The End of Self Love

Andrew Giles at Bowens Mill Convention

July 2009

 

I’d like you to turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians chapter 5. There’s a little verse in this chapter which points out to us how serious the subject is that’s being talked about quite a lot in these days; and that subject is the loving of our own lives.

If I were to ask you, “Why did Jesus come? Why did He die on the cross?” You would probably quickly come back with an answer like, “Well, to save us from our sins.” But there’s an answer to the question that’s given here in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, which really homes in on what we have been talking about in these days. Look at verse 15. It’s talking about Christ and it says:

2 Corinthians 5:15(a) ‘And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves,’

Have you ever noticed that before? It says right here, quite specifically; the reason that Jesus came and died was to stop people from living unto themselves. I think that puts the context of loving our own selves into a category of “very serious and very deadly”. The Spirit of God is here saying, through Paul, that the reason why Jesus came was to get the people out of loving themselves. It makes it clear that, in the heart and mind of God, self-love is something that is so desperately wrong and thoroughly deadly that He had to give Jesus and the life of Jesus to get us out of it. Of course, the verse goes on:

2 Corinthians 5:15(b) ‘but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.’

This is a verse that’s really talking about love. It’s talking about focus. It’s talking about direction and purpose.

In Brother Buddy’s opening on Wednesday evening, he pointed out to us that when Satan came to test and to tempt in the garden of Eden, he didn’t offer the woman a choice between serving, obeying, and loving God or serving, obeying, and loving Satan himself. What he offered was the choice between serving, obeying, and loving God and serving self and loving self. That was the thing that took the woman out and took the human race into death and disobedience. Sin and death passed to all men and it was all in the context of a woman who loved herself. You know the temptation; it was very clear in how it was presented to her. The fruit was desired to make her wise. It was good for food. It was all about self. She took of that fruit because she fell in love with herself.

You have people, as you come across them in your lives, in whom this is a particularly evident problem; although of course, it’s a problem with everybody. Jesus just didn’t die because it was an occasional problem; it was a universal problem. You’ve come across people in whom love of self is so obvious and you would have to agree with me that it is a very sick, very perverse and a particularly nasty expression when you see it in a person; a person who can’t talk about any subjects but themselves; a person who, when you meet them or greet them, is never interested in asking how you are; they are only interested in talking about themselves, their own ailments, their own condition. People like that become very wearing. You think, “My God, hasn’t this person anything else they’re interested in?”

Jesus died because it was a problem that was universal. It was a problem that we were all in; that we were living for ourselves. And He said living for yourself is death; I have to save you out of it and Jesus came that we should not henceforth live unto ourselves.

I mentioned here sometime previously, maybe in April or October, about the book of Judges and how the story that we have through the book of Judges is really the story of the Church. It begins in the time of Joshua, whose name means Savior and whose name is the same as Jesus. It runs through to the time of the kings; King Saul first and then afterwards, King David. So, it really covers a period of history between the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ when He came to seek and save that which was lost - when He came as Savior - and it runs through the Church age to the time when He’s going to manifest Himself as King and Lord of all.

That very, very sad book of Judges talks about the various attacks and assaults that comes upon the people of God through this Church age. It’s a book that goes progressively from higher to lower to lower to lower as the different assaults come along. It could probably be more accurately called not just the book of Judges, but the book of Deliverers because time and again, in fact 12 times altogether, God raises up deliverers to help God’s people to come out of the assault and the sin that has taken them away from the blessing of God. The assaults are very much attacks that we are all familiar with.

We know the story of Ehud and Eglon. It’s really a story about the battle against the flesh. The story of Jabin and Barak and Deborah is the story about the carnal mind. There is the story of Gideon and the battle against the Midianites. The word “Midian” means strife and division. It’s a story of the assault against the Church; the assault that comes to separate us one from another.

I want to take us into the book of Judges and talk about the assault which has been our theme in these days, the assault of love of self . I think we find the story in the book of Judges and we’ll see how the Lord sets out for us how it is to be dealt with.

I would like you to turn in your Bibles to Judges chapter 10. You see in verse 6 the extent of the problem.

Judges 10:6 ‘And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not Him.’

That’s a pretty long list of gods they served. At the end of the book of Joshua, Joshua asked the people whom they were going to serve. And the people said in response to his question, “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods.” That was their declaration, but they made a mistake in their declaration. The question is not whether we will forsake the Lord to serve other gods. The question, or rather the answer that God is looking for, is whether we will forsake other gods to serve the Lord. You see, He’s not looking to be one amongst many; He’s looking to be the one who is exclusively God. So, He is looking for us to forsake other gods.

There are so many people around today who would say, “Well, yes, I love the Lord”, but we know there’s not an exclusive devotion to Him that is in their lives. He is one amongst many interests. He’s one amongst many attractions. Their time is taken up with many other things as well as a certain portion that’s given to the Lord. Their money is given to many things as well as a certain portion that’s given to the Lord. But that isn’t what He’s looking for in these days. He’s looking for a people who will forsake other gods to serve the Lord. Their declaration was an inaccurate one; it wasn’t what God was looking for. He’s isn’t looking for a people who will say, “We won’t leave the Lord, but we want to keep with our other gods!” He’s saying now, “Are you going to be a people who forsake all other and only worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve?”

Having said that they would not forsake the Lord, but didn’t say that they would forsake the other gods, here is the end of the matter: the other gods overwhelmed them and they forsook the Lord and served Him not.

Judges 10:7-8 ‘And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.’

What we find in this chapter is that although the children of Israel were serving many gods, the oppression that came against the nation came, on this occasion, from the Ammonites. It could have been any one of them, but God decided that the instrument in His hand was going to be the Ammonites.

Now you probably know already where the Ammonites come from. When Lot had been delivered out of Sodom and his wife had looked back and turned into the pillar of salt, Lot and his two daughters had escaped. The two daughters had looked at their situation and said, “It looks like the end of the line for us.” So, what they did was—first the elder and then the younger—went into their father and in an immoral, illicit, and incestuous relationship, they lay with him and they both conceived. The older one conceived a son called Moab and the younger one conceived a son called Ammon. It’s the descendants of Ammon that are the problem in the passage in which we are looking.

Ammon is a word that means “from their own kindred” or “inbred”. I believe that the Ammonites are a picture of being in love with yourself. There couldn’t be anything more incestuous and close than being in love with yourself.

I’m sure that we’re agreed here that one of the most perverted forms of the expression of what the world calls love in this day and age would be incest. Sadly, very commonly, as you meet people and you start to unfold the problems that they are still carrying, too often a problem has been an immoral and incestuous physical relationship within the family when people were young. We accept together how disgusting and how horrible that is.

I believe it’s expressed to us in this people called the Ammonites and its manifestation in our own lives is love of our own selves. This isn’t put in the Book just so we can have a history story. The manifestation in our own lives is love of our own selves. God is setting about and purposing to deliver a people out of self-love. In the context especially of the time and the generation we’re in, Paul writes to Timothy and calls these “perilous times”, times of great danger, because at this time more than any other, men are manifesting love of their own selves.

You don’t have to be very perceptive and very discerning to look out there and see what’s going on. Look at the entertainment, sports, news, politics, economics and you can see that everything is tainted and damaged by people who have no motivation in their lives but self-profit and self-interest. It’s a deadly and horrible thing.

God wants to separate us and deliver us out of love for ourselves. If we’re willing to give ourselves to the Lord for this to happen, we’re going to be part of a wonderful deliverance and part of a people who indeed have come into something really, really glorious and special.

The person who God raised up to set His people free from Ammon was the man, Jephthah, and he is introduced to us in the following chapter.

Judges 11:1-3 ‘Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.’

Now as I read these stories, I’m always asking the Lord, “What is this talking about? What is the relevance to me? Why is it in the Book?” As I’ve looked at this, I can only see in this man, Jephthah, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me tell you why. Let me point you to some of the evidence here.

First of all, his name Jephthah means “he opens” or “he will open”. Would the Lord Jesus Christ perhaps be an opener? Has He done any opening? How about this? This is from the Bible. This is some of the opening that Jesus has done: He’s opened ears, He’s opened eyes, He’s opened prison doors, He opens and no man shuts, He opens the mouth of an ass, He opens the windows of Heaven, He opens the grave, He opens the rock, He opens the earth, He opens the womb, He opens hearts. Would He perhaps be a person who opens?

In fact, I believe that all of us are sitting here today because the Lord Jesus Christ has been an opener. He opens hearts! That’s why we’re here! We’ve just been hearing how we were dead in trespasses and sins; we were shut up at that point and excluded from salvation until He came and opened those gates for us. He gave us opportunity to enter in and opened up our hearts that we might receive from Him the grace and the faith that were necessary for us to apprehend this. He has opened for us! I’m so glad for the opening of the Lord Jesus Christ!

It’s by grace that it’s come to us! We were thoroughly shut out of this; in fact, we were doubly shut out of it because we were Gentiles, most of us here. I don’t know if there’s anybody who isn’t. That gives us double exclusion because we were strangers from the commonwealth of Israel; yet God in His grace and mercy has opened this to us.

As we have gone on from there, having our hearts touched and our lives opened up that we might have a relationship with Him and a consciousness of Him and be able to have our ears opened that we might hear Him time and again in His mercy, He has opened the windows of Heaven to us and poured us out blessing. I believe, even in these days that we’ve been together, we’ve been under open windows from Heaven while He has been pouring out blessing to us.

I’m conscious that the scripture doesn’t say that He’s going to drip out blessing. I don’t think that we’ve had drips of blessing in these days.

In Ireland, they have what they call “soft days”. Soft days are when you open the door and you look outside and the skies are gray, which is very common over there, and there’s just this drizzle which can drench you through in no time at all. They call it a soft day. We haven’t just been in a drizzle of blessing in these days and in our lives thus far. He has opened windows of Heaven and poured out blessing upon us. At times, perhaps just now and again, you have experienced times where you thought you couldn’t contain it. If you haven’t, I have to still give you encouragement this morning that God’s purpose for us is that He wants to bring us into a place that He shows us so much of His goodness, His grace and His mercy that we’re not able to contain it.

I was really grateful to listen to Brother Buddy when he said how there is still a longing in his heart for more. I say, “Amen!” to that! “God, there’s a longing in my heart for more!” There’s going to come a day when we’re going to say, “God! I can’t take any more!” Because we’re not able to contain it! The Opener is going to open. He will open—Jephthah.

It says, too, that he was a mighty man of valor. Amen! Hasn’t the Lord Jesus Christ shown Himself as a mighty man of valor! He has been the David to the Goliath. He has gone out there where no one could stand in the battle and no one else did stand in the battle and He has fought and He has won and we are rejoicing in His victory. Our only hope of victory is in His victory.

Then the scripture goes on and says that He was the son of a harlot. How does that apply to the Lord Jesus Christ? In the Hebrew way of looking at things you never lost your ancestry. Time and time again in scripture you find genealogies. When there was the restoration from Babylon of the children of Israel, there were people who came along and said, “We belong! We’re priests!” But they couldn’t prove it by their genealogy. What was in the background was so important. Where did Jesus come from? He was the son of a harlot. He came from Rahab the harlot who married Salmon and their child was Boaz who married Ruth and whose son was Obed; whose son was David. Right there in Jesus’ genealogy, He was the son of a harlot.

When Jesus was on earth, the Jews pointed a finger at Him and tried to prove their self-righteousness and said, “We be not born of fornication!” They, of course, were looking at the situation with Mary and Joseph and the fact that they knew Jesus was born out of wedlock; they were pointing a finger at Him. He’s not ashamed of that. He’s glad in His own heart to welcome in those who have offended. We’re blessed today that He’s willing to take and be identified with them. While being separate from sinners, He was still a friend of them.

Scripture says he (Jephthah) lived in Tob. That means “good”! It just simply means “good”. I look at Jesus and He said, “I am the good shepherd”. In the book of Acts, it says He went about doing good. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good. Did He bring forth that which was good? He did! The word of God—the gracious words proceeded out of His mouth. The actions that He did were the righteous acts of faith and obedience of His Father. He lived in a place that was good .

And then scripture says at the end of

Judges 11:3(b) ‘and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.’ (N .B. ote: ‘vain’ means empty, worthless, idle.)

How does that relate to Jesus? Well did not the twelve (disciples) sometimes appear to be more hindrance than help? What profit does there seem to be to the Lord Jesus in His three and a half years of ministry from having those twelve that He had to drag along with Him the whole time? At one point, He has to say to Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan! For thou savorest not the things that are of God, but of men!” What profit? What help did any of them give Him?

And yet, at one point, in the book of John we read how He lifts up His hands to Heaven and He said, “I thank You, God, that you have hid these things from the wise and revealed them unto babes.” When Jesus was here on earth, He was like David who had the discontent and the distressed and the debtors—those who were in debt—who came to Him and gathered round to Him in the cave of Adullam. Jesus did the same. And look at us here today! What did you bring to the party? Well, if you brought anything to the party, you surely realize by now that it was best left outside.

He gathered vain men unto him. I’m saying this because I just want to establish for you that Jephthah is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ve already talked about Ammon a little. Let’s read verse 4:

Judges 11:4 ‘And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.’

I believe Ammon, the son of the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughter, is a picture of a people who are in love with themselves.

I think it would be helpful to turn to 2 Timothy to which I referred earlier. I think these are instructive verses for us because they describe as being specific for the last days. We know and believe that these are the days of the end of the age.

2 Timothy 3:1 ‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

Perilous! Dangerous! These are dangerous days, people. This is not a time where everything is just going to go along in peace and safety. This is a time when sudden destruction is going to come! These are times of great danger for you and me! You might still have a little bit of money in the bank or a few savings, but the fact is, these are perilous times! There still might not be a rocket flying over from Iran or North Korea or wherever the problems are in the world. We don’t know where the next trouble is going to come from. I come out on these trips and I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be home again! You just don’t know where the next attack is going to be. These are perilous times! And they’re not just perilous in the physical and the natural spheres. There’s an assault of the demonic against the Church; there are seducing spirits; there is deception that is sometimes so subtle. It’s absolutely true that apart from the gracious work of the Spirit of God, we’d all be caught up in it.

 

Most of the deceptions, if you look at them carefully, have this theme woven into them:

2 Timothy 3:2 ‘For men shall be lovers of their own selves,’

The theme of self-serving is God serving the creature rather than the creature serving God. That’s the theme in almost all the deceptions.

2 Timothy 3:2-4 ‘For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers ( this means breakers of covenant ) , false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.’ (italics Andrew Giles)

I was thinking about ‘lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God’ because it’s setting two objects of our affection side by side. Jesus said very clearly to us, ‘You cannot serve two masters.” You can’t go after these two things in parallel. This isn’t some tandem that we can ride on and have both of these as passengers at the same time. Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. He said either you’re going to hate the one and love the other or you’re going to love the one and hate the other. In fact, one of the places where this comes, He says:

Matthew 6:24, ‘or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.’

He’s talking about God and mammon. He said either you will hold to the one and despise the other or you’ll do the reverse. If we’re going to “ hold” to God—I looked up the word “hold” because I wanted to know what was expected of me if I were going to be one who loved God. Strong’s Concordance said, “to keep yourself directly opposite to one”. In other words, right in front of them—right in their face! “To hold to Him firmly; to cleave to; to pay heed to Him”. That seems to me a very exclusive vision that’s being presented to us. You’re putting yourself right in the face of God and saying, “God, I’m going to hold to you!” As a horse has blinkers (blinders is another term) to keep his vision from outside distractions, may we have blinkered vision for God! Or else, He said if you’re going to hold to the one, you’re going to despise the other. Despise is “to disdain; to think little or nothing of”.

Here we are in this time where our love is being tested. In this time, the critique of the human race and I believe the critique especially of the Church is “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”. What Jesus is saying is He is looking for a people who are right in the face of God and blinkered (blinded) to everything else and they are standing in front of Him and saying, “Only You. Only You. I only want to see Your face. I only want to hear Your voice; nothing but.”

The children of Ammon are a people who dispense with that. I believe it’s particularly a church problem of saying, “God bless me.” It’s all about me.

You know the prayer of Jabez. Jabez prayed, “Oh, that Thou would bless me indeed.” It’s a lovely prayer and it’s a prayer that has spoken to many and I don’t in any way want to speak against it, but you know how a few years back a little book was written about the Prayer of Jabez. It became a big seller. Not only did the book become a big seller, but around it became a whole lot of other things: the Prayer of Jabez for Young People; the Prayer of Jabez for Ladies; the Prayer of Jabez Bible Study; the Prayer of Jabez t-shirts. The whole works happened!

Now just suppose for a moment, instead of the Prayer of Jabez, it had been the Prayer of Samson. Do you think it might have sold? Do you know what Samson prayed? “Let me die!” There’s a great money making opportunity for you. I’m throwing it out there. You can see what you can do with it. (laughter) How about the Prayer of Samson? Don’t say I didn’t do anything for you.

You see, it’s love of self that’s behind so much of that. God sent His Son to bless us by turning us from our iniquities. That’s the blessing. That’s really the way God wants to bless us at the moment; to get us out of love of self. So much of the exposition of the word of God in the book, Prayer of Jabez, and the way it was taken on, was about “Lord, do it to me.”

God, make us a people who are blinkered; to look only to Your face; that we stand opposite You and the other distractions don’t come and shine in on the retinas of our soul.

It’s warfare. This is war against Israel we are talking about. Go back to the book of Judges.

By the way, I missed one of the comparisons between Jephthah and Jesus. Jephthah was thrust out from his brethren and that’s also happened to Jesus. He ‘came to His own and His own received Him not’.

The people then come to Jephthah who has probably been a little bit of a Robin Hood in the time in between. He’s had these vain men with him and they’ve had to live and probably gone on excursions like a little bit of a guerilla band. He obviously did quite well at it; somehow his reputation reached the people of Israel who were being oppressed by the Ammonites. The people of Israel came to him and said, “Jephthah, we want you to be our captain.”

Judges 11:6 ‘And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.’

A “captain” is a person who heads things up in times of war. I understand it’s a military term in the Hebrew. Jephthah said, “Hold on a minute.”

Judges 11:7 ‘And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? And why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?’

Have you ever done that? When do you pray the most? When do you go to the Lord and say, “God! I need Your help!”? When you are in distress. We say, “Oh, Lord Jesus! I can’t deal with this thing! This is too big for me! Help me in this!” We say, “The money is running out!” Or, “I can’t get along with my wife!” Or, “I’m really concerned for my children!” When things are going wrong, the prayer goes up! And Jesus says, “Is that all you want? You just want Me to bail you out in the battle times?”

The people who were talking to Jephthah got the message and they said to him:

Judges 11:8-9 ‘And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head ?’

A “head” is a ruler in time of peace and war. So the question comes up here as: Is your relationship with God one that is for emergency times only? Sure, I love the fact that He is a very present help in time of trouble and I’ve availed of that help so many times. Probably many times I’ve availed of it when I’ve got into trouble by my own deliberate waywardness. He’s been there; a very present help in time of trouble and He’s come and been a captain. But, the question that is underlying all of that is: What about what’s going to happen in the times of peace? The conclusion is in verse 11:

Judges 11:11 ‘Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain…’

Am I amongst a people today who are willing to have the Lord Jesus Christ not only to be their help in times of emergency and desperate times, but also to have Him as the Lord over every portion of their lives? Don’t answer me because what you say in a meeting is not very relevant. You can make a commitment in times like this, but you know it’s in the walking out that we’ll prove it.

Are we willing to have the Lord Jesus Christ to be head and captain? He’s asking me that question. It’s a daily question. It’s a question for the times of plenty and the time for hardship. It’s a question for the mountains and the valleys. It’ a question for the summer and the winter.

Head and captain; they thought they could get away with just making him captain. He said, “No, if you’re going to be delivered from Ammon, I’m going to have to be head and captain.”

When you just go to the Lord Jesus Christ in times of desperation, really all you’re looking to have is a Band-Aid so that you can go back into the easy life. That really is what you want when you love yourself. You want to get back into the times of tranquility and peace so that you can sit back and enjoy yourself.

Jesus says it’s not all about you. If you really want to be free from Ammon, I need to be your head and captain. I need to be your Lord twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.

God must know this more than I’ve ever noticed. There must be so much self-interest in our praying sometimes.

My son, Matthew, was going to be here for this convention, but the engine of his car blew up on his way here and he had to get towed home. I had to take my disappointment to the Lord because my grandchildren were going to come. (Congregation groaned “Ohhh”) No, please don’t say, “ohhh”. I’m learning slowly to say, “Thank You, Lord” to whatever His will is.

When Matthew was very little, I’d watched parenting and experienced it, of course. I was thinking that people made a real “meal” of this parenting thing; it really wasn’t as hard as everybody made it out to be. I had read that Abraham commanded his children; God liked that. I realized what was really necessary was a clear command to the children - and that is necessary. There are many parents who don’t do that. God wants to see children commanded. That, of course, puts everything in black and white and you either get a response of obedience or one of disobedience. I needed to be alert, I thought, to the times when the response was one of disobedience to the clear command and then I could deal with it by the obvious method of the 5-fold ministry (hand) on the backside. (laughter) I thought it really isn’t that hard, but you know there was something of self-interest in all of that and I recognize it now. I thank God for the grace that’s redeemed Matthew out of the situation that I created. The self-interest that was in it was that I wanted to have good children for my glory. I wanted others to look at these models of good behavior. I wasn’t really disciplining my son for his own sake; I was disciplining him for my sake and that’s horrible! That’s self-love manifest through your own children. That’s an abuse and yet I was doing that. God has been merciful to me.

In our praying and our dealings with God, self-interest is woven in at so many places. When we come to Him and ask Him to meet our needs, how often are we doing it just out of self-interest? I find it quite hard sometimes to write the emails when I come back from a trip to Africa because I don’t want it to sound like it’s all about me, because it really isn’t! I stand there in awe and watch what God is doing and I’m so blessed to have eyes that can see these things when God is at work. Joe LaTour will tell you that God does these things in spite of us and not because of us. I don’t want, at anytime, for you to think, “Wow! Aren’t those ministry wonderful!” Because I tell you, God is showing us, I believe all of us very, very clearly, that it’s not about us; it’s the grace, the power, the goodness of God that is doing these things. I sometimes think, “How can I write these emails?” It’s all about God; it isn’t us.

We have had so much self-interest and promotion of self and love of self that’s come through in our relationship with the Lord. We’ve wanted Him to do things so that we can boast about them. We want our churches to be big numerically so that we can say, “Look! My community has this many people in them.” “My church has grown by this much!” It’s horrible!

He wants to be head and captain; head and captain; head and captain. It says at the end of verse 11:

Judges 11:11 ‘…Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.’

Mizpeh means “watchtower”. It was first mentioned in the scriptures when Jacob and Laban were parting for the last time. They put up a heap of stones there and I think it was Jacob who called the place Mizpeh and Laban called it Gilead. Mizpeh means watchtower and what they said when they parted was, “The Lord watch between you and me.” The Lord is looking. The Lord is looking. They drew a line and they said, “We’re not going to cross this line in anger. If we cross this line, it’s always going to be in peace. God is watching.”

God is watching! Do you know how we’re going to be judged? You understand this? It’s according to our works. Every idle word that men have spoken; they are going to give account in the Day of Judgment. Does that send some sort of shiver through you? Things that are done in secret are going to be shouted from the housetops. God is watching! Every time you get down on your knees, maybe every time you make a contract in your heart and you say, “My God, I give my life to you.” God is watching! He’s expecting performance of that which we say we are going to do. There isn’t anything off the record when it comes to God.

We talk to each other and we say, “This is off the record.” I go to Brother George and I say, “Brother George, I want to say this with you, but don’t tell anybody.” There’s nothing off the record with God. It’s all there. And every time we’ve said, “Jesus, You be Lord”, it’s on the record.

Jephthah then goes into some dealings here with the Ammonites. He communicated with the children of Ammon.

Judges 11:12 ‘And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?’

The Ammonites did not live in the territory that was ever designated to be part of the Promised Land; they lived outside of that territory. What they were doing was making incursions into the land of Israel and attacking within the land. They were attacking the tribes that were on the east side of Jordan and particularly in the land that was taken from the Amorites.

As Jephthah is talking to the king of Ammon says, “This land that you’re trying take, you have never owned.” The king of Ammon was saying, “This is my land.” And Jephthah says, “No. This was never your land.” Jephthah gives three reasons the Ammonites should not take the land that had been taken by Israel under Joshua from the Amorites. You have to hear and see the difference between the Ammo n ites and the Amo r ites.

The Ammonites were incursing into the land that had been taken by the Amorites. The Amorites territory was part of the Promised Land.

Jephthah comes up with three arguments to the king of Ammon why his battle is a wrong battle; why he is fighting a wrong battle.

1) The first argument; he said, “This land was not taken from you; it was taken from the Amorites.”

The word Amorites means “prominence”. It has a sub-meaning of “publicity” and “boasting”. It has to do with pride—prominence—pride. Would you think at all—is it possible—that love of self might want to manifest itself in pride? Hand in hand, aren’t they? They go together. Jephthah says, “The territory of pride is not an area where I’m going to let you work.”

We recently had a foot washing ceremony at home and it got me studying the subject of foot washing. In the Old Testament, the area of foot washing is rather interesting. Foot washing took place a number of times and what happened is they brought water to the people whose feet needed washing and they said, “Here you are; here’s the water.” They supplied the water for the washing of the feet, but they did not wash the feet. The only person who got close to doing it was Abigail; when after Nabal had died and she had been called by David and brought to be his wife, she said, “This is just a great privilege. I’m not worthy to be the one who washes the feet of your servants.” We don’t find out that she ever did it, but that’s the closest we get to somebody saying, “I’m willing to lower myself to the point of washing feet.”

Basically, in the Old Testament, foot washing was something that you did to yourself with water that was supplied to you. In the New Testament and there’s a new level of humility that is brought in by the Lord Jesus Christ when He gets down in front of His disciples and washes their feet. This level of lowering and abasing self is something that comes to us in the New Covenant. It was never possible until the Spirit was given. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, people are not going to go that low. There’s pride that’s in our makeup. The pride of life that’s been there since the Garden. People under the law just don’t go that low. It takes a work of grace in our lives that we’re willing to get down and to serve in that humility.

As I looked at the whole matter of foot washing, I concluded that Jesus was not out to establish another type of church service. In fact, I don’t mind that we do it as a part of communion and foot washing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it. That was not Jesus’ motive in washing His disciples’ feet. Actually, He does not say, “What I have done, you do”; He said, “ As I have done, you do.” What He had done was He had come before them as a slave and as a servant and bowed before them and said, “I have set you an example of being the lowest servant. Now you do it.” It was not so that we should have a special service when the organ music plays and everything else goes very quiet and we get the towels out.

In Romania they are quite big into foot washing. In one of the churches we go to they seem to do it regularly, but only the church leaders get to experience it. The church leaders ought to be the ones who are doing it to the people if they want to do it because the purpose is a demonstration of humility and service.

Jesus was not trying to say, “Let’s add it as another sort of church service. We have the praise service; we have the young people’s meeting; and now let’s have the foot washing.” He is saying, “I want you, my disciples, to know the glory of serving, of getting down low, of humbling yourselves.”

It’s in following the Lord Jesus Christ that this love of self is dealt with. Some of the ways it can be dealt with is by humbling ourselves before one another, refusing the spirit of the Amorites which is saying, “I’m something special”, and getting down before one another and serving the brethren.

We serve the brethren by cleaning the bathrooms. We serve the brethren by doing the things that are not just our duty to do; where we go further than our duty and we do the things that we choose to do—we get to do—because of the love of the brethren. I believe one of the reasons that community is such a special place is God gives us special opportunities to serve the brethren, to manifest the nature of Christ, to get the nature worked in us in daily operation.

Because when you are just in your nuclear family—you be where God wants you to be—but when you’re just in your nuclear family, there are not that many opportunities not to serve yourself because you are your family; they’re your flesh and blood. But when you get into community—wow. Who left all those dishes there to do? Who was it that left that mess there? Who was it that didn’t do this? Who was it that did do that and left a job? Oh, it’s all over the place. So God gives us service, service, service and he puts before us service so that the Amorite kingdom is not able to be taken by the Ammonites.

Jephthah also had another argument as to why the Ammonites should not take the Amorite kingdom is in verse 26.

Judges 11:26 ‘while Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? Why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?’             

2) Second argument: Jephthah said, “This has been Israel’s possession for a long time; 300 years. You don’t have the right to this. If you had the right to this, why didn’t you do something about it earlier? We’ve had it for 300 years.”

I just feel something in this is significant in that number 300, because 300 is a number that speaks of the remnant—the sons of God—like Gideon’s 300—that final firstfruits company that God is gathering together. It just seems to me that God is saying, “I have always had a people. All through the centuries I’ve had a people; there has been a line of this people who are totally devoted and committed to have their love only for Me. There are those who have laid down their lives.”

You know, we have a heritage. It’s not a heritage that came through our natural genealogy, but a heritage in God and there are those who have gone before. Hebrews 11 tells us about some of them, but the rest is in the next chapter to come. Its unwritten verses could take us through the last 2,000 years of many actual people whose stories have never been told and yet they have been there.

Jephthah—Jesus—is able to say, “I’ve always had a people. This land has always been Mine. There has always been somebody here in these cities.” Perhaps there’s a sense of privilege; a sense of responsibility; a sense of awe that comes when you realize about those who have gone before and paid the price. Here we are and if the book had been written of these saints of the last 2,000 years and your name was in the next chapter, you would say, “Wow, do I really belong in this line?” God is saying, “That’s what I want for you. That’s the calling.”

The issue is, do you love your life or don’t you? Remember in Revelation it says that ‘they loved not their lives even to the death’ and that’s how they overcame.

3) Then the third argument that Jephthah has is that God gave us this land. God gave us this land.

Judges 11:23 ‘So now the Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites…’

God gave us this land. You wouldn’t have any chance in this if God wasn’t at work in our lives and in our midst. This self-love and the pride that it works in tandem with are so engrained in the membranes of the individual of the natural man that we would not have a chance of pleasing God but for the fact that God in His grace was willing to work in our lives.

I don’t know if it ever amazes you that God has set about this project. I like a quiet life. God has set about this project of taking a people that are nothing but self-interested, self-loving sinners and saying, “I’m going to perfect them.” Perfect them on this side of the veil. That’s a project that is mind-boggling. That is not the recipe for an easy life. He’s taking rebels; He’s taking people that have been passionate in their love for themselves and saying, “I’m going to break that and I will turn their hearts like rivers of water and make them passionate instead in their love for Me. I’m going to put blinkers (blinders) on their eyes so that all they want to see is My face.”

The Lord says, “Seek ye My face.” And my heart says, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” How can that ever happen to this heart? It’s God that has to do it. He’s the one who’s giving us the land.

Judges 11:29-31 ‘Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.’

Well, first of all, let’s not just skip passed the fact that the Spirit of the Lord is involved in this. The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. The Spirit of the Lord came on Jesus. The Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. Is that where it stops? The Spirit of the Lord has come on you and on me so that we might have exactly the same equipment—exactly the same power—endued with power from on High that He has.

Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, and I believe all through His life, included the pride of life and He overcame it by the power of the Spirit. He went to the cross in the power of the Spirit. So, as we face the same opponent, we have the same resource.

Let’s read about the victory and then we’ll read about the vow in a moment.

Judges 11:32-33 ‘So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

A really great, decisive victory was won. The cities spread over about a 60-mile battlefield and there was tremendous victory. Yet, the precursor to this tremendous victory was a double-headed prayer. There were two things that were involved with this victory. First thing was the fighting of the battle. Jephthah says to the Lord, “We have to go out and fight this battle, but if You shall without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands…”

Clearly there’s an aspect of the victory that involved the Lord Jesus going out there and doing a work on the cross. This battle had to be fought. There had to be a Man who was the first Man from amongst the whole of creation—the firstborn—who would go out there. And because He was not living in love of His own self, He was willing to give His life. Not just give His life to those who were nice; not for those who were lovely, but for those who were enemies, rebels, dead in trespasses and sins. So much was He willing to give Himself in obedience to the Father and out of love of the Father.

The Bible says, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends.’ Now at that time, we were His enemies! What love He had! That was the first aspect of this victory; someone went out and fought the battle.

There was a second aspect of this victory. In the Jephthah vow, he says, “Lord, if you do that, I am going to give as a devotion—a devoted thing to You—the first thing that comes from my house when I return.”

I suppose I have thought in times past as I’ve read this story that perhaps he expected when he came that the family dog would come out. “Sorry, Rover, but I made a promise.” But, do you really think it would be an appropriate thing to say to God before you go into battle, “God, if you give me victory, it’s goodnight for Rover.” It doesn’t really work does it?

What else do you keep in your house? Sheep? Cows? No, come on; you don’t keep those in your house. What did he expect to come out of his house? If you were reading this in Spanish, you would read it differently. It doesn’t say in verse 31, ‘ what soever cometh forth of the doors of my house’. In the Spanish Bible it says, ‘ who soever comes forth from my house’. The commentators, who I don’t agree with very much, all agree together and it seems right to me that Jephthah was fully aware that what he was doing was committing himself to human sacrifice. He didn’t go into thinking that something else was going to happen; he knew that what was going to happen was human sacrifice.

Of course, the commentators are all horrified by this; totally horrified, because they say that is Molech—that is sin, but they don’t understand quite a few things. First of all, what they need to understand is that a previous verse said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah’; so this was not a man speaking his own mind; this was a man speaking in the Spirit of the Lord. Because of the pride that’s in men, they don’t put their hands up and say, “I don’t understand this”, they would rather work and work and work and try to say that the guy Jephthah got it wrong; he was a fool. Well, he wasn’t a fool. He was being inspired by the Spirit of God to make this vow.

I notice in this story, which continues and Jephthah’s daughter is sacrificed, that there is no condemnation expressed in the scriptures against what he did. If we’re going to join with most Bible commentaries and say, “That was wrong”, what we’re doing is we’re doing something that Scripture itself doesn’t do. I believe that most of these men, students and scholars that they were, have little understanding of the plan of God as He has shown it to us. We are privileged.

Let’s read the story through to the end. We need to fill in the gaps.

Judges 11:34-40 ‘And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! Thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.’

Jephthah made a vow. Turn with me to Leviticus 27 where we can just quickly look at what the law said about vows. Leviticus 27 is a chapter where God prescribes for Israel what’s to happen in terms of vows.

Leviticus 27:1 ‘And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the Lord by thy estimation.’

“Singular” means special, wonderful, marvelous. “Thy estimation” means “your valuation”—“your estimation”.

Then in 27 verses here, God says you can value the people and then He goes ahead and does it for Moses: this much for a man, this much for a woman, this much for a child, this much for a female child, this much for an old person—male and female. Then, He says this is what happens to beasts and property and all the other things. Next He says, “If you want to redeem any of the things that are vowed, you can redeem them but you add one fifth to the valuation and you pay extra. With all these things that were vowed—that were set before the Lord —that could be given to Him in terms of marvelous and wonderful commitments to God- there was an escape clause. Hallelujah.

How many times have you said to the Lord, “I will”? “I’ll never do it again, Lord.” Or, “Lord, I’ll do this for You.” “Lord, you can have everything.”

I remember, years ago, when I was Youth Leader in the Baptist Church and we ran a Youth Club. Some of the kids off the streets came in and after awhile they started to get a bit violent. I, being a coward, didn’t like this and I began to be scared and wondered if I was going to be a target for their violence. I got down before the Lord one evening when we were going to down to this Youth Club and I can still picture the chair I knelt in front of. I said to the Lord, “Lord, if they kill me, that’s alright. I just want to serve you. I’m willing to give my life for You.” Do you know how many times I’ve taken it (my life) back?

How many times have you given your life to the Lord? We have a Community in Blessington, and it’s better than it used to be, but we used to have family meetings that were difficult. There would be a person who was in “the chair” for the family meeting—and sometimes it felt like the electric chair. I, often, was the target. It got to the point, in fact, where Kathy didn’t come because she said, “I just can’t take it.” I didn’t like family meetings. I would do anything to avoid having to arrange a family meeting because it often became unpleasant. Then, I found the answer! I went back in front of that chair—actually it was that same chair that has stayed with us all these years—and I said, “Lord, I’m willing to die.” And you know family meetings suddenly got easy, because I went to them having already made the sacrifice! I said, “They can kill me!” Whether they killed me or not, after that it didn’t matter, because I’d already come to the end of the matter. Nothing worse can happen than that, can it? It was easy after that! I had already made the decision. But, how many times since have I taken my life back and fought for my rights and got involved in arguments?

Brother Tony Cardenas shared with us during this convention and gave us such a good line and so many excellent stories of how God had taken him to places where he had to lay down his rights.

We have to stop fighting for our rights! It’s to do with love of self! But, praise God, in these verses in Leviticus, He says you can redeem a vow! Where does redemption come from? God said, “In all these things there’s a price that can be paid. I’ll add a fifth to it and it can be paid.” Five is the number of grace. He says, “OK, you made your commitment and you broke it, but there’s Someone who has paid the price.” I’m grateful.

But, there comes later in the chapter a change because there’s a different sort of vow.

Leviticus 27:28 ‘Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.’

“Most holy”—that phrase is Holy of Holies. God is saying there is going to be a people who make a vow of dedication and they won’t back out of it. It’s not going to be that somebody has to come along and bring a redemption price because the vow is broken. This is a devotion and a dedication out of which there’s going to be no retreat.

God said regarding Jericho, it’s devoted; it’s dedicated. But, Achan said, “Oh, no. Oh, no.” And Achan paid the penalty because Jericho was devoted.

God said regarding the Amalekites, they’re devoted and Saul said, “Oh, no. I’ll keep the best.” And Saul paid the penalty because Amalek was devoted.

God is looking for a people who will be serious enough with Him now to say, “I want to be devoted. I don’t want to retreat out of this. I don’t want a let out clause. I don’t want to write a rider in the agreement that says, “I am totally devoted to you, Lord, until I change my mind.” Haven’t you had that in your agreement? He’s looking for a people who say, “I want to be devoted; totally dedicated; blinkered.”

And do you know what this is? This is the means by which you and I deal with the love of self. This whole story in Judges is a story of a man and his daughter who were battling against the enemy of self-love.

Let’s go back into the book of Judges. Jephthah’s daughter was devoted. She represents, I believe, a corporate company of people who are saying, “God, it’s You; it’s nothing else; it’s You. I give my life to You. I do not want to retreat from this promise.”

When Jesus died on the cross, do you think He knew that He was bringing forth a people who were going to make this devotion? I believe He did. I believe He knew before He went to the cross that there was going to be a people who would come after Him; who would walk the same path that He walked. He said, “Follow Me.” Where did He walk? He walked to the cross. He said, ‘If a man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.’

This virgin daughter of Jephthah, I believe, is representative of that people. The Lord Jesus Christ when He went to the cross knew that He was involving another people who He was promising to bring to the Father; who were going to be totally dedicated and it was going to cost them their lives.

He (Jephthah) came back from the battle and she came out—this virgin daughter—she was dancing; she was playing the tambourines. The virgin daughter of Jerusalem in the Bible - you can read about her in Jeremiah- is exactly the same. This virgin daughter represents the Church. She doesn’t represent all the Church. She represents a remnant in the Church. I believe what she represents is found in this congregation because this is a people with a calling to be part of this girl.

When Sennacherib came against Jerusalem and Hezekiah was there in the city and all the huge forces of Sennacherib were on the outside and Hezekiah was seeking the Lord, the word of the Lord came to be given to Sennacherib, “The virgin daughter of Jerusalem despises you” (2 Kings 19:21). It’s a group of people who are in the Church today who are saying to this enemy who is the love of self, “Love of self, I despise you! I am willing to give my life rather than to bow down at the altar and under the dominion and the oppression of self-love!”

Self-love is one of the most disgusting forms of love that has ever been expressed in the human race and it’s found in us. The answer is to die.

Jephthah said when he sees her, “You’ve brought me very low.” The word for “low” is “I’m bowed down”. The phrase in the book of Philippians where it says, ‘every knee shall bow’, is actually a quote from the Old Testament and it’s this word. Jephthah says “I’m bowed down” in the Hebrew. What Jephthah is saying is, “This is real worship. I’ve brought my own life and I’m also bringing my daughter.”

We’ve heard it so many times in this convention; God’s seeking worshippers; He’s looking for worshippers. He’s not looking for people who sing songs in meetings. He’s looking for a people who, like He did, offer his life as a sacrifice—a sacrifice of blood on the cross. That was worship. He’s looking for a people who will come along behind Him and follow in His steps and do what He did. When He finds that people, He says, “This isn’t just bowing; this is bowing very low. This is worship of worship.”

This is what God is seeking. He’s seeking a people who will stop loving themselves and will start to love Him; because He died, that people ‘should no longer live unto themselves but unto to Him who loved them and gave Himself for them’.

Jephthah also says, “You’re one of those who trouble me.” I love it because you know in the middle of my struggle—and let’s not pretend that this is easy—in the middle of the struggle, Jesus feels everything that I feel. The Bible says that He’s there in the presence of God making intercession for us. Jesus already said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” so, why would He be praying when all power is given to Him? Really, there is an aspect of prayer to it, but there is more than one meaning in the Greek and what it says is that He’s ready “to get involved in what we are in”. The intercession is an engagement of the Lord Jesus Christ in our business.

So here’s Jephthah and he knows what his daughter is going to have to go through and He says, “I’m feeling your trouble! I’m involved in it! I’m committed to this with you! You’re not standing alone!” Hallelujah! The presence of God is with a people who are giving themselves to say, “I don’t want anymore to be a lover of my own life! I’ve been there! It disgusts me! I want to turn from it, Lord! I really want my life to be one that is devoted. I don’t want a let out clause!” And the presence and the help and the feeling of our infirmities are there in the Lord as we go through this.

So, she gives herself and she gives herself, really without complaining, to laying down her life because it’s the will of her father. She asks for these two months in which she can go up on the mountains and be there with her fellows.

I asked the Lord about this and I expect there’s a whole lot more to this, but I was thinking how before Jesus went to the cross—before He made this commitment Himself—the Spirit took Him up a mountain. There on the Mount of Transfiguration, two people came to Him and they talked to Him before His own laying down of His life. They had fellowship with Him and they talked to Him concerning the exodus—the decease—that He was going to accomplish. I thought, “Lord, You are so good. You are requiring of us this commitment, this devotion, this dedication of our whole lives without a release clause. You’re looking for a people who say, ‘I’m willing to die’ and what You do is You put us together with our companions so that we can talk together about it and be established and encouraged together on the mountains.”

Moses and Elijah talked to Jesus and I think they probably said to Jesus things like, “Hey, going to death isn’t that bad because look what’s on the other side. We’ll tell you a little bit about the other side.” They strengthened Him because they had been through something—not everything by any means, but something—that He had experienced. Moses had been involved in an exodus.

Also, as we’re gathered together with our companions here and we’re sharing together and encouraging each other and saying, “We can do this. We’re the people. This is our calling. This is where God is taking us”, at the same time I’m aware that the Lord Jesus Christ is also here in the midst and He’s saying, “I’ve done it and I can talk together with you about this exodus and it’s alright; you can do it; My presence is with you. I’ll take you through and it’s worth it”; as One who has gone before and left footprints for us on the road.

Judges 11:39(a) ‘And it came to pass at the end of the two months…’

Perhaps two months in which they talked about the wonderful work that Jesus had done and the wonderful empowering of the Holy Spirit, the anointing for burial, and they communed together.

Judges 11:39(b) ‘that she returned unto her father who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man.’

Are you ready for the Lord to do what you vowed? Do you really want Him to be serious with you and take you through what you’ve committed to? He’s heard what you said. He’s looking for a people who say, “Yes, Lord, I meant it. What I did back there in my lounge for the Youth Club; what I did back there facing the family meeting; what I’ve done at the altar here; what I’ve done at other places, Lord, I really meant it. Do it to me. Take me there.”

Judges 11:39(end)– 40 ‘And it was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.’

The word “lament” occurs two times in the Bible. The other time it’s translated “rehearse”. I don’t know why it’s translated “lament” here. In the Spanish Bible, it’s the word “to repeat”. One Jewish rabbi says it means, “to celebrate”; another Jewish rabbi says it means, “to praise”. I can’t find anybody who says it means “to lament”. It sounds awfully like a pity party. This isn’t a pity party; this is a praise meeting.

These are the daughters of Jerusalem. This is the rest of the Church. This is the rest of creation. This is everybody else who needs somebody to go ahead and show them where they have to walk, saying, “Hey, we have seen the fruit of this!” This is the whole creation which is groaning in travail, now at last seeing the manifestation of the sons of God.

The number “four” occurs here. The number “four” speaks of the whole creation. It talks about things that are universal. The blessing of a people who will give themselves to this is not just upon that people; it ripples out and impacts the whole of God’s creation. That’s why when Jesus went to the cross, He knew what He was doing and He said, “And you’re going to have to come after Me and take up your cross.”

The interesting thing here, I believe, is it says these daughters of Jerusalem didn’t lament, they repeated!

In the kingdom of God, in the eons that are to come—going on into infinity—when God has cleaned up this heaven and earth and brought in a new heaven and new earth wherein dwells righteousness, there will be no love of self ! It won’t be there in the Divinity; it won’t be there in the Sons of God; it won’t be there in the rest of creation!

Can you just imagine for a moment a heaven and earth populated by people out of whom has been taken every vestige of self-love? Wow! Just think for a minute what society would be like if there was no love of self.

Somebody is going to be the first partaker of the fruits this side of the veil. Somebody—some people—are going to say, “Yes, Lord, I’ll do it if that’s what you want from my life; I’ll do it.” And, it will cost you your life. I make no bones about it this morning; it’s going to cost you your life. This is the way of the cross! But somebody is going to do it and creation will not escape from the bondage of corruption until a people come forth who are willing to pay this price!

Is there a virgin daughter of Jephthah in this place today?

‘If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Me.’

The daughters of Jerusalem—after Jephthah’s daughter had done it—they would go and they’d say, “Let’s repeat it. This is so good.” They celebrated by saying, “Let’s repeat it. Let us do it. We don’t want to lose this.” Because they have seen that it works.

God has called us to a walk of faith. We have not seen, yet, that it works. We have just the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. This creation needs to see it and they won’t see it until somebody else does it. The word of God is established by two witnesses. The word of God hasn’t been established, yet. Jesus has been a faithful and true witness but that’s only one witness. Why doesn’t the world fall and embrace Jesus and bow the knee now and say, “He is Lord”? Because the word of God has to be established in the mouth of two witnesses. Where’s the second?

When we were baptized in water back in the Baptist Church, there was a little saying that the pastor had as we went into the waters of baptism. He said, “This is the way the Master went. Should not the servant tread it still?”

Let’s establish this. Let’s be the people that establishes this by being the second witness; following the Lord Jesus Christ to the cross and through the cross until the daughters of Jerusalem come up and they say, “Let us repeat it!”

Amen.


   
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