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May 11, Day #132 – “If the Lord Wills …”

Today we come to Judges 10-11. In this section, we read about three judges – Tola, who led Israel for twenty-three years, (verses 1-2); Jair, who led Israel for twenty-two years (verses 3-5); and Jephthah, who led Israel for six years (Judges 10:6-12:7). Other than the number of years of their service to Israel, Scripture records nothing – whether commendable or lamentable - about the accomplishments of Tola or Jair. God introduces us to Jephthah with the same preamble as that of previous judges – “Again, the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (verse 6). However, we see here how serious their idolatry became – they “served the Baals, the Ashtoreths, the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, the Ammonites, and the Philistines, forsaking the LORD, so He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites who shattered and crushed them” (verses 6-8). God reminded them with a challenge that their false gods could not save them, and mercifully, He sent all these judges to deliver them. Verses 9-18 detail the Israelite dialogue with and confession to the Lord. In Judges 11, we see that God raises up Jephthah, “a mighty warrior” with a tarnished background (verses 1-3). The Israelites call Jephthah into service, and he agrees. He begins negotiations with the Ammonite king, and verses 14-27 present a pocket-history of Israel’s wilderness wanderings. However, “the king paid no attention” to Jephthah’s attempts for a peaceful solution, and Jephthah makes a foolish vow to sacrifice “whatever comes out of the door to meet him” – if God grants him victory (verse 31). In my view, this story of Jephthah’s daughter is one of the saddest in all of Scripture, and it should teach us that our words matter; we should not make rash and foolish vows. I believe God expects us to be people of our word, but I simply can’t imagine how a father could commit such an act against his daughter! This is why our words must be few and carefully selected – always seasoned with the expression, “If the Lord wills …” (cf., James 3-4, especially 4:15).

In Psalm 59:1-8, David cries out to God for deliverance from his enemies and from evildoers. God has recorded this passage in His Word so that we also may follow suit - God wants us to cry out to Him at all times, but especially in the face of trouble. I might add that He expects us to maintain a close, family relationship with Him so that when trouble does come, we are not strange or foreign to Him. When trouble comes, God delights to help His children, but why should He help those who have little or nothing to do with Him when things are going well? Sometimes, we experience difficulties even though we’ve done nothing wrong, and those who mean to harm us seem like “snarling dogs” (verse 6). But God desires to save us, and He wants us to call upon Him. We just saw this as well in Judges 10-11 - even when Israel continuously fell into idol worship. We also see it in John 6.

In John 6:25-59, after feeding the five thousand (cf., John 6:1-15), Jesus affirms that He came down from heaven at the will of His Father to be “the bread of life” (verse 35). As we said yesterday, people are still hungry for this Bread; it is the only Bread that can satisfy our everlasting hunger, for eternal life rests completely in Him. The connection between bread and the Lord Jesus Christ is so strong in this section that John records the concept thirteen times (verses 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 41, 50, 51, and 58). Moreover, the association with this “bread of life” and “eternal life” is equally powerful – Jesus repeats three times His promise to “raise us up at the last day” (verses 40, 44, and 54). This is His promise and His will.

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