"So now the Lord, the God of Israel, has conquered the Amorites for the benefit of his people Israel. Do you intend to take their place? Should you not posses what your god Chemosh gives you to possess? And should we not be the ones to possess everything that the Lord our God has conquered for our benefit? Now are you any better than King Balak son of Zippor of Moab? Did he ever enter into conflict with Israel, or did he ever go to war with them? While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns that are along the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? It is not I who have sinned against you, but you are the one who doe me wrong by making war on me. Let the Lord, who is judge, decide today for the Israelites or for the Ammonites." But the king of the Ammonites did not heed the message that Jephthah sent him. Judges 11: 23-28 NRSV
At first it sounds like the warrior Jephthah is trying to negotiate with the Ammonites. He is trying to get them to see that their claims are foolish - the land has been given by the Lord God, they have not done anything about it for three hundred years, is the current king just trying to pick a fight? - but I think he is actually taunting the Ammonites. He seems to be saying: who are you that you think you can win this fight? Are you a god? Are you as great as your King Balak? Are you trying to be judge when it is God who is the ultimate judge?
If the king of the Ammonites had heeded Jephthah's message, would it have meant peace for the people? Or would Jephthah have fought anyway?
I don't have an answer. I do know that Jephthah certainly seems to be putting a lot of trust in God's power and judgment through the use of wise logic. But he won't be able to fully trust without some rash decisions.
God, you ask us to trust you and to make wise decisions through our words and actions. May we show more courage than Jephthah. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Question of the day: How well do you trust God?
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims