Jephthah’s Vow

Jephthah Vow

Wednesday 02/26/20

Series: Thru the Bible

Message – Jephthah’s Vow

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Thru the Bible: Judges 9-12

Judges 9

Now if you remember, at the end of chapter 8 we learned that following the death of Gideon, Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord and did not honor the family of Gideon for all he had done for them.

Not honoring Gideon and his family, is “center stage” of all that we will cover in chapter 9.

Now, implied in the recording of this fact is that even as they should have honored God and not done evil, they should also have honored Gideon’s family even after his death.

Following the defeat of Midian, Israel wanted to have Gideon and his sons rule over them, but Gideon supported God’s direct rule and would not comply – but simply remained a judge.

Also, you should remember that Gideon’s father renamed him Jerubbaal – meaning “Let Baal contend”. Since the name continued on, it is quite possible that Gideon wore it as a badge of honor.

Finally, as this first verse indicates, you will remember that Gideon had 70 sons (for he had many wives) and he had a concubine in Shechem who bore him sons as well. One of those sons from Shechem was Abimelech.

Judges 9:1-57, 

“(1) Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to his mother’s brothers at Shechem and spoke to them and to all his maternal grandfather’s clan, saying,  (2) “Please speak in the presence of all the lords of Shechem, ‘Is it better for you that 70 men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you or that one man rule over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and blood.”  (3) His mother’s relatives spoke all these words about him in the presence of all the lords of Shechem, and they were favorable to Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” (4) So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith. Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men with this money, and they followed him.”

The words worthless and reckless – could also be translated vain, arrogant and wildly undisciplined people – insolent.

“(5)  He went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his 70 brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, on top of a large stone. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he hid himself.  (6) Then all the lords of Shechem and of Beth-millo gathered together and proceeded to make Abimelech king at the oak of the pillar in Shechem.”

This made Abimelech a local king NOT a king over all Israel.

The Prophecy of Jotham son of Gideon  

“(7)  When they told Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and called to them: Listen to me, lords of Shechem, and may God listen to you:  (8) The trees set out to anoint a king over themselves. They said to the olive tree, “Reign over us.” (9) But the olive tree said to them, “Should I stop giving my oil that honors both God and man, and rule over the trees?”  (10) Then the trees said to the fig tree, “Come and reign over us.” (11) But the fig tree said to them, “Should I stop giving my sweetness and my good fruit, and rule over trees?” (12) Later, the trees said to the grapevine, “Come and reign over us.”  (13) But the grapevine said to them, “Should I stop giving my wine that cheers both God and man, and rule over trees?” (14) Finally, all the trees said to the bramble, “Come and reign over us.” (15) The bramble said to the trees, “If you really are anointing me as king over you, come and find refuge in my shade. But if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.”  (16) “Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal and his family, and if you have rewarded him appropriately for what he did—  (17)  for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you from the hand of Midian,  (18) and now you have attacked my father’s house today, killed his 70 sons on top of a large stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave, king over the lords of Shechem ‘because he is your brother’–  (19) if then, you have acted faithfully and honestly with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech and may he also rejoice in you. (20) But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech. (21)  Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and lived there because of his brother Abimelech.”

God sends an evil spirit

“(22)  When Abimelech had ruled over Israel three years,  (23) God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. They treated Abimelech deceitfully,  (24) so that the crime against the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood would be avenged on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who had helped him kill his brothers.” 

Now many have a problem with this in that it seems to place God as party to a crime. There is a similar situation found in 1Kings 22 where God sends an evil spirit to breath lies through the mouths of ungodly prophets in order to orchestrate King Ahab’s death. It needs to be clear here that God is quite within His rights to take these men’s lives since they belong to Him anyway and they were not honoring Him as God. Nevertheless, the enemy had accusations against them, so God allows evil spirits to go out and work their destruction since these men had, by their actions, placed themselves within the realm of their jurisdiction. The REAL lesson to be learned here is not that God sent them – but that even though these men were within the jurisdiction of the enemy, they still needed the approval of God to do what they wished. God is still OWNER and JUDGE of all! 

“(25)  The lords of Shechem rebelled against him by putting people on the tops of the mountains to ambush and rob everyone who passed by them on the road. So this was reported to Abimelech.  (26) Gaal son of Ebed came with his brothers and crossed into Shechem, and the lords of Shechem trusted him. (27) So they went out to the countryside and harvested grapes from their vineyards. They trod the grapes and held a celebration. Then they went to the house of their god, and as they ate and drank, they cursed Abimelech.  (28) Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem that we should serve him? Isn’t he the son of Jerubbaal, and isn’t Zebul his officer? You are to serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech? (29) If only these people were in my power, I would remove Abimelech.” So he said to Abimelech, “Gather your army and come out.”  (30) When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was angry. (31) So he sent messengers secretly to Abimelech, saying, “Look, Gaal son of Ebed, with his brothers, have come to Shechem and are turning the city against you. (32) Now tonight, you and the people with you are to come wait in ambush in the countryside. (33) Then get up early and at sunrise, charge the city. When he and the people who are with him come out against you, do to him whatever you can.”  

“(34)  So Abimelech and all the people with him got up at night and waited in ambush for Shechem in four units.  (35) Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate. Then Abimelech and the people who were with him got up from their ambush.  (36) When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!” But Zebul said to him, “The shadows of the mountains look like men to you.”  (37) Then Gaal spoke again: “Look, people are coming down from the central part of the land, and one unit is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ Oak.” (38) Zebul replied, “Where is your mouthing off now? You said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Aren’t these the people you despised? Now go and fight them!”  (39) So Gaal went out leading the lords of Shechem and fought against Abimelech, (40) but Abimelech pursued him, and Gaal fled before him. Many wounded died as far as the entrance of the gate. (41) Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers from Shechem. (42) The next day when the people went into the countryside, this was reported to Abimelech.  (43) He took the people, divided them into three companies, and waited in ambush in the countryside. He looked, and the people were coming out of the city, so he arose against them and struck them down. (44) Then Abimelech and the units that were with him rushed forward and took their stand at the entrance of the city gate. The other two units rushed against all who were in the countryside and struck them down.  (45) So Abimelech fought against the city that entire day, captured it, and killed the people who were in it. Then he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.” 

“(46)  When all the lords of the Tower of Shechem heard, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith.  (47) Then it was reported to Abimelech that all the lords of the Tower of Shechem had gathered together. (48)  So Abimelech and all the people who were with him went up to Mount Zalmon. Abimelech took his ax in his hand and cut a branch from the trees. He picked up the branch, put it on his shoulder, and said to the people who were with him, “Hurry and do what you have seen me do.”  (49) Each person also cut his own branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches against the inner chamber and set it on fire around the people, and all the people in the Tower of Shechem died–about 1,000 men and women.”

“(50)  Abimelech went to Thebez, camped against it, and captured it.  (51) There was a strong tower inside the city, and all the men, women, and lords of the city fled there. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof of the tower.  (52) When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he approached its entrance to set it on fire. (53) But a woman threw the upper portion of a millstone on Abimelech’s head and fractured his skull.  (54) He quickly called his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, or they’ll say about me, ‘A woman killed him.'” So his armor-bearer thrust him through, and he died.” 

“(55)  When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.  (56) In this way, the evil that Abimelech had done against his father, by killing his 70 brothers, God turned back on him.  (57)  And God also returned all the evil of the men of Shechem on their heads. So the curse of Jotham son of Jerubbaal came on them.”

JUDGES 10

Judges 10:1-18,

53 YEARS OF PEACE

“(1) After Abimelech, Tola son of Puah, son of Dodo became judge and began to deliver Israel. He was from Issachar and lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. (2) Tola judged Israel 23 years, and when he died, was buried in Shamir.” 

“(3) After him came Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel 22 years.  (4) He had 30 sons who rode on 30 young donkeys. They had 30 towns in Gilead, which are called Jair’s Villages to this day.  (5) When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.” 

“(6)  Then the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They worshiped the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Aram, Sidon, and Moab, and the gods of the Ammonites and the Philistines. They abandoned the LORD and did not worship Him.”

“(7)  So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He sold them to the Philistines and the Ammonites.  (8) They shattered and crushed the Israelites that year, and for 18 years they did the same to all the Israelites who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites in Gilead.  (9) The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim. Israel was greatly oppressed,” 

“(10)  so they cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against You. We have abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.”  

The Judgement and the Mercy of God

“(11)  The LORD said to the Israelites, “When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines,  (12) Sidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to Me, did I not deliver you from their power?  (13) But you have abandoned Me and worshiped other gods. Therefore, I will not deliver you again. (14) Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them deliver you in the time of your oppression.”  (15) But the Israelites said, “We have sinned. Deal with us as You see fit; only deliver us today!” (16) So they got rid of the foreign gods among them and worshiped the LORD, but He became weary of Israel’s misery.”

“(17)  The Ammonites were called together, and they camped in Gilead. So the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah.  (18) The rulers of Gilead said to one another, “Which man will lead the fight against the Ammonites? He will be the leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

Chapter 11

God raises up Jephthah

Judges 11:1-40, 

“(1) Jephthah the Gileadite was a great warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead was his father.  (2) Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will have no inheritance in our father’s house, because you are the son of another woman.”  (3) So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Then some lawless men joined Jephthah and traveled with him.”  

Jephthah is made leader

“(4) Some time later, the Ammonites fought against Israel.  (5) When the Ammonites made war with Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.  (6) They said to him, “Come, be our commander, and let’s fight against the Ammonites.” (7) Jephthah replied to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why then have you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”  (8) They answered Jephthah, “Since that’s true, we now turn to you. Come with us, fight the Ammonites, and you will become leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.” (9) So Jephthah said to them, “If you are bringing me back to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives them to me, I will be your leader.”  (10)  The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD is our witness if we don’t do as you say.”  (11) So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead. The people put him over themselves as leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated all his terms in the presence of the LORD at Mizpah.”

“(12)  Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, saying, “What do you have against me that you have come to fight against me in my land?”  

“(13)  The king of the Ammonites said to Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came from Egypt, they seized my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and the Jordan. Now restore it peaceably.”  

“(14)  Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites  (15) to tell him, “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.  (16) But when they came from Egypt, Israel traveled through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. (17) Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us travel through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he refused. So Israel stayed in Kadesh.  (18) “Then they traveled through the wilderness and around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came to the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon but did not enter into the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. (19) “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon. Israel said to him, ‘Please let us travel through your land to our country,’  (20) but Sihon did not trust Israel. Instead, Sihon gathered all his people, camped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel. (21) Then the LORD God of Israel handed over Sihon and all his people to Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of the entire land of the Amorites who lived in that country. (22) They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.  (23) “The LORD God of Israel has now driven out the Amorites before His people Israel, but will you drive us out? (24) Isn’t it true that you may possess whatever your god Chemosh drives out for you, and we may possess everything the LORD our God drives out before us? (25) Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend with Israel or fight against them? (26) While Israel lived 300 years in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, why didn’t you take them back at that time?  (27) I have not sinned against you, but you have wronged me by fighting against me. Let the LORD who is the Judge decide today between the Israelites and the Ammonites.” 

“(28)  But the king of the Ammonites would not listen to Jephthah’s message that he sent him.” 

“(29)  The Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah, who traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, and then through Mizpah of Gilead. He crossed over to the Ammonites from Mizpah of Gilead.  (30)  Jephthah made this vow to the LORD: “If You will hand over the Ammonites to me,  (31) whatever comes out of the doors of my house to greet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites will belong to the LORD, and I will offer it as a burnt offering.”  

Two things…a hasty vow and a burnt offering.

We will deal with these in a few moments.

Jephthah’s Victory

“(32)  Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD handed them over to him.  (33) He defeated 20 of their cities with a great slaughter from Aroer all the way to the entrance of Minnith and to Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites.”  

Jephthah’s defeat

“(34)  When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing! She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter besides her.  (35) When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “No! Not my daughter! You have devastated me! You have brought great misery on me. I have given my word to the LORD and cannot take it back.  (36) Then she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me as you have said, for the LORD brought vengeance on your enemies, the Ammonites.” (37) She also said to her father, “Let me do this one thing: Let me wander two months through the mountains with my friends and mourn my virginity.”  (38) “Go,” he said. And he sent her away two months. So she left with her friends and mourned her virginity as she wandered through the mountains. (39) At the end of two months, she returned to her father, and he kept the vow he had made about her. And she had never been intimate with a man. Now it became a custom in Israel  (40) that four days each year the young women of Israel would commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.”

We dealt with this WAY back in 2018, so you are familiar with this story. We used it as an example of something we were studying in Numbers at the time.

Vows were taken seriously – especially when they were made to the Lord. According to Deut. 23:21-23, “(21)  “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.  (22) But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. (23) That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.” In Psalm 15 one of the things King David said would cause a man to not be moved is, ” who keeps his word whatever the cost”.

Now, one of the major lessons this particular example in Judges teaches, is the role of absolute authority of the father or husband. You may remember, that when we were studying Numbers, in the 30th chapter it tell us that  if a wife or a daughter gave their word concerning something but the father or husband upon hearing it did not approve of it, then God ordained that he had the legal right to annul her vow. This was NOT so of a son!

[We studied this in Numbers 30 and it was mentioned in these two messages – God commissions the second generation & What the Bible says about Gender Pt. 3.]

On the other hand, if a father or husband were to make a vow regarding his wife or children, then it was incumbent upon them to be subject to & adhere to all that was vowed. Of course, there were exceptions.

We know from our time in Leviticus that God has an offering for any vow we make in which we spoke rashly so that we are unable to fulfill it. Either because it was beyond our means or because we would incur guilt from sin in the doing of it.

Let’s read it…

Lev. 4:4-13,

“(4) Or if someone swears rashly to do what is good or evil–concerning anything a person may speak rashly in an oath–without being aware of it, but later recognizes it, he incurs guilt in such an instance. (5) If someone incurs guilt in one of these cases, he is to confess he has committed that sin. (6) He must bring his restitution for the sin he has committed to the LORD: a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin. (7) “But if he cannot afford an animal from the flock, then he may bring to the LORD two turtledoves or two young pigeons as restitution for his sin–one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. (8) He is to bring them to the priest, who will first present the one for the sin offering. He must twist its head at the back of the neck without severing it. (9) Then he will sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood is to be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering. (10) He must prepare the second bird as a burnt offering according to the regulation. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven. (11) “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, he may bring two quarts of fine flour as an offering for his sin. He must not put olive oil or frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. (12) He is to bring it to the priest, who will take a handful from it as its memorial portion and burn it on the altar along with the fire offerings to the LORD; it is a sin offering. (13) In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf concerning the sin he has committed in any of these cases, and he will be forgiven. The rest will belong to the priest, like the grain offering.”

A burnt offering was symbolic of what reality? Offering all of yourself by offering ALL of a sacrifice. NOTHING was left over.

This is what happened. Jephthah had to dedicate his daughter to the service of the priesthood as a Nazirite. 

We covered this back when we were in Numbers on 10/31/18 in a teaching called, Levites, Laws and Nazirites.

Num. 6:1-21, NKJV

“(1) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (2) “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, (3) he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. (4) All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin. (5) ‘All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. (6) All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body. (7) He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. (8) All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the LORD. (9) ‘And if anyone dies very suddenly beside him, and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. (10) Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting; (11) and the priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned in regard to the corpse; and he shall sanctify his head that same day. (12) He shall consecrate to the LORD the days of his separation, and bring a male lamb in its first year as a trespass offering; but the former days shall be lost, because his separation was defiled. (13) ‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite: When the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall be brought to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. (14) And he shall present his offering to the LORD: one male lamb in its first year without blemish as a burnt offering, one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish as a sin offering, one ram without blemish as a peace offering, (15) a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and their grain offering with their drink offerings. (16) ‘Then the priest shall bring them before the LORD and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering; (17) and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall also offer its grain offering and its drink offering. (18) Then the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offering. (19) ‘And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, one unleavened cake from the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and put them upon the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his consecrated hair, (20) and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD; they are holy for the priest, together with the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering. After that the Nazirite may drink wine.’ (21) “This is the law of the Nazirite who vows to the LORD the offering for his separation, and besides that, whatever else his hand is able to provide; according to the vow which he takes, so he must do according to the law of his separation.”

If you remember Samson was a Nazirite called and anointed by God as a judge in Israel. Graced with great strength which was connected to his honoring his vow to God in not shaving his head.

Judges 12

Judges 12:1-15, 

“(1)The men of Ephraim were called together and crossed the Jordan to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, 

“Why have you crossed over to fight against the Ammonites but didn’t call us to go with you? We will burn your house down with you in it!”  (2) Then Jephthah said to them, “My people and I had a serious conflict with the Ammonites. So I called for you, but you didn’t deliver me from their power.  (3) When I saw that you weren’t going to deliver me, I took my life in my own hands and crossed over to the Ammonites, and the LORD handed them over to me. Why then have you come today to fight against me?”

Gilead was on the eastern side of the Jordan within the tribe of Gad. Shechem was across the Jordan in Western Manasseh, which is immediately NORTH of Ephraim. This is why Jephthah would have asked for the aid of this tribe among his brethren. They were the closest. They failed to help, but then wanted to know why they had been excluded (which they hadn’t been – they excluded themselves). 

“(4)  Then Jephthah gathered all of the men of Gilead. They fought and defeated Ephraim, because Ephraim had said, “You Gileadites are Ephraimite fugitives in the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh.”  (5) The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim. Whenever a fugitive from Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the Gileadites asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he answered, “No,”  (6) they told him, “Please say Shibboleth.” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce it correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time, 42,000 from Ephraim died.”  

“(7)  Jephthah judged Israel six years, and when he died, he was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.” 

“(8)  Ibzan, who was from Bethlehem, judged Israel after Jephthah  (9) and had 30 sons. He gave his 30 daughters in marriage to men outside the tribe and brought back 30 wives for his sons from outside the tribe. Ibzan judged Israel seven years,  (10) and when he died, he was buried in Bethlehem.”

“(11)  Elon, who was from Zebulun, judged Israel after Ibzan. He judged Israel 10 years,  (12) and when he died, he was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.”

“(13)  After Elon, Abdon son of Hillel, who was from Pirathon, judged Israel.  (14) He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons, who rode on 70 donkeys. Abdon judged Israel eight years,  (15) and when he died, he was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.”

Blessings! 

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

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Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!