“And Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Sons of Ammon, saying, ‘What do you have against me? For you are coming to me and fighting in my land.”
You will notice how relationships have now changed in the eyes of Jephthah. Before he was an alien toward the land of Gilead — unwelcome and without a stake in the land. Now he speaks of the land as his and tells the Ammonites that an attack on the land is an attack on him personally. How quickly one’s attitudes can change.
Yet, the character and upbringing of Jephthah begins to demonstrate itself even here. For, though he is now the leader of Gilead and will function as the delivering Judge over the people, the land does not belong to the king. It belongs to God and to God alone. Were he to have spoken rightly, he ought to have said something like, “Why are you fighting against the people of God and fighting on the land that God has set apart for them?” But no, Jephthah, like the pagans in the nations around him, treats the land (and people of the land) as his own.
Now, as we look at the church today, I find it interesting how many people make the same mistake, though with far fewer excuses than has Jephthah. Jephthah didn’t know any better from his pagan culture. People who are part of churches ought to know better. People who have grown up in churches across generations definitely ought to know better and sometimes they are the worst offenders. Jesus is King over the church and that means the church is not “my” church, nor does it belong to any one family or community of people. The church belongs to Jesus. He will defend her, which is something that a king does and he will govern over her which is the other thing that a king does. He will also issue decrees that all those within the church must obey unless they are to find themselves under judgment. The same follows with the church.
We ought not be surprised when confessing Christians have problems understanding that Christ is king over his church because confessing Christians also struggle with the notion that Christ is to be king over their lives. We want things our way. But our way is not an option. Christ’s way is the right option…it is the only option. Jephthah’s worldview is a mess because he has grown up in a pagan society, but recognize the damage that the pagan culture does to our worldview even today.