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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's Make A Deal, the sacrifice of being obedient!

Today in the text from Judges some amazing and unprecedented things occur. Jephthah is preparing for battle and apparently despite the fact that he is a mighty warrior, Jephthah is afraid. He is so worried about his victory in battle against the Ammonites that he goes to God asking God, let's make a deal. It is very important to note that God does not ask to make a deal, vow or sacrifice of any kind. I believe Jephthah does in the text what many of us do in life when we find ourselves in uncomfortable or dangerous situations. We approach God with a list of deals and contract negations to help us out of our current situations. For example someone might say God if you get me out of this situation then I'll never curse again, I promise! 

We'll Jephthah's deal was even more clumsy, less throughout and haphazard than most. Jephthah say's God I will offer up to you in a sacrifice the first thing to come out of my house if you give us victory. 1. God did not ask for this deal. 2. Jephthah could have vowed anything but was thinking that an animal would come out of his home not his daughter. 3 We see in this text the pain and sacrifice of being truly obedient to God by both Jephthah and his daughter.

So what we should take away is to be careful of what we promise and vow to God because God fully expects us to be obedient. Also remember that if God wants us to enter into covenant over something God will let us know. Examples of this are Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, and of course Jesus who instituted sacraments that we honor and celebrate today. Jephthah reminds us all to think before we speak, hopefully limiting the times we put our foot in our mouth. Poor Jephthah, and poor Jephthah's daughter.

Judges 11:29-40 (NIV)

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.
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. 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 Lordthat I cannot break.
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. 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.

Dear God help us to trust in you and the gifts that you have given us, remind us to think before we speak and to hear your will in our lives. Amen.

Be Well.

1 comment:

Keep it 100 said...

Yes, it's important to not only think before we speak - but also think before we act and perform deeds. Our actions should align with the will of God. So, sometimes we should just remain quiet, other times we should remove ourselves from situations so that we do not bring harm, hurt or danger to someone else or ourselves.