Chapter 10 – Tola (means “worm”), the son of Dodo… hold on and let me make sure I read that correctly… ummmmm,, yep… the son of Dodo. I HAVE to go check the meaning of Dodo in the BLB. I’m back…. Dodo actually means “his beloved”!! Well, I didn’t see that beautiful meaning coming…..I was thinking about the bird!! All we are really told about Tola is that led Israel 23 years.
Next we are told Jair of Gilead followed Tola and led Israel 22 years. All we know about him is that he had 30 sons who rode 30 donkeys. (Many children and animals are a sign of wealth in the Bible.) We just read 5 verses and ZOOMED through 45 years!!!
And THEN….. (whoops there it is, whoops there it is)… in verse 10: “AGAIN the Israelites did EVIL in the eyes of the LORD.” HOLY SMOKES!!! God became angry and “sold” them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites (Ammonites are descendants of Lot ….. ummmm… you know his son with one of his own daughters!!) Verse 8 states: “who that YEAR shattered and crushed them.” They remained under the oppression of these people for 18 years. They CRY OUT to the Lord. The Ammonite Nation was a POWERFUL nation during the time of the Judges.
BUT… the LORD responds differently this time. In verse 14 HE tells them “GO and cry out to the gods you have CHOSEN. Let them save you when you are in trouble.”
The Israelites were persistent and said to the LORD … “we have sinned. Do with us as you think best, but please rescue us now.” The Israelites REPENT (confess their sins and get rid of all the idols and then served the Lord). God WANTED them to see their sin and confess it and change (not like they had not been down this road before.) Their CHOICES had CONSEQUENCES and God wanted them to KNOW they needed to confess and repent. The next verse is OH SO BEAUTIFUL TO ME.. “And HE COULD BEAR ISRAEL’S MISERY NO LONGER.”
God REDEEMS them once again and sent a deliverer. Despite being rejected, ignored, disrespected, disobeyed, and I could continue… but DESPITE all of the ways He was treated … HE NEVER FAILED to RESCUE them when they called out to HIM in repentance. WHAT an awesome character our God has… HE always comes to our rescue!!
Chapter 11 – This book opens with a story of redemption. Jephthah, the Gileadite, the son of a prostitute ….was “driven” away from his own family (all had the same father) so he would not receive ANY inheritance… since his mother was a prostitute. OH BUT his people KNOW he is a MIGHTY WARRIOR. After the Ammonites make war on Israel …. They go find Jephthah. I like his gumption…. “ummmm… didn’t you hate me before…WHY do you come to me now?” The Gileadites make him the head of their army, but he questions them and says what if I win this battle then will you STILL want me around to be your head????? Good question for prejudiced, greedy people who chased him away. A great lesson in great people we may miss when we judge them based on our preconceived notions. OUCH!!
Jephthah already recognized as a great warrior must have also been a great leader. Look at the way he dealt with the Ammonites. He reminded them that Gilead was never their land in the first place because Israel took it from the Amorites and not the Ammonites and no one had questioned Israel’s ownership in over 300 years. He tried to resolve the conflict by negotiating with them. Jephthah recognized that God was Israel’s true JUDGE.
Verse 29 – “The SPIRIT of the LORD came upon Jephthah.” He advanced against the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow with God. A vow with God was SERIOUS business and was not to be broken (Numbers 30:1-2). His vow was that if God gave Him the Ammonites then whatever came out of his house to meet him when he returned in triumph he would sacrifice as a burnt offering. I don’t know if he was expecting an animal to run out, one of his wives, or whatever else might have been in there… but I am sure he was NOT thinking it would be his only daughter running to him dancing to timbrals. It was a foolish vow, but it was a serious vow between Jephthah and God. Our God is not a God of a barter trade agreement. He is not a God we can barter with statements such as “Oh God IF you will PLEASE do ________ THEN I will do ______________.”
I KNOW.. I KNOW.. when we are desperate we try anything when things aren’t working out the way we think they should in our timing.
Possibly he did this because he had been around people who worshiped other gods and felt this was a wise thing to do. However, I am SURE he NEVER thought he would have to sacrifice his only daughter… which he did. Some Biblical commentaries I have read say he may have given her as a physical burnt offering OR he may also have placed her in a type of nunnery since she was young and still a virgin .. kind of like a Nazarite vow. I don’t know which way it went because the NIV only states after he made the vow what he said to his daughter: “he made a vow to the Lord he could not break.” HEART BREAKING!! Either way, his rash vow brought him unspeakable grief.
Chapter 12 – Maybe it is just me, but the Ephraimites seem to be a little touchy again with Jephthah as they were with Gideon. They asked “why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you.” (BTW—the Ammonites are one of the tribes the Israelites were able to KEEP THE PLUNDER!! And AFTER Jephthah destroys them… the Ephraimites show up!!) Jephthah shows his great diplomacy and tells them he was involved in a great struggle and that he HAD called on them but they never came!!! This time the Ephraimites don’t let it go so Ephraim and Gilead go to war with each other. 42,000 Ephraimites died basically because of jealousy, greed, and name calling!! Makes you think about how important our words truly are in life. MAN.. they were supposed to be on the SAME TEAM!! I’m sure this is nothing any of you can relate to (family feuds, family splits over money, family splits at the time of a parent’s or both parents’ death, etc)!!
Jephthah led Israel six years before he died. THINK about it.. he had been rejected by his family, pushed out of the fold, lived on his own, and then they came to get him when they needed his skills. Many people I know today would not have done that. He completely humbled himself, and trusted God. God RESTORED him with his family and the Gileadites kept their word to keep him as their leader. An ordinary person, who had been judged and tossed to the side…. Was restored and used mightily of God. We see 2 Corinthians 12:9 alive even in the OT!! “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
God still does this TODAY. He RESTORES, RECONCILES, REDEEMS, and RETURNS the years the locusts have eaten away when we make HIM our Lord and Savior for our lifetime. This was the whole reason HE sent Jesus Christ and why the Holy Spirit lives within us. HE WANTS to speak to us, but we have to know HIS Word and LISTEN to HIM…. To have the two way conversation He desires for us.
My Pastor gave a GREAT picture of this. I hope I can do it justice here for you to use as a word picture in your mind. The Scripture says in Galatians 2:20 that Christ is in us and we are in Christ (picture a series of small to large Tupperware boxes and the largest one having a lid that seals). We are the smallest box which when we accept Christ is dropped into a larger box which symbolizes Jesus. He is in us and we are in HIM. Then those two boxes are dropped into a larger box which is God because we with Jesus are in God. Then put the lid that SEALS on this largest box (God) and seal it because we are all SEALED together with the Holy Spirit FOREVER (see Ephesians 4:30). Is that not an awesome image!! And NOTHING can ever break that seal!! (See Romans 8:37-39).
After the death of Jephthah, We saw three more Judges leading Israel, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon which cover a period of 25 years (in 7 verses of scripture.)
As we read the OT, although some of it seems brutal or harsh, KNOW the Israelites made CHOICES which lead to CONSEQUENCES … just as we do. But, doesn’t reading the OT give the NT EVEN more meaning?? It is all about God. It is all about a REDEEMER.. a DELIVERER… it is ALL about Jesus Christ coming for us from the day we opened Genesis.
I may have shared this song with you before, but it is the one that kept running through my head today as I was studying HIS Word.
Sharing HIS love,