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Bluster or Battle

Daily Reading: Judges 12-13

Scripture Focus: The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.” (Judges 12.1)

Devotional Thought: You've known people who have said, "You should have called me! I would have helped!" Or even the ones who get mad at you for not including them in the work. The men of Ephraim were like that. They complained against Gideon, “‘What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?' And they accused him fiercely" (Judges 8.1). Gideon was able to appease these hot-tempered Ephraimites by stroking their vaunted egos.

Here in Judges 12, we again see the Ephraimites "up in arms" for being overlooked by Jephthah. This time, however, they are not appeased, they are punished. Jephthah called their bluff, basically saying, "I did call you. You just didn't come." Then, having been threatened with violence, he turned the table on the Ephraimites, and 42,000 of them were killed in war.

Looking back on the history of Ephraim, we find that they were not as fierce and brave as they led people to believe. "Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them" (Judges 1.29). They were more bluster than battle, interested more in comfort than conflict.

Ephraim allowed their enemies to live among them. I believe that was part of their problem. Then to compensate, they picked 'safe' battles with those who wouldn't retaliate. Jephthah showed them the error of rash words.

Do I allow spiritual 'enemies' such as anger, pride and fear to dwell in my life? Am I more bluster than battle when it comes to spiritual things? Do I lash out at the 'safe' ones in my life?

Prayer: Lord, deliver me from arrogance and anger. May my words and actions reflect the courage, resolve and humility of Christ. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 55.16-23

16 But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. 17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. 18 He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 19 God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.

20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. 21 His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.

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