CONVENIENT COMPROMISE

The leadership of the judges continues and Israel goes about their business.  There seems to be a time of peace in this progression.

And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.  And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.  And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.  And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.  And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.  Judges 10:1-5

This is an administration of mediocrity, rather lukewarm and undistinguished.   With no challenges, people get bored and invent their own misguided activities.  Leadership will have to repair the damages if there is no vision for direction.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  Prov 29:18 (KJV)

Someone will need some vision, because these people are not keeping the law.  That rebellion will generate an unexpected price of grief and sorrow.

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.  And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.  Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.  Judges 10:6-9 (KJV)

Israel was distressed, and did they wonder why?  Is America puzzled by the advance of former third world nations that are now leaders of industry?  My generation despised the God of our forefathers and chased after the gods of the world.  Now the world has taken the fruit of our harvest.  At least Israel remembered who to turn to.

And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.  And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?  The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.  Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.  Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.  And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.  And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.  Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.  And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.  Judges 10:10-18 (KJV)

The repentance of Israel has moved God a little.  There will be a judge to deliver them.  They have offered a reward of leadership for such a man already.  But this man is not one they have admired in every way, only in his skill at war.    

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.  And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman.  Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.  And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.  And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:  And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.  And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?  And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.  And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head?  And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.  Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.  Judges 11:1-11 (KJV)

After rejecting Jephthah as a fatherless love child, they want to recruit him for his war skills.  Their love is convenience based, and he makes them deliver an oath.

And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?  And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore   those lands again peaceably.  Judges 11:12-13 (KJV)

The enemy is of the area now known as Amman Jordan.  Jephthah challenges their claim to the disputed territory.  They claim it has been stolen by Israel. 

And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:  And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:  But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;  Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.  Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.  And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.  Judges 11:14-19 (KJV)

Jephthah has done his historical homework and will not take any challenges.  He relates the history and the failures that led to this loss they see.

But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.  And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.  And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.  So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?  Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.  And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,  While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?  Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.  Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.  Judges 11:20-28 (KJV)

Now Jephthah has spoken as a man of faith, and God begins to move through him.  He feels the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and makes a vow that all of Israel will remember.

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.  And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,  Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.  So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.  And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.  Judges 11:29-33 (KJV)

God has honored the faith of Jephthah, and now he will require that oath of him.  Are we as serious about our commitment to God as he is?  This is a man looked down on for being the son of a harlot.  One day another man will come from Rahab and deliver all of us only to be rejected by his own people.

And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.  And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.  And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.  And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.  And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.  And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,  That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.  Judges 11:34-40 (KJV)

I was impressed to see a teen aged boy give his father a hug in church one Sunday.  Often teens don’t even want to be seen in public with their parents.  This young man gave an indication that his dad had never molested, abused, or forced religious tyranny on him.  He expressed the love and faith that his Christian parent had shown to him.  The daughter of Jephthah demonstrated faith in her father and in his God as well.  She was promoted into the presence of her father in heaven.  Are we prepared to show real commitment in our walk?  Oh Israel do you see the shadows of Messiah in your Torah?

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