Everyone remembers the story of Gideon and the way God used him in a miraculous deliverance of Israel from the Midianites. After that victory, the men of Israel wanted to make Gideon King.
Judges 8:22-23 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian." Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you."
Now Gideon (Jerubbaal) had seventy sons, for he had many wives. One son was Abimelech, born of a concubine who lived in Shechem. After Gideon died, Abimelech schemed to become King over the land. He got the leaders of Shechem on his side, got them to pay him money with which he hired thugs. Then he murdered 68 sons of Gideon with one stone. One son, Jotham, got away.
And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem. (Judges 9:6)
At the very spot where, under the very tree where, next to the very pillar where, three hundred years earlier, all Israel had sworn faithfulness to God and His covenant, where one thousand years earlier God first made the covenantal promises to Abram, where Jacob later buried the vestiges of his false gods, the populace of Shechem declared that a mere, evil man, was now their king .
Rebellious men refused to humble themselves to the Cross, and so rejected God in favor of man’s wisdom and power. Shechem erected the Kingdom of Man in opposition to the Kingdom of God.
The outcome was utter disaster, perhaps even greater than that which had occurred in the same city hundreds of years earlier when Simeon and Levi slaughtered the entire male population.
Read the entire account for yourself in Judges 9:1-20. In short, the honeymoon between Abimelech and the Shechemites was short-lived. God set animosity between them, resulting in Abimelech's massacre of the entire population. One thousand people perished in one incident when Abimelech set fire to the temple of Baal in which they were cringing in fear. That one thousand people could fit inside testifies to its considerable size.
Why did this disaster occur? Listen carefully to what Jotham, Abimelech's lone surviving brother, had to say to the citizens of Shechem days before the massacre:
Jotham told a parable, about the trees wanting someone to reign over them as a King. The tried the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, a Vine, and each one refused. Finally they went to a lowly bramble bush, and he accepted.
Jotham warned the people:
Judges 9:16-20 “Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal (Gideon) and his family, and if you have rewarded him appropriately for what he did— for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you from the hand of Midian, and now you have attacked my father’s house today, killed his 70 sons on top of a large stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave, king over the lords of Shechem ‘because he is your brother’— if then you have acted faithfully and honestly with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech and may he also rejoice in you. But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.”
Twice in one short diatribe Jotham tells the people to judge themselves, whether or not they have acted in faithfully and honestly.
We have a tree that rules over us. It is the Cross of Jesus Christ. We do not worship the Tree, for it is but a principle. We worship the one who hung upon that tree. He is our King, He is our Lord. The principle of the Cross must be applied to our lives if He is to reign.