March 23, 2022
Thank you for your consistency in prayer each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival.
Jephthah became a judge in Israel. He was a mighty man of war, but he had a problem, at least in the eyes of his peers. He was the son of a prostitute (Judges 11).
He was a man defined by his past, by a past that he had no control over. He was defined by the people around him who couldn’t see beyond the circumstances to the true worth of who he really was.
God defined him differently. What people say and what people see are one thing, but in the end, God’s estimation is all that really counts. God values each and every person and when they respond in faith to Him, He always acts in grace.
With Jephthah, it wasn’t just that they didn’t like him, his own family drove him out. They cut off his inheritance and exiled him to the land of Tob (Judges 11:3). It was there, in that distant place, separated from his family and homeland, that he became a powerful warrior and thus commanded the respect of the people who cast him out.
When Israel got into trouble and the Ammonites declared war, who do you suppose the leaders turned to? It was Jephthah.
When things don’t go your way, and people turn against you, you have a choice to make. You can become bitter, resentful, and defiant, or you can allow God to work in you and grow into a better person. This latter decision is what a life of faith is all about. Jephthah was this man of faith.
When the elders approached him, he was definitely taken aback. It seems that the leaders recognized their mistake and accepted him as a true man of God. Desperation often opens people’s eyes to see the true quality and virtue of a person. Whatever the case, Jephthah made a proposal.
He laid it on the table. "If I win then I become your new leader," and they all agreed. What is interesting about this event is not just the proposal itself, but where it happened. It was done in Mizpah (Judges 11:11).
The first mention of Mizpah in the Bible is back in Genesis 31, where Jacob, another misunderstood man, and Laban made an agreement and named it so. “Laban said, ‘This heap is a witness between you and me today.’ Therefore he named it Galeed, and Mizpah, for he said, ‘The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight’” (Genesis 31:48-49).
It was also at Mizpah that the prophet Samuel built an altar of remembrance for a victory won against the Philistines. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the LORD has helped us.’” (1 Samuel 7:12).
The meaning of the name Mizpah is watchtower, suggesting that God was there to watch over, to witness, and even to protect.
It was at Mizpah that we saw the faith of Jephthah shining through. He brought the LORD into the center of the whole issue. “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the LORD gives them over to me, I will be your head” (Judges 11:9).
The key to true faith is handing the outcome of our life into the hands of God. Jephthah wasn’t sure what the future held, but he knew who held the future. He knew that if there was going to be victory, it would be the LORD who gave it. Faith always attributes success to our God.
Maybe you are in dire straits right now. Maybe you have people around you who misunderstand and possibly devalue you. Maybe you have enemies seeking to gain ground in your life. Maybe you have been defined by past problems that were out of your control.
Bring God into the mix and allow Him to watch over you, protect you, and be a part of the victory in your life!
Jephthah, who was improperly labeled, turned to God, and in turn, God exonerated him as a great hero in Israel who dispossessed the enemies of God (Judges 11:23). He was redefined by God.
Faithful living will always win the day. With God, every person of faith is a hero (victor) and we need not live under the shadow of human labels and definitions. The person of faith lives before his or her God alone. Enjoy your life of faith as one redefined by God!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel