“The Road to Bethlehem” Advent devotion for December 1, 2021. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
“After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.” (Judges 12:8-10)
A small town no one’s ever heard of gets noticed when it’s the birthplace of a U.S. president. Like West Branch, Iowa, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover. Warren Harding hailed from Blooming Grove, Ohio. Chester A. Arthur was born in Fairfield, Vermont.
Ibzan, one of the judges of Israel, claimed Bethlehem as his hometown, putting it on the map long before Jesus was born. His name might not be as familiar as Gideon or Samson, but he was part of Israel’s history between Joshua and the first king, Saul. While Gideon was known for his fleece and Samson for his strength, we only know that Ibzan was prolific. Thirty sons and thirty daughters adds up to a large family!
The only other information we have about Ibzan is that all those sons and daughters married outside the clan. Why is this significant? It portrays him as someone who took care of his family, setting the stage for strong future generations. Some say all these marriages indicate substantial wealth, as anyone who has daughters will acknowledge!
So what do you think? What do you think of Ibzan? Would you like a faithful family man to lead your nation? Sounds like a win to me. Paul told Timothy to pick pastors who were good husbands and fathers. Jesus had his mother on his mind in his dying moments on the cross. Plus, Jesus thought of those who trusted him as brothers and sisters, not just followers. Family was important to him. He prayed, “Father…” and taught us to pray, “Our Father…”
Someone who knows the value of family has the potential to be a great leader. That person knows how important their love, example, discipline and forgiveness are to the next generation. They’ve experienced it in their own lives, and they can pass it along to those who have been entrusted to them. I’m thankful for the example and love of my own father that has shaped me into the father and now grandfather I am today.
Isn’t it great to know God as our Father? He’s not just a statue or a legend or some mysterious deity. He adopts us by grace, calls us his children, and teaches us to approach him as a father who is there to protect, provide and love us. His own son comes to give up his life, to show us how much our father loves us.
Thank you, Father, for revealing your love for me in your Son Jesus. I pray that good, faithful family men would indeed rule our nation and care for our people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.