29th March 2023
Read - Judges 11:4-40, Hebrews 11:32-38
Message Alan Burke
Jephthah was an outcast, he was a nobody, he had been rejected by his people because of the sin of his father (Judges 11:1-2) but this is the man that God used. After war breaks out, in the midst of a power vacuum the bothers of Jephthah turn to him and ask that he would lead them even though he had been rejected by them. There is something that in the midst of the back and forth dialogue between Jephthah and his brothers that we see, this is a man of faith. It is easy to miss it but from what he says to his bothers (v9) it is clear that this is the case when he says “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me”.
Jephthah understood that in the midst of it all it was the Lord who would give victory, that if the Lord was on their side, that the Lord went with him then there is nothing that could stop them from having the victory. After all this Jephthah agrees to the elders request, he who was rejected has become their leader. Even though Jephthah was living a mercenary lifestyle in Tob we once more in the midst of the engagement with the king of Ammon that Jephthah did have faith. For just as before with the Elders of the people he had understood it was the Lord who was the one who gave the victory, v21 the Lord, the God of Isreal gave this land to them. He understood the the Lord is indeed sovereignly in control of all, he is the one who rules, the people of God would not have this land if it were not for the Lord God of Isreal giving it to them, likewise the victory was going to be the Lord God’s, it was the Lord who was the one that gave it to His people to possess, it was the Lord’s to give as the creator of all.
After the diplomatic efforts fail, Jephthah’s attempts to stop the war by negotiation are futile and when the time comes we have the Spirit of the Lord come upon, it is by the power of the Spirit of God that Jephthah goes forward, that he advances against the Ammonites. While the Holy Spirit, the Third person of the Trinity was present and active from the very beginning, in the Old Testament period the Ministry of the Spirit was to come upon people and equip them for a task ahead, empower them. Since the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ the spirit of God lives in all who turn to Him in repentance and faith. The Spirit of God works in us, helping us each day to live more and more for Christ and die to sin.
What is being conveyed to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit is that this is the Lord God, divinely enabling Jephthah to have the victory over the Ammonites. While we see a man of faith that is being empowered by the Holy Spirit within him we also see a man who is deeply flawed. The Spirit comes upon him (29), and then goes on to make a vow to the Lord. We will deal with the vow of Jephthah on Friday but for now we can take great comfort in the words of Jesus in John’s gospel when he says: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out... No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37, 44). The Spirit not only indwells in the believer, that indwelling is permanent, the Spirit will not depart from us as it did when individuals were equipped for a certain task in the Old Testament. If you have been saved from your sin then you have been baptised by the Holy Spirit, you are His. I’ve heard lots of nonsense that you need some kind of experience, that you need to babble, mumble, a heavenly language called tongues, but that is not what the disciples experienced on the day of Pentecost, it was intelligent speech that all could here in their own language. Know that if you have received Christ, then you have been baptised by the Spirit, the Spirit dwells in you, for those who belong to Jesus have been given a new heart, the Spirit moves in us helping us daily to live for him and die to self.
Q6 How many persons are there in the Godhead?
There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. (1 John 5:7, Matt. 28:19)