Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Judges 11, 12, 13 Land for Peace

אזורים בארץ ישראל Holy Land regions -- Galilee...Image via Wikipedia
Whoa!  There it is again - land for peace.  Nestled in the pages of the Book of Judges, Israel's new military leader/judge, Japhthah entered into a dialog with the Ammonites who waged war against Israel.  He simply asked them why they were attacking his nation.

The Ammonites replied that three hundred years earlier Israel took their land and they wanted it back, immediately and peacefully.  In so many uncanny ways this mirrors current events in the Mid-East.  However, Japhthah did not waffle on his right to the land.  Japhthah's response to the Ammonites, recorded in Judges 11: 14 - 28, reflected his knowledge of history, his relationship with God, and his faith in God's covenant relationship with Israel.  It is so powerful that I am inserting it here:

Judges 11: 14 - 28

14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15 saying:
   “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a] and on to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
 18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.
 19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20Sihon, however, did not trust Israel[b] to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
 21 “Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
 23 “Now since the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”
 28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.

In Judges 11:33, Scripture records that the Ammonites were completely subdued because the Lord handed them over into Japhthah's hand.

In His infinite wisdom,  the Sovereign God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made a covenant agreement with Abraham to give him and his descendants through Sarah (Genesis 17), the land of Canaan.  Abraham did not ask for land.   In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to leave his country and to go to the land that He would show him.  What I am pointing out is that God both initiated this move and predetermined  to give this land to Abraham.  The disposition of the land had everything to do with God's Sovereign Will  and with Israel's submission to it.  

For Israel, to trade the land for peace is tantamount to rejecting God's covenant with Israel.  The Sovereign God of Israel, the Creator of the Universe, who gave the land to Abraham and his descendants, is the One with whom  the unbelieving world must contend.  The God of Israel has defended His people when they placed their trust in Him and in His Will for them.  I encourage Israel to do the same today.

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