Title: Judges 12. Jephthah, part 7: War with Ephraim.
War with Ephraim. Ephraim is consistently jealous and self-centered as they seek rulership in Israel.
In the book of Judges, the Ephraimites are presented as self-centered, factious, easily offended, and having an inflated estimation of their own importance within the nation.
JDG 12:1 Then the men of Ephraim were summoned [hostile intensions], and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, "Why did you cross over to fight against the sons of Ammon without calling us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you."
JDG 12:2 And Jephthah said to them, "I and my people were at great strife with the sons of Ammon; when I called you, you did not deliver me from their hand.
The Ephraimites had very likely refused their co-operation simply because the Gileadites had appointed Jephthah as commander without consulting them. With the threat of burning his house down, we would conclude that Jephthah is justified in going to war with them.
JDG 12:3 And when I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the Lord gave them into my hand [he credits the Lord]. Why then have you come up to me this day, to fight against me?"
Ephraim wants to be chief, but they are complainers. They are not fit to rule anything.
JDG 12:4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim; and the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, "You are fugitives of Ephraim, O Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh."
In essence they say, "Of all of Ephraim and Manasseh, the Gileadites are the worst filth."
Israel's lack of godliness leads to division.
Without the worship of God, people remain petty, arrogant, and self-centered. This always causes divisions in a group.
Ephraim's taunt rallies the army under Jephthah, which has since gone home after the war with Ammon, to regroup and fight against Ephraim.
Jephthah and his people did not take very kindly to this estimation of them. They rose up in anger and took their revenge.
This is the result of a breakdown in unity. The root of this division goes back 300 years to the generation after Joshua who worshipped Baal and Ashteroth.
All the men of Israel are to be gathered together at three feasts, but this did not happen. We find in Nehemiah that Israel had not even celebrated the feast of Tabernacles together since the time of Joshua, a period of about 800 years.
Peace exists where righteousness is in harmony with righteousness. Man cannot create his own righteousness and so he cannot make peace. God provides both righteousness and peace.
First, peace must exist in the soul of the believer. The believer has been made righteous at the moment of salvation through imputation of Christ's righteousness. Yet, though righteous, he can worry and fear. He can be arrogant and prideful. He can be ignorant of God's word. The called believer can only live in Christ's peace when his thinking is in harmony with who he is in Christ. The righteous believer must think and conduct himself righteously. We are commanded to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Peace exists where righteousness is in harmony with righteousness. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and righteousness is to be lived.
Therefore, two believers who have peace in their hearts will have peace amongst each other.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
PSA 85:8 I will hear what God the Lord will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
But let them not turn back to folly.
PSA 85:9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
PSA 85:10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
PSA 85:11 Truth springs from the earth;
And righteousness looks down from heaven.
PSA 85:12 Indeed, the Lord will give what is good;
And our land will yield its produce.
PSA 85:13 Righteousness will go before Him,
And will make His footsteps into a way.
The righteousness of God is brought to the earth from heaven, and this will certainly be the case at the Second Coming as it is the case in every believer in this age. He provided the cross for everyone and purchased righteousness for everyone who will believe upon Him and He will bring that righteousness to the nations and for the first time there will be peace of earth due to Him alone.
"I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
Peace comes to the individual through imputation of righteousness due to the work of Christ. If individual righteousness were to come to the individual in any other way than through faith in Christ then Christ would have died in vain.
If national peace and righteousness were to come by the United Nations or by any other contrivance of man, then Christ would have died in vain.
In Christ only have righteousness and peace kissed each other.
PSA 133:1 A Song of Ascents, of David.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
PSA 133:2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron's beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
The fragrant anointing oil was only for Aaron, the high priest. Moses anointed his head, which trickled down upon his beard and robes and so became visible to all.
The oil described is the precious oil which was the anointing oil made of oil and aromatic spices. It was forbidden in common use and only used by the high priest. Moses anointed Aaron's head with it. Therefore, the brothers who dwell in unity in verse 1 are envisioned as being at the Tabernacle in celebration of the feast. Their unity is not because their best buds or that they have a lot in common, but that they together love the Lord.
The brothers of Israel gather at Jerusalem for the feast and together they behold the anointing oil upon the high priest.
When brethren united in harmonious love also meet together in one place, as is the case in Israel at the great Feasts, it is as when the holy, precious anointing of the oil, breathing forth the blended odor of many spices, upon the head of Aaron trickles down upon his beard, and from there to the extreme end of his vestment. It becomes thoroughly perceptible, and also outwardly visible, that Israel, far and near, is pervaded by one spirit and bound together in unity of spirit.
The poet then replaces the oil as a metaphor for the uniting spirit of brotherly love with the dew of Mt. Hermon.
PSA 133:3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forever.
[Van de Velde in Travels] "What we read in the 133 rd Psalm of the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion is now become quite clear to me. Here, as I sat at the foot of Hermon, I understood how the water-drops which rose from its forest-mantled heights, and out of the highest ravines, which are filled the whole year round with snow, after the sun's rays have attenuated them and moistened the atmosphere with them, descend at evening-time as a heavy dew upon the lower mountains which lie round about as its spurs. One ought to have seen Hermon with its white-golden crown glistening aloft in the blue sky, in order to be able rightly to understand the figure. Nowhere in the whole country is so heavy a dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon."
Hermon feeds the Jordan River, which flows down towards Jerusalem, in effect, uniting the nation from north to south with the water that comes from heaven as the love that comes from God.
Also, when warmth evaporates the snows of Hermon the air currents carry the clouds and weather southward and can be felt by Jerusalem. The beauty of the nature of Hermon, the Jordan valley, in fact all the land of milk and honey is used by God as the beauty of the unity of brothers and sisters in divine love. The brother far in the north is united with the brother far in the south at Jerusalem, the center of their worship of God.
We have many members of our congregation who are far away from us and some of them are alone, without the fellowship of other Christians of like mind. I read this excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's work entitled Life Together.
The believer need not feel any shame when yearning for the physical presence of other Christians, as if one were still living too much in the flesh.
A human being is created as a body; the Son of God appeared on earth in the body for our sake; and was raised in the body.
The believer receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected community of God's spiritual-physical creatures.
Therefore, the believer praises the Creator, the Reconciler and the Redeemer, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of the other Christian. The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian living in the diaspora recognizes in the nearness of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God. In their loneliness, both the visitor and the one visited recognize in each other the Christ who is present in the body.
Believer's receive and meet each other as one meets the Lord, in reverence, humility, and joy.
They receive each other's blessings as the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ. But if there is so much happiness and joy even in a single encounter of one Christian with another, what inexhaustible riches must invariably open up for those who by God's will are privileged to live in daily community life with other Christians.
Of course, what is an inexpressible blessing from God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trampled under foot by those who receive the gift every day. It is easily forgotten that the community of Christians is a gift of grace from the kingdom of God, a gift that can be taken from us any day - that the time still separating us from the most profound loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let those who until now have had the privilege of living a Christian life together with other Christians praise God's grace from the bottom of their hearts. Let them thank God on their knees and realize: it is grace, nothing but grace, that we are still permitted to live in the community of Christians today." [end quote]
Our unity is Christ. Without Him we would not know God and without Him we could not fellowship with God or with one another. Paul writes that "Christ is our peace … who broke down the barrier of the dividing wall." Because of Him, Christians can live amongst each other in peace. Without Him, groups of human being always find strife and division.
1CO 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.
1CO 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1CO 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
1CO 3:4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," [emphasized by the particle men = I am indeed of Paul] and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?
1CO 3:5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
1CO 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
1CO 3:7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything [anyone], but God who causes the growth.
It's not that believers are nothings. They are certainly something's, even the salt of the earth. But when it comes to the spiritual life, spiritual growth, and the church none of us are anyone because the Son of God causes all things.
In one way, all of us being "nothing" makes us complete equals.
1CO 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
1CO 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.