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May 10, Day #131 – People Are Still Hungry

We come today to Judges 9, where we see Gideon’s son, Abimelech, claim what his father rejected (cf., Judges 8:22-23; 9:1-2). Moreover, in the person of Abimelech, we see what God foretold would happen when the Israelites entered into union with Canaanites – disobedience to the Word of God, compromise, and idolatry (cf., Deuteronomy 31-32). Abimelech was not a credit either to God or to his father. We see that he used the money he received from the “temple of Baal-Berith (i.e., the god of the Shechemites) to hire reckless adventurers, who became his followers … and that on one stone, he murdered his seventy brothers” (verses 4-5). Talk about injustice - what kind of person kills his own seventy brothers? A selfish, unjust person! What kind of people would follow such a scoundrel? In verses 7-15, we read a literary parable expounded by Abimelech’s youngest brother, Jotham, who escaped these murderous actions and asked, “Have you been fair?” (verse 16). We live in a world where everything is evil and nothing is fair. Everyone is guilty. Jotham’s parable helps us understand how evil Abimelech was – even to his own people. This is a classic illustration of how God uses evil – or an evil person – to purge His people of evil, but His people must be willing to repent of their own wickedness. “Abimelech governed Israel three years” (verse 22), but “God sent an evil spirit” to “avenge the crime” of Abimelech (verses 23-24). Clearly, life under Abimelech was not pleasant. In verses 26-57, we see Gaal’s rebellion and later, Abimelech’s siege of Thebes, where he died as he lived – recklessly. In verses 56-57, we read, “Thus, God repaid …” [both Abimelech and the men of Schechem], for “the curse of Jotham came on them” (verse 57). We see that both sides came under God’s righteous justice.

Psalm 58 helps us to understand that God, Who is just, will eventually bring about His unbiased justice to an unjust world. God is also merciful, and He is willing to extend abundant mercy to us, but in the same way that God allows injustice to hold sway only for a time, His offer of mercy also has a time limit - known only to Him. When the planned limit of His mercy has been reached, He will mete out the fury of His justice on the unjust. Isaiah 55:6-7 tells us to “seek the Lord while He may be found,” and this also applies to His mercy. In this world where nothing is fair, we need to cry out for God’s mercy right now because it is still available. As we are all sinners, we all stand presently in greater need of His mercy – probably more than we currently need His justice - which will certainly take care of itself in His timing. Justice will come as surely as day follows night.

In John 6:1-24, we see that a great crowd followed Jesus “because they saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick” (verse 2). Here we see the feeding of the five thousand – which we have also seen earlier in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (cf., Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; and Luke 9:10-17). We see that Jesus satisfied the hunger of this crowd with His blessing on “five small barley loaves and two small fish” (verse 9). This miracle sets the stage for another later miracle - Christ walking on the water and joining His “terrified” disciples – in a boat that was struggling against the wind (verses 16-20). Christ is demonstrating His compassion for the crowds, His love and care for His disciples, and His sovereign authority both over human need and universal conditions – the boat “immediately reached the shore” (verse 21). In verses 22-24, we see that the crowd goes “in search of Jesus” (verse 24). This is an important expression as it relates back to the feeding of the five thousand – Jesus had just demonstrated that He is the Bread of Life – and the people are still hungry for that Bread.

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