MONDAY, MAY 1
SCRIPTURE: JUDGES 12 – Jeremy Witt
This chapter begins with conflict. Imagine having conflict with someone else! They must have had to watch a musical. (Okay, that is from the last devotional I did in case you missed that amazing piece of writing.) Jepthah is confronted by the men of Ephraim. Ephraim had been attacked by the Ammonites (Judges 10:9) and were upset that they had not been invited to the fight. In verse 2, Jepthah claims that he sent them a request, and they didn’t respond. Outside of this, the Biblical record is silent, so we are not certain when or even if this occurred outside of this passage.
In verse 4, we see that the conflict has only gotten bigger. The insult given by the Ephraimites at the end of verse 4 prompted Jepthah to call in his army and settle this on the battlefield. A little back-story is that Ephraim had a history of doing this with those in Gilead. (see Judges 8:1-3)
Verses 5-6 show us a tactical move of Jepthah by taking a strategic location and then utilizing the differences in speech between Jepthah’s men and the Ephraimites.
Full disclosure: I read this chapter and told my wife that this chapter was really bland for Judges and I didn’t know much spiritual meat I could relay to you. It is an amazing thing how God helps us see His Word through other’s eyes. (Just a plug for you being a part of Sunday School and small groups!)
Verses 8-15 tell us about 3 different judges who really don’t do a whole lot. Ibzan’s claim to fame is a whole lot of kids. Elon doesn’t have much for us to learn. Abdon’s sons and grandsons rode donkeys. Not a lot here I have to say! My wife pointed out to me that this is their legacy. The book of Judges shows us a lot of people who did things for Israel and for God. But not everyone’s legacy leaves much behind. Jepthah made it into the chapter of faith, but these three are never heard of again. So that brings up a question for me. What kind of legacy am I leaving for those who follow me after I am gone? What impact will my life have on my kids and those I ministered to? What about you?
This chapter is one of those that many ask, “why is this in the Bible?” I’ve asked that question many times. Why are there the lineage chapters or the passages in the Old Testament with the list of sons that just seem to go on and on? While I was in seminary, a professor made us read a book by Joanne Shetler called “And the Word came with Power.” Joanne was a missionary in the Philippines, and this book is her story of how God moved and brought many to salvation. Stay with me, because there is a point to this. In one particular village that she and her missionary partner were trying without any success to share Jesus, a breakthrough happened. While telling stories of the Bible, she read the lineage of Jesus (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3). The patriarch of the village began asking questions which he had never done before. His questions prompted more. Joanne showed him the lineages. She took him in the Old Testament and showed him those lineages. The man was suddenly energized and asked for more stories. He then had all his family and village to listen to the stories of the Bible. What changed? The lineage showed that this was real. It showed that it was not a made up fable. It showed him a heritage and legacy. In his village and in his culture, few things were more important than family history. These passages from Scripture opened the door to the Gospel! Imagine that! God’s plans and purposes are above our ways and our understanding at times. But He has a purpose. We may not be aware of them at the moment, but even passages like Judges 12 serve a purpose for us.