While I missed a day of journaling, I did not miss a day of studying. Two days ago (still in Judges), I read through the story of Jephthah, who is another judge seen as a mighty man of valor. The stickler with Jephthah is that he was born the son of a harlot. He was the son of Gilead. The problem for Jephthah arose when Gilead also had sons with his wife. Jephthah’s half-brothers didn’t want to share their inheritance with the son-of-a-harlot so they kicked him out of the region, to the land of Tob. (It’s interesting that ‘Tob’ in Hebrew, means “good” — the same word used in Genesis when God pronounce thing good. So in effect, Jephthah’s half brothers banished him to the land of good. But I digress.)
Jephthah hooked up with others who had been cast aside, the bible says “worthless men”, and they started raiding. Raiding, that doesn’t sound like a good thing, but it was his training ground for his future endeavors. After some time, the Ammonites decided to invade Israel. I can hear Jephthah’s “brothers,” “Hey, let’s get Jephthah to come back and take care of this for us. I hear he’s quite the warrior now. Besides, he’ll probably die in battle.”. Long story short, Jephthah takes the lead on the condition that he be welcomed back and becomes the leader. As soon as he conquers the Ammonites, he gets more trouble from his countryman in Ephraim. Get this, they complain because Jephthah did not ask them to help with the Ammonites, and because of that, they are going to burn his house down. Bad move. Jephthah dispatches his men and the Ephraimites are toast. Jephthah judged Israel six years.
Fast forward a bit and look at Samson. Before he was born, Samson was the “golden child.” Well OK, a Nazirite from birth. Not that God didn’t purpose Jephthah’s life before he was born, but everyone new who Samson was from day one. Despite Samson taking a philistine wife, sleeping with harlots, being a pathological liar, murderer, etc., he was still an effective judge of Israel. The only time the Holy Spirit left him was when he went against the Nazirite vow and allowed his hair to be cut. Still, God was able to use him even after breaking his vow. In fact, the number of philistines he killed in his last act as Israel’s judge was more than all the other times put together.
Where is all this bloodshed leading? Why to God’s vision of value vs. our own, of course. Judges 11-16 presents two very different judges. One was the son-of-a-harlot, the other was a Nazirite from birth. One was cast out by his own family for doing nothing wrong other than being born. The other was praised by his family and countrymen for being a hero despite all the despicable things he did and got away with because he was Samson. Yet, God used each one to fulfill His purpose. Despite hummanity’s view and the perceived value of each of us, God sees us through His eyes and for His purpose.
Heavenly Father, You are holy. There is none like You. Thank You for Your Word and how it speaks to our lives. Thank You for the richness of the history You have given us to teach us. Thank You that Your Word is fresh each time I study. Please help me see myself and others through Your eyes and Your purpose.
In Jesus Name.