Hobart’s Funnies!!

Is not a Tasmanian comic strip. They were a series of armoured and often amphibious vehicles designed to convey troups across water and marshy terrain and obstacles . They also made vehicles that cleared minefields.

I quote from Wiki,

“Hobart’s Funnies were a number of unusually modified tanks operated during the Second World War by the 79th Armoured Division of the British Army or by specialists from the Royal Engineers.BU_002335

They were designed in light of problems that more standard tanks experienced during the amphibious Dieppe Raid, so that the new models would be able to overcome the problems of the planned Invasion of Normandy. These tanks played a major part on the Commonwealth beaches during the landings. They were forerunners of the modern combat engineering vehicle and were named after their commander, Major General Percy Hobart.e7c0a7378478fe8bb1a04e8be80112ea

By early 1944, Hobart could demonstrate to Eisenhower and Montgomery a brigade each of swimming DD tanks, Crab mine clearers, and Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers – AVRE (Engineer) tanks along with a regiment of Crocodile flame-throwing tanks.

Montgomery considered that the US forces should use them. A third of the “funnies” were offered to the Americans of all the vehicles available, but take-up was minimal. Eisenhower was in favour of the Duplex drive (DD) amphibious tanks but left the decision on the others to General Bradley. None of the other designs were used, because it was thought that they required specialised training and an additional support organisation. Also, the Americans were reluctant to make use of funnies based on the Churchill tank as they did not want the logistical complexity of adding another tank model to their inventory.images

In the light of operations during the US landing on Omaha beach, Bradley’s decision has been criticised as it was felt that use of the range of “funnies” would have saved American lives.  After D-Day, American forces did make limited use of the Sherman Crab mine-clearing tank.”

As the use of these vehicles would have no doubt saved  American lives it is sad they did not put their prejudices aside and make use of these ingenious vehicles.index

In the same way when the gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ is offered freely to all it is no less than tragic that the prejudices and love of sin by men and women holds them from receiving the grace of God and the promise of life eternal.

Baptising Sinners or Christians?

Most denominations who practice baptism of adults only administer it upon a profession of faith. While it is not to be expected of new Christians to understand all of the Christian faith and belief it would be expected that they would have a fundamental understanding of the gospel of salvation and the work of Christ and repentance of known sin.

In one particular church of my knowledge I have attended baptismal services and having listened to the “Testimony” of the person baptized I was astounded by the ignorance of simple Christianity and lack of understanding of the saving work of Christ. Now some years later I hear of a baptismal service attended by a friend of mine, who having a conversation with the person was astonished by the absence of any Christian understanding at all.

In these two cases I do not blame the person themselves, rather the blame for this falls upon the shoulders of the pastors and church leadership. There is so little serious Bible teaching in the church today there is no wonder that ignorance of Christianity abounds even among professing believers.

There also seems to be a fear that refusing a person baptism will drive them away from the church. So they satisfy themselves with a positive answer to a simple acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour regardless of whether the person knows what this means or not.

I would not expect too much of candidates for baptism but I would not reduce it to the level of rubber stamp either.

It is not only necessary that teaching the Word of God be foremost in the work of the minister and church but it is als o necessary that  people are asked whether they know understand and live by the teaching of God’s Word and trust in Christ as Saviour from sin.

Jephthah

32And what more shall I say? Time will not allow me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and obtained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,…Hebrews 11:32-33 Berean study Bible

Were we modern believers to list the Old Testament heroes of the faith, we would no doubt relegate many of them to a footnote or ignore them altogether, Jephthah the Gileadite would probably fall into this category.

The writer to the Hebrews thought differently, he mentions him in the same breath with Gideon, Samuel and David and enrolls him in the ranks of those who “subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness and obtained promises”.

Jephthah was from the mountainous region of Gilead. It was something akin to what the highlands of Scotland were to the rest of Britain only in the land of Israel.Gilead-mountains-west-of-Ajlun-tb031701141-bibleplaces

It was famous for spices and medicinal balms and if the prophet Elijah, another of its inhabitants was anything to go by a wild and wooly place.

Jephthah got off to a bad start in life when his parentage was held against him by his father’s other sons and told to get lost. He took up residence in a Syrian area called “Tob”.

Like David long after him he gathered a group of malcontents and no-hopers around him and survived by raiding the country side.

It was during this time that Israel district was menaced and warred against by the Ammonites, a long time and bitter foe. This was made worse by the fact that the Ammonites were descended from Lot the nephew of Abraham and therefore kindred.

It was in this time of national danger that the elders of Gilead probably with his kinfolk among them sought out Jephthah to lead them against the Ammonites. Naturally saw the irony in this and reproved them with their former treatment of him. Yet the elders continued to plead with him and Jephthah agreed to lead them if they would continue to accept his leadership. They  agreed on oath to do this and to make it even more solemn they all went to Mizpah where Jephthah lived and laid all this out before the Lord, this may have been the place that Jacob and Laban had made their pact and thus used for this purpose ever since.

To his credit, Jephthah’s first action was to try and parley with the King of Ammon to avoid war. He reminded this king that during Israel’s conquest of the Land of Canaan, no hostile action was taken against Ammon and none of their legitimate territory was taken indeed the only tribes who action was taken against were those who attacked the children of Israel in the first place.

The king of Ammon even without any truth in his claim demanded the return of lands supposedly taken from him.  Jephthah pointed out that if the Ammonites claimed  that their own god Chemosh  had allowed them to conquer land and add it to their own they would not certainly give it up and besides why were they waiting till now to make this claim so long after the event. Despite the weakness of his claim the king of Ammon was set on war.

It was now that the spirit of the Lord came mightily on Jephthah and he advanced towards the enemy.

It was here he made his vow to the Lord which he would afterwards come to regret. Although the motive for this action may have been religious zeal and done in the heat of action it was ill considered and misguided.

While it shows his faith in the Lord and the necessity of seeking to Him for victory it showed a grave misunderstanding of the nature of the God he served.

The subject of making religious vows is too complex to discuss here it is only necessary to remark that God nowhere requires of us to vow rashly and make promises we have no right to make or in  justice expect  keep.

As Jesus said it is better to make our yes mean yes and our no mean no.

He the promised the Lord that whatever first came out to meet him when he returned home would be offered as a burnt offering to the Lord. The folly of making such a promise is obvious and not worthy of a servant of the Lord. If nothing else it shows how much foolishness and superstition there remains in all of us and we think God is impressed by such things.

The fact remains that the Lord delivers Israel and Ammon is defeated.

 

Upon Jephthah’s return his only daughter joyfully comes to meet him and as she is the first out of the door the loving father is bound to keep his vow.a jephthah

Whether Jephthah actually sacrifices her or devotes his daughter  herself to perpetual virginity  is still a bone of contention.

To have killed her would have gone against God’s  abhorrence of human sacrifice.

There are here many questions that cannot be fully answered.

What is clear is that Jephtha regretted his foolish vow and felt bound to act on it because it was to the Lord.

So we are left wondering why this man should be held forth as a hero of the faith and what lessons we so long after can learn from him?

There is no doubt that the faith he had in the Lord was real and it prompted his actions in a time of great peril.

He did not act unilaterally but sought unto the Lord his God to fight on his behalf and give Israel victory. What is more he shows no doubt whatsoever about the ability of God and his power although unseen and undeserved by Israel’s constant backsliding.

This perhaps is what the Hebrew Christians needed to know and remember when faced by the passing of the old temple dispensation and the persecution they were undergoing by both Jew and Gentile alike.

It is this we need to know even now when the church is beset by both open enemies and false friends.

Secondly we must remember that the story of faith is less about us and our inherent qualities and graces but rather about the great God and Saviour we worship and serve. It is what he does with our faith and obedience that is so wondrous and startling. It is this that makes the unbelieving world think again and causes sinful men and women to come and make our God their God.

This portion of Scripture also cautions us to be circumspect and thoughtful in our dealings with God. Our rashness and folly reflect badly on our life and witness. They cause the name of God to be blasphemed by those around us who look more at our weaknesses and sins than at our words and profession.

Postscript: In writing this I did not have access to my usual Bible Dictionairys. I looked at Hasting’s Bible dictionary a rather “liberal” and “Higher Critical” work. It informed me that some sections of the story of Jephthah were a later addition and no part of the original text. Yet it gave not one shred of evidence for this assertion. In the same way many today dispense with Bible truth and Theology and yet fail to give any sound reason for doing so except there own theories and preferences and desire for acceptance with post christian society.

matthew-henry-36491

 

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Hobart’s Funnies!!

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