Jephtha's Story - Part 2

by Francis Schmidt
(Guatemala City, Guatemala)

Judges 11-12
(1st person narrative, to be delivered dressed up as a Bible character)

Well, enough of my early history. Remember how I told you earlier of that there was an impending battle between Israel and the Ammonites? And that Israel needed someone to lead them?

Well, a delegation of elders from Gilead -- my old home -- showed up at my house one day. Surprised, I invited them into my home and sat down with them. Many years had passed, but I remembered these people. Some of them had called me names and spit on me when I was a kid. A few of them were my own brothers, who had disinherited me and run me out of town.

After an awkward silence, one of them spoke up, "Jephtha, the tribes on the east of the Jordan have authorized us to invite you to lead our army in our fight against the Ammonites."

"What?!", I said. "Years ago, you hated me and threw me out, and now you that a foreign army is set to invade and your backs are against the wall you want ME to be your general? After the battle is won, you'll probably just throw me out again."

"Oh, no" another elder said. "Did we say we'd make you our general" What we really meant to say is that we'll make you our leader." Suspiciously, I said, "What" You mean if I lead your armies to victory, you'll make me permanent leader over the eastern tribes?"

"Absolutely!" they said nodding. "In fact, were willing to draw up a contract and put it all down in black and white!" And that's what we did. Hard to believe, isn't it? The one they hated and drove out they later invited to come back as their leader. Strange, how God works.

Now that I was leader, it was time to lead.

I knew that the place to begin was negotiation. After all, why spill blood if you can get what you want by diplomacy? So I began a diplomatic offensive with the king of Ammon.

"Why are you threatening to send an army into my land?" I wrote in a message. He wrote back, "Because you people stole our land from us 300 years ago and now we want it back." I wrote back, "We didn't steal it from you. We won it from you fair and square. When we asked permission to come through your land peaceably, you attacked us. We won the battle, so the land is ours. The Lord God gave us the land."

This series of diplomatic exchanges didn't change anything, but it did buy us time to mobilize our army. Meanwhile, the Spirit of God had come upon me and as I passed through all of the eastern tribes, to mobilize and train the army, my words rang with divine authority and my leadership carried a divine power. As I drilled, organized, and trained them, this mob of farmers grew into a fearsome fighting force.

The day came for battle. We advanced toward them in a long column with me at the front and as I crested a rise in the land I saw before me the enemy army. When I saw them, my heart stopped and my stomach did a flip. The enemy host was HUGE! They far outnumbered us!

As I stood on the top of an incline, looking east, I could see their column slowly spreading out from left to right into battle position. They were in a gentle valley that extended for miles. I made an instant decision: I sent word by a swift footed messenger for two of my battalions that still followed far to the rear to separate from the main host of my army and go separate ways.

One would go around to the south and the other to the north. The plan was to fall upon the Ammonite army from each side of the valley while the rest of my army engaged them from the west.

This was a tremendous gamble. I was already outnumbered, and it was crazy to split up my already smaller army into three parts. If the Ammonites picked up on what I was doing, all they had to do was separately attack each part of my army and chop us to bits.

But the gamble worked! I led the group that attacked from the front. Even with our vastly outnumbered soldiers, we were holding our own. But when the other two parts of my army simultaneously fell upon the enemy from each side of the valley, the enemy was totally surprised and completely demoralized. The Ammonite army fell apart and the battle turned into a rout -- a total victory for God's people!

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