Zebah and Zalmunna were kings of Midian who had oppressed Israel for seven years (Judges 6:1; 8:5). If they had shown mercy to others, perhaps Gideon would have shown them mercy to them, but even Gideon’s brothers died at the hands of these men, so he executed them himself (his son couldn’t do it).
Zebah and Zalmunna saw Gideon as a king, so did the sons of Israel, but Gideon didn’t see himself that way. He rejected their offer to be king. Gideon was wise enough to know that the LORD should rule over them, the LORD should be their king (Judges 8:21).
Gideon was wise in that, but not altogether wise, for he made a golden ephod, which became a snare and an idol. Gideon also had multiple wives and children. In God’s grace the land had rest while Gideon lived, but as soon as Gideon died, the children of Israel played the harlot – AGAIN!
In the midst of a pagan people the enemy was alive and well. One of Gideon’s sons named Abimelech, mustered up the support from his relatives rooted in the powerful city of Shechem, and they gave Abimelech money to hire heartless mercenaries who proceeded to murder the seventy sons of Gideon (all but one).
Abimelech should have known that this type of move was the devil’s downfall, it all began with his desire to exalt himself (Isaiah 14:12-14). When will we learn?
Luke 18:14 (NKJV) “…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Psalm 75:6–7 (NKJV) “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. 7 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.”
The only other sole survivor of Gideon’s sons, was Jotham. He stood on top of Mount Gerizim and spoke a parable to Abimelech and the men around him. It was the least worthy, the despicable, the worthless, reckless man they had exalted, not the olive tree, not the fig tree, not the vine, but the bramble; it was a wild shrub they had chosen for themselves. Gideon and his descendants deserved honor from the nation, but they treated his family like trash. Maybe you’ve seen the military honors given at a funeral of a loved one who’s served our country – it’s beautiful, it seems right. Gideon was not just a participant, a fighter, or a soldier, he was a hero, a deliverer, a judge. Jotham reminds the men – to no avail.
But God would have the final word (He always does).
Jesus was crucified at 9AM (Mark 15:25), darkness covered the land from 12 noon until 3PM. It was most likely at this point in time that the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus (imagine that) (Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The loud cry of Christ were the words, “It is finished” (debt paid in full) He wanted everyone to know. As Jesus finished the work of redemption and paid the price – the veil of separation between us and God was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). Now those of us who believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ can enter in to His presence, even with boldness (Hebrews 4:16).
Thank God for men like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who were exceptional members of the Jewish Sanedrin, who believed in Christ. They took courage and asked for Jesus’ body, and laid Him to rest in a new tomb that was hewn out of a rock (but it would only be for the weekend).
Everyone thought it was over, that death had sealed the deal, and all the disciples thought their dreams had died. There must have been tons of tears, heavy heartache, and deep confusion.
But then, Sunday comes…
These lovely ladies travel to the tomb in order to finish the job and give the Lord a proper burial – they planned to anoint His body with spices. Initially they were unsure how they would move the two-ton stone that covered the tomb, but when they arrived, they found the stone rolled away. This allowed them to enter in and see – Jesus’ body wasn’t there. They were bewildered – what happened? Just then an angel explains everything, Jesus is not there, He’s not dead, He has risen from the dead, just as He had said He would (if only, we’d listen)!
After their memory was jogged, they then jogged (ran) to the eleven Apostles and told these things to them. The Apostles didn’t believe, but Peter and John did go down and check – confirmation the tomb was indeed empty…but an empty tomb is not enough, neither is the testimony of the ladies (at least not for them). Maybe they were lying or hallucinating when they said that an angel had appeared and spoken to them these words.
They would soon see for themselves.
The word “reigns” is only found twelve times in the Bible, but four times in this section of the Psalms (Psalm 93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1). It seems to be the emphasis of the Holy Spirit at this point.
The fact that God reigns should lead us to tremble and to trust; it should bring peace as well as praise. We should see Him where He is, exalted in majesty, there between the cherubim, and willing to answer our cries as we call.
Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were among those who called upon the Lord, and He answered them. He spoke to them. He will do the same for us.
Psalm 99:8 teaches us that God does forgive us of our sins, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be any ramifications or consequences for our sinful actions. God is indeed merciful, but the law of the LORD is that we reap what we’ve sown. Many of us are now living lives that bear the fruit of our failures (child-support, alimony, messed-up brain cells, broken down bodies, strained relationships, and so much more) all because we’ve sown those sins in the past. Prayerfully this truth causes us to fear God, to love God more, and to do our best to sin…less.
Psalms 99:8 (NLT) “O LORD our God, You answered them. You were a forgiving God, but You punished them when they went wrong.”
I’ve always loved the beautiful behind 1 John 2:1
1 John 2:1 (NKJV) “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
V. 9 – The fool ridicules any concept of right and wrong, but the wise strives to obey God and His Word, to do right, not wrong, this brings favor in life.
v. 10 – Ultimately, only God and I know what’s really going on, deep, deep down inside my soul – my pains, my joys.
Charles Bridges said, “This is a graphic illustration of the individuality of each person. The history of the soul is only fully known and felt by the conscious subject. No less personal is the heart’s joy. It lies deep within.”
1 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV) “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.