Monday, April 30, 2012

Stay Focused On The Word: Ehud and Jephthah

And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
Judges 3:20
And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:
Judges 11:15
In our study of the Book of Judges and its chiastic structure we have noticed that Gideon teaches us that Christians need to end well while Othniel and Samson remind us that relationships do matter. Two other judges in the pattern, Ehud and Jephthah, reiterate the need to stay focused on GOD and His word.  Their lives are also contrasted in the pattern so that there is a positive and negative parallel to their actions and attitudes.
Look at the comparisons and contrasts of their lives.  Both delivered Israel after the nation was in bondage for 18 years.  Both battled with Transjordan kings.  Both sent messages to the kings that they were anointed to deliver Israel from.  Ehud sent a secret message while Jephthah sent two messages through couriers.  Ehud's message was sent in the name of God while Jephthah sent his messages in his own name.  Ehud captured the fords of Jordan with the assistance of the Ephraimites where he killed hundreds of the Moabite enemies trying to cross.  Jepthah, however, captured the same fords but killed hundreds of Benjamites, an Israeli tribe.  Ehud ruled over a united Israel for 80 years, but Jephthah ruled over a fragmented Isreal for only 6 years (grief over his daughter?) as it again seems that sin cut his judgeship short.

Ehud was a successful judge over Israel.  He understood clearly that God was the center of his success.  As a left handed man, he was able to conceal a dagger on the right side of his body when he entered into the chambers of King Eglon of Moab with a tribute from the people of Israel.  Judges 3:15 assures us that it was the LORD who called this man to be Israel's deliverer, so he boldly follows the direction of God.  Jephthah did not get the same call as Ehud.  It was the elders of Gilead who sought out Jephthah to be their deliverer.  Jephthah was later anointed by the LORD but only after the foolish vow he is so infamous for.  It is evident that he did not have the same acknowledgement of divine assistance that Ehud did.
The possible sacrifice of his daughter is one of the most controversial stories in the entire text of scripture.  Indeed, it is hard to say whether or not this girl was killed as a sacrifice.  Many sources say she was but many others give alternatives to her sacrifice.  One thing is for sure about God and His revelation in the Bible, he does not hide the ugliness of the deeds of men to make the story line go well.  It is very possible that this daughter was sacrificed although it was never the intention of God for such a bizarre sacrifice to take place.  That is the point.  Jephthah seemed to be directed more by his ideas than the word of God, which is a very common attitude in our day.  Leviticus 27 gives clear direction as to how to redeem people who were vowed.  God may be trying to show us that the people of Israel, through their continued apostasies, were drifting ever further from the rock solid foundation of the Word of God.
So many are modern day Jephthahs.  In a time with more Bibles printed than in any other time period in human history we seem to have a mostly biblical illiterate society.  Many who do study the word want to twist and contort it their own destruction rather than trust God for what it reveals.  Study after study show that, like Israel, the church is drifting further from the truth of the word and sound doctrine while adding to or subtracting from its message with men's teachings and traditions.  Furthermore, this was a prophetic sign of the end of days. Those teachings and traditions will pass away, my friend, but the Word of the LORD will endure forever.  Be like Ehud whose success involved delivering God's message and not his own!
One last thought!  If men are telling you how greatly anointed and blessed you are and they seem to be forcing ministry on you, seek God wholeheartedly for confirmation.  Don't be like Jephthah.  God may have used him, but he may have not have been the person God wanted. We are only successful in any endeavor if the LORD calls us to it.  Again, just a thought!

1 comment:

  1. Keep thyself pure! Christ’s soldier, hear,
    Through life’s loud strife, the calls rings clear.
    Thy Captain speaks: His word obey;
    So shall thy strength be as thy day.

    Keep thyself pure! Thrice blessèd he
    Whose heart from taint of sin is free;
    His feet shall stand where saints have trod,
    He with rapt eyes shall see his God.

    Keep thyself pure! For He who died,
    Himself for thy sake sanctified;
    Then hear Him speaking from the skies,
    And victor o’er temptation rise.

    O Holy Spirit, keep us pure,
    Grant us Thy strength when sins allure;
    Our bodies are Thy temple, Lord;
    Be Thou in thought and act adored.