Cowardice – birthplace of prejudice & license to kill
Judges 12 / Proverbs 24 / Hebrews 10-13
Judges 12:1-6 Then the tribe of Ephraim mobilized its army and crossed over to Zaphon. They sent this message to Jephthah: “Why didn’t you call for us to help you fight against Ammon? We are going to burn down your house with you in it!” “I summoned you at the beginning of the dispute, but you refused to come!” Jephthah said. “You failed to help us in our struggle against Ammon. So I risked my life and went to battle without you, and the LORD gave me victory over the Ammonites. So why have you come to fight me?” The leaders of Ephraim responded, “The men of Gilead are nothing more than rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh.” So Jephthah called out his army and attacked the men of Ephraim and defeated them. Jephthah captured the shallows of the Jordan, and whenever a fugitive from Ephraim tried to go back across, the men of Gilead would challenge him. “Are you a member of the tribe of Ephraim?” they would ask. If the man said, “No, I’m not,” they would tell him to say “Shibboleth.” If he was from Ephraim, he would say “Sibboleth,” because people from Ephraim cannot pronounce the word correctly. Then they would take him and kill him at the shallows of the Jordan River. So forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.
Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God knows all hearts, and he sees you. He keeps watch over your soul, and he knows you knew! And he will judge all people according to what they have done.
Hebrews 10:21-24 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.
12:11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
OT Flash Points
Cowardice leads to defensive lies, which leads to reactionary violence, the justification of which becomes whatever is at hand
“Say shibboleth” Or, “Be what you are not right now or I will kill you right now”
Proverbs: The only reason we do not rescue the unborn child or the abused and the outcast is cowardice
In fact, that is the definition of the word
NT Flash Points
When is the last time you saw an outburst of love or an explosion of heroic good deeds?
I’m afraid we see a whole lot more cowardly violence
Be content with your immediate surroundings and circumstances, yes even with its hardships, because God’s design in it is our focus
There will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this
Leaders: Take a new grip with your tired hand and stand firm on your shaky legs
Then those who follow will not stumble or fall but become strong
– Rejoice not in the pattern of the religious age
God’s measure is not numbers but discipling to wholeness each one that God gives us
Our life is discipleship
Our life is an empty illusion if it is defined by the establishment and growth of our ministry