Is Trump America’s Jephthah?
Herbert W. Titus
On June 15, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. Proclaiming it is time to make America great again, at its outset he dedicated his campaign to stop the illegal immigration into the country, promising to build a massive barrier along the nation’s border with Mexico.
At the time of his entry into the race, Trump found himself in an already over-crowded field of 12 -- in tenth place, and polling about 3 per cent of the vote.
Astonishing professional politicians and pundits alike, by July 14 Trump led the pack, a position that he never relinquished as he won primary after primary on his way to the Republican nomination.
After Trump’s dramatic leap from tenth to first in 30 days, and apparently unfazed by political pundits who kept insisting that he would be no more than a blip on the media’s computer screen, I asked the Lord what was going on. In the still small voice (see 1 Kings 19:12) of the One who had first talked to me back in 1975 when my wife and I were converted to Christ, I heard – not audibly, but in my spirit, three words: Trump is Jephthah.
The ninth judge of Israel, as recorded in Judges chapters 11 and 12, Jephthah was not unknown to me. As a student of American history and politics, and a teacher of constitutional law, I had read John Locke’s Second Treatise on government which cited Judges chapter 11, verse 27, in support of the proposition that when two nations go to war, they should put their case before God Almighty. This lesson was not lost on America’s founders who, in our Declaration of Independence, “appeal[ed] to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions.”
In Jephthah’s case, it was war with the Ammonites over Israel’s boundary east of the Jordan river. In Trump’s case it was “war” with millions of Mexican invaders crossing over the southwest border of the United States. Both disputes were long smoldering cauldrons over disputed territory.
In his day, Jephthah was a political and social outcast, who hobnobbed with an unsavory entourage of vain and worthless hangers-on. Likewise, today Trump is vilified by the political, media, and social establishment as a coarse casino and real estate mogul, associated with sharks and deal-makers, unfit for government service at any level, much less the presidency of the United States.
But, like the people of eastern Israel, the Gileadites, who saw something more in Jephthah – “a mighty man of valor”– ready to fight the hated Ammonites, the American people saw in Trump a recalcitrant leader who would fight to restore the nation’s borders which had so long been deliberately compromised by the political establishments of both parties.
So, bypassing the established order for anointing judges dating as far back as Moses, the people chose Jephthah to be their judge. Escaping from the clutches of the K street crowd Trump financed his own campaign, and the people rallied to nominate Trump as their standard-bearer.
Before going into battle, Jephthah rashly swore an oath to God, promising that, if victorious, Jephthah would sacrifice whatever first emerged out of his house upon his return home, only to regret his vow when his only daughter was the first to come forth out of his house to celebrate the victory. Brashly, at the outset of his campaign in June, Trump proclaimed that he “didn’t need to ask God for forgiveness,” but in October – after revelation of a “leaked video” of sexual talk trashing women – Trump’s sin was exposed, humbling him to apologize: “I’ve said and done things I regret.... Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong....”
Finally, Jephthah faced a rear guard action against him by the established political order headed up by the Ephramites who – after Jephthah’s victory – tried to take power back from the victorious Gileadites even though the Ephramites had declined to support Jephthah in his fight against the Ammonites. Likewise, Trump is undermined daily by the “establishment” global order of party-first Republicans who would prefer national defeat, all the while plotting how they can remain in power should – God forbid – Trump win.
As in Jephthah’s day, at stake in the upcoming presidential election is the life or death of a nation. Is Trump America’s Jephthah? Only if, by the providence of Almighty God, He moves the hearts and minds of the American people to reject America’s political elite who would choose global hegemony to an independent American republic. Proverbs 21:1.