Jephthah - Prepped for Battle
" Mighty Man of Valor"... what a way to be described and remembered! He must have been someone very special, born to wonderfully loving parents, and raised in the ways of the Lord. After all, he led and won a battle to save the people who needed him, and he presided over them as a judge for years. A special man indeed!
But what if I told you his early years were horrible? He was unwanted, unloved, and rejected and abandoned - over and over again. Were those years he needed to overcome so that the Lord could use him? OR were they years as preparation for the battle that was to come?
If you've ever felt that you were born into a family so full of pain, that you couldn't possibly have any destiny other than to try and survive and maybe overcome, then this message is for you.
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Thanks for joining on another Soul Soothing Sunday episode, where we look at a topic through a faith-based lens.
Today I want to talk to you about a guy named Jephthah. He’s found in the book of Judges. Judges 10 and 11, if you want to look him up.
And I want to look at him because I think that many of us can identify with where he came from, but I am hoping that we can learn to look at where that took him. And I don’t just mean where he came from and what he overcame, but what it prepared him for.
I think that too often we look at people’s life stories or our own life’s journey and we compare the early days to the latter days and see the in-between time as overcoming and getting over and moving beyond. But I think there needs to be some focus on what our early days prepare us for.
And as we’ve said in previous episodes, this is not being thankful and grateful for our traumas and hard times, but it is using them, so they are not in vain.
To get just a little bit of context here, Jephthah was living in a time where people would need God, cry out to God for someone to deliver them, be delivered, be living well, forget God, forsake God, fall into problems, and then need God. And then cry out to God for someone to deliver them, be delivered, forget God, forsake God, fall into problems, and then need God etc. etc. This is kind of how the book of Judges goes.
Sound familiar at all? I know it’s been a place I’ve been caught up in during my own years of trying to figure things out. I’m doing well and so coast along on my own and forget the importance of my relationship with God, then running into hard times and call on God to help me and he does and then I get sailing along again and ease up on my reliance of him again.
We know this is what was happening in the book of Judges too because a phrase that is found over and over in the book says, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”. And it isn’t long after reading that phrase that you will see the hard time and the calling out for God again.
As Jephthah’s story is being introduced, there is an encampment of enemies threatening war on the Israelites. They need someone to rise up and lead and deliver them. And they choose Jephthah, a mighty warrior who has proven himself as a strong fighter.
Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful story of being in need and having just the person chosen by God, ready to take care of you? Because it is just that. A chosen man of God, living out his destiny to lead a people through hard times and into freedom.
He must have been born strong, to proud parents, noble parents devoted to teaching him the ways of the Lord. He must have spent his days preparing for this.
And he did. But maybe not exactly in the way we would guess.
Jephthah was born to a prostitute who rejected him and abandoned him. I suppose being a new mother was bad for business, and if this was her source of survival, this baby would only be in the way. So, as soon as she could, Jephthah’s mother brought him to the wife of the man who had gotten her pregnant.
Now, the bible doesn’t record this transaction, but I can imagine that it wasn’t the beautiful adoption ceremony that it could have been in other circumstances.
Instead, I surmise that this baby boy was carried for 9 months by someone who didn’t want him and then he was given away to another woman who didn’t want him.
No one probably sang to him in the womb or fussed about preparing a nursery. He was unwanted from the moment his life began to grow.
Then I have to imagine that he was a painful memory to the woman raising him, of her husband’s infidelity and betrayal to her.
Could it have been different? Could this woman have taken him into her home and raised and loved him as her own? Certainly, it’s been done many times. It is certainly not beyond comprehension.
But this is why, I don’t think that probably happened for Jephthah…
The bible talks about the legitimate sons of the father, the children belonging to both father and mother in the home, going to Jephthah and telling him to leave because as an illegitimate son, they would not be sharing their inheritance with him. Someone had shown his brothers that he was in fact not one of them, and he was not loved and accepted unconditionally.
I would have to guess that if anyone actually did love him, they would not have allowed him to be driven away in such a manner.
And Jephthah left.
Rejected and abandoned at birth. Given away. Unloved. Unwanted. Rejected again and driven away.
How is this the man God has chosen to lead the Israelites to a victory over the Ammonites, and sit as a presiding judge over the people for years to come? Because that was his destiny. That is what happened. But how? From what he started as?
What qualities does he have, beyond being a mighty warrior? And are his qualities as a mighty warrior maybe just physical strength from rage and pain that he has carried since he can remember?
If God didn’t make a mistake in choosing him, then did he make a mistake in choosing his family?
Something doesn’t seem to add up here, that this is the man for such a job as important as this.
Have you had experiences where you were so hurt? You felt rejected, abandoned, unwanted, and maybe even unloved.
I bet you didn’t go through that time dreaming of what God must want from you in the future. You probably weren’t motivated to push towards your destiny. Quite often, that is where we are just trying to survive our wounds.
Well let’s look at how the bible describes Jephthah as we start reading about him. Judges 11:1 says Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor.
The meaning of valor is “great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle”.
Jephthah was a courageous warrior.
But you are not born a courageous warrior. You must become one. You must experience just the right circumstances to become someone who develops what they do to be called a mighty man of valor, courageous in the face of danger, especially in battle.
The truth is, you don’t know how you would react in the face of a dangerous battle, unless you’ve been in one.
And you don’t make it through one unless you have what it takes to survive it… and that is something God prepares you for, so that when that day comes, you will prevail and conquer.
If God knows you have a battle coming, he doesn’t start you off in the battle.
You start in a challenge.
Jephthah was conceived and birthed into challenge. And not just the challenges of survival when not wanted, but into what would be a shame that hung over his head, that he had nothing to do with.
Can anyone relate to that piece? Carrying so much pain and shame, and not even by anything that was your doing. It was brought into your life by someone else but hangs on you like a heavy robe.
Jephthah wasn’t the cause of his pain and shame. It wasn’t his behavior, lack of judgement, or poor choices that caused him heartache. But still, it was his early life experience.
The bible tells us that when he was driven away by his siblings and he left, he ended up banding together with other worthless men. Sound familiar? Doesn’t misery love company? Don’t we find some comfort in seeking out and being with others who also know and understand our suffering?
Now the meaning of “worthless” here doesn’t speak to their worth as humans. It doesn’t mean they were OF no worth. It means they HAD no worth, meaning also without inheritance, legacy, or birthright.
Jephthah really did leave where he was told he didn’t belong and found those who didn’t feel like they belonged to anyone either.
But even in all this, God didn’t make a mistake in the family of origin for this man. He found the birthplace that could mold a warrior - if Jephthah would allow for the prepping.
Whatever family you were born into, God didn’t put you there as a curse, no, just the contrary. If you were placed into a family that is really hard to be a part of, you are there as a curse breaker. You are there as a warrior to break generational curses. What has been passed down, what you were born into, this is your place to wage battle and say this stops at me.
After Jephthah was driven away, found people he was comfortable with and carried on with his life of surviving… it was then that he was approached to come and defend the people and lead them to deliverance and victory over their enemies.
And Jephthah had every chance then, and right, you could say, to refuse to help those who had abandoned him.
But he saw his destiny at that moment. It made sense to him as to what he had been prepared for and he refused to be made any less than what he was meant to be.
Let’s read that. Judges 11 starting at verse 7
7 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?”
8 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
9 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers them to me, shall I be your head?”
10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.” 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
Jephthah was not born to the wrong mother and then mistakenly given to the wrong family. He didn’t have siblings that he wasn’t supposed to have who then by bad luck drove him away.
Jephthah didn’t then catch a lucky break one day and be asked to become head and commander and then preside as a judge for years to come.
He was born to the woman who would birth him and pass specific DNA that he would need. She then passed him to the family who would raise specific qualities and characteristics that are found in survivors. He was driven away to a place where familiar, like-minded people would accept the traits of a survivor and encourage the traits of a warrior.
Jephthah didn’t overcome a challenging past. He endured challenge after challenge in preparation for the battle. A battle he would win.
And not just for himself, but for a whole generation of people.
Again, Jephthah wasn’t born into a cursed generation. He was born to break generational curses.
He wasn’t born a warrior. He was made into a warrior.
A mighty warrior of valor.
Friends, I know that many of you have been born into a family that is so hard to be a part of. There has been mistreatment, abuse, rejection, abandonment, fear, bitterness – just so much pain.
And perhaps you’ve called out to God asking to be delivered and saved from all of this hurt. You’ve straight up asked him WHY? Why were you born into this? Why is this what you have to go through? It’s not fair. It’s not right. There has got to be some mistake.
Listen to me. You are not a mistake. Who you were born to and who raised you are not mistakes either.
If you feel like you were born into a family full of pain, then maybe, you are here to be the one that says, “this ends here, with me”. I will not raise generations under me in this kind of pain and suffering.
You may be praying for someone to rise up and deliver you.
But that just could very well be who you were born to be. The warrior to fight the battle of the generational curses in your family and defeat them for all the generations to come.
You may not have felt like a warrior growing up. And that’s ok. Warriors aren’t born.
They are created. Through challenge.
And we aren’t giving glory and thanks to all the hurt you have had to endure. We are repeating Genesis 50:20 to that pain - You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
You are meant to be here. You have a purpose and a plan. Your earlier years are not just to endure and overcome… they were to prepare you for everything you are meant for.
I believe that. I believe in you and everything you are created to be, have, do, and conquer.
I pray for you to see and believe this too.
You are a mighty warrior of valor, courageous in the face of danger, especially battle.
And you are prepared to win.
Be blessed. Until we meet here again,
Goodbye for now, and we’ll speak again soon.