Judges 11.12-28


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What God Gives Us to Possess 

We can possess and enjoy what God has given to us

Judges 11.12–28

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 2, In the year of our Lord, 2014


  1. Judges 11.12 – Is there a just cause?

    12 Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, saying, “What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land?”

    1. Rather than acting like a raging maniac,
      1. he sought to solve things diplomatically.
      2. Jephthah was a warrior, but
        1. like any true soldier,
        2. he would much rather have peace.
      3. Therefore, he sought to understand the actions of his enemy.
    2. Proverbs 3.29–30 explains the way of wisdom.

      29 Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
      For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.
      30 Do not strive with a man without cause,
      If he has done you no harm.
      (Pro 3.29–30)

    3. The land under dispute was about 50 by 15 miles.

      “This first act in his judicial capacity reflects the highest credit on his character for prudence and moderation, justice and humanity. The bravest officers have always been averse to war; so Jephthah, whose courage was indisputable, resolved not only to make it clearly appear that hostilities were forced upon him, but to try measures for avoiding, if possible, an appeal to arms: and in pursuing such a course he was acting as became a leader in Israel (De 20:10–18)” (Jamieson).

  2. Judges 11.13 – A demand

    13 And the king of the people of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and to the Jordan. Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably.”

    1. At first, this may sound good.
    2. However, there were two things wrong with what the king of Ammon said:
      1. It was not Ammon’s land that Israel took.
      2. If it was true that Israel had taken the land of Ammon, why did Ammon wait so long to recover it?
        1. By the king’s own admission
        2. much time had already passed.
          1. Three hundred years had passed.
          2. Why was Ammon just now getting around to recovering those lands, if the land was truly theirs?
  3. Judges 11.14–27 – Jephthah’s message

    14 So Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, 15 and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the people of Ammon; 16 for when Israel came up from Egypt, they walked through the wilderness as far as the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land.” But the king of Edom would not heed. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained in Kadesh.’”

    1. Jephthah set the record straight.
    2. Moab and Ammon were the sons of Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
      1. God would not allow Israel to take their land,
      2. nor to fight against their brethren.
        1. Nevertheless, Moab did not treat his brother Israel well.
        2. However, when a leader has already made the decision to fight,
          1. bounces off his eyes.
          2. Yet, reasoning must be done.
    3. Jephthah gave a history lesson,

      18 “And they went along through the wilderness and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab, came to the east side of the land of Moab, and encamped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.”

      1. This was a matter of historical record.
      2. Historical records do not mean much to the greedy and covetous.
    4. Israel had acted properly,

      19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land into our place.’ 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21 And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 And now the LORD God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it?”

      1. Israel only wanted to pass through the land of the Amorites.
        1. Not only did the Amorites deny permission,
        2. they picked a fight with Israel.
      2. Jephthah topped off his recounting of the well-documented history with a question.
      3. History was of Yahweh God of Israel.
        1. With the statement and question of verse 23,
        2. Jephthah raised the stakes considerably.
      4. Should Ammon now try to posses the land?
        1. Ammon was trying to claim the land of the Armorites.
        2. Did they realize that they would be fighting against God?
    5. Ammon could not win,

      24 “Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess. 25 And now, are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel? Did he ever fight against them?”

      1. The god of Ammon was Chemosh.
      2. Whatever he was capable of giving to Ammon, they should possess.
      3. Whatever Yahweh God gave Israel to possess, they would possess.
      4. Jephthah reminded Ammon of Balak, the king of Moab.
        1. Ammon was not better than Moab.
        2. What happened when Moab fought Israel?
    6. Jephthah questioned Ammon’s procrastination,

      26 “While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon, for three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?”

      1. If Ammon was right, why did it take them 300 years to retrieve it?
      2. Remember the war between England and Argentina?
        1. Argentina claimed the Falkland Islands belonged to them.
        2. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and England responded that if that was true, why did they wait so long to take them.
    7. Jephthah declared Israel’s innocence and Ammon’s guilt,

      27 “Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the LORD, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.”

      1. Ammon was in the wrong.
      2. Jephthah put it in the Lord’s hands to judge on the matter.
        1. Remember Jephthah’s words, an expression of his faith, because
        2. he will do something later unnecessarily in light of his words here.
  4. Judges 11.28 – Failing to heed the words of a man of God

    28 However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him (Jdg 11.28).

    1. Jephthah was a man of God, because
    2. he spoke the truth.
      1. Ammon failed to take heed to the words of this judge and
      2. paid a heavy price.
        1. Ammon did not learn, because
        2. Second Chronicles 20 shows that they fought God’s people again!