Statute…When There Is No Negotiation, Negotiate The Cross!
**Volume Reading: The Book of Nehemiah
Statute…The Terrorist Negotiation Begins
What will the leader forfeit for his people?
Israel was a moving military. Everyone who saw her knew just how dangerous she was. Even when she asked nicely to be allowed permission to cross through other nations, those nations resisted her. Can you blame them? In fact, even at the suggestion that she cross through caused the nations to pledge war against her. As long as she stayed enclosed in the wilderness, she could be contained. But let her out? Are you kidding? I don’t think so!
The irony of course is that Israel is like a bull in a china shop. It took great discipline for her to ask permission in a civilized manner to cross through nicely so that she doesn’t break anything (anyone for that matter). But because her civility was refused, she was forced to expose just how well she had developed in their midst. More than a bull, Israel was a red heifer; willing to make the kind of sacrifice that only a mother would make for her children; willing, even to leave some (thing and/or one) behind in order to ensure that her people got into their rightful position, through the opposition– willing to make a personal sacrifice.
So the negotiation begins, not with man, with God. What is Israel going to leave behind in order to get the people home? What terms are acceptable to God in order for God to act on her behalf? The adversary is a legalist and he knows that God is just. Therefore, a statute must come into play. A statute is a permanent rule that was established by an organization in order to ensure justification. Why should Israel be allowed to obtain the blessings of the land? There must be a trade. First it will be Miriam, then Aaron…and soon Moses. And so, Moses is the red heifer, the personal loss that Israel will forfeit in order to obtain something she could never earn. She faces the promise. It’s directly across from her now. She can see it coming closer. But the sweetness of it is also mingled with the bitter. Israel has negotiated to leave the wilderness without her leader. That’s got to hurt.
Statute…Who is at the table?
It’s trading season, how bad do you want victory?
The strength of Israel is what we refer to as “timing”. Israel always seems to know ‘what time it is’. And when Israel doesn’t know what time it is, she is at her gravest weakness. Don’t forget that even the wise men of the far east knew that the Messiah of Israel was to be born because they had been studying the stars (time). So how could Israel not know? The only occassions that Israel loses her profit/prophet table is when she is out of season. And so Israel doesn’t mark her pace by staring at her watch, but rather by studying the fruit of a thing. She knows that this, and only this, is how God governs time.
Jephtah was the son of a prostitute. He was put out of his Father’s house by his half brothers. The embarrassment that the untimely relationship his father had was more than the brothers could bare. It tarnished the family name. The only way to handle the blemish on the family record was to remove it. The problem was that in removing the blemish, they also removed a key military officer. When Israel’s enemies rose up against Israel they found themselves unprepared because the one who had the strength to lead in battle was the one whom they just kicked out of the house– Jephtah. It was a sticky situation. What do you do when the one you don’t want in the house is the only one who can save the house? If you are Israel, you swallow your pride.
Jephtah was capable of being the kind of fighter that the brothers couldn’t be without him. And this was his secret: Jephtah knew that the battle was too strong for him. The other brothers thought that the military prowess was the issue. It was not. The issue was where Israel stood with God. They wanted a victory that they did not deserve; a victory that couldn’t be justified.
To Jephtah it was a private matter. It wasn’t just about Israel winning over her adversaries. It was about Jephtah’s place in his family. Jephtah wanted victory so bad that it was personal. He knew that he was sitting at the table with the God of Israel, and the great adversary whose job it was to accuse. Jephtah was willing to make a personal sacrifice that would put him in a righteous position, so that even if Israel did not deserve to be conquerors, Jephtah did. It was in this fever that he appealed to God and begged him for victory. At this juncture, he offered (unwittingly) the thing he loved most in order to accomplish the task– his daughter.
Statute… What is acceptable in order to pass?
Your adversary wants something specific
Moses once told God that he would rather that his own name be blotted out so that the people could cross over. He later forgot, but the adversary didn’t. Jephtah said that he would give God the first thing that greeted him from his home on his arrival in order to obtain victory for Israel. He probably thought it would be a servant, but the adversary didn’t.
There will be times in your life when what you said, God will hold you to. It causes growth. Moses is credited with the Torah. Getting it across in the hands of the people he trained was a personal victory. It cost him the promised land. Jephtah is credited with the victory that Israel should have lost. No doubt he was esteemed in his brother’s eyes now. It cost him his daughter, because it was a personal victory.
There are times when God will act because it is the “time”. And then there are times that God will act because you asked him to, but it must be justified. Another words, there must be a reason that is so good and causes so much growth, and bears so much fruit, that God is willing to get involved “personally”, and the adversary must allow the victory because even he accepts the fact that the forfeit was so profound.
Statute…There is only one justifiable trade
Let Jesus call the shots
“For God so loved the world that he gave (forfeited) his only begotten son, that whosever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send his son to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved…”
Moses didn’t create the template of personal forfeit, neither did Jephtah. It was a statute that was put in place since the beginning of time. God created the template and the template’s name is Yehoshua. We call him Jesus. It is in his likeness that we duplicate what he taught us about being justified. We are justified by faith through grace.
Moses forfeited his passage to Canaan. The story goes that the devil tried to keep the body of Moses, but he was not allowed. Perhaps he tried to keep the body of Jephtah’s daughter too. Perhaps the adversary was so pumped up about the trade because he thought it was permanent. He thought that Moses would never be seen in Canaan, or anywhere for that matter…yet don’t we see him on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus?
The trade that Jesus made with the adversary was better than anything he could have held onto. When Jesus put his own life on the table, the adversary said “I will give you back everything I have posted for death, hell, and the grave if I get to keep you.” And Jesus said, “Deal.” It seemed unjustified. Why would Satan take so little for so much? Because he knew that if he could keep Jesus, he would keep everything. Why would Jesus offer so much? Because he knew that if Satan really knew what card he was possessing he would not accept it.
The truth? Jesus opened his arms wide and hung on a rugged cross and allowed himself to be possessed by the adversary…it was his right. It was the deal, the final trade, the forfeit. But the light….ahhhh…the light…it was too bright. Satan tried to possess it, but it possessed him. He was stuck, consumed by the light, devoured by the love, for those who willingly accept it, it burns away all of the impurities and makes one holy. But if you can not accept it, all it does is burn…that’s holy.
The red heifer is “The Jesus Template”. When there is no way to get through it but to negotiate, Jesus played it all, and no one can take the credit for what he was, is, and will be, able to do in the face of terrorism.
Don’t ever underestimate the skillfulness of your adversary when he is sitting at the table, negotiating the game. More importantly, don’t ever…no, not never, under-estimate the mastery of The Master’s skill in inventing it.
And you thought M.C. Hammer made up that line? No. No, my friend, it was Jesus. Satan having won the right to possess the Master, forfeited all of his rights simply by reaching across the table to collect the cards. When he held them up to behold all that he had obtained, The weekly reading said, “Can’t touch this!”
Maybe his timing was off. Or…maybe the statute was out of season.