When most Christians think of parables, we immediately think of the teachings of Jesus Christ, for He was the master of this illustrative technique of teaching. We also associate parables with the New Testament because this is where most of them are found. However, as I studied the book of Judges in the Old Testament recently I found the “parable of the trees” in chapter 9, verses 7-20. Please read these verses.
The basis of this parable goes way back to the time of Gideon and the story of how God used him to defeat the Midianites, who were oppressing the Israelites. After this great victory, there was a period of peace for 40 years, during which Gideon fathered 70 sons.
After Gideon died, there was a question of which of his sons might succeed him as leader of Israel. Abimelech was his son by a slave girl and was considered a distant half-brother to Gideon’s 70 sons. He was ambitious to be the new leader of Israel and he determined to do anything to succeed. Abimelech went to his mother’s family and asked for their support by going to the leaders of Shechem, a city and stronghold of Israel, and ask them for their support. His question for them was: Would you want 70 men to rule over you or one man? They agreed to support him and made him their king. They also gave him 70 pieces of silver from their treasury. Abimelech took the money and hired a group of worthless and reckless men and they followed him. He took his men to his father’s house and killed all his brothers except Jotham, who hid from the slaughter.
After hearing the men of Shechem had made Abimelech king, Jotham spoke to the leaders of Shechem in a parable. The trees were the leaders of Shechem who were all busy doing their activities and did not want to be king. They asked the bramble — a worthless thorn bush to be their king and to “come and reign over us.” We should note that Jotham chose the bramble to represent Abimelech for he truly was both worthless and dangerous. To “come and find refuge in my shade” meant I will be your security but if they rejected their king then fire would destroy them. The cedars of Lebanon were the leaders of Shechem. Some three years later when the leaders of Shecham decided to follow another leader, Abimelech came and destroyed the city and killed all the leaders.
In contrast to such selfish ambition, a life of genuine service is wholesome and desirable. The perfect example of this truth is Jesus Christ, who did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. He is our true King and rightly so for in His earthly life He refused all temptations to grasp self-centered power.
Praise the Lord for empowering our great plan of salvation so that we can choose to have faith in God through Jesus and be saved to heaven and free of the slavery of sin! Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior and know for certain you will go to heaven when you die? I pray you are safe in relationship with Jesus but if not please choose Him today.