Summary: Message 17 in our journey through Judges. This message explores Jephthah.

Judges Series #17

Life Cycles

“God Empowers the Rejected”


After a period of victory championed by Moses’ successor Joshua, the Israelites settled in the land promised to Abraham hundreds of years before. One lesson seemed abundantly clear.

Blessing follows obedience.Trouble follows disobedience.After the death of Joshua, the people rapidly slid back into their old ways.

In spite of stern warning by Joshua in his farewell address, the Israelites ignored the principles God gave them leading to peace and prosperity and did what they felt was right.This tragic book ends with tis statement.

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25

Idolatry, immorality and anarchy characterized this dark chapter in Israel’s history.

They rejected the teachings of their founders.

They no longer passed on the stories of God’s amazing loving acts for His chosen people.

They became enmeshed with the pagan nations that God commanded them to destroy.

They purposely ignored God while picking up the dreadful beliefs and practices of those nations and worshiped multiple deities.

They arrogantly did their own thing.

Every man did that what was right in their own eyes.

They lapsed into idolatry, immorality and anarchy.

This third generation of people following the glorious deliverance from Egyptian slavery lapses into a period of only sporadic service to God spanning nearly three centuries (299 years) of mostly self-absorbed pursue of their own ways.

The author skillfully weaves three main “take away” messages through the book.

Sin continually causes bondage and enslavement.

God mercifully grants deliverance from slavery.

God powerfully enlists the unlikely to precipitate the unimaginable.


God powerfully enlists the improbable to facilitate the impossible.

These three messages emerge most prominently in a cycle of 7 historical snapshots organized around five stages. Since we haven’t reviewed those stages in a while, let’s go over them again.


Each cycle highlights a particular unlikely instrument of deliverance. It seems in order to emphasize the increasing depravity of the period, the author also points out the increasing lack of character in the instruments of deliverance. Each cycle also highlights a particular kind of person God chose to use.

I. Cycle Identified 1-2

II. Cycle Illustrated (Seven examples) 3-16

A. Othniel 3:1-16 -- God empowers the faithful

B. Ehud 3:17-30 -- God empowers the weak

C. Shamgar 3:31 -- God empowers with whatever is available.

D. Deborah 4 -- God empowers the disenfranchised

E. Gideon 5-8 – God empowers the fearful

After Gideon, a civil war broke out when one of Gideon’s seventy sons from multiple wives took control.

Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family,

“Say in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem. Judges 9:1-6

Following the civil war, the text briefly mentions two judges not included in the seven cycles.

After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. And he judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir. After him arose Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Kamon. Judges 10:1-5

The writer of Hebrews catalogs a number of individuals who exhibited a faith worthy of mention. These stood as witness to the faithfulness of a powerful God in the face of a devastating circumstance. These individuals also stand as witnesses to the reward that comes through trusting God fully. Gideon as well as the next two judges somehow found their way onto the list of the faithful.

F. Jephthah 10-11

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