Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"The Dead Giveaway!"

Jephthah and the men of Gilead were celebrating their victory over the Ammonites, and enjoying the spoil.
Israel was once again safe.
The news of the victory spread quickly considering it had to be done without benefit of our modern media technology.
The Ephraim family of Israel, living on the other side of the Jordon, heard the joyful news too, but they were somewhat less than forthcoming about honouring or congratulating Jephthah for his successful effort.
They were jealous of being left out of the festivities.
Someone ignited the resentment simmering just beneath the surface and the rage in the Ephraimite camp burst into full fury.
They had no cause to be angry but is that not the hottest rage – the anger that has no legitimate cause?
Revenge!… the thought blinded their rational judgement and as one man they crossed over the Jordon toward Zaphon and lost no time in finding Jephthah.
Immediately the accusations flew… “Why did you fight against the Ammonites without asking us to come with you? “ Without waiting for an answer…..their confrontation exploded into a full blown threat. “We will burn your house down and you with it!”

Jephtah refused to be intimidated. He answered them with a stout defence, stripping away any pretence of a justifiable grievance. “I DID ask you to come, but you refused to help us! And seeing we were in imminent danger I risked my life to fight the Ammonites and God gave me the victory! So what are you doing here threatening me?”

It is like throwing oil on a fire to be shown up for what you are and the enraged Ephraimites pulled out all stops. “Who are you Gileadites but the refuse of Ephraim …. You are nothing but fugitives!!”

They had gone too far. The insults would not be overlooked.
Jephtah and his army retaliated in battle against the Ephraimites and won! Forced to accept defeat the remnant of the Ephraimite army sought to escape.
(Raw justice is served here. The Hebrew word the Ephraimites used to taunt the Gileadites – fugitives- is the same word used to describe the Ephraimites in ‘flight’- their curse had come back upon them!)

It would seem that the battle was over but Jephtah was not willing to stop until he had taught the Ephraimites a lesson they would not soon forget.

He knew the terrain of the country well, and knew exactly where the Ephraimites would be likely to cross back over the Jordon to get back home. He and his men took a short cut arriving at the crossing first.
They set up a guard to prevent any Ephraimite from escaping .

The first Ephraimite came in sight of the Jordon and seeing the Gileadite guards, evaluated the situation and concluded that if he simply denied he was an Ephraimite he would surely be allowed to cross.
Boldly he approached the guards.
“Stop! Are you an Ephraimite?” came the expected question.
The Ephraimite’s reply was quick and decisive. “No!”
The guards laughed in his face. “Say Shibboleth!” they demanded.
“Sibboleth!” responded the Ephraimite, and was immediately killed.

The Ephraimites had over the generations developed an ‘accent’ and could not longer pronounce the ‘sh’, instead mispronouncing it as ‘s’.
A dead giveaway.
And so there died that day every Ephraimite liar.
(Judges 12)

Does your speech betray you? Does your ‘accent’ identify you?

The disciples of Jesus were recognized by their ‘accent’ . When Peter was waiting in the courtyard after Jesus had been taken away, a bystander said to him, “Surely you also are one of them because your speech betrays you.” (Matt.12:36)

Our speech as a Christian is important – We are ‘to speak evil of no one’ (Titus 3:2), to “let our speech always be with grace” (Col. 4:6) , “to speak of the glory of God’s kingdom and His power, to speak the praise of the Lord”, (Ps.145:11,21) , “to speak truth, and put away lying” (Eph. 4:25) , to avoid “idle words” (Matt.12:36) - to conduct ourselves “in holy conduct and godliness” (II Pet.3:11)
In a every way our ‘speech’ should identify us as a follower of Jesus.

There is a verse in I Cor. 12:3 that says, “…No one can SAY that Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.”
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can live the Christian life.
It is the Spirit of God living in us, and through us that makes us ‘different’, that sets us apart - that empowers us by Grace to ‘not only talk the talk but also to walk the walk’.

If we have not the Holy Spirit and say, “Jesus is Lord” – it is a ‘dead give away’.
We will be exposed! The 'accent' of our life will not match our declaration and people will see that we are not who we say we are.

“He who ‘says’ he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
I John 2:6


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this timely reminder in my own life. YOur title for todays post will be a good 'phrase reminder' for me. Kathy

Lovella said...

I agree with Kathy, it is a good reminder for me as well.

Yokoso said...

Thanks Julie for reminding me too!