Judges 11 is one of the weirdest stories in the Bible. It leaves us wondering: Did Jephthah do what it sounds like he did – offer his daughter as a burnt sacrifice to God? To answer that it’s important to know some things about the man and his story.Here is a summary:
1. “Mighty warrior” is the first thing God says about him
2. Son of a prostitute – his Dad was not a good example.
3. Driven out of Israel by his brothers – the sons of his Dad’s wife.
4. Notice Dad did not intervene here – strike 2 against Dad
5. Became leader of a group of “adventurers” – gang leader
6. Was a Robin Hood sort of character – raided the enemies of God to feed hungry people (his family).
7. His family (that drove him off) comes under attack so they come and ask him to lead them agreeing to make him their leader.
8. Though Jephthah was a capable warrior he still put his trust in God – “if the Lord gives them over to me” (verse 9).
9. He first tries to make peace (verse 12).
10. He appeals to peace based on God’s Word, history, diplomacy and credits God for giving Israel the disputed land.
Here is a man who has been dealt a bad hand in life. An illegitimate bastard son, run off by his half brothers, not defended by his father, reduced to living by his wits and his sword. Yet he is a man who looks to God, is not embittered (agreed to come back and help his people though they treated him despicably), is not a “blood and guts” leader but prefers peace. He is also educated – knows his history and God’s Word – and is a diplomat before a warrior – desires peace if it is possible.
I have known many men with fewer strikes against them who were angry with God over some misfortune in their life. Some of these became angry at the world, bitter toward those who have wronged them, always ready for a fight. Most of them had far smaller obstacles to overcome than Jephthah.
We can learn from Jephthah that whatever opposition or enemies (even family members) that come against us, if we will keep our heart pure, God will bring us into the place of inheritance and promise He has for us. (God brought Jephthah back to his family and into a leadership position among them.) No man can knock you out of God’s will for your life or extinguish God’s plans for you IF …. if you keep your heart right before Him, seek peace and put your hope in Him.
Psalm 34:12-14, 18-19
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. …
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; …
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