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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bad boys, Bad boys.... or Commitments in the hour of desperation (3)

Like anyone else we take the time to know, we are beginning to understand Jephthah a little better. He has been cast aside by his family, but possesses the skills needed to save the Nation. He knows that any victory he is able to accomplish will only be with the help of the Lord. He knows this based on his faith, alone. But he is also well-grounded in the real world, so he wants to know what will happen to him when this is over. These people haven't really proven themselves trustworthy.

Text: Judges 11:1-12:7
But, there is still more to be discovered. Jephthah is also a man of wisdom and patience. Before he gathers the troops and goes storming off into battle, he sends messages to Ammonites in an attempt to reason with them. All of this is captured in verses Judges 11: 12-28.

Basically, the Ammonites feel justified in attacking Israel because they want to get back the land the Israelites took from the Ammonite king when they came out of Egypt. Egypt? Seriously!? It has been about 300 years since this occurred, so that makes this request and ongoing raids seem a little out of synch to Jephthah. He says as much, “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?”

Part of his argument is that the land was never stolen from the Ammonites, but won in battle. He feels this is a good path of reasoning, as the Ammonites have captured land (of the Moabites) in centuries past. So, the logical conclusion of this line of thinking is that if the Ammonites came into possession of land by winning it in war, how are the Israelites wrong in winning it in turn from the Ammonites?

He has so far been successful in refuting their false claims, so in thanks, he once more invokes the name of his God in a prayer (after a certain fashion), that the Lord will vindicate His people by passing judgment against the Ammonites.

“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.” My 21st Century translation of this is: I am so confident that I am right, that I know that God will do as I ask and smote you.

But of course the king of the sons of Ammon disregarded the message and the fight was on.

We all hate trying to talk to someone who refuses to be swayed to our line of thinking. We know we are 100% in the right, and that they are wrong. Sometimes, unfortunately we get so wrapped up in our rightness, that we are blinded to all else.

Think about some conflict you have going on right now. Of course you are right and maintained the moral high-ground. Is there some for compromise. Is there a way that you can leave some dignity to the other person? Or, do you want God to smite them, too?


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