Be A Bearean Acts 17:11-Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years, God sent a spirit that stirred up trouble between Abimelech and the leading citizens of Shechem, and they revolted. God was punishing Abimelech for murdering Gideon‘s seventy sons, and the citizens of Shechem for supporting him in this treachery of murdering his brothers. The citizens of Shechem set an ambush for Abimelech on the hilltops and robbed everyone who passed that way. But someone warned Abimelech about their plot.
One day Gaal son of Ebed moved to Shechem with his brothers and gained the confidence of the leading citizens of Shechem. During the annual harvest festival at Shechem, held in the temple of the local god, the wine flowed freely, and everyone began cursing Abimelech. “Who is Abimelech?” Gaal shouted. “He’s not a true son of Shechem, so why should we be his servants? He’s merely the son of Gideon, and this Zebul is merely his deputy. Serve the true sons of Hamor, the founder of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech? If I were in charge here, I would get rid of Abimelech. I would say to him, ‘Get some soldiers, and come out and fight!'” (Judges 9:22-29)
This “spirit that stirred up trouble” was not just an attitude of strife, it was a demon. It was not Satan himself, but one of the fallen angels under Satan’s influence. God used this evil spirit to bring about judgment on Shechem and Abimelech. First Samuel 16:14 records how God judged Saul in a similar way.
Abimelech was the opposite of what God wanted in a judge, but three years passed before God moved against him, fulfilling Jotham‘s parable. Those three years must have seemed like forever to Jotham. We may wonder why Abimelech wasn’t punished sooner for his evil ways.
We are not alone when we question why evil seems to prevail. Job, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk all asked God that question (Job 10:3; 21:1-18; Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 1:2-4, 12-17). God promises to deal with sin but in his time, not ours. Actually it is good news for us that God doesn’t punish sin immediately because we all have sinned and deserve God’s punishment. God, in his mercy, often spares us from immediate punishment and allows time to turn from our sins and turn to him for forgiveness. Trusting God for justice means (1) we must first recognize our own sins and repent, and (2) we may endure a difficult time of waiting for the wicked to be punished. But in God’s time, all evil will be judged. All wrongs will be made right.
Next time you see evil succeeding, pray not only for God’s justice, but pray that by his mercy, evildoers would repent and turn to God. Then thank God for his patience with you and for the grace, mercy, and forgiveness he’s shown you through Christ.
Does God hear our prayers for mercy on behalf of others?
Abraham approached him and said, “Will you destroy both innocent and guilty alike? Suppose you find fifty innocent people there within the city — will you still destroy it, and not spare it for their sakes? Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” [The Lord responds that he will not destroy the city. Abraham persists, reducing the number to 45, then 40, 30, 20 and finally ten]. And the Lord said, “Then, for the sake of the ten, I will not destroy it.”
In the days before their fiery judgment, the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah probably had no idea that their neighbor Abraham was agonizing with God over their fate. Abraham saw the need for justice, but he also begged God to show them his mercy. He asked God to spare the city for just a handful of righteous people, and God agreed. In addition, God sent his angels to protect Lot’s innocent family and get them out of harm’s way. But as Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction illustrates, there’s a limit to his mercy, for the God of justice will not let sin go unpunished forever.
Just as he listened to righteous Abraham long ago, God will listen to your cries for justice and your pleas for mercy. In the end, God will do what is right.
But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. Live in such a way that God‘s love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you. Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins.
Titus 1:20:23 NLT
Micah 6:8 NLT
Christians have sometimes been accused of shooting their own wounded. In our zeal for God, we can sometimes become impatient and judgmental with those who struggle with sin and doubt. Instead of rejecting them, Jude says, we should have mercy on them — just as Christ had mercy on us when he forgave our many sins. While we must not tolerate or accept sin, we are to love and accept others with kindness and mercy. If you know someone who has fallen away from God, your kindness may be just what is needed to lead them back to God.