“Where are you from?” We often use that question to get to know someone better. But for many of us, the answer is complicated. Sometimes we don’t want to share all the details.
In the book of Judges, Jephthah might not have wanted to answer that question at all. His half-brothers had chased him out of his hometown of Gilead for his “questionable” origins. “You are the son of another woman,” they declared (Judges 11:2). The text says starkly, “His mother was a prostitute” (v. 1).
But Jephthah was a natural leader, and when a hostile tribe picked a fight with Gilead, the people who had sent him packing suddenly wanted him back. “Be our commander,” they said (v. 6). Jephthah asked, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house?” (v. 7). After getting assurances that things would be different, he agreed to lead them. The Scripture tells us, “Then the Spirit of the
God so often seems to choose the unlikeliest people to do His work, doesn’t He? It doesn’t matter where we’re from, how we got here, or what we’ve done. What matters is that we respond in faith to His love.
Lord, we take great comfort knowing that You don’t show favoritism based on where we’re from. Our heritage is found in You. Thank You for adopting us into Your family.
Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:30
The details of the story of Jephthah are unique, but the idea of an unlikely person being the hero of the story—well that’s the subtle plotline of the entire Bible. In fact, many times the person we might expect to be the hero—for example, the tall and broad-shouldered Saul—isn’t the hero at all. Disobedience to God led to Saul’s downfall, but it’s David, a young shepherd, whom God calls “a man after [my] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
What set apart those God used to do His work? Whether a prostitute (Rahab), a dreamer (Joseph), a young shepherd (David), a young virgin (Mary), or a former Pharisee (Paul), the common factor is how they responded to God. God uses those who listen to His calling and respond in faith. How might He use you?