We invested a year and a half going through the first 10 chapters of the book of Judges. Then I felt it was a time for a break. Now I want us to enter back into this wonderful book.
Remember, during this time there was no “standard” or “Objective” Truth. Truth was “relative” based on what each individual decided for himself or herself.
Let’s remember the theme:
· Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
We have seen God’s people go into bondage, then be delivered by a Judge sent from God, to only reject God again…ending up back in bondage. This has happened 8 times thus far in this book, and now we will meet the ninth Judge that God sends.
Judges 10:15-11:11 Then the sons of Ammon were summoned and they camped in Gilead. And the sons of Israel gathered together and camped in Mizpah. The people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead was the father of Jephthah. Gilead’s wife bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.”
So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless fellows gathered themselves about Jephthah, and they went out with him. It came about after a while that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel. When the sons of Ammon fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Ammon.” Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “For this reason we have now returned to you, that you may go with us and fight with the sons of Ammon and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the Lord gives them up to me, will I become your head?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord is witness between us; surely we will do as you have said.” Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah.
As we end chapter 10 we see the issue that made the men of Gilead look for a champion, but then at the beginning of chapter 11, the Scripture takes a step backwards to give us the history between Jephthah and his people. There are some important lessons that we can learn from the Scriptures here.
Lesson 1. Remember that God does not see as we see! Jephthah was born of a harlot, yet that did not disqualify him in God’s eyes! We need to be very careful what we count as worthless. The very men that considered Jephthah nothing in the beginning are now begging for his help!
God reminded Samuel of this as He led the prophet to David. Samuel would have picked David’s brother to anoint based on outward appearance.
1 Samuel 16:6–7 When they entered, he looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Lesson 2. Do not under estimate the wilderness times that you have in your life. While Jephthah was banished to the land of Tob, he learned how to be a great warrior. Most likely the men that accompanied him were mercenary types. This is also the time he learned to depend upon the Lord; notice when he agrees to fight for Gilead, he does not depend on his abilities, but God’s power.
v.9 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the Lord gives them up to me will I become your head?
God uses every trip into the wilderness to produce qualities in our character that do not seem to be produced when we are in the comfort of the mountaintop. I, like anyone, love when life is going great and I feel as though nothing is wrong, however, reality of life can not always be that way and when we find ourselves in the wilderness again, we can discover important opportunities that can take place there. After one of my wilderness times I wrote in my journal:
· It does appear as though I'm learning Grace the hard way. Even so, I am slowly learning - and from what I've discovered the price is worth it. Good education, but the tuition is high! During this time, I learned the trade of painting, an ability that always will be there. This skill paid for Bible College and allowed me to support my family as we planted a church. It taught me self-discipline, and tenacity. I dreaded certain jobs but did not quit, instead I learned to focus on doing the job unto the Lord. Through this time I was able to grow in my faith and re-evaluate every area of my life. There have been times when I was in the wilderness and spent my time whining and making statements like this: "Why is this happening to me, I was doing everything right!"…I learned nothing! The wilderness is no fun, but can be most profitable!
Lesson 3. When you make agreements, make sure everyone is on the same page. Lack of communication has caused a lot of suffering in agreements that people enter into. Make sure you know what the commitment of the other person is before you commit yourself. Jephthah left no question.
The Quay County Sun ran this advertisement in 1978:
Farmer with 160 irrigated acres wants marriage-minded woman with tractor. When replying, please show a picture of the tractor!
Do not enter into agreements that leave lots of unanswered questions, you will regret it!
Meditation questions: Do you see things through your eyes, or do you ask the Holy Spirit for His view? When you hit a time in the wilderness, what is your focus? Deliverance? Pity party? Spiritual maturing? When was your last trip into the wilderness? Do you know why it happened? What did you learn? Have you ever regretted an agreement you entered into? Why? What would you do different?