Gideon, Jephthah and Trump

dreddFair warning, this will mix the Bible and politics to an extent. If that sort of thing bothers you, you have been warned.

In the long story of the Bible, Judges is an exceptionally interesting book. In it we find some of those often held up to be heroes, names like Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. We find Deborah, the female judge showing us our first glimpse that righteousness knows no gender, we find war, battle, pillaging, and things worse. It is, in many ways, a microcosm of the history of God’s chosen people, but also serves to illustrate many of the places we find ourselves today as a society and also a church. Judges starts with such promise and ends in some of the darkest days described in scripture.

Judges has the people of Israel in the undeniable pattern of sin that spirals ever downward toward an opening until eventually gravity takes over, and the coin falls in. Reading the book, you see numerous good examples of people of God in the midst of Israel’s ongoing sin, but those examples are few it seems. Eventually we will get to Gideon who is called mighty warrior and told to rise up! Most of us have heard the story and heard him praised and set as a hero and example for us. We forget that Israel had sinned in the eyes of the Lord and because of such had been delivered to the Midianites in the first place. Their condition was the result of their sin. Yet God, in all of his mercy, raises up Gideon and delivers them once again. Gideon the hero. How quickly we forget that he had many wives and had seventy sons from them. How quickly we forget the ephod which became the snare for him and his house rising to becoming idolatrous. Gideon was raised up by God, yet fell by his own hubris. He started well, and ended in ruin by his own hand. It is a turning point in the story of Judges. It shows the downward spiral. Gideon came to believe more in himself than in God. So did the Israelites.

We get to Jephthah, a mighty warrior who rises to be a Judge in Israel. Again Israel has sinned, again they are in bondage to a foreign power, and again God raises up a man to deliver them. Often he is held up as an example of a one who can rise above his circumstances and become great.  Jephthah, however,  makes a hasty vow that results in him needing to sacrifice his own daughter. (I am one of those who believes that he did.) Never mind that if he had indeed known and paid attention to the word of God delivered before his time, he would have known that he could redeem the vow at a price of gold instead of the life of his child. Jephthah did not know the teachings of God and his daughter suffered needlessly for it. Hasty words and hubris again lead to a downfall. A lack of knowledge of the words of God again lead to a downfall. Jephthah believes in himself more than he believes in God. So do the Israelites.

We come to now and our current politicians. They all, to some degree, exhibit the same sort of traits as those who fell so spectacularly in Judges. Some have come from humble means, others from more famous ones. All have been risen up by the people as candidates, some claim to have been risen up by God. All promise to deliver us from our enemies whatever they may be…economic, foreigners, terrorists, and the list could go on and on. Now unlike the ancient Israelites, we are not a theocracy, so God is not the one who will raise a man up to be our leader, but rahter we, as those who vote, will. Our faith should of course play into that decision as we look to those whom we believe will be moral and just, but it will be us who raise up the leader.

It is my opinion that none of the candidates possess so many of the bad qualities we see played out in the time of the Judges than Mr. Trump. His rise to prominence from obscurity is used often as an example. His hubris is always on full display. His hasty words are heard, and all to often adored, by all. All of the candidates for office demonstrate this to some degree, but Mr. Trump does so with a gusto and exuberance not often seen. He promises deliverance from all of our enemies, internal and external. He promises a return to greatness by his will and his way. His faith in himself if unparalleled and not often seen. I dare say it seems more than his faith in God. The faith that many have in him is the same it seems, and also greater than their faith in God it seems.

The book of Judges, as I have written before, ends with ominous words, We are also quickly approaching that time as well. The good news is that we have not arrived at that point yet. The bad news is that we seem well on the road it it. “In those days there was no king in Israel; each one did that which seemed right in his own eyes.”
May we as Christians quickly rediscover our king so that we do not end up in the same boat as the people of God before us.

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4 Replies to “Gideon, Jephthah and Trump”

  1. As history clearly demonstrates, the Bible is a perfectly marvelous and thoroughly useful book. It’s internal contradictions can be and have been used to justify a wide variety of philosophical and political positions.

  2. I say this, only for the purpose of discussion. And to get other opinions. I am actually interested in the comparison to Judges. But I want to say that I am neither for, nor against, Trump. But the Trump phenomenon is very interesting.

    Judges, as I remember, is a period of constant fighting against Israel’s enemies, by a bunch of incompetent leaders, called Judges. With no real success.
    As a result, I would say Judges parallel both the Bush and Obama administrations. Both want to fight, but both like to look like the ultimate, good guy to the people. Result, many years of war with no results, when there probably should not have been a war to begin with.

    I think Trump parallel’s Solomon. King. Obnoxious. Ruthless (had his older brother killed to get the crown). Not wanting to fight, if he could cut a good deal. Ultimate builder. Striking deals with all the other nations around Israel. Promoted ultimate prosperity in business with other nations. Says outrageous things (cut the baby in half – divided between the two women claiming to be the mother – but did he really mean it?)

    Ultimate question – who would you like to negotiate a business deal with China or Mexico? Who would you like to negotiate a military deal with Russia or Iran? A good guy, who wants to be fair to both sides? Or a ruthless business man, that doesn’t care what he says or does, to get the best deal possible for the U.S.

    So, my take, Republican voters want a Solomon (king), not a Judge. Of course, perhaps if we had polygamy, Trump could even work more deals, like Solomon (just kidding!). I don’t think anyone wants a high priest. Praying doesn’t seem to be able to stop wars, regardless of what anyone says. At least, from what I have seen from mankind’s history.

    1. Whether an act or not, Trump has all the earmarks of a fascist dictator. If nothing else, given his Thump’s rhetoric, the success of his candidacy clearly demonstrates the country is in deep trouble.

    2. As a follow up, Solomon and Trump may have been very similar:

      1st Kings 9: 10And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the two houses, the house of Jehovah and the king’s house 11(now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar-trees and fir-trees, and with gold, according to all his desire), that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. 12And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.

      Get Cedars and Gold to build the Temple, and give 20 cities in the north, that Hiram did not like. Like giving Utah to Mexico, and getting Mexico to build the wall.
      Trumped!

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