Key Word:- BECOME
Title:- The Wild, Wild Men of The West!
Judges 11:1-3 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, but he was the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah. Gilead's wife bore sons; and when his wife's sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, “You shall have no inheritance in our father's house, for you are the son of another woman.” Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him.
Now, the book of Judges reads better than any ‘western novel’ you will ever purchase. With plots as deep as wells, intrigues as complicated as a bowl of spaghetti and characters whose lives and ego’s are larger than Goliath's sword; you will not want for colour, excitement and controversy. The backdrop for the revelation of God Almighty in the book of Judges, is truly like the ‘wild wild west’ because everyone is doing ‘that which is right in his own eyes.’ Armed, strong and ruthless men, roam and rule the land. Now enter stage left, Jephthah the Gileadite.
Not many people have heard of Jephthah but everyone has heard of ‘Billy the Kid’, who was reputed to be the world’s most famous outlaw! He was born today in 1859, possibly in New York. His life can be split into four distinct sections:
Firstly, the story of a young man's good character, corrupted by parental loss and early abuse;
Secondly, by the near redemption of a life gone wrong through a scheming but strong Englishman in the form of Mr. John Tunstall;
Thirdly, Billy’s taking revenge at the murder of his redeeming mentor and
Finally, in 1881, his death at the hands of a cowardly old friend and acquaintance, Sheriff Pat Garret, who would gun him down in the dark at Billy’s girlfriend's house in New Mexico.
Billy was just 21years old when his legend was born and Hollywood as usual, has milked it for all it’s worth.
The story of Billy the Kid's real life would not be out of place in the Book of Judges! Dennis Bratcher commenting on the life of Jephthah, might equally apply his comments to Billy the Kid when he notes that “there is nothing positive about the story of Jephthah. Except it is a heartrending model of what not to do!”
Actually, I think Mr Bratcher might be right if he were commenting about Billy the Kid but wrong in commenting about Jephthah. The wild, wild men of the Book of Judges are not simply placed in scripture to show us what not to do! They are placed there to show us how to fight; and especially how to fight with faith! You see, these aren’t just oversized, extravagant colourful cardboard cut-outs, to keep the kids entertained in a five minute slot before the sermon. No! These are real people like us; men with some of the most severe character flaws you could ever come across. To say they needed therapy is an understatement. Some of them needed locking up! However, remarkably God is there and God is using them; and finally pointing out some good things about them for our example and I believe, encouraging us to imitate them. Now that’s truly amazing and remarkably gracious.
It might be good for us to bear this in mind when we mourn the catastrophic fall of Christian leaders who crash upon the public stage. Remember that while God never overlooks, justifies or excuses sin, it also would appear that in the final analysis, God does not let sin blot out the good things that were achieved when these same people operated in faith and righteousness.
Medals and trophies; the commendations and applause of the popular people, heard and handed to us in the world of men, mean nothing, absolutely nothing, before the judgment seat of Christ. I have decided therefore, along with the apostle Paul, to wait until then, to see what really matters and in the meantime, learn from the wild, wild men of the west by taking note of both their mistakes and their marvelous feats of faith. Dear friend what about you? How wild do you want to get? How wild dare you get?
Listen:- And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Hebrews 11:32-35
Pray: - Lord, keep me from final judgements and help me learn, both from others good and great examples, as well as their mistakes. Amen.