Sunday, February 27, 2011

THE OVERLOOKED. THE STORY OF JEPHTHAH.

THE STORY OF JEPHTHAH
A. Brother

Text:  Judges 10:6-12:7

Here is a powerful story about an overlooked man of God.  Having lived most of a long life in the churches, I’ve only heard once or twice about this leader of Israel, and have recently come across him again, but this time with the Lord’s urging.

He is one of the men listed in Hebrews 11 as an example of faith for us.  Why don’t we hear about him?

Jephthah’s life was tough.  He was born of a prostitute’s liaison with Gilead, the head of a large clan of Isreal.  He lived as an illegitimate son, and finally his own brothers drove him out of the house and he had to flee.  They refused him an inheritance.  He settled in the “land of Tob”, which means a good land, in fact, equates to wording for the promised land in Hebrew.

Here was a man “despised and rejected of men” like our Lord Jesus.  His own family didn’t believe in him.  His own clan, his own people, rejected him.  He was thrown out on the trash heap.  Yet, in the end, God used Jephthah to save them all.

Like Joseph, the rejected son became the salvation of the people.  Like Christ, our Lord who was taken outside the gates of the city to be crucified, so Jephthah was living in another place, with a band of renegades, when he was called to come home and save His tribe.

This is a dramatic story that illustrates a key truth.  The writer of Hebrews lists Jephthah as an example of saving faith.  So we should listen and learn.

God chooses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.  God uses the rejected men and women to save those who have rejected them.  We must never assume anything.  God can do anything.  He can turn things around, and give our lives meaning and purpose even when we’ve felt that nothing we do will matter to anyone.  We must never give up our hope in Christ, though others reject us, and others deride us, and others ignore us.

Be strengthened by this man and his example.  In the end, when the Ammonites were surrounding his clan and threatening to destroy them, who did they call?  You bet they did.  Jephthah had to come in and save them.  He was a mighty warrior, because he had lived for the Lord outside the gates, among the castaways and mercenaries, and had become mighty in the Lord without their help or acceptance.

So with many of God’s sons and daughters today.  He is teaching them to be strong in Christ, not in the accepted religious and social life of the day.  He is with them, becoming all they need, as they live this “foolishness of the cross” and follow Christ without fanfare.

Be encouraged, brothers and sisters. 

And remember:  JEPHTHAH DIDN’T SEEK LEADERSHIP.  IT CAME TO HIM IN GOD’S TIME.  HE WAS LIVING IN THE PROMISED LAND, SERVING THE LORD, WHEN HIS PEOPLE CAME TO HIM AND NEEDED HIM.  So with us.  Don’t worry, God is in charge, and He will use your life for His Kingdom.  In His own way and in His own time.  

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