Judges is an interesting but brutal book of the Bible in the Old Testament. Today, I want to share about Judges 11, the story of Jephthah. Then, I will share my thoughts on the passage, and end with a prayer. If you want to pray, you can close your eyes and recite the prayer or simply talk to God.
Jephthah is the son of Gilead. He was chased off of the territory because his mother was a prostitute. When the Ammonites came to fight against Israel, the elders went to Jephthah to make him commander of the Israelite army, but Jephthah responded:
"Why do you come to me now when you're in trouble?"
"Because we need you," said the elders. "We will make you ruler of the people of Gilead [Gilead is also a geographical region]."
Jephthah then sends a message to the king of Ammon asking him why he is attacking Israel. When the king of Ammon insinuated that Israel took Ammonite land, Jephthah sent him a lengthy letter explaining how Israel got the land, but the king of Ammon ignored the letter. The Spirit of the Lord then came upon Jephthah and he led an army against the Ammonites. He also made a vow to the Lord, saying, "If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." Sure enough, the Lord gave Jephthah victory over the Ammonites. Jephthah's one and only daughter came out to meet him as soon as he returned home, and Jephthah tore his clothes in anguish because of the vow he made to the Lord. He cried to his daughter, "I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back." The daughter responds nobly and requests two months to mourn the fact that she'll remain a virgin until she dies.
Jephthah's birth story is sad. He was cast aside until a great force posed a risk to the people of Gilead. The dialogue exchange between Jephthah and the elders is a central theme of the book of Judges and represents how the Israelites are with the Lord. The Israelites always turn back to the Lord when things aren't going well for them because they need God. In fact, the Israelites push God away when they worship idols. Right before chapter 11, the Lord said, "I will not rescue you anymore," but the people of Israel pleaded with God and God was grieved by their misery. What grace!
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah when he was going to attack the Ammonites. This phrase appears in previous chapters of Judges and also in the New Testament. When the Spirit of the Lord is with someone, that means that God is with them. Therefore, I thought it was interesting that Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. Exactly what did Jephthah have in mind to sacrifice? To me, that vow was a bargain with God, a give-and-take game.
God doesn't need us to make bargains with Him. He's got everything. After all, He made the entire world. What could He lack?
Making baseless promises does not make God want to help you more.
God already loves you. What kind of father needs their child to bargain with him? This is why we call God our Good, Good Father.
Prayer: God, I'm grateful that You are such a gracious God. You don't want our bargains. You freely give us everything, and for that we are thankful. Love you, God.