Jothan, the only remaining legitimate son of Gideon, was rejected by the Israelites as their leader in favor of Abimelech the son of a servant. From Mount Gerizim, the same place that Joshua addressed the nation, Jothan tells the first parable in the Bible.

Like Israel the trees are looking for a king. None of the fruitful, productive, competent trees are willing to forsake their efforts to “wave above” the others. But the bramble bush is only too pleased to accept. Jackman observes, “After all, it has no useful task to perform, and nothing to offer but thorns. The shelter of its shade is insufficient to protect anyone from the burning sun. It has nothing positive to give, for the trees will soon discover that all it can do is to hurt and wound.”

When a God ordained leader is rejected by the masses, nothing but devastation awaits the subjects. It’s interesting that Jothan has the courage to say to Israel that how they hear his parable and how they respond to it will determine their future; for good or for bad. This is much like what Jesus said to the religious leaders of the day. He told parables in which they fit into obvious roles. He warned them that how they heard what he said and how they responded to it would determine their future.

But Israel did not listen to either Jothan or Jesus. In the parable of the sewer, God spread His Word like seed, but only the good ground that received it could produce a good crop. The other seed shriveled up, was blown away, or was eaten by birds.

Things have not changed; how we hear God’s Word and how we respond to it will determine our future for good or for bad.