July 19, 2019

Jephthah the Outcast

Judges 11:1-11

Gilead’s . . . sons . . . drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said. . . .

—  Judges 11:2

Jephthah’s family and community had rejected him because his mother was a prostitute. So he had fled to another land, where he made a name for himself and outlaws followed him.

Though Jephthah had been exiled, the elders of Gilead begged him to return and help them fight the Ammonites, whom God had set against Israel because they had worshiped other gods. The elders even said that Jephthah could be the leader over all of them. That sounded good to Jephthah, and he made them commit to their promise.

The elders and Jephthah are like mirror images—corrupted opportunists serving themselves. They did what seemed right in their own eyes.

But what do we do? In our communities and our families, do we simply do as we like? Or do we try to seek out God’s will, reflecting on the teachings of his Word to us, asking the Lord for guidance, and searching out the wisdom of others who believe and trust in God? If we only do what seems right in our own eyes, we won’t be much different from Jephthah and the Gileadites, acting in line with our sinful nature.

But through another child who had a scandalous birth and was often an outcast, God has provided another way. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and to give up his own life for our sake. He defeated our worst enemies—sin and death—so that we can live at peace with God. Praise be to God!

Lord, thank you for the Savior who brings us full life with you. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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