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Judges 10. Jephthah, part 4: God's promotion of Jephthah despite his family's rejection.

JUDGES-10-170524
length: 62:07 - taught on May, 24 2017
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Title: Judges 10. Jephthah, part 4: God's promotion of Jephthah despite his family's rejection.

 

 

JDG 10:14 Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress."

 

JDG 10:15 And the sons of Israel said to the Lord, "We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to Thee; only please deliver us this day."

 

JDG 10:16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them, and served the Lord; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.

 

Now that they have turned to serve the Lord, the Lord's deliverance will be a life changing lesson as well as a relief from oppression.

 

We also have what seems to be a humanistic trait assigned to God. It almost seems like He changes His mind. It states that God could bear the misery of Israel for a period of time and then He could bear it no longer, as if the burden was too heavy, or the time had been too long. But we must bear in mind that everything God does is for His people. God is unchangeable and He sees the end from the beginning. How is it that He could "bear the misery of Israel no longer?" It sounds as if He's reached His limit.

 

It seems clear here that God was waiting for Israel to put away their idols before He acted on their behalf and His compassion is presented as a man who could no longer stand the grief of his beloved.

 

God is describing His thinking and decision making in a way we can understand. And at the same time, it is a true revelation of His compassion and mercy.

 

God is certainly not indifferent to the affairs of His people. His Sovereignty, immutability, and omniscience do not combine to make for cold, uncaring, indifference.

 

Omniscience knows all that will happen and yet God is still concerned for His people. This is one of the many mysteries of God and one that we should all be very thankful for.

 

This is a point we come across in the study of the doctrine of the Trinity, which we will begin in the near future. One of the arguments that proponents of Jesus not being God is that God cannot become something, for He is immutable, and He cannot suffer or die, or condescend to become a creature as the humanity of Christ truly was. What such proponents fail to see is that a part of God's eternal perfection is mercy and serving. How can a Sovereign serve His subject? But it's not a matter of how. It is a matter of revelation and truth.

 

JDG 10:16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them, and served the Lord; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer.

 

The Hebrew verb is qatsar, which can mean to reap or to shorten. It is used of literal reaping of a harvest and metaphorical reaping like reaping the fruits of love or rebellion. It means to shorten or even to literally be short. It is used metaphorically in questions as to whether the Lord's arm was too short to bring salvation to Israel. Here is used uniquely to indicate that the Lord's bearing of the misery of Israel had grown short.

 

Literally: "the Lord's soul/breath (naphesh) had grown short for the misery of Israel." This is a humanly understandable metaphor for the compassion of Yahweh.

 

When we are confronted with something that looks like an anthropopathism we should accept it as it is and not attempt to altar it. If God chose to communicate an aspect of Himself in such a way then who are we to change it? We know that God is not weak like men. In our case, we would prevent the misery of someone, due to our inability to no longer bear it, when it would have been best for them that the misery continue. We can be compassionate, but none of us possess perfect judgment. God is perfect judgment and therefore He knows perfectly when to remove misery and when not to. However, we must not throw out the metaphor in favor of a cold and calculating God who is as indifferent to stopping the misery as we might be in flipping a light switch to turn off a lamp. The metaphor stands as a testimony to God's infinite mercy and compassion. We do not acknowledge the theologian who wants to remove it entirely. God communicates His compassion in a way that we can understand.

 

If God chooses to reveal Himself through anthropopathisms then we should absorb them as they are and not attempt to change them.

 

"In order to bend the sinner at all, the love of God must withdraw its helping hand and make men feel the consequences of their sin and rebelliousness, that they may forsake their evil ways and turn to the Lord their God. When this end has been attained, the same divine love manifests itself as pitying and helping grace. Punishments and benefits flow from the love of God, and have for their object the happiness and well-being of men." [Keil and Delitzsch]

 

God had been patient and the people had been instructed that words of repentance were not enough and that they had to actually repent, which would mean getting rid of the idols. They finally got rid of the idols and God determined that their grief had gone on long enough and that He would again raise up a deliverer.

 

God could deliver Israel directly through His omnipotence, but in using a judge He is not only delivering but teaching. Being delivered from the foreigner is not as important as being delivered in their souls by faith in the truth.

 

Verses 17, 18 introduce God's deliverance.

 

JDG 10:17 Then the sons of Ammon were summoned, and they camped in Gilead. And the sons of Israel gathered together, and camped in Mizpah.

 

JDG 10:18 And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, "Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead."

 

 

Mizpah is a good choice as it is easily defended. It is surrounded on three sides by hills and is entered through a narrow ravine to the south east, which is facing Ammon's forces.

 

This is unlike the other instances where a judge is raised up and he rallies the people. In this case, the people had found strength in the Lord when they returned to Him, and before any leader was called, for the first time in eighteen years, they camped an army opposite the strongholds of Ammon and prepared to fight them. This must have been done in some haste since they had yet to appoint a leader.

 

Jephthah seems to be a greater man than I first thought, but due to the circumstances concerning his daughter, commentators differ. It not that we are called to rate others. If God is silent then so should we be. But it is interesting to note the Jephthah is mentioned in Heb 11.  

 

HEB 11:32-34

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

 

This chapter in Hebrews, which is called God's hall of fame, isn't as much a list of great men and women, but a list of the people God used as vehicles to expose His grace. They all did what they did by faith. The fact that Samson and Jephthah are included, I think emphasizes this fact. It is more a list of how God can use men than it is a spotlight of the greatness of these men.

 

11:1-3 give a background on Jephthah. The events are prior to the assembly of Israel at Mizpah.

 

Jephthah = "he will open"

 

JDG 11:1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead was the father of Jephthah.

 

JDG 11:2 And Gilead's wife bore him sons; and when his wife's sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, "You shall not have an inheritance in our father's house, for you are the son of another woman."

 

JDG 11:3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless fellows gathered themselves about Jephthah, and they went out with him.

 

Gilead was the grandson of Manasseh who lived hundreds of years before this time. Names were used again and again in the various tribes and Gilead was a popular one for the tribe of Manasseh.

 

Gilead had sons by his wife and also a son from a harlot. The rabbis have tried to sugar-coat this and have interpreted harlot as inn-keeper, a title they also like to give to Rahab, but the Hebrew word clearly refers to a prostitute.

 

Normally the son of a prostitute would not inherit anything from his father, so this indicates that Gilead had adopted this son and had left him part of the inheritance.

 

At this time adoption was simply a decision of a father. Normally a young teenager would be adopted once his character had been established, and he was inducted into the family. Jephthah likely showed himself to be an industrious or at least proficient young man and Gilead adopted him, which entitled him to a portion of the inheritance. This means a portion of the inheritance would be taken from Gilead's legitimate sons.

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