“Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city in Gilead.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Most of the Judges receive some kind of a summary statement that the people sought the Lord for the extent of their leadership and then turned away from Him afterwards. Jephthah just gets this note that he died and was buried in Gilead. This is a reflection of the continued decline in the spiritual state of the people. They cry out to God for help, but don’t even both to turn to Him when He answers. They are reaching a dangerously low point. I think there are a couple of reasons for this.
First, they weren’t passing on the faith from one generation to the next. They stopped doing that during the lifetime of Joshua. When we don’t pass on the faith, we can’t expect those who come after us to live it out. We can’t express what we don’t have. The people of Israel had no depth to their faith. They remembered the stories of a God who had saved their ancestors, but they didn’t have any kind of a relationship with Him and so they constantly looked to the gods of the people around them who were more tangible (because they were human inventions). Indeed, if we don’t teach our children to seek the God who is real but can’t be seen physically, they will seek the gods they can see to their own peril.
Second, they had increasingly terrible leaders. If we don’t see the faith lived out by the people who are leading us, we will mimic what we see elsewhere. Or, to put that another way, we will mimic the faith of our leaders. If they aren’t faithful followers of God, we’ll follow someone other than Him. I wonder: Who are your leaders? More importantly, who are your kids’ leaders? Who are they following? Who are they looking to as their examples? The more we can make sure both we and they are looking most to examples and illustrations who are committed to their faith the better.
The Christian faith cannot be a passive thing. Left to its own devices, it will not develop and grow. It will instead atrophy and die. Let us be intentional in making sure it stays not just living in us and those around us, but thriving.