Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Judges 11:29-31 (NIV)
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
Judges 11:29-31 (MSG)
God’s Spirit came upon Jephthah. He went across Gilead and Manasseh, went through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there approached the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow before God: “If you give me a clear victory over the Ammonites, then I’ll give to God whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in one piece from among the Ammonites—I’ll offer it up in a sacrificial burnt offering.”
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” -AMPLIFIED
Now we come to both an encouraging point and a troubling decision made at this point in Jephthah’s life. The encouraging part is this; the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. The troubling decision is that he made a rash vow to the Lord that negatively affected him personally and his relationship with the Lord.
It is important for us to remember that God will equip us for any and every good work that He calls us to do. The writer of Hebrews reminds us of this, ” Now may the God of peace [the source of serenity and spiritual well-being] who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood that sealed and ratified the eternal covenant, equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21 (AMP)
The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy of this truth also, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has granted me [the needed] strength and made me able for this, because He considered me faithful and trustworthy, putting me into service [for this ministry], even though I was formerly a blasphemer [of our Lord] and a persecutor [of His church] and a shameful and outrageous and violent aggressor [toward believers]. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief. The grace of our Lord [His amazing, unmerited favor and blessing] flowed out in superabundance [for me, together] with the faith and love which are [realized] in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:12-14 (AMP)
God had called Jephthah and He would equip him for the job that was ahead. If only Jephthah had accepted that anointing, given thanks and left it there, but he did not. This was where he wound up causing some major heart-breaking issues for himself and his family.
“God gave His Spirit to Jephthah, providing needed military skills. God’s Spirit does not replace our personality and thus does not necessarily prevent a person from acting rashly and wrongly. Jephthah’s later vow is almost like a “bribe” — “if” you do such & such, I will repay with my vow. If he had truly believed in God’s ability at this point the test would have said “when” not “if”.” -Precept Austin
God’s Spirit had come upon Jephthah and that should have been enough, but it appears that Jephthah tried to bribe God with a vow. The promise to sacrifice whatever came out of his front door first to greet him upon his arrival home was not a rational or wise choice. What a foolish vow to make; especially because he had no idea WHAT or WHO would come through that door. This promise would cause Jephthah much heartbreak. For on his arrival home, after his great victory, who should come out to greet him, but his one and only BELOVED daughter.
Jephthah’s reaction, when he realized the enormity and foolishness of his decision, was this, “When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.” -Judges 11:35 (NIV)
Making any sort of a vow is quite serious, but making a vow to God is VERY serious. In fact, Scripture tells us that if we make such a vow that we need to be careful to fulfill it. “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” -Numbers 30:2 (NIV)
Even if you have foolishly made a rash vow, it is important that it is kept. Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes these words of warning, “When you make a vow or a pledge to God, do not put off paying it; for God takes no pleasure in fools [who thoughtlessly mock Him]. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not allow your speech to cause you to sin, and do not say before the messenger (priest) of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry because of your voice (words) and destroy the work of your hands? For in a multitude of dreams and in a flood of words there is worthlessness. Rather [reverently] fear God [and worship Him with awe-filled respect, knowing who He is].” -Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 (AMP)
Tomorrow we will look at the consequences of Jephthah’s rash vow. Be careful today that you too do not make any foolish promises, but let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Lord, help me to not make rash promises to you or to anyone else. Your desire is for your children to be honest and true; someone that others can count on. Reliability, trustworthiness and faithfulness are attributes that you seek in me. Help me, God, to allow my words to always be true and help me to represent you .