Lent Devotion for March 27, in Holy Week
Reader: "Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead;”
Response: “his mother was a prostitute.”
SCRIPTURE: Judges 11:1–11
1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. 2 Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
Read Matthew 23 as well.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
One of the several low points in Israel’s history is the book of Judges. In your reading of chapters 9-12, it is one story after another of a people’s rejection of God. There is the sad tale of the fate of Gideon’s sons, then the passage above concerning Jephthah. His father was a Gileadite, a descendant of the tribe of Manasseh. In keeping with the low moral state of the people, his mother was a prostitute, leading to his rejection by his half-brothers, the true sons of Gilead’s wife. He left home, became a good warrior and assembled a band of followers. The long and short of it, when his hometown got into a battle with their enemies, they came to Jephthah to help them. The deal was if you lead us in battle and we win, you can be the ruler of the Gilead. There was no sense of the Lord’s appointing rulers. It turned out that Jephthah was also an excellent statesman in dealing with the opposition. A foolish vow and a lack of moral ground cost his daughter’s life. Civil unrest among the tribes continued during his six years as ruler, after which, he died and was buried in one of the towns of Gilead. As sad and pathetic as this time in the history of Israel was, and as checkered, as was Jephthah’s heritage, he is listed as a man of great faith in Hebrews chapter 11 along with Abraham and Moses! There is some comfort here. It would appear that Jephthah was a flawed man who sought to follow the Lord. He was not a spectacular person like a Moses or Joshua, yet God clearly gave value and respect to his life, so much so, that he is singled out for his exhibition of faith for all time. There is hope for you and me as we seek to exercise faith this day and in the days ahead.
"Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” by Fernando Ortega (Watch on YouTube)
Lord and Savior, we have seen so clearly in the readings of these last weeks how often your people forgot you, became absorbed into the world around them, and gradually adopted the culture, moral values, and perspectives of those around them. They were not a people set apart for devotion to you. They took the path of least resistance and completely rejected you and abandoned the covenant you made with them. In truth Father, we have done the same thing far more than we realize. I’m not sure we are a holy people set apart for you. Convenience interrupts our worship. We treat what is sacred, in a casual manner, and that which is casual, in a sacred manner. We spend more time on social media than we do in your word failing to realize which is of eternal significance. Lord, forgive our foolish ways and cause us to alter the way we live. The pain and cost of this Holy week should forever be burned into our hearts. Let us pay attention to the significance of each day of this week. May we not sail on the surface to Easter Sunday and fail to embrace the depth of your love, pain, and cost of obtaining our redemption. This we pray in the glorious name of the Captain of our souls. Amen.
- Daniel Sharp