“So, the sons of Ammon were called and they encamped against Gilead. And the Sons of Israel gathered and encamped at Mitspah. And the people, the princes of Gilead, said, each to his companion, ‘Who is the man that will begin to fight against the Sons of Ammon? He shall be head over all who dwell in Gilead.’
And so, with God not raising up a Judge over the people, the people seek to make a go of things on their own. They gather their armies at Mizpah (which is a common place of meeting) and prepare to square off against the Ammonites. Yet, who will lead the fight? If you know something about ancient history and military tactics, generals and kings primarily lead battles from the front lines, not calling shots from the back ranks. And thus, those who were the best fighters often were the best kings and generals and their battles rallied the men and prompted the men to fight harder.
So, the people ask, “Who will this one be?” What follows sets the stage for the man they will call to be that leader and we are given the background of Jephthah so that we will understand the effects that come along with things when people seek their own deliverers rather than seeking the deliver that God will send. Of course, the latter comes with repentance.
It often grieves my heart as to how quickly Christians will often run toward worldly leaders or people who will lead in worldly ways to bring them out of times of trouble. How often the church has looked to the world for ideas — following rather than leading the culture. How often people in the church will celebrate even the most godless of leaders just so long as those leaders lead them out of their current oppression.
Yet, beloved, allegiance with the world always exacts a cost…and the cost is usually greater than the gains achieved. In addition, God historically strengthens his church more during times of persecution that during times of deliverance. No, that isn’t an easy path. But didn’t Jesus say that the easy and wide path is not the path that a Christian should follow?