This post is going somewhere. Stick with me for a minute.
Last week I spent some time in the strange story of Jephthah in the book of Judges (chapters 10-11). Jephthah is the son of a prostitute and a gang leader or freedom fighter, followed by a group of lawless men – “scoundrels” is how one version puts it. He eventually becomes a judge who delivers Israel from its enemies. He’s infamous for seeming to offer his daughter as a human sacrifice.
How did such a guy get to be a leader? Not every day that a gang leader and a son of a prostitute rises to the top.
For the first time in Judges, they get a judge without God’s involvement. God had written them off and told them he wouldn’t give them another leader. Another leader wasn’t the solution. They needed to repent.
Instead of listening to God, they go, “Okay, I guess it’s up to us.” They go looking for their own leader, instead of dealing with the problems that they know they have.
Jephthah got to be leader because people were looking for a quick fix instead of dealing with the deeper issues, which is still a temptation for us today. We are still looking for Jephthah’s – charismatic leaders with track records – to bail us out, but a charismatic leader and a strategic plan is not the answer to every predicament. Sometimes the issues run deeper.
I said last Sunday:
There are a lot of times that we get into trouble, and we go looking for something to save us. We try to find our own solutions, often without looking at the underlying problems. In this case, Israel never really considered repentance as an option. They went for the quick fix, and they included God only as an afterthought.
I’m not opposed to good leadership and even strategic planning, but I wonder if sometimes we look for leaders and plans rather than dealing with the deeper issues like repentance. In other words, we’re still looking for Jephthah to bail us out.