SanLo Community, an update for the week of October 14, 2018…
Thank you, Pastor Rod for delivering his last scheduled message as our lead pastor, “Defective Selective,” from Judges 11. From our series, Judges: Fallen People, Faithful God. Where do we go wrong with God’s plan?
Taking the Wrong Premise (vv. 1-11) 1Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. Jephthah - mighty warrior from a prominent family, the region’s name from his father, yet from a low social position from his mother, likely a Canaanite. 2 Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” Only one wife is mentioned, his half-brothers drive him out. 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him. Jephthah flees to Tob about 15 miles east of Gilead. gang of scoundrels - literally ‘empty men’; adventurers, misfits. The same word used for men that Abimelech hired – cutthroats, a band of bandits. Jephthah was a warlord * 4 Sometime later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.” One may think this is a success story showing his life turned around, but it is the wrong premise. 7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?” Bitterness showed on his part from his inheritance taken by his half-brothers. He had been rejected, adoption annulled and his inheritance stolen. 8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.” Commander lower than head over all; was still lower than king. They tried to get him on the cheap; head over all in Gilead. 9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?” He had no trust so Jephthah wants to confirm the offer. 10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.” The leaders do not call upon God as selecting. The Lord is our witness seems thrown in, like God is a silent witness. 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah. repeated all his words before the Lord – what words? His terms? Both sides are calculating opportunists. There is no prayer, no seeking the will of God, no trust shown in God in making this decision. The elders get someone like themselves and Jephthah gets what he wants. Ambition draws us even today and we do whatever it takes to achieve our goals.
Making the Wrong Promise (vv.29-40) 29 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. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 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.” Jephthah brings the focus on himself with a rash vow, something those with little or no faith do. He bargained with the elders and now he bargains with God. God does not require this nor ask for this. 32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon. 34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. * daughter dancing in triumph and celebration. 35 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.” He got surprise and shock when he should have felt victorious. He made a vow that was unnecessary and empty resulting in a disaster! 36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. The Ammonites sacrificed their children to Molech but God forbids human sacrifice for Israel. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.” 38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
Jephthah’s daughter is given a two month retreat to mourn - would never marry. She is innocent, her father ignorant; She loses life, father loses God. Not only is Jephthah not supposed to vow, but he could have broken that vow as it says in Leviticus 27:2, 4 2 When a man makes a difficult vow, he shall be valued according to your valuation of persons belonging to the Lord. …4 if it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels of silver. He did not know God’s Word, nor others around him knew there was a monetary substitute acceptable to release him from the vow he made.
I Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all.