The greatest disaster to our nation (any nation) is not the disruption to our democracy through several military incursions, but the absence of history from our lives. In developed countries, one finds that political leadership is not a favour simply bestowed on just anyone. It is a responsibility that leaders are recruited for, and groomed into, from their learning institutions. These protégés are taught the rich historical heritage they would be made custodians of. A keen observation of their societies shows a history of tutorship and mentorship that prepares them for leadership. On the other hand, a great evil has been done to us by the ban/removal history from our school curricula. This evil has created generational gaps. Subsequent generations are cut off from the previous ones, lacking knowledge of past occurrences, therefore lacking a sense of history. This message is not just about Nigeria, but about us as individuals, and about the whole of Africa.
Recollection of, and instructions in, history must also be applied to our homes. Most homes have bred cynical, unappreciative children who lack a sense of value because their parents have refused or neglected to tell them how God raised them from penury to prominence. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. When children lack a sense of history, they become arrogant, using positions of privilege and power for “self”, instead of service. Are you communicating right value systems to your children? Do your children know of your humble beginnings and how God’s grace got you to where you are? We misbehave in the present because we have no sense of history and thus, wreck our future. When a youth falls, the tendency is to get up and continue on their way, but the wisdom of the aged demands that they look backwards to know and understand why they fell. This knowledge guards them against falling victim a second time.
One of the weapons of spiritual warfare is Accurate History which is essential in pleading one’s case before God. Unfortunately, accurate history is lost on the nation and the Church. InDeuteronomy 32:7-9, Moses – by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – shows us that we need to know our history, and understand how past events have resulted in our present reality. InPsalms 44:1-7 the Israelites recalled past victories won for them by God, as told to them by their fathers. Judges 11:1 is a narration of how Jephthah took responsibility for victory in the war against the Ammonites, by first taking personal responsibility for the well-being of his people, and then by deploying historical facts as means of taking the rightful claim over the disputed lands, as well as invoking the presence/intervention of God’s Spirit.
LESSONS FROM JEPHTHAH
The Church Ought To Nurture Valiant, Responsible Citizens
Jephthah was disowned and despised by his half-siblings because of his accidental birth (by a harlot) – [Judges 11:1-3]. In time, he made an army of vagabonds that took up shelter with him. He became strong while the army and people of Israel wallowed in weakness. It was thus convenient for the elder of Gilead to acknowledge his prowess and seek his help in time of threat of war. This reflects the present state of the Church, which is versed in producing praise-singers, worshippers and Bible readers that are irrelevant to their society, instead of training warriors of righteousness to be unleashed into strategic sectors of their communities, societies and nations. We have not nurtured the young for responsibility, yet complain about aged people in government. [Matthew 5:13-16] We are the Salt of the earth, but we are kept inactive in a salt-shaker, as a mere decorative accessory on a dining table. Nobody sees the working of salt, yet its effect in food is unmistakable. We must first, as Salt to the earth, do the underground work nobody notices before we can become the Light, and become noticed by all.
“True prominence is a result of process“
Never Negotiate From A Position Of Weakness:
In Judges 11:9-11 Jephthah makes a demand on the elders for the leadership of Gilead. Let nobody rubbish you because of your background or past. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. The spiritually blind always settle for anything offered to them without negotiating for more/better. Do not fall victim of the “take whatever you are given” mentality. Never negotiate from the point of weakness, because you will never be given what you deserve, but what you negotiate for. Always seek to give and take measure for measure. Do not settle for less than the best, but instead wait for what God prepares for you.
Take Personal Responsibility For Your Community:
In Judges 11:12 Jephthah did not ask the King of Ammon why he wanted to fight against the Israelites in Gilead. Instead, he asked why the King of Ammon wanted to fight against him. He put himself in the place of the whole of Gilead and took responsibility for his people’s wellbeing as if they were him. By resolve and efforts of ONE accurate man, a city or nation-state can be structured [1 Samuel 17:8-10, Acts 16:9-10]. Jephthah personalised the war, he accepted responsibility for the freedom and greatness of his people.
“Responsibility is the price of greatness.“
Accurate use of Accurate History:
In refuting the claim of the King of Ammon over the land of Gilead, Jephthah showed his vast knowledge of the heritage of his fathers, despite being the son of a harlot. He gave account from the records of Moses [Deuteronomy 2:19] of how the Israelites got Gilead by conquest in an unprovoked battle. Jephthah deployed history as a weapon of warfare [v.27 & 29], and based his claim on truth and facts [v.18-26]. Moses made accurate records of the history of the children of Israel, without which Jephthah would have been too ignorant to lay claim on Gilead. How have you maintained the history of your family? Do your children know about their background and heritage?
Keeping Vows, Even Hurtful Ones:
None of Jephthah’s half-siblings featured in the famous list of those named in Faith’s Hall of Fame [Hebrews 11:32-40]. As Jephthah went to battle against Ammon, he made a vow to God to seal his victory [Judges 11:29-40]. God gave him a resounding victory, but upon returning, Jephthah was greeted by his daughter, who aligned with her father’s vow to God and willingly sacrificed her future matrimony in order to be consecrated unto God. In keeping his vow to God, Jephthah was sad because he would never see his daughter married or give him grandchildren but he did not renege on his vow and bore responsibility for it. Weakness is not permitted in leadership; the world will not come to ask the Church for help, but the Church must breed strong-hearted and steadfast men and women that the world must reckon with [Matthew 11:12]. By deploying his accurate sense of history, and covenanting with God through a vow, Jephthah, though vested with a shameful background, registered his place amongst God’s recognised Generals of Faith. There are conditions for greatness [Deuteronomy 28:13]. What are you willing to pay for greatness? What will you give up for God?
God’s Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11)
While Moses used his faith to refuse the mundane (v.24-27), we seek to use our own faith to receive… We continue to seek to receive in wanton abandon until we are ensnared by the lure of sin that will render us dumb, disgraced and irrelevant in society. While we are seeking to use our faith to acquire riches and properties, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets used their faith in greater dimension to subdue kingdoms under God’s authority (v.32-34). All those listed faced (and overcame) diverse untold hardships, challenges and obstacles in the course of greatness, even unto death. They were trained to be valiant in battle, yet depended on the impartation of the Holy Spirit in times of war. Notwithstanding, we are not willing to leave our comfort zones and pay the price for such responsibility and renown, in order to join their cadre. Responsibility is the price of greatness. Our nation cannot be made great by irresponsible people. No other nation will make us great. We must rise to accept responsibility for the greatness of Nigeria. This can only be achieved when we are equipped with a sense of history that assures our success.
Jehoshaphat’s Appeal to History
2 Chronicles 20:1-17 narrates how King Jehoshaphat and Judah responded to a threat of invasion by the combined forces of Ammon, Moab, and other tribes from Mount Seir. In fear (yes, even great men sometimes know fear!) Jehoshaphat sought God’s intervention, knowing the invading forces were too many for them to conquer by their own strength. He reminded God of His past dealings and promises to their forefathers (v.7-9; compare v.8&9 with 1 Kings 8:28-40 and 2 Chronicles 6:19-31), and how their fathers had obeyed God concerning the Edomites of Mount Seir, the Moabites and the Ammonites (Deuteronomy 2). Just as Jephthah did in the past, Jehoshaphat called God into action (v.2; Judges 11:27), and before he finished speaking God responded in the manner He had done in the past (v.14 with Judges 11:29). God also gave them divine intelligence on how to position themselves against their enemies without incurring casualty. With God’s intervention, Judah had resounding victory and gathered the spoils of war for 3 days (v. 22-25).
“Men and women are not limited by the circumstances of their birth, the colour of their skin, or by their gender. They are limited by the size of their hope” (Colossians 1: 27).
Historical Significance of April 10 Encounters
In 1964, as a little boy, I was circumcised. That night as I slept, I fell into a dream, where I saw a bright pillar of light (which I came to realise many years later as the Lord Jesus Christ). In that dream I desired and determined to reach and embrace the bright pillar, but on approach noticed changes in my environment that challenged my ability to reach the goal – thick forests rose up; a deep well I had to circumnavigate; a python that swallowed my left leg, but died mysteriously; a rushing river I waded through, and huge flames of fire I walked through, to embrace the pillar of light. I later understood God’s perspective, from the scriptures, of what I experienced in the dream(Isaiah 43:1-2). In hysteria, I woke up in a pool of blood (from the circumcision) to be told by a blind sage that my dream portended greatness.
In 1967, exactly 3 years after the Pillar of Light dream, God began to initiate me into this destiny as an instrument to be used to rebuild Nigeria and turn around its fortune for good. Fast-forward to 24 September 1974, as a Muslim going about my normal business of commercial photography, I went into a church to take pictures at a friend’s baptismal service. Before the Communion Service that followed the baptism, the presiding pastor mounted the pulpit to preach on the subject: JESUS CHRIST, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. On hearing this subject, the vision of my April 10, 1964, dream flashed vividly behind preacher, and I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ that very moment.
2 RELATIONAL LESSONS FROM GOD IN REFERENCE TO THE ENCOUNTERS
Lesson 1: Destiny-impacting Offering (Exodus 12:1-6)
God changed the calendar of Israel so that the fourth month is considered the new beginning of the year (v.2). God also commanded the Israelites to prepare the Passover Lamb on the tenth day and keep it until the fourteenth day. This bears a spiritual significance to the 14 days we are waiting on God. The ultimate Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us (Jesus Christ), so God is not demanding spotless lambs from us (1 Corinthians 5:7, Isaiah 53:1-12). However, there is a demand on us to show our appreciation of God’s gesture.
Lesson 2: Divine Intelligence Gathering (Joshua 2:23 – 3:16)
This scripture is the very basis and foundation for our 4 powerful prayers points. Following the intelligence gathering of Joshua’s seasoned spies (v.23&24) God gave superior intelligence information to Joshua. God showed up after Joshua did his part.
“Do not expect God to act if you do not fulfil your part.”
Joshua, by faith, acted on the reports of the spies (Joshua 3:1-4) even before God gave him instructions on what to do. The problem with many believers today is that fear and insecurity have rendered them inert even when God instructs them to take action. In v.5 Joshua gave instructions to follow the Ark of the covenant of the Lord based on an earlier experience(Numbers 10:29-36), when the Ark guided and dictated their movement. God honoured Joshua for his boldness. Take a step of faith and God will reward you with His intelligence and action (Joshua 4:19). Accurate intelligence gathering is not for the frivolous, timid or those afraid of their enemies. To align with the significance of April 10 in ancient Jewish history, the Ark of God parted River Jordan and the children of Israel crossed over to the other side on the tenth day of the first month
While people waited to be touched by Jesus, the woman with the issue of blood went to touch the hem of His garment (Mark 5:25-34). God healed her and made her whole. Thereafter, through her testimony, intelligence information spread around, other people benefited from her experience (Mark 6:53-56). Likewise, what God did for Israel, He can do for other nations if they recognise Him. The 53 year old divine revelation on 10 April 1964 and its ordinances on the same days in the history of Israel (Exodus 12; Joshua 4), are also available to all who choose to recognise and believe His divine move, today. What God did for one, He can do for all.
4 Prophetic Prayers of Blessings
All these blessings pronounced will stick on you, even unto your fourth generation:
- From today, you will operate in boundless energy, rock-solid faith, the overriding sense of peace, joy, love, mercy, favour, and the absolute assurance that God is in control of your life, in Jesus mighty name.
- From this day forward, you will forever live under an open heaven. God will give you strategies for prosperous and successful living. God will grant you grace to pray more, to praise more, to give more, to believe more and to hope more, in Jesus mighty name.
- God will exalt you before all your peers. He will divinely position you in a place that gives you the comparative advantage and competitive edge. Lack and struggle are distant memories of your past, in Jesus mighty name.
- As it happened on the tenth of April in the days of Joshua (that River Jordan, overflowing its banks, dried up in the middle for the Israelites to pass), today every obstacle before you is removed. The grace and strength to move into your own Promise land are imparted unto you. Your future is as brilliant and as bright as the promises of God. The pain of yesterday will never again appear in your tomorrow, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
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