Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Parable Of Practical Atheism


The first parable in the Bible was not told by Jesus. It was told by Jotham, the son of Gideon and brother of Abimelech. It is found in Judges 9 and concern’s the treachery of Abimelech and the men of Shechem.

“The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them. And they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I cease giving my oil, with which they honor God and men, and go to sway over trees?’ “Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us!’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to sway over trees?’ “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us!’ But the vine said to them, ‘Should I cease my new wine, which cheers both God and men, and go to sway over trees?’ “Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us!’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you, then come and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon!’ Judges 9:8-15 (NKJV)

Here's the story in a nutshell:

Abimelech was Gideon's son through a concubine that lived in Shechem. His name means son of the king and I have a feeling that he took his name to heart! After Gideon died, Abimelech killed 69 of Gideon's 71 sons (leaving, of course, himself and one other; Jotham who had escaped) and set himself up as king. All of this was done with the help of the men of Shechem. When Jotham heard about his half-brother's treachery, he called on the men of Shechem and told them the above parable. Basically he said to them, "Why would you bunch of "trees" submit to a thorn bush (bramble)? You're bigger, better, more powerful, and more spiritual than this guy. You know that God is our only King." He then predicted that the men of Shechem and Abimelech would burn each other up, which they did. 

The problem really started with the practical atheism of the men of Shechem. What do I mean by practical atheism? Simple. That means that even though a person gives lip service to the fact that God exists, they live their lives as if He doesn't. They will say, “We believe in God.” Then they won’t go to church, acknowledge His Sovereignty in their lives, curse His name, and refuse to give Him glory. They claim to be Believers, but they live practically like they were atheists.

The men of Shechem claimed that they believed in God, but they dishonored Him by making Abimelech king. They said that Jehovah was their God, but they built a temple to Baal. They said what was politically expedient, but they lived whichever way made life easy.

Hmmmm. How many of us fall into the same trap?
We claim a devotion to God, but do we live as practical atheists?
Do we care more about our trips to the Lake on Sunday?
Do we tithe as though we believe that Malachi 3:8 is in the Bible, or do we just say we believe it and keep our first fruits?
Here’s one for you…Do we believe in the sanctity if human life, or do we just give lip service and vote pro-choice candidates into office because, after all; “It’s the economy, stupid preacher?"

It’s not the economy. Hey, my stocks have taken the same hit as yours. The question is, do we send Mr. Brambles to Washington, or will we send those who take a stand for what is right, no matter the cost? Will we live openly for God? Or will we just live like practical atheists?

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