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Copyr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

LESSON 8  - REPENTANCE AND RASHNESS

INTRODUCTION: LAST WEEK WE ENDED WITH THE DEATH OF ABIMELECH.
ALTHOUGH ABIMELECH WAS A WICKED MAN, WE DO NOT SEE ISRAEL TURNING
TO IDOL WORSHIP IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS DEATH. INSTEAD, 45 YEARS PASS
UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF TWO JUDGES: TOLA, GRANDSON OF DODO, AND
JAIR WHO GAVE EACH OF HIS 30 SONS A CADILLAC. (ACTUALLY A DONKEY,
BUT A DONKEY WAS PROBABLY A SIGN OF WEALTH -- JUDGES 5:10). THUS,
BETWEEN GIDEON, TOLA AND JAIR, SEVERAL GENERATIONS ARE BORN. LETS
SEE HOW THE NEW GENERATION RELATES TO GOD!

I. BACK AGAIN.

     A. READ JUDGES 10:6-13. WE HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH A LIST OF 
     "OTHER GODS" SERVED BY ISRAEL! 

     B. HOW DOES THIS LIST OF "OTHER GODS" COMPARE TO THE LIST OF
     NATIONS WHICH OPPRESSED ISRAEL? (THEY ARE VIRTUALLY THE SAME!)

          1. DO YOU THINK THIS IS JUST A COINCIDENCE?
          
          2. IF NOT, WHY DID GOD ALLOW THE VERY NATIONS WHOSE GODS
          THE ISRAELITES WORSHIPPED, OPPRESS ISRAEL? (ISN'T THIS
          JUSTICE? THESE GODS WERE NOT THE GOD OF ISRAEL. SO, IF
          ISRAEL TURNED ITS ALLEGIANCE TO THEM, WHY NOT LET THOSE
          NATIONS CONTROL ISRAEL?)

     C. LETS READ ON, FOR IN THE NEXT VERSE GOD GIVES THIS VERY 
     REASON. READ JUDGES 10:14-16.

          1. WHAT WAS KEY TO GOD BEING "UNABLE TO BEAR ISRAEL'S 
          MISERY" ANY LONGER? (v.16. THEY GOT RID OF THE FOREIGN
          GODS AND SERVED THE LORD.)

          2. HOW WOULD YOU APPLY THAT SPIRITUAL LESSON TO YOUR LIFE
          TODAY?

               a. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GET RID OF A SIN? (DON'T 
               LEAVE TEMPTATION SITTING AROUND. WHEN YOU GET RID
               OF A SIN, YOU GET RID OF IT ROOT AND BRANCH.)

               b. IS THIS CONSISTENT WITH THE IDEA THAT ONLY BY THE
               POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN WE OVERCOME SIN? (WE
               CAN ONLY "OVERCOME" SIN BY THE POWER OF THE HS, BUT
               WE MUST MAKE A CHOICE. AND HAVING OLD IDOLS LAYING
               AROUND IS SIMPLY A TEMPTATION TO RETURN TO OUR OLD
               WAYS. OUR "CHOICE" IS AT LEAST PARTIALLY MANIFESTED
               IN OUR DECISION NOT TO LEAVE TEMPTATION LAYING
               AROUND.)

               c. I THINK THAT GETTING RID OF THE OTHER IDOLS, 
               GETTING RID OF THE TEMPTATION, SHOWS GOD THAT WE
               ARE SERIOUS ABOUT FOLLOWING HIM.

     D. VERSES 17-18 SHOW A PATTERN THAT WE SAW WITH GIDEON. WHEN
     HE MADE THE DECISION TO FOLLOW GOD, ALL OF A SUDDEN THE ENEMY
     SHOWS UP IN FORCE.
     
          1. IS THAT ANOTHER "SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE?" (VERY LIKELY.
          THE DEVIL DOES NOT WANT TO GIVE UP EASILY.)


II. JEPHTHAH

     A. READ JUDGES 11:1-7. LET'S DO TWO THINGS HERE. FIRST, LET'S
     PUT OURSELVES IN JEPHTHAH'S SANDALS AND SEE HOW WE WOULD
     REACT. AND SECOND, LETS BREAK THESE VERSES DOWN INTO A SERIES
     OF LIFE-EVENTS. 
          1. HOW WAS EARLY FAMILY LIFE FOR JEPHTHAH? (I HAVE LITTLE
          DOUBT THAT HIS BROTHERS TEASED HIM ABOUT HIS MOTHER. HE
          PROBABLY SUFFERED A GREAT DEAL ABOUT THIS. HIS FATHER
          PROBABLY RESTRAINED HIS BROTHERS UNTIL THEY GOT OLDER.)

          2. HOW WAS LIFE WHEN HE WAS A YOUNG ADULT? (NOW THAT HIS
          BROTHERS WERE GROWN, THEIR DISLIKE OF JEPHTHAH CAUSED
          THEM TO ACTUALLY DRIVE HIM AWAY FROM HOME AND TELL HIM
          THAT HE WOULD NOT INHERIT ANYTHING BECAUSE HE WAS NOT
          PART OF THEIR FAMILY.) 

          3. NOTE THE TEXT SAYS HE "FLED." DOESN'T THIS MAKE IT 
          APPEAR THAT HE THOUGHT HIS LIFE OR HEALTH WERE IN DANGER?

          4. DO YOU THINK THAT JEPTHAH WAS OPERATING UNDER A 
          HANDICAP? (VERY COMMON. WE REMEMBER EHUD, DEBORAH AND
          GIDEON (WHO SAID HE WAS LEAST OF THE LEAST -- JUDGES
          6:15))

          5. SO JEPTHAH MOVES TO TOB. 
               a. HOW DO YOU THINK HE MADE A LIVING? 
               b. WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT A "GROUP OF ADVENTURERS
               GATHERED AROUND HIM AND FOLLOWED HIM?"
               c. IS THIS MORE TROUBLE? PEOPLE FOLLOWING HIM? (NO.
               JEPTHAH IS THE LEADER OF A RAIDING PARTY.  I WOULD
               THINK THAT HE WAS SOMETHING LIKE A PIRATE PREYING
               ON THE AMMONITES AND THE OTHER PEOPLE WHO OPPRESSED
               ISRAEL.)

          6. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE FACT THAT THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL
          "WENT TO GET JEPHTHAH FROM THE LAND OF TOB?" (THEY REALLY
          WANTED HIM.)

               a. WHY DO YOU THINK THEY WANTED HIM SO MUCH? 
               (BECAUSE, HIS "PIRATE DAYS" HAD TAUGHT HIM:
                    (1) LEADERSHIP SKILLS
                    (2) FIGHTING SKILLS
                    (3) GIVEN HIM GOOD JUDGMENT ABOUT THE STRENGTHS
                    AND WEAKNESSES OF HIS ENEMIES.)

     B. JEPHTHAH IN v.7 ASKS THE SAME QUESTION I JUST ASKED, "WHY
     DO YOU WANT ME?"

          1. WHAT DOES HIS QUESTION TELL US ABOUT THE WAY HE HAD
          BEEN TREATED? (JEPHTHAH SAYS THAT THEY "HATED" HIM. NOT
          A PLEASANT THING TO HAVE YOUR BROTHERS HATE YOU.)

          2. WHAT DOES JEPHTHAH'S QUESTION TELL US ABOUT THE 
          IDENTITY OF THESE ELDERS? (IT APPEARS THAT AT LEAST SOME
          OF HIS BROTHERS HAVE GROWN UP TO BECOME ELDERS IN THIS
          TOWN.)

     C. I IMAGINE THAT IF YOU ASKED JEPTHAH, "WHAT IS THE WORST 
     THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?" HE WOULD ANSWER, "I WAS
     DRIVEN AWAY FROM HOME BY MY BROTHERS."

          1. KNOWING THAT THE ELDERS HAVE NOW ASKED HIM TO BE THEIR
          COMMANDER, DO YOU AGREE THAT THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT
          HAPPENED TO HIM? 
               (a. ONE OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT OUR HEAVENLY
               FATHER IS THAT HE CAN MAKE SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF
               SOMETHING TERRIBLE. IF JEPTHAH HAD NEVER BEEN
               DRIVEN AWAY TO BE OUT ON HIS OWN, HE LIKELY WOULD
               NOT HAVE LEARNED HIS WARRIOR AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS.
               
               b. WHEN TERRIBLE THINGS HAPPEN IN OUR LIFE, WE NEED
               TO ASK GOD TO MAKE SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF IT.

               c. JEPTHAH COULD HAVE DIRECTED HIS "ADVENTURERS" 
               AGAINST GILEAD TO TAKE HIS REVENGE. THIS SHOWS US
               HOW GOD VINDICATED JEPTHAH. IF THE STORY STOPPED
               HERE, I AM SURE THAT JEPTHAH WOULD HAVE FELT FULLY
               VINDICATED.)

     D. LETS READ HOW THE ELDERS ANSWER JEPTHAH'S QUESTION. READ
     JUDGES 11:8-11.

          1. HOW DO THE ELDERS ANSWER JEPTHAH'S QUESTION? 
               a. WHAT EXPLANATION DO THEY GIVE FOR HATING HIM AND
               DRIVING HIM OUT OF HIS FATHER'S HOUSE?
               b. WHAT EXPLANATION DO THEY GIVE FOR COMING TO HIM? 
          (THEY HAVE A PRETTY POOR RESPONSE. THEY GIVE NO REASONS.
          THEY ESSENTIALLY IGNORE THE QUESTION (NO DOUBT BECAUSE
          THERE IS NO GOOD ANSWER) AND SAY, "NEVERTHELESS, WE ARE
          COMING TO YOU!")

III. THE LEGAL ARGUMENT

     A. READ JUDGES 11:12-15. IS THIS ANY WAY TO PREPARE FOR 
     BATTLE?
          1. WHAT REASON DOES THE AMMONITE KING GIVE FOR ATTACKING?
          (THE LAND IS HIS.)

     B. I JUST INCLUDED THE FIRST VERSE OF JEPTHAH'S REPLY, SO THAT
     YOU COULD GET A GENERAL IDEA OF HIS RESPONSE.  IF WE WERE TO
     READ VERSES 14-27 WE WOULD SEE THAT JEPTHAH GIVES A DETAILED
     LAWYER'S ARGUMENT ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE LAND AND ISRAEL'S
     CLAIM TO IT.

          1. WHAT NEW SIDE OF JEPTHAH DOES THIS SHOW US? (1) THAT
          HE IS OBVIOUSLY EDUCATED; 2) THAT HE PREFERS DISCUSSION
          AND A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OVER WARFARE!)

     C. LETS CONTINUE WITH 11:28. THE KING OF AMMON SAYS, "WELL,
     YOU SURE KNOW YOUR HISTORY. I'M SORRY, WE'LL ALL BE HEADING
     HOME NOW. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.")

          1. OR DOES HE? (SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE JUST NOT GOING TO
          LISTEN TO REASON.)
          
IV. THE RASH VOW.

     A. READ JUDGES 11:29-35.

     B. DID JEPTHAH NEED TO MAKE THIS VOW TO WIN? (NO. IN THE CASE
     OF THE OTHER JUDGES THAT WE HAVE STUDIED, THE LORD COMES TO
     SEE THEM PERSONALLY. HERE, THE ELDERS OF GILEAD CAME TO SEE
     JEPTHAH. (THE AGREEMENT WAS REPEATED BEFORE THE LORD -- JUDGES
     11:11) HOWEVER, IN 11:29 WE READ THAT THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD
     CAME UPON JEPHTHAH, WHICH IS THE SAME LANGUAGE AS USED FOR
     GOD'S HELP TO THE OTHER JUDGES.  AND THIS HAPPENED BEFORE HE
     MADE HIS VOW.)

     C. SHOULD HE HAVE MADE A VOW LIKE THIS? (NO. ONE COMMENTATOR
     SUGGESTED THAT THE VERY LANGUAGE USED SUGGESTED A HUMAN
     SACRIFICE. IN LEV. 18:21 AND DEUT. 12:31 GOD SPECIFICALLY
     PROHIBITED HUMAN SACRIFICE).

     D. LETS READ ON. JUDGES 11:36-40. JEPTHAH KEPT HIS VOW TO GOD.
          1. DO YOU THINK HE WANTED TO KEEP HIS VOW? (NO)
          2. SO WHY DID HE?  CAN YOU SEE ANY REASON FOR HIM TO KEEP
          HIS VOW? (DEUT. 23:21-23 SPEAKS OF HOW WE MUST KEEP OUR
          VOWS TO GOD.)

          3. THERE IS CONTROVERSY OVER WHETHER JEPTHAH REALLY 
          SACRIFICED HIS DAUGHTER OR WHETHER HE MERELY DEDICATED
          HER TO GOD AS AN UNMARRIED WOMAN. (THIS IS BASED ON A
          READING OF 11:31 THAT HE WAS MAKING TWO PROMISES: TO
          DEDICATE TO THE LORD WHATEVER CAME OUT OF THE DOOR AND TO
          OFFER A BURNT OFFERING TO THE LORD. THE NIV AND KJV
          INSERT "IT" IN "SACRIFICE IT AS A BURNT OFFERING." THE
          HEBREW, AS CLEAR AS I CAN TELL, SAYS ESSENTIALLY "THE
          LORD -- UP IN SMOKE," WITH "SMOKE" HAVING THE CONNOTATION
          OF A SACRIFICE. SO THE TWO COULD BE SEPARATED.  THE
          PROBLEM IS MY UNDERSTANDING IS VERY PRIMITIVE.  THE SDABC
          COMMENTS THAT THE WORD "IT" IS REQUIRED IN THE
          TRANSLATION.)

     E. DO YOU THINK GOD WANTED JEPHTHAH TO KEEP HIS VOW?
          (GOD ALLOWED CERTAIN SUBSTITUTIONS, FOR EXAMPLE LEV. 
          27:2-8 DEALS WITH REDEEMING A PERSON DEDICATED TO THE
          LORD. GOD HAD ABRAHAM SUBSTITUTE A RAM FOR HIS BOY.
          HOWEVER, ABRAHAM NEVER MADE ANY VOW.  THE BEST WAY TO
          LOOK AT THIS IS TO PUT YOURSELF IN PLACE OF GOD. YOU ARE
          THE GRANDFATHER, YOUR SON MAKES A RASH VOW TO SACRIFICE
          YOUR GRANDDAUGHTER TO YOU BECAUSE OF YOUR HELP. (GOD
          INVITES SUCH PARALLELS: MATT. 7:9-11.) YOU WOULD NOT
          CONSIDER ACCEPTING THIS SACRIFICE FOR A MINUTE!)
     
V. CORRECT DICTION

     A. READ JUDGES 12:1-3. DOES THIS REMIND YOU OF ANYTHING YOU
     HAVE PREVIOUSLY SEEN IN THIS BOOK? (YES. THESE LOUSY
     EPHRAIMITES DID THE SAME THING TO GIDEON. (JUDGES 8:1-3) THE
     DIFFERENCE WAS THAT GIDEON WAS VERY SELF-EFFACING WHEN THEY
     DID THE SAME THING TO HIM, BUT JEPHTHAH WAS NOT SO
     DIPLOMATIC.)

          1. WHAT REASON DID EPHRAIM HAVE FOR THIS BEHAVIOR?

          2. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THIS IN CHURCH? SOMEONE TAKES ON A
          TOUGH JOB. LATER, SOMEONE WHO REFUSED TO HELP IS CRITICAL
          OF WHAT IS DONE AND TRIES TO HORN IN ON THE GLORY!

               a. WHOSE REACTION SHOULD WE EMULATE IN SUCH A 
               SITUATION? GIDEON OR JEPTHAH?

     B. READ 12:4-7. HAVE YOU HEARD THAT ADVERTISEMENT FOR TAPES
     THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR VOCABULARY AND IMPROVE YOUR SPEECH?
     THEY EXPLAIN HOW IMPORTANCE OF GOOD SPEAKING SKILLS, AND HOW
     PEOPLE JUDGE YOU BY YOUR SPEECH.

          1. APPARENTLY, THESE TAPES WERE NOT AVAILABLE IN EPHRAIM
          AT THE TIME.

          2. WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THIS? (THAT ALTHOUGH THESE WERE
          ALL GOD'S PEOPLE, AND THE DESCENDANTS OF BROTHERS, THERE
          WERE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES AMONG THEM, INCLUDING
          DIALECT DIFFERENCES.

     
VI. NEXT WEEK: SAMPSON! JUDGES 13! STUDY. (I WILL NOT BE WITH YOU.)