Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jephthah's Question

Jephthah’s Question
A Short Essay

Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”                  - Judges 11:9

After twelve (count ‘em, twelve) betrayals from His people for other pagan deities just since Moses led them out of Egypt just a few centuries before, you can completely understand God saying, “You have forsaken Me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you!” (Judges 10:13-14).

But of course, being the Merciful God He Is, He sent yet another rescuer to Israel’s aid, this time a son of Gilead and a prostitute, and his name was Jephthah. Maltreated and run off from the family as a child, he’s understandably wary when the elders come to him (at the Lord’s indication, of course – He always has had a soft spot for the supposed ‘dregs’ of society!) and asked him to command the Hebrew forces against the Ammonites oppressing the people. They assure him they mean it, and he’s willing to accept their offer pending the answer to the pivotal question above.

And, essentially, isn’t it the same question that Christ asks every new Christian believer? “Suppose I give you salvation from the damnation your sins have earned you. Will I really be your head? That is, will you really allow Christ to be in charge of your heart, your thoughts, and your life? Or are you just planning to pay lip service to worshiping Him – show up to church most Sunday mornings, put a fish on your back windshield and a cross in your hallway, and call it good?

Look at it from Jephthah’s perspective: If they were going to let him save them but not give him actual command, why in the world would he agree to the deal?

Now, translate it to Jesus’ perspective: If you’re going to let Him save you but not give Him actual command, why in heaven would HE agree, either?

There’s a reason we call Jesus Christ our Lord. If you are truly a Christian, if you’re planning on being recognized by Him at the gates of heaven when you die, then you must honor your part of the deal. Give Him command. Listen to His commandments (hint – they’re written down in a Book…) and obey them… not just the Ten Big Ones in the Old Testament, but all of Christ’s teachings in the New. And most of those require taking your own priorities off the mantle, and putting His there instead.

(Yes, it’s difficult. All worthwhile things are.)


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