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Summary: Who by faith…Jephthah. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: Hebrews chapter 11 verses 32-34.

• Hebrews chapter 11 is God’s hall of fame;

• It is a list of people who are honoured because of the faith.

• As you read the chapter what surprises you is who is left out and who is included!

• In verse 32 we are introduced to a man called Jephthah.

• Most Bible readers would probably say; “Who?”

• Jephthah he was the 9th judge, leader of Israel.

• He controlled the destiny of that nation for six years.

• Jephthah is the story of a man;

• Who went from being a zero, in the eyes of many, to becoming a hero.

• It is a ‘Cinderella’ type story.

• Somebody despised and rejected;

• Who will eventually be elevated to a position of honour and authority.

• Only this story doesn’t end, “…and the lived happily ever after”,

• As we will see, Jephthah’s story actually finishes on a tragic note.

• I want to split his story up under three headings:

• The first heading will give us the background, the times into which he was born.

(1). A Nation in decay (Judges 10: 1-18)

• Sadly we are used to reading headlines in our newspapers like:

• FAMILY FEUD LEAVES 69 BROTHERS DEAD!

• POWERFUL GOVERNMENT LEADER CAUGHT IN "LOVE NEST."

• GANG RAPE LEADS TO VICTIM'S DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT.

• GIRLS AT PARTY KIDNAPPED AND FORCED TO MARRY STRANGERS.

• WOMAN JUDGE SAYS TRAVELERS NO LONGER SAFE ON HIGHWAYS.

• Sensational headlines like these are usually found on the front page of the tabloids,

• But these headlines actually describe the times, the events in the Book of Judges.

• What a contrast they are to the closing chapters of the Book of Joshua,

• Where you see a nation resting from war;

• And enjoying the riches God had given them in the Promised Land.

• But in the Book of Judges the picture dramatically changes for the nation of Israel;

• Instead of peace they are constantly invaded,

• Instead of freedom they are at times enslaved,

• Instead of a land of milk and honey they experience poverty;

• Instead of being a united country they were experiencing civil war.

Question: What happened, what brought about this dramatic change?

Answer: Decay!

Ill:

Life ought to teach us, that deterioration is never sudden:

• No garden is suddenly overgrown with weeds,

• No building suddenly crumbles,

• No church suddenly splits,

• No tree suddenly falls,

• No marriage suddenly breaks down,

• No person suddenly becomes base,

The nation of Israel quickly decayed over a period of time:

• The old generation died off;

• And a new generation of Israelites were born and took over;

• This new generation did not know their former leader Joshua (he was history);

• And even worse they did not know Joshua’s God.

• Very soon apathy towards spiritual things began to take over.

• Instead of obeying the Lord, the people moved into apostasy.

• Instead of law and order ruling the nation,

• The land was soon filled with anarchy!

Quote:

• One of the key verses from the book of Judges is chapter 21 verse 25:

• “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”

• Message: “… People did whatever they felt like doing.”

• KJB: “… every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.

ill:

• There are two sides to a sheet of flypaper,

• And it makes a big difference to the fly which side he chooses.

• Sadly the nation made the wrong choices;

• And decay and failure marked the nation.

(2). A leader in demand (Judges 11: 1-33)

Ill:

• England’s most famous outlaw, has to be the legendary hero of the 12th-century;

• The courteous, swashbuckling outlaw Robin Hood.

• Who, in modern versions of the legend,

• Is famous for his robbing the rich to feed the poor & fighting against injustice & tyranny.

• He operates with his "seven score"

• (140 strong) group of fellow outlawed yeomen;

• Named the Merry Men for their famed jollity

• Who were based in hideouts in Sherwood Forest and Barnsdale Forest.

• The chief nemesis of the Merry Men is the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham;

• Who is overtaxing the people into poverty,

• And in some tales the villain is Prince John,

• Based on Prince John of England.

• Robin is the hero who comes always at the right time;

• To rescue those individuals or villages in distress.

Jephthah has been described as an Eastern Robin Hood:

• Because of no fault of his own he too was rejected;

• Verse 3 tells us that like Robin Hood he had his gang of merry men.

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