Parashat Chukat (Law of…) Numbers 19:1-22:1
Haftarah: Judges 11:1-33
In this week’s prophetic reading we learn about the judge called Yiftach (Jephthath). At first this man was driven away by his family, but when Ammon made war with Israel the elders went to Yiftach in order to beseech him to lead them to victory, knowing that he was “a mighty man of valor” (see verse one). In other words, Yiftach was a rejected leader who in the end provided victory for his people.
It is important to realize that for the deliverance to be realized by Israel, Yiftach had to forgive those who had treated him unkindly previously. His brothers had driven him away because his mother was a harlot (please note that although some bibles translate the Hebrew word as “concubine” the proper meaning is “harlot”). In spite of the immoral activity of his mother, HaShem wanted to use Yiftach in a might way. This is a good lesson for all today. Just because our family history may not be the most respectable, one is not defined by others, even his or her closest relatives. G-d looks as each person as an individual and He has a call on each person’s life that is not depended upon anything other than one surrendering in obedience to the will of G-d.
The unfortunate thing today is that frequently people allow the unkind actions of others to serve as an excuse not to pursue the will of G-d upon one’s life. Initially it seemed that Yiftach was at the mercy of his family, for they had driven him away. The Hebrew word implies that Yiftach did not want to go, but was forced. G-d however, Who is faithful, moved in this situation and brought about the situation which restored Yiftach to his people and to the place that HaShem wanted him to be. The important thing to see is that when the time came, Yiftach was willing to respond. He did not allow the malice which his family had demonstrated to him to spread into him and thereby refuse to come to the aid of his people, but rather he utilized the gifts and calling that HaShem has placed upon him.
What is G-d’s call upon your life? Do you have confidence that your life is embracing this call obediently? Be assured that everyone who HaShem wants to use will meet obstacles and unkindness from others, sometimes even from those we care about the most. Yeshua is of course the best example of overcoming rejection and unkindness in the harshest of manner. The fact that both Jew and Gentile betrayed Him, beat Him, mocked Him and conspired against Him did not cause Him avoid the cross, not fail to cry out at the end, “Forgive them Father, for the know not what they do”.
Sometimes faithfulness leads one not to fame, fortune, and prestige; but rather to shame, humiliation and death. If you cannot endure unkindness of others even in the most extreme expressions of it, then your problem is you have not experienced the love of Messiah.
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