What happens when an entire culture rejects God? Everyone is impacted by the negative consequences. When that happens, what do we do? How do we respond?
Imagine that you were living in Shechem as a God-fearing Israelite who was following God during the days of Abimelech’s tyranny (Judges 9). You are proud to live in Shechem (a very important town) because it’s where Joshua took Israel to renew the covenant back in Joshua 24. But because of Israel’s disobedience, it was still a stronghold for Canaanites because the Israelite's had not finished what Joshua started. As a faithful Jew, you are aware of how important this town is because you understand the importance of God’s covenant with Israel. It’s everything! Your livelihood and your success are directly tied to how closely you walk with God. When you obey you are blessed, and when you disobey you experience defeat and curses (Duet. 28). And it troubles you that Israel has been steadily and consistently rebelling against God. You feel threatened and insecure.
The news of Abimelech is all over town - about how he’s not fully an Israelite because his mother was a Canaanite. Then one morning you read in the newspaper about how his lust for power and influence drove him to kill off his father Gideon’s 70 legitimate heirs to the throne – all in one day and all on one stone. You think that’s horrible. But it’s also ironic, because you remember how his father, Gideon, was all about establishing a dynasty. But the day that “certain woman” threw her millstone from the tower and smashed Abimelech’s head those plans went up in smoke.
But here’s the problem. As a faithful Jew living in Shechem you have neighbors that are Canaanites – the city is split between Jews and Canaanites, and it’s no secret that the Canaanite culture was influencing and dominating the Jewish culture. Your thoughts go back to Israel’s response when Gideon died. Did they return to Go? No. They returned to Baal worship.
“As soon as Gideon died, the people of Israel turned again and whored after the Baals and made Baal-berith their god.” [Judges 8:33. Baal-berith” means “lord of the covenant”]
Your very town, Shechem, represents God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to Israel. But, your own people, the Israelite's, have abandoned God’s covenant and created and entered a covenant with Baal – at Shechem! Your heart breaks. Your city is collapsing, your culture is crumbling. Sin is rampant and fewer and fewer people even remember what should be or what could be. You think, if they had only obeyed God. You fear for the future of your city, your community and your culture!
What’s your response to the people of our corrupt and perverted and blind culture? How do you talk with your neighbors who are actively and strategically dismantling all that you hold to be good and true?
Since we live in the New Testament, downstream from Jesus and his loving sacrifice for all of us – we need to ask the bracelet question: What Would Jesus Do?
How do we fight for truth? However we do that, we do it while loving our neighbor.
There were perhaps hundreds of faithful people who lived through the tyranny of Abimelech’s rule, who endured the tyranny by trusting God to rescue, redeem and be merciful even though the nation was not repenting, not remorseful and not turning from their sinful ways under the leadership of an evil man.
They trusted in the goodness of God. Not the goodness of man.
There is hope. It lies in the faithfulness of God.