Testify Before Enemies

12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”

13The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.” 14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15 saying: “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.

18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border. 19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21 “Then the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

23 “Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

Introduction

It is by faith that we believe in God. Knowledge of the Scripture is helpful, but to persuade believers in Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit. He has given us faith to believe the gospel of Christ. When believers trust in Him, praise belongs to no one else but God alone for He is the one who convince believers.

Are you pressured to prove practically that God has given you eternal life?

To know, accept and internalize that by His redemptive work we believe the Lord, it certainly lessens the pressure in witnessing for Him. There should be no pressure in proving that we received eternal life. Enthusiasm in witnessing is enough proof that Christ is at work in us. By His Spirit, believers are regenerated!

It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, 17If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Believers are ambassadors for reconciliation. We represent Christ to potential believers. We advocate, testify and promote reconciliation to God, and our personal reconciliation to Him is our personal proof of the gospel.

This ministry of reconciliation is reconciling and bringing potential believers not to us but to the Lord Jesus. Friends and enemies are potential believers.

When Jephthah was chosen to lead Israel against their enemies, he didn’t try to convince the Ammonites to become Israelites. He testified about the Lord. He shared their experiences and expressed his hope in God’s saving work.

1. Explain

17Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. 19Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20a Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory.

Why did Jephthah mention when the kings of Edom, Moab and Amorites rejected the request of Israel to pass through their territories? Did Jephthah try to explain that Israel didn’t force those people? Did God prompt him to include that experience to teach future readers how believers may live spiritual lifestyle?

Israel tried to pass to the territory of Edom, Moab and the Amorites which were short routes or easier paths and not rugged foot trails, and they can buy food supply from them. God could have easily moved the hearts of the kings of Edom, Moab, and the Amorites to accommodate the Israelites but He did not.

Did God prevent Israel to observe the lifestyle of Edom, Moab and the Amorites or they might be enticed to linger or live there instead of going to Canaan. Israel took a more challenging and rugged terrain that was less travelled or never had been taken before, a path that merchants may not dare to take.

The journey of Israel going to the promise land represents spiritual journey of believers waiting for Christ to bring them into His heaven.

The Lord Jesus declared in Matthew 7:13-14, Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The Israelites desired to pass through easy road but God redirected them. Similarly, when we follow a lifestyle that leads to spiritual destruction, God would redirect us. He knew that we can be easily attracted by worldly lifestyle. Christ is the narrow road to eternal life that only few have found.

20b Sihon mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them…

Jephthah explained the saving work of the Lord in Israel. He testified that it was not by their power and not by their strength that the Amorites were defeated. It was God who delivered their enemies into their hands. It is like delivering groceries into your doorsteps. All you’ve got to do is receive the items!

Moreover, there’s less anxiety and less pressure when we rely upon Christ even in our spiritual journey. God saved and freed us from sin not because we were righteous but because of His grace, right? Our lifestyle is our practical proof and expression of our hope that Christ will bring us into His heaven one day.

2. Express

24bWhatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess. 

27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

The king of the Ammonites demanded that they surrender peacefully the land they occupied in the east of Jordan River but Jephthah wanted God to decide on it. He also expressed his hope in the Lord’s saving grace when he warned the Ammonites that they will possess whatever God has given them.

The Israelites have taken over whatever the Lord has given them. They were just following the Lord’s instruction. Their enemies were not happy about them though. That situation is a picture of believers obeying the Lord’s teaching where others may not agree with and may not be happy about it.

Have you ever done something you believe that it is God’s will but others find it unacceptable, undesirable or unpleasant? Human decisions do not have absolute standard for everyone. It’s a problem. One group may prefer one thing. Another group prefers the other thing or opposite thing. It’s human uniqueness.

Vegetarian

One day, inside a steakhouse restaurant, protesters with pro-animal placards and megaphones, chanted: “It’s not food! It’s violence!” Surrounded by pro-animal demonstrators, diners were seen embarrassed. Some diners were ‘very emotionally upset’ as a result.

Isn’t that ironic? They claim to protect the animals but they are willing to upset or even harsh to humans. Did they care more about animals than humans who eat meat or fish? Will there be plant’s right activists who may protest against vegetarians? These are examples of inconsistencies of human judgment.

Many people cannot tolerate others who don’t live according to their lifestyle. Believers are not exempted. We also want others, especially, potential believers to live a Christian lifestyle like ours. And we are anxious of those who don’t conform to our lifestyle. We have dos and don’ts within Christian circles.

How should we deal with people when they don’t conform to our lifestyle? Do we need to impose our standards before we can accept potential believers?

As believers, we are instructed in Romans 12:1-2, 1In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God helped Israel fought their enemies so that the lifestyle of their enemies won’t contaminate their lifestyle. Similarly, we need Christ to help us not to conform to the pattern of lifestyle of this world. Time is coming near when God judges each person deeds. It says in Revelation 20:12, The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Believers or not, God has recorded every person’s lifestyle.

Do you have hope that you will be rewarded accordingly?

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

 

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