Judges 10:1-6a After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar, Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. He led Israel for twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir. He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel for twenty-two years. He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys. They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair. When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon. Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and …
It seems to me that the main value of the Book of Judges in our OT is the way it records the mighty power of our Sovereign God in the lives of ordinary people, working out his purposes for his Chosen People to rescue them graciously, time and again, from their own sinful stupidity! It talks about people like Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, who all rate a mention in the ‘Honour Roll of Faith’ in Hebrews 11 (verse 32).
As a young Christian I read John Hercus’s very insightful account of the contribution of these Heroes of Faith to the Kingdom of God in his book, ‘God is God’. (Well worth reading, but I think it is sadly now out of print.) But something that impresses me about this part of our Inspired Scriptures is the mention also given to people like ‘Tola’ and ‘Jair’, about whom we are told very little, except that they did their job faithfully and enabled Israel to enjoy the LORD’s blessing of peace and prosperity for 45 years between them. Apart from that, we are told that they ‘lived’ and ‘died’ – although we ARE given the added information that Jair had 30 donkey-riding sons who each had governing authority over a town in Gilead!
In the context of the general pattern of Judges, we can safely assume that the relatively long peace and prosperity enjoyed under their rule was due to its godly, LORD-honouring/worshipping/obeying character. I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ referring to those who follow him as ‘salt’ (Matthew 5:13), which has a significant influence on the medium in which it finds itself, but in a very ‘hidden’, unceremonious, but nevertheless penetrating, way. Perhaps it is people like Tola and Jair who are among ‘the last’ whom Jesus declared would be ‘first’ in his Eternal Kingdom (Matthew 19:30).
Are we happy to join the ranks of the ‘Tolas and Jairs’ as we quietly, and perhaps without (m)any notable achievements, serve our Risen Lord in the work of his Kingdom?