MLToday: [Judges Chapter Eleven]: Overcoming Rejection. In this chapter we are introduced to a judge or deliverer in Israel named Jephthah. This is a man rejected by his brothers yet later called upon to help them out of trouble. You will experience this from time to time and how you handle it will determine God’s blessing upon your life. When you are rejected, dishonored and disrespected that is seldom the end of the matter. Situations and God’s sovereignty will put you back in that circumstance again and what you do next will determine your own outcome for blessing or calamity.

Today: [Judges Chapter Eleven]: Overcoming Rejection. In this chapter we are introduced to a judge or deliverer in Israel named Jephthah. This is a man rejected by his brothers yet later called upon to help them out of trouble. You will experience this from time to time and how you handle it will determine God’s blessing upon your life. When you are rejected, dishonored and disrespected that is seldom the end of the matter. Situations and God’s sovereignty will put you back in that circumstance again and what you do next will determine your own outcome for blessing or calamity.

[Jdg 11:1-40 KJV] 1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he [was] the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. 2 And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou [art] the son of a strange woman. 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.

Jephthah is the illegitimate son of a prostitute. Gilead’s wife is initially barren but after Jephthah’s birth she has children who grow up and reject Jephthah who goes into hiding. Jephthah’s name means “He Opens”. This tells us that Jephthah’s father didn’t want to get the prostitute pregnant but recognized in his son’s birth that God was sovereign even over mistakes and outright sins we commit. God works in the midst of the mess that men make to establish His will and carry out His purposes.

Gen. 30:22 and many other verses tell us that God opens the womb. You are not a mistake. Even if you were an unwanted child the fact that you are here is because God has a plan and a purpose for your life. He loves you and cares what happens to you when others don’t. In Jer. 1:5 we find that before we were born God knew us and planned out our days. It may take time and in the case of Jephthah there were many years of rejection and suffering but trust in God and all will work out.

Jephthah was not only rejected in his birth but his brother’s also reject him. This was a generational stronghold among the Hebrews. The brothers of Joseph rejected him. Jephthah was rejected of his brothers and even Jesus was rejected by his family who tried to take him away because they thought he was insane (Matt. 3:21). This is the common experience in life. You will be rejected by loved ones. God intends the family to be a place of love, support and safety but that is not always the case. Even in growing up siblings become estranged from one another. The indifference that brothers and sisters (and other family members) show to one another can be devastating. Because of this we make poor decisions in other relationships. Jephthah gathered to himself “vain” persons. The word vain there means “empty”. Jephthah was empty inside and hurting therefore he attracted vain and empty people to himself. The key to avoiding this is to walk in forgiveness. If you wish to rise above the scandal and suffering of your past you must forgive, release and bless.

4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. 5 And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: 6 And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. 7 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? 8 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. 9 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head? 10 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words. 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.

So in time Jephthah’s people change their mind about him. In reality they haven’t changed their mind but they need Jephthah so in their own selfish interest they put aside their prejudice and ask Jephthah for help. Where were these elders with Jepthah needed them? They are asking for help why didn’t they stand by Jephthah when he ran for his life from his brothers. They didn’t want to get involved. It wasn’t their problem. People will often ask you to do for them what they have not and will never do for you. It is brazen, selfish and hurtful. You cannot assume too much about the phone call that comes from an estranged relative or friend. God is working in this situation but the hurt feelings, and rejection is still raging in these relationships.

One thing that Jephthah did we should bear in mind. When he was called upon to go back into a bad situation among brothers and people who didn’t love him and had abused him in the past notice the posture he took. Jephthah maintained his autonomy and authority. Once a trust has been breached you must realize that it is unlikely to ever change even when you are called back into the situation. When people reject you they haven’t changed their heart toward you they have revealed their heart toward you. So the fault may be theirs for not being loving and supportive but there may also be a responsibility on your part for not recognizing what their true sentiments were in the first place.

Jephthah returns to Gilead and before getting involved in the situation he goes to God and “utters all these things before the Lord …” Something in Jephthah compelled him to see God in the situation. The men of Gilead were not calling on God. They were calling on Jephthah. They just wanted out of their problem. Jephthah shows by his actions that he knows that God is watching and he wants to move forward with the Lord’s blessing even in the midst of the mess.

12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? 13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those [lands] again peaceably. 14 And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon: 15 And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon: 16 But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh; 17 Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken [thereto]. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not [consent]: and Israel abode in Kadesh. 18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon [was] the border of Moab. 19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place. 20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21 And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan. 23 So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it? 24 Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess. 25 And now [art] thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, 26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that [be] along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover [them] within that time? 27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon. 28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.

In confronting the king of Ammon Jephthah points out to the king and to the men with him that the Ammonites are not fighting them they are fighting God. When you are cast out and resisted people are not going to say “I am mad at you because you are so godly…” They are going to scrutinize your life and your character and find things wrong with you and points to attack you so that YOU are to blame. Ammon said to Jephthah “you took my land…” In fact the things that happened to Ammon were because they didn’t show kindness to Israel when called upon to do so.

Now you need to get this – and understand why this ancient history is brought up. Ammon is warring against Gilead. The Ammonites were related to the Israelites through the lineage of Lot. They were brothers. Ammon was unkind to Israel and did not allow Moses to lead them through his lands. As a result they were conquered. God himself delivered Ammon into Moses’ hands. This is all ancient history.

Now Gilead (who is now oppressed by Ammon) did not show kindness to Jephthah and now they find themselves being overthrown by a nation that did the same thing in ancient times. Gilead sowed to the wind in rejecting Jephthah and the reaped the whirlwind by being attack by the Ammonites. As Grandpa says “the chickens always come home to roost!” In spite of this God uses Jephthah the object of Gilead’s hatred to deliver them just as Joseph was used to deliver his brothers. I have personally seen this in my own life. Brothers who should have supported and shown kindness to me delighted in brutal and unkind treatment. Then in time to come circumstances and God’s sovereignty made them vulnerable to me and I had to decide what to do. The Lord told me once “I have delivered them into your hand – what are you going to do?” I thought about it and said “I’m going to love them…” and the Lord replied “just checking.” What a SELAH moment!

29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over [unto] the children of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. 32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, [even] twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. 34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she [was his] only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. 36 And she said unto him, My father, [if] thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, [even] of the children of Ammon. 37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away [for] two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her [according] to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, 40 [That] the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

The story concludes with a sorrowful note. Jephthah was used by God to bring deliverance to his brothers although they had abused him and never truly regarded or loved him even when he was a deliverer over them. Jephthah gains the victory and vows a foolish vow. As a result his daughter is not allowed to marry but rather lives out her life bound by the foolish vow of her father.

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