“Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, ‘What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?’ And the king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, ‘Because Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.’ Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said to him, ‘Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites… The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. And they took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. So then the Lord, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel; and are you to take possession of them? Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the Lord our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess… I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.” Judges 11:12-15,21-24,27
When the Ammonite king challenged Jephthah, the assigned leader of Israel, he came armed with a horizontal perspective: ‘You took my land, and I want it back.’ His strategy was determined by how he humanly saw what had transpired, where all is tied up in possessions and turf. But Jephthah saw from a different, vertical vantage point, where all was orchestrated by God’s invisible hand, tied up in kingdom purposes. The king cared only for his realm during his reign, whereas Jephthah had God’s covenant promise of the land in mind and in his sights. His motive and efforts were for something much grander and lasting.
So much of what we do and how we react in a day is driven by our horizontal view of things, and the control we think we can exercise. The gravity of our flesh keeps our sights pulled earthward, and we operate in the lowest common denominator of my rights, my entitlements, my walls, my world. We jaunt around Ammonite kings, adjusting our crowns to what we want and what we think we deserve. We buttress ourselves from being affected or helped by a broader vision, a wider understanding of God’s vertical purposes in our sanctification and His kingdom work.
But the Lord calls us to be Jephthahs, to see all as His doing, to credit Him with our possessed gifts and any successes, and to eagerly seize and employ all He supplies. With those who have limited sight we are to share eternal, spiritual vision, to expose the folly of lesser gods like Chemosh and point them to trust the true Judge of all the earth. Are we so bold, and purposeful, and willing?
Lord, keep me believing and rejoicing that all is Your doing. In every challenge, with every opponent, my lot and my hope are with You.