The Three Year Itch (Judges 9)

I am sure that nearly everyone has heard the story of Gideon, the reluctant judge in Israel who led his nation to victory against the Midianites. What may be less familiar to you is the rest of the story. Gideon had seventy sons by various wives and another son named Abimelech by a concubine.

Abimelech approached the people of Shechem with a proposition. Why should they have seventy sons of Gideon rule over them when they could have one of their own? The Shechemites agreed and Abimelech slaughtered sixty-nine of his seventy half-brothers. Jotham, the only remaining brother, got away.

From Mt. Gerizim, Jotham put a curse, so to speak, on Abimelech and the people of Shechem. He stated that if they did well with his father and his house, especially considering all that he had done for them in rescuing them from the Midianites, then may it go well with them. Yet if it weren’t deserved, may Abimelech and Shechem turn on each other.

What struck me about this passage was the verse that said, “After three years . . .” Three years not three minutes, not three hours, three days or three months but three years was the time period. At that time, God had answered Jotham’s prayer. The people of Shechem struck first and Abimelech and those allied with him struck back. In the end, Shechem was destroyed and Abimelech killed.

Now this is most definitely not a Bible story with which to send your young child to bed. It is, however, one that can encourage you and me. I hope you don’t have any enemies at work, school, in your home or in your neighborhood that you would wish such upon them. Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t the point here. What is the point is that God does act and His delay, as someone once said, doesn’t indicate His denial.

No information is given on how much Jotham might have prayed during this time. Yet, that is exactly what we can do. Continue to pray for whatever you are asking of God. It may come in three minutes or three years or somewhere in between but God will answer according to His will and that will be good for you. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

(note: for further background information, also read Judges 6-8)

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