Judges 11 – Part 2QUESTION: Pirates and Valor - 2ANSWER:Judges 11 – Part 2
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
“Jeff is incredulous. ‘That’s been 300 years! Why haven’t these idiots brought this up in all that time?!’. He sends his envoys back to the Ammonites with a history lesson. Basically, he says the LORD God led the children of Israel up from Egypt and the kings of the lands would not let them pass through their territory to the land God promised them. Thus, when those kings attacked the Israelites, God delivered those peoples and land into their hands. The lands were conquered and rightfully belonged to Israel.
“In verses 23 and 24, Jeff gives it to them pretty good. He says, ‘You take whatever your god, Chemosh gives you, we’ll take whatever the LORD Almighty gives us.’ In verse 27, Jeff says, ‘May the LORD, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’ Do you see Jephthah’s faith and trust in God here?
The king of Ammon did not listen and postured for war. Verse 29, this is great, ‘Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.’ He gathered an army and advanced on the people of Ammon. He we go. It sounds like he’s John Wayne, James Bond, Conan the Barbarian and Blackbeard all rolled into one.
“But wait. Right on the verge of full-out rocking and rolling with God, for whatever crazy reason, Jeff makes a vow. A vow, you say? Yep, a vow.
“Apparently caught up in the hoopla of his home boys coming to find him and making him their leader, Jeff drives down his own path. He vows that if God will beat the Ammonites through him, that whatever is in his front yard when he returns home will be sacrificed as a burnt offering. In those days, he must have fully expected to see a bull, a goat, or a sheep.
“God totally and completely delivers the Ammonites into Jephthah’s hand. It’s a slaughter, a wipeout, a rout. Verse 33 says, ‘Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. Jeff is the victor, the conquering general, the super-cool hero leader. But he’d made a vow.
“When he gets to his house, the first thing he sees is his young daughter with a tambourine, celebrating the victory. She is his only child. Ouch. Oh, no!
“Now I guess Jeff could have ignored the vow or tried to negotiate with God about it. But he was a man of integrity. When he tells his family about it, his daughter is resigned to the fact that it has to happen. She asks if she can spend two months in the mountains ‘bewailing’ her virginity. Jeff lets her go.
“Verses 39 through 40 speak for themselves. ‘And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man. And it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.’
“Did Jeff really kill his only child as a sacrifice to God? When I first read this, I thought not. God had forbidden child sacrifice and detested it. The LORD had stopped Abraham’s hand when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. How could God allow Jephthah to complete this heinous act?
“Many Bible scholars, down through history, have put forth the case that Jephthah did not kill his daughter, that he simply set her aside to live a solitary, nun-like life worshipping and serving God.
“After much study, I’ve come to believe that Jephthah sacrificed his only daughter and offered her up as a burnt offering. What, you scream? That’s gut-wrenching! It’s depraved! The LORD Almighty would never, never allow that! How could a guy who killed and burned his child on an altar be in the Faith Hall of Fame?
“Well, let’s look at the members of that Hall of Fame. Abraham, to save his own skin, let his wife be taken into the harem of another man. Jacob, well, we know what a scoundrel Jacob was. Moses killed a man, buried him in the sand, and ran for his life. And, Gideon, we just studied what an arrogant, philandering, worldly moron he turned into. And how about King David – which one of the ten commandments did he not break when it came to Bathsheba?
“The bottom line is that we ALL have stuff we’d rather not talk about. The LORD God Almighty lifted us all out of the slimy pit, you guys. Jesus’ blood washed us clean! Praise Jesus! The LORD can forgive ANYTHING!
“But, you say, killing your own child and having them burned up?! That has to cross some kind of line! Some things are just inhuman, too depraved. God cannot, cannot allow a person to do that to their child! It’s abhorrent, heinous, nasty, violently reprehensible!!! What about abortion today?”Judges 12 – Go!