Gideon had produced an abundance of offspring. He had seventy sons by his wives and an additional son, Abimelech, by his concubine.
Abimelech carried out a bloody coup and murdered his seventy brothers. The citizens of Shechem had funded him and crowned him king. It was an appalling act of betrayal after Gideon had heroically saved Israel. However, the youngest son of Gideon, Jotham, escaped.
Jotham gave a very brave speech – wisely shouting it at the evil citizens of Shechem from the top of a tall mountain before running away. He asked them if they had acted in good faith towards his late father Gideon. If not, ‘fire’ would come out from Abimelech and consume Shechem and vice versa.
God brought justice after three years of Abimelech’s rule. ‘God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech (v.23).
A man called Gaal led the citizens of Shechem, who had become highway robbers, in a revolt against Abimelech. They were defeated and Abimelech captured the city and killed the people. He burned a thousand people alive in the tower of Shechem; people who had previously enabled him to become king (v.49).
King Abimelech then besieged and captured the town of Thebez but they had constructed a strong tower into which all the citizens fled. As Abimelech was storming it, a woman dropped a millstone down onto his head and cracked his skull. He ordered his servant to finish him off with a sword. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Abimelech’s army went home.
God had repaid both the power-mad, psychopathic Abimelech and the disloyal citizens of Shechem for their wickedness. The curse of the one surviving son of Gideon, Jothan, had come upon them. We reap what we sow and God will ensure that justice is served.
Jesus fed the five thousand. He was attracting large crowds because of the miraculous healing miracles he was performing, It would have been an impossible task to feed this many people with just the disciple’s resources: ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ (v.7). God loves an impossible task. Jesus asked Philip what they should do just to test him. Jesus ‘already had it in mind what he was going to do’ (v.6).
Jesus took five loaves and two fish, gave thanks, broke them and distributed them. Everyone ate as much as they wanted and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. I like to think this would have been the best bread and the tastiest fish anyone had ever tasted. Just as Jesus produced the best wine from water at the wedding in Cana. Jesus’ body is broken and distributed to us during the Holy Eucharist and he can feed as many people as want to receive him.
These types of food miracles still happen today. Missionaries can find they have nearly run out of flour for bread, only to find that empty storage tins have mysteriously refilled. People catering for large events with seemingly insufficient food pray that it will stretch and everyone is fed. Jesus created all things and can easily make more resources. He will ensure that believers are satisfied. However, God wants to work in partnership with us. Jesus did not create the food from nothing. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, did some research and found a boy had a meagre amount of food with him. Presumably the Holy Spirit had persuaded the boy to pack this food and bring it with him that very morning. He brought this to the party and Jesus was able to use this small contribution to feed everyone else. If everyone in a church community joins in with a project. just imagine what can be achieved when our resources are miraculously multiplied.
Jesus did not want to be made king and so didn’t hang around to receive the praise and adoration of the crowd. He withdrew to a mountain by himself.
The disciples set off across the lake for Capernaum leaving Jesus behind. They were struggling, trying to row in the wind, and the sea was rough. Jesus approached the boat, walking on the water. He might have walked the whole distance (three and a half miles) or the Spirit might have transported him there (see Acts 8:39). As soon as the disciples took Jesus into their boat they reached the safety of the shore as if their boat suddenly shot across the lake at miraculous speed. As soon as we repent of our sins and invite Jesus into our life to be our personal saviour we will reach our destination – eternal life.
How did Jesus walk on the water? Jesus created everything and water is one of his creatures. It would respond to his command. Water can also take on other spiritual forces and become blessed or demonised. It is best to exorcise water before using it in a baptism. One missionary I know once baptized forty people from an African village in an oil drum filled with water. Fourteen women of the forty were heavily demonised and when dunked under the water were unable to surface again. Very strong men had to pull them up out of the water. Either the demons within them were trying to drown them or, just as the water in the presence of the Chief Exorcist held Jesus up, the water used for this baptism may have been extracted from a water source dedicated to a demonic entity and tried to hold the women down.
The crowds found out that Jesus and his disciples had left and so climbed into boats chasing him to Capernaum. Once we have found Jesus and experienced his miraculous healing power in our lives, we don’t want to let him get away either. However, he will never leave us or forsake us.
Do our rulers speak justly? No, in their hearts they devise injustice.
In my country, Great Britain, we have a state-sponsored abortion industry killing over 200,000 unborn children a year so of course our rulers are not speaking justly. Their hands ‘mete out violence on the earth’ (v.2).
We go astray from the womb. We have a terrible innate tendency to sin and tell lies termed ‘concupiscence’. We are born with an inclination to evil. However, Jesus has washed us clean through the sacrifice of his perfect blood. We just have to repent and renounce of sin, believe and become baptised.
At the end of days, the righteous will be rewarded for there surely is a God who judges the earth.