As we started into our study on Jephthah this week, we saw that he was “a mighty warrior” but also the son of a prostitute. (Judges 11:1) Right out of the gate, we are given a reminder of real life. While we can be great at using the gifts God gave us, we can still have struggles and situations in life that are incredibly hard and consequential. Just because all of life is not grand, doesn’t mean that God can’t or won’t use us for mighty things. Jephthah had every fleshly reason to be mad at God for his deplorable conception and the fact that it meant he was exiled from his family, but it didn’t cause him to stop trusting in God.
Many of us get so caught up in our hard or unfair circumstances in life that we just let it swallow us into the pit and into depression and sin. We start giving up on God and the things he has set before us to steward for his glory. I pray that this week you are blessed by the reminder we get from Jephthah that even though things may be incredibly hard, if you are still alive, God is not done with you. We need to be reminded that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6.
Next, God not only brought Jephthah full circle back to his people, but gave him the opportunity to lead them and to be victorious over his enemies. The problem is that his hunger for conquest came at the highest price in his life.
He vowed to the Lord God that “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 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 11:30-31) The problem is what came out of his tent upon his victorious return home was his daughter, his one and only child. The only hope for his legacy and namesake being passed on would not get the chance to have children and raise his grandchildren for he vowed to offer her up to God as a sacrifice.
Not only is this horrible news and the most tragic situation but it shows us how serious we should take our vows before the Lord.
Why is it so important? Because we are never to take God’s name in vain or to use it flippantly to make a vow we will not keep.
At the end of the day, even when unbelievable loss and pain is before you, will you stand as a person of faith in God and keep your promises or will you bail and take the road that is best for you even if it means betraying an oath you made to God or in his name?
One of the tragic ways many have justified this in modern day life is in that vow of marriage. Many have justified the breaking of a vow they made in God’s holy name to be one with another in marriage until death do them part in order to be done with a lifetime of hardship and pain. But our vow before God was not until love goes away. It was until death do us part.
Even if divorce and the breaking of this kind of vow is in your past, know that you are forgiven in Christ and don’t let the legacy of your broken vow end on that note. You can and should be a part of the conviction and implementation of seeing through your vows to God in the future no matter what it costs you. You can be a part of teaching a new generation coming behind us that they are to take way more seriously the degree of commitment they are making when committing before God to be faithful to one until death do them part than those that have gone before them. Jephthah’s testimony proves to be a faithful lesson because even though seeing through his promise meant a life-long consequence for him and his daughter, he was faithful to the end because it was a commitment he made to God. God’s name is what holds the most weight and not the pros and cons of another option.
The main reason why this kind of oath is not to be made for “ordinary” occasions has to do with the fact that our oaths must be sworn in God’s name. The Bible commands us to hallow God’s name. The mistake Jephthah made was to vow something he did not need to and because he did, he paid an incredible price. Jephthah rashly made a vow to sacrifice whatever came out of his house if God would give him a victory. Instead of breaking his vow, he kept it and sacrificed her (Judges 11:29–40). We do not know if that sacrifice meant her death or her being sent away a lifetime virgin- never to have kids or make for him a legacy and family heritage. The other thing to note here is her faith. For her to say, may it be as you have promised is also an incredible display of faith and uprightness.
May we take the vows we make way more seriously than we do. May our yes be yes and our no be no so that we are known as people of integrity and uprightness. May the vows we make in God’s name be of the highest importance because God himself is worthy of this kind of obedience and resolve. His very name is worthy of our greatest expense and endurance to see it through.
In Judges 12, we see that his victory and rule continued for 6 years in total. He didn’t let his origins take him out of the fight nor did he let great personal loss take him out of the fight. He endured and continued to be a man of faith. I believe this is why Jephthah is listed with the other great brothers and sisters of faith in Hebrews 11 (the faith hall of fame).
What is interesting is the fact that even though Jephthah committed a crime he could have avoided, Hebrews 11 endorses him as an example of great faith. The point here not to be missed is that although Jephthah made a huge mistake and sinned, he was still a man of faith. This is good for our soul to read about because none of us are without struggle, mistake and sin and yet the power of Christ lives within us so that we too might live by faith in our great God. As reprehensible as his actions were, in Christ he is still a conqueror.
May we be encouraged in our greatest setbacks to remain faithful to God. Never to betray our oath to him to be our Lord and God. To seek first his kingdom and the making much of his name. Never to bail out if and when times get incredibly hard and personally unbearable. Just as God is faithful to us until the very end, may we be faithful to him.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC