This issue looks at the lesson Israel can learn from the biblical character, Jephthah.
SINCE YOU ASKED
Reading through the book of Judges, I came across an account with a powerful message for us and Israel today. Chapter 11 tells of an Israelite named Jephthah whose exploits landed him in the faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. The Ammonites were set to invade the area of Gilead east of the Jordan River. Jephthah sent a message to the Ammonite king asking what the people of Gilead had ever done to make the king so mad. The king responded with a letter saying that Israel had taken away his land when they came up from Egypt, and he wanted it back. Jephthah responds with a brief history lesson, explaining what really happened some 300 years ago. The kings of Edom and Moab wouldn’t let them pass through, so they had to go around. When they came to the territory of the Amorites (the area really in question), the king, Sihon, not only refused to let them pass through, but he waged war against the Israelites. In response, the God of Israel gave Sihon and all the people and the land into the hand of Israel. Then he said,
“Since now the LORD, the God of Israel, drove out the Amorites from before His people Israel, are you then to possess it? Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God has driven out before us, we will possess it…” “While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the LORD, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon” (Judges 11:23-27).
Not surprisingly, the king of Ammon didn’t think much of Jephthah’s little speech. He still felt entitled to the land. The LORD then placed His Spirit on Jephthah who advanced against the invading enemy, which the LORD gave into his hand.
AS I SEE IT
Oh, how Israel needs leaders like Jephthah. He knew his God and he knew what his God had done. He knew that the battle belongs to the Lord and that the Lord was a promise keeper. He was not about to be bullied, especially by someone who was trying to rewrite history. The king of Ammon was claiming that Israel was “occupying” his land. Can you imagine anyone making such a claim? God honored Jephthah’s bold stand by giving the enemy over to him. Standing strong against the enemy doesn’t have to be as hard as it is today. God will defend nations that honor Him:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD (Psalm 33:12)
If you read the entire chapter, you’ll see that despite Jephthah’s heart for the Lord, he was still capable of doing some very stupid things. Yet, God honored him. The lesson- there’s hope for us.
Israel finds herself in a similar situation today, only it’s not just one nation coming against her. At the center of it all is God’s holy city of Jerusalem, especially East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. One of Jerusalem’s many sieges came during the reign of King Hezekiah. His response was
“And now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, LORD, art God” (Isaiah 37:20).
God’s response was,
“For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake” (Isaiah 37:35).
God would put an end to the nonsense going on over there in a heartbeat if Israel’s leaders had the heart of Jephthah of Hezekiah. The same holds true for America. I hope this helps you to know how to pray.
To make sure your prayers are heard, check out HOW TO KNOW YOU’RE HEAVEN BOUND.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
“Time’s fun when you’re having flies” – Kermit the Frog