Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving devotion: Outlaw - Judges 11:3

Today’s readings:       Judges 11:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 11:12-21

Judges 11:3    So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a group of adventurers gathered around him and followed him.

The story of Jephthah reminds me of the tale of Robin Hood. Jephthah becomes an outcast because of his immoral parentage and, in order to survive, he collects around him a band of adventurers who fiercely defend the exiled land where they are now living. Jephthah and his band of brothers are treated like outlaws until their homeland comes under a severe attack from its enemies. Jephthah’s strength, bravery, and courage are so well known in the region that the elders of his tribe come to him for help. They are even willing to forget his shady family tree and offer him the leadership of his own people. They are all living in desperate times, which requires desperate action.

Later on in the story, Jephthah becomes a tragic character because of a rash promise, but during this time when the people needed him, his leadership saves the day. God obviously blesses Jephthah because he is a man of faith who keeps his word. Even though this will cost him his dearest love, Jephthah will not abandon his people who had once forsaken and outlawed him.

It’s a remarkable story, full of many different angles, lessons, and teaching points. It shows us how God can use outcasts to fulfill His will. It also reminds us of the noble qualities of loyalty and service which can be found in humanity. It displays fortitude and courage in the face adversity and prejudice, as well as how compassion and sacrifice show humility and devotion before God.

Jephthah’s tale could have been written as a Shakespearean tragedy, but it also reminds us of how God kept His promise by sacrificing His own dear Son in order to redeem and restore the world that He loved. And if you read through Judges 11 over the next couple of days, you’ll fully understand all that I am writing about today.

Questions for personal reflection

Have there been times in my life when I've felt like an outcast among my peers? How has God helped through those moments of isolation?

Prayer:            Lord God, You have kept all of Your promises and continue to fulfill Your word each day. We thank You for the precious gift of Your Son Jesus whose death brought us life, and whose compassion granted us mercy. Help us to share His gift with our families and friends during this time of Thanksgiving and Hope. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a questions about today’s message, please send him an email to traqair@aol.com.

Today’s image is a holiday card for a friend.

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