ODJ: origins

June 13, 2015 

READ: Judges 11:1-10 

I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 30:19).

If the book of Judges were turned into a mini-series, we wouldn’t permit young children to view it. The book shows life in early Israel as violent, ugly and self-serving. Villains abounded. One such bad guy was Abimelech, the son of the heroic Gideon (see Judges 9:1-5,50-56). Spoiler alert: he killed all his brothers except one and usurped power for himself. He also met an interesting demise.

Abimelech was born not to Gideon’s wife but to his concubine (Judges 8:31). Well, that explains it, right? A bad family situation results in a bad person.

Not so fast! In Judges 11 we meet Jephthah, a warrior known for his rash vow and for leading a band of rebels. The Bible bluntly labels Jephthah’s mother a “prostitute” (v.1). His half-brothers drove him off to prevent him from sharing their inheritance. But when a rival tribe started a war against Israel, the same people who had driven him out wanted to hire him for his military prowess. Jephthah gave credit for any future military success to the Lord (v.9), and a stunning victory resulted. What a difference from the homicidal Abimelech!

Years earlier, Moses said in his farewell speech to Israel: “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him and committing yourself firmly to him” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

Jephthah chose life. And this man, the son of a prostitute, is cited immediately before King David as a hero of faith (Hebrews 11:32).

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Matthew 2:13-23

In Deuteronomy 30:11-20, read in detail the vital choice Moses presented to the people of Israel. 
How do you sometimes look down on people because of their origins, family situation or choices in the past? How does God view you, in spite of your origins?