Hebrews 11:32, Judges 11:1-40
This week has been interesting because we have been reading about people who had some trouble with their faith, yet they pulled it together and believed God. That really is encouraging for me because sometimes I feel like in America we can get pulled around and lose our focus and I think sometimes as a result we have issues with our faith. The Israelites had trouble with that during the time of the judges. They would renew their commitment to God and then fall back into the same idol worship that they faced before. Maybe this was why the leaders needed a little faith-training; they didn’t have an example to look up to. Either way, today we get to take a look into Jepthah’s life who believed that only God could say who he was. What I want to focus on is a small portion of Jepthah’s story.
Jepthah did not have an easy start in life; his mother was a prostitute, and his father had more children with his own wife. This led to his brothers running him out of town. Jepthah became a great warrior during that time and had a band of followers. When the Ammonites came to fight the Israelites, the elders of Gilead asked him to come back and promised him that he could be their leader. Jepthah said something that spoke of a great faith in Judges 11:9, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives them to me – will I really be your head?” I love how Jepthah acknowledges that God would have to be the one to hand the Ammonites over to him. When Jepthah tries to negotiate with the Ammonites so they would not have to go into battle, he once again shows his faith in God. If you have not read Judges 11:14 – 27, please do - it is worth hearing his testament of faith. Basically, he believed that God gave Israel the territory that was in dispute, and that God would be the one to decide the outcome of the battle. He was not going to allow the Ammonites to stake claim to Israel’s inheritance. I find this interesting coming from a person that was not allowed to claim his own inheritance.
What I can appreciate about Jepthah is that he had a mother that was a prostitute, and his half-brothers didn’t show him God’s love and ran him out of town. Yet, Jepthah saw beyond his family and believed God! Jepthah believed that God found value in him and would use him. He believed that God was Israel’s deliverance from their enemies. He believed that who he was in God’s eyes did not match who his family said he was. There are a lot of us who come from broken families and have difficulty seeing past our childhood hurts. There is hope! Whether you have been abused or even rejected by your family, God is the one who says who you are – not your family, and not your past. Jepthah was even able to see beyond his personal experiences and believe that was not the way God behaved. Even though his brothers would not allow him to claim his inheritance, he knew that God had a better inheritance for Israel. Jepthah believed that God had a better plan!
Do you believe that God has a better plan for you than what others say of you? Do you believe that God says who you are? It is life changing when you believe that you are a child of God and only He knows who you really are!