Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?”
Among the judges of Israel, Jephthah is best known for the rash vow that he makes concerning being victorious in battle. Scholars debate what the terms of the vow are and what actually happens to his daughter as a result, but the point isn’t so much the what as that it happened at all. God didn’t ask Jephthah to promise Him anything in exchange for victory in battle. God had shown Himself perfectly willing to deliver Israel without any bargains. But that whole debacle is not what caught my attention this morning.
As I was reading, I noticed that Jephthah had been rejected by his own people. The Bible tells us that he was the son of Gilead, but that his fellow Gileadites had run him out of town because his mother was a prostitute. His birth was somewhat shameful, but he turned out to be a valiant warrior. Later in The Bible, there will be another Man whose birth society will deem shameful and His own people will reject Him. Even in the book of Judges, we see that Israel had been rejecting God in favor of the not-a-gods of the people Israel was meant to kick out. Jephthah has something in common with God — he was rejected by his own.
Jephthah asks the question that The Bible records God asking on more than one occasion. “Why are you coming to me when you’re in trouble?” It’s not that either Jephthah or God is going to refuse to deliver, it’s that attention must be called to the faithlessness of the people. God needs to call attention to our waywardness sometimes because we are wont to forget.
Today, am I pushing God away? Are things going well and I’m pushing God off into a corner and expecting Him to be happy with some small fraction of my self? Or are circumstances challenging and I find myself coming to God for help? God is not unwilling, but He may call attention to my faithlessness if I have been unfaithful. I need to remain faithful to Him; to keep Him close and not push Him away during good times and only call out to Him in tough times.