Archive for the ‘jephthah’ Category

Righteous Indignation? or Prejudice?

Well, considering the trend Ephraim seems to have of always showing up after a battle is fought, and then complaining that he didn’t get to be a part of it, I am inclined to think this is righteous indignation.

I mean, the Ephraimites not only complain, they accuse Jephthah and the Gileadites and also outright threaten to burn down their houses. So, who can blame poor Jephthah for setting about to pay Ephraim back for some of the choices he made.

But the part I’m most challenged by in Judges 12, is the judging over a single issue. In this case, if you can’t say “Shibboleth” the way I say it, I’ll excommunicate you, or ignore you, or snub you, or just outright murder you.

So I sit here wondering, what issue is it with me? What one particular misstep am I quick to judge, and build up a barrier straight away?

  • Judgmentalism? (never mind the fact I’m judging what judgmentalism is!)
  • Gossip?
  • Absolutism? (especially about social or political issues)
  • Legalism?
  • etc?

I mean, I do want to be discerning and all, but to kill my brother for his speech impediment or accent? I would NEVER! (cough, cough)

The thankful thing is, that whether righteous indignation, or just outright prejudice, or just a case of the last nerve being walked on, Jephthah still somehow ends up in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

So, even seeing my shortcomings, I can cling to the promise that “He shall perfect in me the work He has started!” And even work me in the kind of righteousness that does not feel the need to slaughter 42,000 people who threaten to burn down my house!

Gracious Lord, thank You for not only putting up with my speech impediments, but for Your great patience with my besetting sin(s). Work in me, I pray, that same kind of holy patience with others.

You Can Change Your Identity!

Yesterday’s chapter was almost like a soap opera ending, “Who is the man who will lead us?” only to have the words “To Be Continued…” come across the screen!

Talk about Dysfunctional! Wow! Today’s chapter of Judges 11 has it.

  • Prostitution
  • Discrimination
  • Hatred
  • Gangs
  • Mistreatment
  • Sibling Rivalry
  • Possibility of Revenge
  • Life-long grudges
  • Bad Guys &
  • Heroes

and all in the same family!

It’s interesting that the men of Gilead who were so repentant in 10:10, don’t even mention the Lord as they sought to find someone to lead them. It isn’t until Jephthah brings up God’s name, that they finally call on Jehovah.

Two thoughts today come home to me.

1) We can break the chains!
In Judges 9 I talked about Abimelech who was the son of bondage, and how his whole life was lived, and the death he died, all remained in bondage. Never changed.

But here we see the son of a harlot

  • not seeking revenge
  • demanding amends from the elders of Gilead
  • calling on the Lord to deliver them from the enemy
  • committing the whole matter into the Lord’s hands
  • speaking clearly with the enemy to make sure there is a need for war
  • giving 2nd chances to his brothers as well as the Ammonites
  • not getting sucked into the accusations of the Ammonite king
  • stating the truth of the situation back to the enemy trying to clear things up
  • counseling the Ammonite king away from holding onto a 300-year grudge
  • the recipient of the Spirit of the Lord
  • a man desiring to do right by the Lord
  • a man of action
  • taught his only child to be a woman of integrity and not whiny
    (she was a virgin after all, and even willingly helped her father keep to his vow)
  • keeps his vows even to his own hurt

I know we can see a few faults in this story too, but consider the treatment he went through, the gangs he joined…and where was his father while he brothers were mistreating him?

Today we would all understand if he was wayward and never got back on track. But praise the Lord, somehow, someway, he threw off his old identity and was able to enlarge his heart to care for those who cared nothing for him. He didn’t let his past, or his critics, or his heritage identify him. But he looked to the Lord to give him guidance, direction and identity.

And then
2) How often we try to blame others when it is really our own fault!
The Ammonites accuse Jephthah of taking their land from them, and tried to convince him it would only be right if he restored the land which his people stole from our poor innocent people who were mere bystanders.

But Jephthah had to remind the King of Ammon how it really went done 300-years before.
It was the Ammonites who attacked the Israelites unprovoked. As a result, the Ammonites got grounded and couldn’t see their friends. And just like a teenager, they blamed the parent, “I can’t believe you’re grounding me, and not letting me see my friends. You’re mean!”

So Jephthah says in essence, “I’m not the one who made bad choices that led to this. It was your poor choices that caused you to lose your land, and it would be very healthy for you to take ownership of that!”

Of course, just a youth, the king of Ammon went on to blame Jephthah and as a result got into even deeper doodoo, with worse consequences. (I’m sure he is blaming Jephthah for it all to all his friends).

How often I am that teenager, blaming God for my circumstances, when really my poor choices really led me to it.

O Lord, no matter my circumstances, my past, or the number of scoffers I might have, help me to have Jephthah’s enlarged heart, one that looks to You and delivers those who scorned him. And help me to recognize my poor choices and to take ownership of them so I can bring them to You to be dealt with in a healthy fashion.