Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jephthah

April 3: Judges 10-12

4 After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel. 5 And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 And they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our leader, that we may fight against the Ammonites.” 7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me out of my father's house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?” 8 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the Ammonites and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” 9 Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head.” 10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be witness between us, if we do not do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and leader over them. And Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah.

30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
Judges 11:4-11 & 30-31

1 The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.” 2 And Jephthah said to them, “I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand. 3 And when I saw that you would not save me, I took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” 4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.”
Judges 12:1-4

Jephthah was a castaway and a misfit!

1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. 2 And Gilead's wife also bore him sons. And when his wife's sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father's house, for you are the son of another woman.” 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob, and worthless fellows collected around Jephthah and went out with him.

Judges 11:1-4

Yet, God used Jephthah to bring victory over the Ammonites who were oppressing Israel!

However, not only was Jephthah a castaway and a misfit, he was also a careless and reckless man, quick to make foolish vows. I must admit, I have never really understood Judges 11:30-31. Why would a man make such a foolish vow? He obviously knew that a person would come out of the doors of his house, and yet he vowed to sacrifice to God the first one to come out of the doors of his house if God would give him victory over the Ammonites. Sadly, the first one to come out of his house was his daughter, his only child!

Surely, he would realize his mistake and confess his foolishness to God, would he not? But, that is not what he did; he followed through with his vow and sacrificed his only daughter. How tragic!

What happened next?

A dispute arose between Jephthah and the men of Ephraim, who accused him of not calling them to come and fight with him. Do you think this man, who had already sacrificed his only daughter would have respect for the Ephraimites and seek a peaceful solution to the problem. Who was at fault, Jephthah or the men from Ephraim? God does not point the blame in either direction, so neither can we. At the very least, we must say that both parties suffered greatly from their own foolish pride.

What a price the men from Ephraim paid! The Bible tells us in Judges 12:6b: At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.

What can we take away from the life of Jephthah? Are we prone to making foolish vows or letting pride overrule our good judgment?

Pray today that God would give you a spirit of humility as you walk through the duties of the day. Only in Christ do we have any wisdom to make the right choices in life. He alone should receive all of the honor and all of the glory.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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