The Lord as Judge

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Judges 11:12 (NIV)
Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”

Judges 11:12 (MSG)
Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with a message: “What’s going on here that you have come into my country picking a fight?”
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“Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, saying, “What is [the problem] between you and me, that you have come against me to fight in my land?” -AMPLIFIED

Once Jephthah had accepted his calling we find him stepping up quickly to deal with the Ammonite problem. Let us notice that he did not immediately call for war, but he took time to negotiate with Israel’s adversary.

We are told that Jephthah first sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites. We will find that Jephthah was not hotheaded or impetuous. He took his time and went through the correct procedures in order to not stir up even more problems. Jephthah was not looking for a fight, but a resolution. His message to the Ammonite king was this, “What do you have against me? Why are you attacking my people in my land?” -(VOICE)

The king sent back his answer to Jephthah’s question via the messengers sent, “It is because Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt, from the [river] Arnon as far as the Jabbok and [east of] the Jordan; so now, return those lands peaceably.” -Judges 11:13 (AMP)This king was angry because he felt that Israel had taken land that rightly belonged to his people, the people of Ammon.

Jephthah though was not having anything to do with the foolishness. His response back to the king (through his messengers, of course) was this:

“Israel took no Moabite land and no Ammonite land. When they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the desert as far as the Red Sea, arriving at Kadesh. There Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom saying, ‘Let us pass through your land, please.’ But the king of Edom wouldn’t let them. Israel also requested permission from the king of Moab, but he wouldn’t let them cross either. They were stopped in their tracks at Kadesh. So they traveled across the desert and circled around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came out east of the land of Moab and set camp on the other side of the Arnon—they didn’t set foot in Moabite territory, for Arnon was the Moabite border. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites at Heshbon the capital. Israel asked, ‘Let us pass, please, through your land on the way to our country.’ But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to cut across his land; he got his entire army together, set up camp at Jahaz, and fought Israel. But God, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his troops to Israel. Israel defeated them. Israel took all the Amorite land, all Amorite land from Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan. It was God, the God of Israel, who pushed out the Amorites in favor of Israel; so who do you think you are to try to take it over? Why don’t you just be satisfied with what your god Chemosh gives you and we’ll settle for what God, our God, gives us? Do you think you’re going to come off better than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he get anywhere in opposing Israel? Did he risk war? All this time—it’s been three hundred years now!—that Israel has lived in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns along the Arnon, why didn’t you try to snatch them away then? No, I haven’t wronged you. But this is an evil thing that you are doing to me by starting a fight. Today God the Judge will decide between the People of Israel and the people of Ammon.” -Judges 11:14-27 (MSG)

Jephthah gave the king a quick History lesson and he hit the nail on the head; the king of Ammon did not have a problem with the people of Israel. He really had a problem with the God of Israel. It was the God of Israel who pushed out the Ammonites in order to give it to Israel. Israel may have defeated the Ammonites, but they were only able to do so because Jehovah, the God of Israel, had allowed it to happen. Jephthah was basically telling the king, “If you have a problem take it up with Jehovah! Stop trying to start a fight with us. Let Jehovah judge between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.

F B Meyer shares these thoughts on Jephthah’s way of handling the situation; “Jephthah’s procedure was admirable in his quiet expostulation, before resorting to force in the defense of home and country against the aggression of Amalek. It was quite clear that Ammon had no right to the lands of which Israel, at God’s command, had dispossessed the Amorites. “Thou doest me wrong to war against me.” But before repelling the invasion, Jephthah did his best to show the unreasonableness of Ammon’s pretext.” -(Our Daily Homily)

Jephthah was adamant that he was not the cause of the problem and the Lord would be the Judge in the situation. In a trial the judge has the final say and in this situation God would have the final say. Jephthah put forth to the king of Ammon this argument, “Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.” (NIV) The king would not follow Jephthah’s sound advice thought. Scripture tells us, “But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen to a word that Jephthah had sent him.” -Judges 11:27 (MSG)

We will continue with this part of His-story tomorrow. Today, take away with you the fact that God has the final say; for He is THE Judge. In every trial, problem and situation that we encounter we can know that our Judge and Mediator is working all things out for our good. It may not always look like it or even feel like it, but God has our best interests at heart and He is working things out for our God. Trust Him!

My Prayer:
Lord, you do have the final Word in every situation. That does not mean that I will not make bad choices, but it does mean that when I do you will use those choices still to bring about your glory. Forgive me when I sin and am disobedient to your leading and prompting. Help me to forget the foolishness of this World and focus on what is truly important, YOU!

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