‘After him, Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, led Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel for eight years.’ Judges 12: 13,14
Have you heard of Abdon? Nope, me neither, until today. A judge of Israel, unremarkable, wealthy, with a staggering number of sons and grandsons. He was one in a long line of judges who ruled Israel some time after the nation had settled into the promised land. From the very short verse about Abdon, we conclude that he was an influential person, who might just have been the most competent one around when the leader’s seat was vacated. He did no daring deeds, he led no deliverance of Israel from any oppressing nation. Despite the fact each of his sons and grandsons were raised in wealth and given the equivalent of a sports car, none of them in any way seemed to have been inspired or equipped to judge after him.
Sometimes, absence speaks louder than words. Because nothing else was ever written about him, we conclude that he failed his people. But did Abdon fail God? Was his attention taken up with the aquisition and retention of wealth? How very far the Israelites have strayed from the bright promise they were given when they left Egypt. Really, this whole saga of Israel could have been stamped with a great big ‘FAILED’ sign.
How frustrating it is when plans and dreams are broken, sometimes shattered beyond repair. How difficult it can be to get up, dust ourselves off, re-evaluate, start again. There are many dire warnings for the future ahead, and people may well question the leadership countries have experienced in this pandemic, and are looking for someone to blame. Hindsight is always 20:20, and there are those who will use it as a measure to make judgments.
When we look back on this lockdown period, what label will we give it? Everyone has learned new things about themselves, good and bad. Don’t judge too harshly, in fact, don’t judge at all. God never gave up on Israel, he never has given up on the Church, and he will never give up on you and me.
‘The tears from our eyes are dried by the hands
Of a loving Father who understands.
All of our problems, our fears and despair;
We take to him on the wings of prayer’ Helen Steiner Rice