April 3, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 11

Et tu Brute? How would you respond if you were stabbed in the back?

Jephthah didn’t choose whom he would be born to. That didn’t change the acts of hatred shown to him by his half-siblings. Gilead’s other sons ditched him and sent him away. Oh, the pain that this must have caused! He had a Joseph-like experience. But that didn’t stop him from making an eternal impact. He’s even mentioned in the Hebrews Hall of Faith:

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— (Hebrews 11:32, ESV)

How could the son of a prostitute (v.1) be mentioned with the greats in Hebrews 11? The only answer for that: obedience and faith. He was a living example of Proverbs 24:16a: for the righteous falls seven times and rises again. He didn’t let his circumstances ruin his opportunity to live for the Lord. Can you imagine the level of pride-swallowing humility he had to exhibit? These brothers all of a sudden now needed him. He could have left them to their destruction. The Ammonites would have devoured them.

Instead of ditching them in the same way they left him, he made a commitment to them and to Israel. He was victorious because God was with him.

The sad part comes in where Jephthah made a vow about burnt offerings, of which his own daughter would be the offering. He never came to his senses and ended up keeping the vow because he thought God would want him to. It is unsure as to whether he gave her up as a burnt offering or to perpetual virginity. Either way, this father’s choices would hurt his family deeply. This ESV SB commentary helped make sense of this to me:

Vows were solemn affairs, made only to God. People were not forced to take them, but, if they did, they had to be kept, under normal circumstances (Deut. 23:21–23; Ps. 15:4; Eccles. 5:4–5). But any vow that would end in sin was not binding; keeping it could not please God, and the Levitical laws provided for such instances (Lev. 5:4–6). Human sacrifice was an abomination, and Jephthah should not have followed through with killing his daughter. {v.39} Most likely this means Jephthah literally sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering. However, another interpretation is that Jephthah dedicated his daughter to perpetual virginity, as a figurative sacrifice (cf. references to her uniqueness [v. 34] and virginity [vv. 37–40]). This would be a tragedy for her, as she would bear no children; but it would also be tragic for Jephthah, whose line would come to an end. Some support for this comes from Jephthah’s speech in vv. 12–28, which shows enough grasp of Israel’s history that he might well have stopped short of literally sacrificing his own child.

Church, what did you learn from Judges 11? What did you think of Jephthah’s response to his siblings? What did you learn about his leadership and faith? What did you think of the foolish vow?

I pray you grow in Christ today!

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor


Author: Center Point Church

A multi-campus church in central Kentucky. Our mission is to take everyone we meet one step closer to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

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