Battleground Earth 13: The Issue of Legitimacy - David Mitts


"Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead was the father of Jephthah."  Jdg11:1 (NASB)

Click here to listen to "The Issue of Legitimacy"

Legitimacy has been a challenge for many people. Feelings of the shame that comes from illegitimacy can affect the way we see ourselves and our claim on the victories in our lives. What is legitimacy really all aboutWith respect to our birth, legitimacy is determined by the marriage covenant of the parents. When a child is conceived in a marriage covenant, as a boundary generated by the pledges of 2 individuals and through them two lineages, the child is celebrated as the legitimate fruit of that covenant.

So, what happens when a child is birthed outside of the boundaries of covenant? This is often named as an illegitimate child. In this chapter we will look at such a person, a hero who experienced the label of illegitimacy, its consequences, and had to overcome it to fulfill the call of God on his life.

His name was Jephthah which means “he who opens”. Judges 11 verse 1 tells us that he was born the son of Gilead and the son of an unnamed harlot.  The term for harlot in Hebrew is “ishahzonaThis woman who is credited with the birth of Jephthahidentified as a valiant warrior, is erased from the story. Why is this? What can we learn about the life of God and the people of God from this?

Clearly, God is a God of covenant.  He would always be faithful to the covenant. This is the lie of replacement theology which declares God to be a covenant breaker. It is also the subtle lie of old testament and new testament thinking where receiving Jesus is seen as a superior act of faith to the faith of Israel before Jesus.  I have heard many in Christianity, relate to the Jewish people and God’s covenant with them as being “finished” with the cross. 

But is this the truth? Well, let’s remember that Yeshua came to Israel and that many of His disciples were Jews.  The new covenant is certainly a better covenant. But it is also a better covenant for Israel. God is NOT a covenant breaker but a covenant transformer.

""Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.""  Jer 31:31-34 (NKJV)

The actual children of the ishah zona would be the Gentiles who join themselves to the covenant of Israel.  The earthly mother system of the world that served as the womb of life for the Gentiles would be the system of idols and idolatry which we learned from our study of Gideon was termed as playing the harlot.

""For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; And you said, 'I will not transgress,' When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot."  Jer 2:20 (NKJV)

So, Jephthah represents, perhaps, the role of a Gentile deliverer. He is born of the same father-seed as all Israel but outside of the covenant.  The impact to his life of being an outsider was devastating to the rules of inheritance. He is rejected by his brothers and stripped of his inheritance, verses 2 and 3.

"Gilead's wife bore sons; and when his wife's sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, "You shall have no inheritance in our father's house, for you are the son of another woman." Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him."  Jdg 11:2-3 (NKJV)

Jephthah is an outcast who gathers to himself a band of outcasts. The translation that calls his band worthless men is interesting as clearly, they would prove to be very worthwhile and yet in the estimation of the narrator, they are viewed as having no value in the order of society. There truly are no worthless people, only people who are off purpose and they can be repurposed.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, (1Co 1:25-27 NAS77)

God is God of redemption.

"Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!' ""  Hos 2:23 (NKJV)

Jephthah and his band of merry men may seem worthless but will be used powerfully of God. Let not the estimation of others have anything to do with your value in Christ!

And it came about after a while that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel. And it happened when the sons of Ammon fought against Israel that the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; and they said to Jephthah, "Come and be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Ammon." (Jdg11:4-6 NASB)

As many people who carry a spirit of rejectionJephthah and his band had become great fighters. As the Ammonites were becoming a greater threat to Israel, the elders sought out a champion in Jephthah to defend them. Their offer to make him a chief or a captain was purely a military decision. They had no investment in him or any intention of restoring his position in the house of Gilead. If they make him a captain and he dies in battle, it will mean nothing to them.

Jephthah responds to the recruitment by reminding them of his rejection:

So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, "Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father's house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?" (Jdg 11:7 NKJV)

We can infer from his question that the “elders” are probably at least in part his own brothersThis makes their response interesting:

And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, "That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead." (Jdg 11:8 NKJV)

Knowing they had rejected Jephthah and facing the imminent danger of the Ammonites, they must at least at some level blame their distress on the way they treated Jephthah. So, they increase the negotiations to headship for Jephthah. The word “head” is the Hebrew word Rosh which is the role of a tribal leader. Jephthah is being offered what was taken from him because of issues of legitimacy.

This is a powerful concept. Man cannot take from you what God has ordained for you.

Jephthah then connects this proposition to God:

"So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, "If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the LORD delivers them to me, shall I be your head?""  Jdg 11:9 (NKJV)

God is declared to be the one who prevails in battle. By attaching God to the negotiations Jephthah has taken them to the divine realm. 

"And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, "The LORD will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words." Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD in Mizpah."  Jdg 11:10-11 (NKJV)

Mizpah is the place where Jacob built a stone altar to the Lord to seal the covenant with Laban.

"also Mizpah, because he said, "May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from another."  Gen 31:49 (NKJV)

Mizpah, in Ancient Hebrew, is the picture of leaning forward to watch. This place became a meeting place where covenants were made with the Lord watching.  The Hebrew word for favor is the idea that God looks favorably upon us. It is part of the priestly benediction, “may the Lord lift up His face or countenance unto you”. In a covenant transaction, like a wedding the favor of the Father, His blessing is an essential covering for the process.

Jephthah is a rough and tumble sort of guy. He is the Trump of his day. He is a warrior and certainly would have been considered to have a brash boldness.  In leadership, true leadership, this is often the case. People will always be more comfortable with refined, politically correct, and predictable leaders.  What is sacrificed in this idea of the refined leader, is the warrior leader who became who he is despite the rejection of the people and also because of the rejection of the people!

You see everyone wants to relate to the kind healer Jesus. What they refuse to see is the warrior-heart that sought out the rejection of the people.  The people see the victim-Jesus. Yeshua never saw Himself as a victim. No! He was the one who came to heal rejection by becoming rejected.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isa 53:3 NIV)

We tend to fear rejection and that fear dominates our thinking. Yeshua came to free our minds and hearts to be able to love again. To do that He caused rejection to manifest.  In the place of rejection, He despised it for what it is, a demonic fear-based system that enslaves people and keeps them from being the warriors they are called to be.  Instead of drawing back from rejection and its root of shame, Yeshua stepped into the rejection and became the champion of His beloved. He shamed shame. He rejected rejection. In that, He became the Lord of a new people, those who choose to embrace rejection and in that become free of its tyranny.

Jephthah likewise embraced his wildness, his outcast nature, and became the deliver from the Ammonites. Who are the ammonites?

Ammom: The pictograph is a picture of the eye, it is a picture of the sea representing mass. Combined these mean "see a mass". A large group of people in one location.

The Ammonites are the mob. They are the voice of the masses. They seek to destroy godly authority and the uniqueness of each person and the passionate love of God for each and every one. Jephthah is the response of God.  It is the door that He opens for us.

Activation: Compromise. What have you compromised with the voice of the masses? When have you allowed the screams of crucify himto cloud you in your thinking? It is time to embrace rejection!

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