It was about to get real. The Israelites were going to be attacked, and they had to feel a bit exposed. From our last reading, it would seem that God has left them to fend for themselves. But, the “leaders of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever attacks the Ammonites first will become ruler over all the people of Gilead.” Were they sensing God’s intervention was yet to come, or were they simply looking for the best option for success?
They knew they needed a strong leader. Who would it be? Sometimes our best candidates are those who we have overlooked. Certainly, the individual the leaders chose to recruit was even one who had been shown no favor in the past. How fitting that God would use even the son of a prostitute to rescue his people. He was a mighty warrior after all and well-equipped for the mission.
Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of this man, Jephthah. He had fled his homeland when he didn’t feel welcome. We hear that his half-brothers actually “chased him off.” They shared a father, Gilead, but that didn’t seem to matter at the time. Unlike Abimelech (son of a slave and Gideon the previous judge) who killed his half-brothers, Jephthah did not confront but removed himself from the land of his father.
Now, all these years later, the same brothers who had disowned him were begging him to help them. How would you respond to that turn of events? Jephthah could easily have told them to go fight their own battle. Yet, that is not what he did. We see God’s hand intervening here.
In fact, Jephthah’s response was to call on God. The fact that Jephthah mentioned the LORD in his reasoned response is very telling. Jephthah’s faith was shining through when he sought clarification. “Let me get this straight. If I come with you and if the LORD gives me victory over the Ammonites, will you really make me ruler over all the people?”
Jephthah realized that victory of this magnitude could only come if the Lord gave it to him. We see humility in these words. We already knew he was a mighty warrior. Yet, he knew his own might would not be enough. Was he really going to be given an opportunity to use his gifts to help his family and the Israelite nation, glorify God, and also be rewarded?
What does this say to us today? For me, it opens up the possibility that God is going to reward me with the desires of my heart when I draw close to him and use my gifts to bring glory to Him. I heard today that when we are given a gift from God, it isn’t really a gift until we open it up and share it with others. In other words, what good does a gift do if we leave it unopened, untapped, and just sitting on the shelf?
Take some time today to think about the gift God has given you. Is it sitting on the shelf? Are you waiting for someone to ask you to use it? Or, are you glorifying God by sharing it with others?
Let’s pray …
Lord, thank you for how you have gifted me. Forgive me when I miss out on opportunities to share the gifts and blessings you have given me. I want to be a good steward of the skills and passions you have put within me. May I be mindful of your presence. Equip me to be the best steward for the portion you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.