (vv.16-21) God is spiritual and unseen but His existence is supernaturally known by words of encouragement, strength and comfort through our family and friends who faithfully follow Jesus. When God seems absent because of His silence, it is then we need to be reminded of His constant presence through our brothers and sisters in Christ. Shechem is conquered by Abimelech without regard to the sacredness of the city. Verses 7-15, tells us Jotham, the youngest and only surviving son of Jerub-baal’s 70 murdered sons, pleads at the top of his lungs from Mount Gerizim to the people of Shechum saying in verse 7 “Listen to me so that God may listen to you!” Jotham proceeds to tell a parable about trees seeking a king to reign over them. The trees ask the olive tree, the fig tree, vine and bramble (low lying thorny brush, like tumbleweeds) to be their king. Only the bramble says yes because the olive tree, fig tree, and vine did not desire or need power as the lowly bramble did. Jotham next explains the meaning of the parable in verses 16-21. Jotham interprets the parable and tells the leaders of Shechem that if Abimelech was chosen by truth and integrity then rejoice. But, if not, then let Abimelech kill the men of Shechem and Beth-millo (where the king of Shechem lived). Further, let Abimelech be killed by the men of Shechem and Beth-millo, basically the same place. God through His faithful follower, Jotham proclaims that because of the treacherous way Abimelech became king, Abimelech would be destroyed by the men of Shechem and the men of Shechem would destroy Abimelech. They would completely wipe each other out. Key verses 19,20, “If then you have dealt in truth and integrity with Jerub-baal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech, and let him rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the men of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.” For Israel, the temptation to think God had abandoned them was real because Abimelech was in control. For many followers of Christ this same temptation to think God is not with us is just as real. We need to remember that God is always present even when He is silent. God not only reminds us of His presence through the faithful but He reveals Himself through His achievements.
2) We know God is always present through His fulfilled PLANS. (vv.50-57) When we look back at a situation or circumstance it’s easier to identify what went wrong or right, gives us a better perspective and helps us to see God more clearly in our lives. We gain confidence in God’s unseen presence when we recall His plans fulfilled in previous encounters. The simplest description of verses 22 through 49 is, “Reign of Terror.” It recounts Abimelech’s cold blooded and heartless destruction of anyone considered a threat to his regime. Shechem, its people, and leaders are murdered. The city is covered with salt to symbolize its utter destruction, and 1,000 men, women and children are burned alive in a tower that was Shechem’s final defense. It is at this point we come to the end of Abimelech’s three year reign. Jotham’s words from verse 20 come true. Key verses 56-57, “Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing the seventy brothers. Also God returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerub-baal came upon them.” After the complete destruction of Shechem, Abimelech seeks to crush Shechem’s close ally Thebez. Just as Thebez is about to be conquered, a woman throws an upper millstone from the tower. This stone is about 2 inches thick and 12-18 inches in diameter weighing over 20 pounds. It’s not by chance this millstone strikes Abimelech’s skull. It is the sovereign plan of God fulfilled. God spoke through Jotham. Abimelch would kill the men of Shechem and the men of Shechem would kill Abimelech. Thebez for all intents and purposes was Shechem. Though God may have seemed absent for three years because of His silence, God fulfilled His plans confirming His presence. The presence of God is often realized after the situation is over. Looking back we can see how He worked things out but while working through trying situations He seemed absent. Often it is during the most difficult moments of the past we see how God was with us. When life felt out of control, looking back you know God was in control. During pain or turmoil, when peace did not make sense, you knew His peace that surpassed all understanding. You are confident that God is with you because of His fulfilled plans. How wonderful it is to know God is always with us through stories like Judges 9. Today, Jesus’ historically proven life, death and resurrection is God’s fulfilled plan to affirm that although He may be silent, He is not absent.
Commissioning of Pastor Josh Scott:
It is with praise to God for calling Pastor Josh to serve at SanLo as our Worship and Young Adult Pastor. A recent graduate from Talbot School of Theology, earning his Masters of Divinity in Pastoral and General Ministries, he returns to us having grown up at our church. Please keep Pastor Josh in prayer as he transitions back home and serves on staff here!