Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Judges 12-16
For those following Hillsdale’s “Read-thru the Bible” in a year plan, today’s passages are too long for a brief devotional. Judges 12-16 encompasses the reign of the illegitimate son Jephthah (Judges 11-12) and the miraculous conception, birth, rule and death of mighty Samson (Judges 13-16). Many reading this devotional are familiar with the life of Samson, therefore, I will focus on Jephthah; a man of ignoble birth, whose life is a testimony of God’s wisdom and willingness to use the humble and meek (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
A brief introduction of Jephthah is in order: Returning to Judges 11, we read that “Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour [warrior]” (11:1); however, like many men God uses, his lineage was less than stellar for he was the son of an adulterous woman (11:2). When he became a man, his father’s children forced Jephthah out of his father’s home less he become a threat to their inheritance (11:3). Rejected by his family, Jephthah found refuge “in the land of Tob” (11:3) where nefarious (wicked) men banded with him and sustained themselves by raiding the households of their neighbors.
Scorned by his family, Jephthah soon received an invitation from his people to return when the Ammonites rose up against Gilead. Realizing they needed a man who could lead them (11:4-6), Jephthah did not waste the opportunity to confront the irony of his family’s rejection and Gilead’s invitation for him to be their leader (11:7-11).
Jephthah wisely petitioned for peace with the Ammonites; however, when they rejected his offer of peace, he sought the LORD’s blessing as he went to war (11:29-30). Foolishly promising to dedicate and sacrifice to the LORD the first who met him on his way home after his victory over the Ammonites (11:31-33), Jephthah’s daughter was the first to greet her father. [As a note in passing: Jephthah had evidenced a great knowledge of Israel’s history in earlier verses of this chapter (11:15-26) and no doubt had knowledge that the LORD would not accept human sacrifice]. Because she was a virgin and his only child (11:34, 37), Jephthah’s dedication of his daughter was a very real sacrifice for both, knowing she would never bear a child (11:37-40).
Coming to Judges 12 and his victory still fresh, the leaders of Ephraim confronted Jephthah, expressing anger they had not been invited to go to war against the Ammonites and threatening to burn his house down (12:1). Exposing their hypocrisy, Jephthah answered their accusation reminding them they had refused to aid Gilead, Jephthah’s people, when they had called for assistance (12:2-3). In a sad moment of irony, although the Ephraimites had refused to go to war with their brethren against the Ammonites and were jealous they could not share in the spoils of victory, they readied to war against Jephthah and the Gileadites (12:4). The civil war would result in the deaths of 42,000 Ephraimites (12:5-6).
I close with a word of encouragement to any who feel unworthy to serve the LORD. Although his brethren cruelly rejected him, Jephthah, an illegitimate son born to a woman not married to his father was the man God had prepared for such a time to deliver His people from their enemies. No doubt the last man the people would have chosen, he was God’s man for such a time. In the words of the apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
My friend, I don’t know who you are or what you are; but if you are willing to humble yourself and yield to God, He will use you! Have a blessed day!
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith