(By Rachel Joyce)
“After Abimelech died, Tola son of Puah, son of Dodo, was the next person to rescue Israel. He was from the tribe of Issachar but lived in the town of Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim” (Judges 10:1).
This is not your normal Sunday devotional verse. In fact, when I read it a little while ago in my daily reading, I thought it was rather dry, but that’s before the Lord nudged my heart and I started digging.
We know a little about Abimelech. His father was Gideon, the one who delivered God’s people from the oppression of the Midianites. He was the one who, at God’s command, went against the whole Midianite army with only three hundred men, trumpets, torches, and jars, shouting, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon." God wrought a mighty victory through Gideon, but his son Abimilech was another story.
Gideon had seventy sons by his wives and one by a concubine who was from Shechem. Abimilech was that one. Unfortunately, Abimilech wasn’t the mighty warrior of God that his father was. Instead, he tried to murder all his brothers so he could rule over Israel. He killed all but one; only the youngest managed to escape. When antagonism arose between Abimilech and his uncles in Shechem, he leveled the city and destroyed those who fled to the tower of Shechem for safety: one thousand men and women. God used a woman to stop him when he was attacking the town of Thebez. She threw a millstone down and crushed his skull.
This was the context of what was happening in Israel when God raised up Tola—insatiable thirst for control, mass murder, pure evil. But then, God raised up a man who was a picture of Jesus. Firstly, look at his lineage. Tola was the son of Puah. The name Puah means “splendid; cleave in pieces.” The Lord our God is truly splendid. Listen to the words of Moses, “Who is like you among the gods, O LORD—glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?” (Ex 15:11). King David declared, “Give to the LORD the glory He deserves! Bring your offering and come into His presence. Worship the LORD in all His holy splendor” (1 Ch 16:29). The psalmist advises us, “Worship the LORD in all His holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him.” Truly our God and Father is splendid in glory and majesty. In His Word, we read how He cleaved the rocks and brought forth water for His people in the wilderness (Ps 78:15, 105:41).
Puah was the son of Dodo, which means his beloved. Our Lord was the beloved Son of His Father, but the Father was also beloved of the Son. Listen to the words of Jesus, “I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). The love of God, pure and rich was so lavishly poured out upon us. Our Lord Jesus was the beloved Son of the beloved Father.
Tola was from the tribe of Issachar which means “there is a recompense/restitution.” This is such glorious truth! There is indeed a recompense and Jesus paid the full price of restitution. He suffered for our sins so we could be set free from the enemy and belong forever to Him. The name Issachar is actually made up of two words: nasa which means to lift, carry, take away, and sakar which means wages. Romans 6:23 teaches us that the wages of sin is death and we know that Jesus died so that we might live. Isaiah 53:11 reminds us that He bore our iniquities and made many to be accounted righteous. I’m so thankful for the One who bore our sins and made restitution so that we could be set free.
Tola lived in Shamir which means thorn. I find this touching because the thorn is the mark of the curse on this earth (Gen.3:18). Jesus came here, to our world strewn with thorns, and made His home among us so that we could have a home with Him in Heaven forevermore. This truth makes my heart sing. Not only did He come to the place of thorns, but He bore the thorns upon His lovely brow. They pierced His flesh and caused His blood to flow, but He willingly endured it all for us. He loved us so!
I’m thankful for this passage in Judges, because it points us back to Jesus. The very name of Tola speaks of Jesus because it is linked with the tola worm which lays down its life to provide life for its offspring. You can click here for that story: https://www.livinglovedtoday.com/post/crimson-love . May God help us to worship Him, our beloved Father and splendid God, who provided a recompense by the sacrifice of His Son who bore the thorns as He made restitution for us so that we could be His for all eternity.