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August 2023 - Jephthah

Issue #421
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Issue #421August 2023


Jephthah was the 9th of 14 judges prior to Samuel. Samuel himself was a prophet who transitioned Israel from the judges to the kings. Again, Jephthah was the 9th judge if we treat Deborah and Barak as being distinct and separate. Judges 4:4 says that Deborah “was judging Israel at that time,” so it is clear that she too was a judge.

The prophetic importance of Jephthah is seen in the context of all the judges in those years. The most unusual feature was that “Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a harlot” (Judges 11:1). For this reason, his half-brothers drove him out of the house so that Jephthah would have no inheritance with the legitimate sons. This suggests that he learned faith the hard way, having to overcome the circumstances of his birth.

Jephthah had to pay the price for his father’s sin with a harlot. He was judged for who he was, not for what he had done. Nonetheless, God raised up Jephthah to deliver Israel from the eighteen-year Ammonite captivity. He then judged Israel for 6 years (Judges 12:7) and is listed in Heb. 11:32 among the great men of faith.

The 14 judges recorded in Scripture are:

1. Othniel (“the force/power of God”)
2. Ehud (“united”)
3. Shamgar (“sword”)
4. Barak (“lightning”)
5. Deborah (“bee, word”)
6. Gideon (“feller, lumberman”)
7. Tola (“worm, scarlet dye”)
8. Jair (“he enlightens”)
9. Jephthah (“he opens”)
10. Ibzan (“splendid”)
11. Elon (“mighty, strong”)
12. Abdon/Bedan (“servile”/ “in judging”)
13. Samson (“like the sun”)
14. Samuel (“his name is El/God”)

Fourteen is the biblical number of deliverance, so it is appropriate that there were 14 judges (deliverers).

The First Five Judges

The name of Othniel (the first judge) is derived from othni, “force, power.” His name speaks of the voice of God, often pictured by the power of thunder and accompanied by lightning. The type of power in this case is determined by the context of the next four judges: Ehud (“united”), Shamgar (“sword”), Barak (“lightning”) and Deborah (“bee, orderly”).

Ehud means “united,” so he is the connecting link between Othniel and the next few judges. Essentially, his role shows us that the voice of God is “united” with the sons of God, as we will see.

Shamgar is the third judge. It is curious that the only thing we know about him is that he killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad (Judges 3:31) during a time when it was dangerous to use the main roads (Judges 5:6). Though his name means “sword,” he did not use a physical sword. He used an ox goad—which is literally the meaning of the Hebrew letter lamed.

An ox goad was a metaphor for authority, because it was used to guide and control oxen. Jesus used this metaphor when He appeared to the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road. When Paul was giving his testimony to King Agrippa, he said in Acts 26:14,

14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

In other words, Jesus said, “It is hard for you to fight against My will and authority.”

Shamgar was a judge who was acting under the authority of Jesus Christ. His name means “sword,” so we can say that his weapon was the sword of the Spirit, operated by the spiritual authority of the ox goad. The Greek word cosmos, “the world order,” has a numeric value of 600. Philistines represent those who function by the old flesh man through the carnal mind.

Hence, the message is that Shamgar overcame the carnal mind in the world by the sword of the Spirit.

Next is Barak (“lightning”). In Psalm 77:17, 18, we read that lightning represents God’s arrows, while thunder is God’s voice. In Psalm 127:4, arrows are likened to sons. Hence, God’s arrows (lightning) are the sons of God.

To this we must add Deborah, whose name literally means “a bee,” implying orderly. Yet it is from the Hebrew dabar, “word,” which shows that one must have the word of God to bring anything into divine order.

In this case, Barak, representing the sons of God, must be brought into divine order by uniting with Deborah. This implies a balance of male and female gifts and callings, taking us back to the marriage principle of being “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). God separated the woman from the man and then rejoined them with a legal unity, being in agreement and having the same goal and purpose in manifesting the original true Man of Genesis 1.

When Barak was in unity with Deborah, the combination brought victory by fulfilling the divine purpose for Adam and Eve. It is only by such unity that the great captivity, brought about by the fall, can be overcome. So the message of Sonship must include the Deborah company. Neither men nor women, by themselves can bring forth the sons of God. Male and female both play a role in the divine order.

Putting together the names of the first five judges, it refers to the voice of God, united by the sword of the Spirit and the authority of Christ, with His sons in divine order.

Judges Six to Eight

Gideon, the 6th judge, refers to a warrior, who “fells” the enemy, even as trees that fall before a mighty axe. The manner in which these “trees” are felled is seen in the next few judges.

Felling the enemy is accomplished only through the blood of Christ, pictured in Tola, the 7th judge, whose name refers to the worm (coccus ilicis) that makes scarlet dye. This worm is mentioned in the prophecy of Christ on the cross in Psalm 22:6, “I am a worm and not a man.” The word picture is about the crucified Christ, bloodied, and appearing more like the coccus ilicis than a man.

Scarlet is often pictured in the law when it points to the crucified Christ. (For example, see Lev. 14:6.)

After Tola comes Jair, “he enlightens,” referring to the result of the cross. When we “see the light,” we have faith in Christ. We are first enlightened by the Light of the word, and ultimately, we will be transfigured as Christ was, “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

What Does Jephthah Open?

Jephthah is the 9th judge. His name means “he opens.” His name, by itself, does not tell us what he is opening, nor even how or why. These things are revealed in the context of the next judges and by the opening of the heavens at the end of the age in Rev. 15:5, which will be explained shortly.

That which is opened is “splendid” (Ibzan) and “mighty” (Elon). It also requires a transformation from Abdon (“servile”) to Bedan (“in judging”). These were two names for the same judge. Judges 12:13 calls him Abdon; but years later, Samuel calls him Bedan (1 Sam. 12:11, saying, “Then the Lord sent Jerubbaal (i.e., Gideon, Judges 7:1) and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel.”

Abdon and Bedan were the same person. Presumably, when he became a judge, his name was altered to Bedan. Because names represent one’s nature or calling, this seems to point to the transformation of one’s nature that takes place when one is transfigured into the full image of Christ.

Judges are also called “deliverers” (Obadiah 21) or “saviors” (KJV). While they are types of Christ, they are also leaders in the body of Christ whom God raises up to do His work of deliverance.

Samson and Samuel

Samson’s name means “like the sun,” derived from shemesh, “the sun.” Hence, we read of the transfiguration of Christ in Matt. 17:2,

2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

This also is directly linked to Ibzan, “splendid,” for his name literally means “tin, whiteness.” His name prophesies of transfiguration when the heavens are opened, and in this way, Ibzan is linked to Samson, “like the sun.”

Samuel is the final judge (1 Sam. 7:15). He was the prophetic judge who is associated with the Ark of the Covenant. As a priest, a Nazirite, and a judge, he was given to the Lord at an early age, and he ministered in the sanctuary at Shiloh in the midst of Eli’s corrupt priestly family. It was in his time that the Ark was captured by the Philistines and returned after seven months (Judges 6:1).

When the Ark was returned, the people of Beth-shemesh stopped harvesting their wheat (1 Sam. 6:13) to bring the Ark into their town. They made the ill-fated decision to check the contents of the Ark to see if the tablets of the law and the pot of manna were still in it. God “struck down some of the men of Beh-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord” (1 Sam. 6:19).

Not all are qualified to look into the Ark. In the time of David, Uzzah was killed when he touched the Ark (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). The men of Beth-shemesh represented the feast of Pentecost, for they were wheat harvesters. The anointing of Pentecost alone does not qualify anyone to open the Ark or to come in contact with it.

It requires a greater anointing of the overcomers that is yet to come, as we will see shortly. In fact, the men of Beth-shemesh (“House of the Sun”) are also identified with Samson, whose name is derived from shemesh, “the sun.” Samson too was also a type of Pentecost in that he had great strength and great weakness as well.

Samson burned the wheat of the Philistines, which prophesied of the baptism of fire that was to come upon the Pentecostal believers; yet he was unable to deliver Israel and died in the religious house of the Philistines. Likewise, the men of Beth-shemesh died as well during the time of wheat harvest.

It took a greater judge than Samson to deliver Israel, one who carried a greater anointing of the feast of Tabernacles.

Not long afterward, Samuel led the people in battle to break the Philistine captivity (Judges 7:13). In the context, we can say with the prophet that “the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Isaiah 10:27). It is the Ark that is opened to manifest His glory.

Who Opens the Ark?

Here we come to an interesting question. Jephthah’s name means “he opens,” and the sequence of judges ending with Samuel shows us that it is the Ark that is opened through the ministry of Samuel, “his name is God,” or simply “God’s name.”

Samuel’s name is a combination of Shem and El. Shem means “name,” signifying one who is famous, one whose name is prominent and well known. We often say today that someone has made a name for himself.

Samuel’s name implies that his life testified that the prophet promoted God’s name/nature wherever he went and in whatever he did. When His name is lifted up and glorified, every knee will bow; every tongue will “swear allegiance” to Christ (Isaiah 45:23).

Revelation 14 speaks of the overcomers (144,000), after which we see “those who had been victorious over the beast” (Rev. 15:2) singing the Song of Moses. The lyric of the Song goes like this:

Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev. 15:3, 4).

The glorification of His name is pictured in the name of Samuel himself. We then read in the next verse (Rev. 15:5),

5 After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened.

This pictures the entire “temple” in heaven being opened—not just the Ark itself, although it must be said that the Ark really represented the temple in the story of Beth-shemesh. One could say that the Ark was like a window of heaven through which the glory of God was manifested.

When Samuel succeeded Samson as judge (1 Sam. 7:15), it was his calling to deliver the people. He succeeded where Samson had failed. Samuel mustered the army of Israel at Mizpah, where he called upon the people to repent with fasting and prayer (1 Sam. 7:6). He then offered up a burnt offering to the Lord, and the Philistine army gathered to fight against Israel. 1 Sam. 7:10, 13 says,

10 … But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines, and struck them down as far as below Beth-car… 13 So the Philistines were subdued and they did not come anymore within the border of Israel.

This “great thunder” signifies the voice of God, as we have already seen. No doubt this is also connected to the “seven thunders” in Rev. 10:3, 4. These thunders were seven revelatory words that were sealed in John’s time, awaiting their full revelation at a later time when they were to be fulfilled.

I believe the story of Samuel’s deliverance is prophetic of the day that the heavens are opened and the Spirit of God is poured out upon the earth to deliver the nations from their captivity to the Philistines (now called Babylonians). This will be done through the ministry of the overcomers after the Pentecostal Age (“Samson”) has ended. Pentecost had many revivals, but all of them failed to instill righteousness.

The Message of the Judges

If we piece all of this together, we get a summary of the prophetic message of the judges:

“The voice of God united by divine authority with the sons of God, and when put into divine order by the word of God, will fell the enemy through the power of the blood of Christ. The enlightened ones will open the heavens and be splendidly transfigured, becoming mighty in judging, for they are like the sun, manifesting the name of God.”

The Message of the Seven Thunders

Because the seven thunders are appropriate to the end of the age, these also must be related to the Sonship message. This is the teaching of the Birthright and the manifestation of the Sons of God, which is the primary purpose of the second coming of Christ as Joseph. My personal revelation may be of interest to others, so I include it here.

As revealed to me by specific Scriptures given to me by the Spirit, these are the seven thunders, along with my explanation.

1. The Way into the Holiest. This is the decree to begin to break the power of the corrupted Church system, because the way into the Holiest was delayed as long as that system held sway (Heb. 9:8).

2. The Image of the Beast. The religious, political, and economic governments of man, based on the mortal image of Adam, are coming under judgment in order to set the people free.

3. The Manifested Sons. This is the coming of Christ in His saints (2 Thess. 1:10), who, like Moses, come off the mount with the new tables of the law on their hearts.

4. Transfiguration. Like Jesus in Matt. 17:2, the Sons of God will house His glory in immortal bodies. This is the purpose of the feast of Tabernacles.

5. Authority of the Sons. God specifically gave me John 14:14, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

6. The Law taught to all nations. Micah 4:1-4. The overcoming Sons of God are the administrators of the Kingdom on the earth, the teachers and final interpreters of the law by the mind of God. Deut. 33:2, 3 says “From His right hand went a fiery law” and “all His saints are in Thy hand.” The law is the lake of fire and also represents His character (Deut. 4:24). The fire is in the hand of God, and His saints are also in His hand. That is, they will manifest His character and actually administer the corrective judgments of God, called “the lake of fire.”

7. Division: Separating the Disobedient from Obedient. These are being divided even now, but yet this division will culminate in the final age at the Great White Throne in Revelation 20. New Jerusalem will fully manifest, but there are still many who must be subdued to Christ (Rev. 22:11).

Hence, a division between the true believers and the disobedient until the Creation Jubilee, when all men are set free at the end of time.

As I said, there is usually no way to prove divine revelation prior to its fulfillment, except by circumstantial evidence that is usually subjective in nature. For this reason, I do not normally share such things, preferring to teach directly from the Scriptures. But since John himself was unable to record any of the seven thunders, there was no way to know about it except by divine revelation in the latter days. And so I ask our readers to bear with me in this matter.

(For a fuller commentary on the seven thunders, see chapter 3, Book 4, The Revelation.)

Jephthah’s Prophetic Role

Jephthah’s name means “he opens.” Therefore, his role in the message of the judges is to portray the opening of the heavens and the Ark itself. Yet the full story shows both failure and success in opening the heavens and the Ark.

The men of Beth-shemesh were killed when they opened the Ark at the time of Pentecost. Samson too failed to deliver Israel by the power of Passover and Pentecost. Success finally was achieved through Samuel, the prophet and judge with His name written, as it were, on his forehead. As such, Samuel represents those mentioned in Rev. 22:4,

4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

This prophetic pattern manifested in the judges of Israel shows the difficulties in Kingdom history by which God’s ultimate goal is achieved. The judges were all men of faith and mighty in their own way, yet only the 14th judge was able to prevail. Fourteen is the biblical number of release and deliverance.

I believe that we who are alive today are part of the company of overcomers that Samuel represented in his day. We live in the time of the final outpouring of the Spirit that will deliver the earth from its Babylonian captivity. The tree of life will again be accessible, and its fruit will be “for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2).

The overcomers of this generation are, in this sense, the body of Samuel, having God’s name written on their foreheads. In other words, the nature and character of God will be written in their minds, fulfilling the New Covenant.