From the Pulpit: More than an outcast

By: 
Pastor Randy Battey, BV Baptist Church

Last week we looked at Jephthah and the importance of forgiveness. The truth we developed was this: “The level of our faith is seen in the characteristics we display when the heat is on and we are facing unfairness or injustice. If we live by faith we will respond differently than those who have no faith.”

We see that borne out as Jephthah goes on to show us the importance of communication in the life of faith. Communication is difficult, no matter how perfect the circumstances might be, but we must seek it. Jephthah understood that. It’s a matter of faith.  

Jephthah was identified as a mighty warrior, and the assumption is that he would immediately go to war against the Ammonites. But he didn’t do that.  nstead of jumping into a major battle he tried peaceful communication first.  

His message to the Ammonites in Judges 11:12 was, “What did we do to deserve this threat?” The king of the Ammonites sent back word that the problem was a land dispute. The Ammonites felt that they owned part of the land of Gilead and it was stolen from them when the people of Israel were still wandering in the wilderness. They were willing to settle peaceably if Gilead gave up that land.

The problem is that they were twisting the truth. The children of Israel didn’t steal land. In verses14-17 Jephthah points out that they always asked for permission to cross different lands and if they didn’t receive it they stayed where they were.  When they did move, they didn’t cross forbidden land. So instead of going through Edom and Moab, the direct route, they honored the response of those two kings, and they took the long way around being careful to stay on land where they had received permission. They weren’t seeking fights and they had not stolen any land from the Ammonites.  

The land in dispute actually belonged to the Amorites. Verses 19-22 recount how Israel had sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, requesting permission to cross his land. Sihon didn’t trust Israel, so he gathered his army and fought against Israel. Verse 21 tells us the result, “And the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the territory of the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country.”

Verse 22 clearly defines the boundaries of the land that Israel took over in that victory and it didn’t include any land that belonged to the kingdom of Ammon. Israel had owned that land for 300 years without dispute until the Ammonites decided that they wanted it and started the oppression of the people of Israel who lived in Gilead. Jephthah puts this on the level of a spiritual battle when he says in verse 27 that the Lord will be the judge of who is right, “I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.”  

To be a person of faith doesn’t mean that you are a wimp who gives in to anyone who might attack you. It does mean that you are a person committed to the truth and to communicating that truth. It’s easy to turn to lies to try to make yourself look good, but only the truth can make us holy. We need to seek truth and hold onto it with all our might. And we need to communicate truth in everything we say and do.

God has established the high ground for men and women of faith to walk on. To walk on that high ground of faith means that we live forgiveness and we communicate truth in every situation we face in life. Those are the characteristics of faith that show Christ in our lives.

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The Brandon Valley Journal

 

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