Daily Thought for: 21st March

JEPHTHAH

Judges 11. 1 – 12. 7

It would be easy to think of Jephthah as (a) a bitter man at odds with his brethren who bargained for leadership amongst the people of God, (b) a rash man who put his daughter at risk with a rash vow or (c) a hard man who used the sword ruthlessly against his brethren. Perhaps his short judgeship (six years) is a mark of failure—yet the same Holy Spirit who gave us this record puts Jephthah amongst the heroes of faith in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 32, one of only four judges named. 

Evidence of his faith is seen in three ways. 

1. He believed the word of the Lord. The only judge to reason with the enemy, he shows a remarkable grasp of the word of the Lord. Ammon had invaded and his challenge and his claims must be met from Scripture. Jephthah does this faithfully and the enemy, who in Scripture speaks of the intelligence of the flesh, is silenced if not subdued. The quiet years at Tob when rejected by his brethren are now bearing fruit. Those used of God must know the word of God! 

2. He submitted to the Spirit of the Lord. Jephthah is the third of four judges upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came in power—Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson. Despite his evident knowledge of the area he recognised that in the task before him he must have the power of God if the people of God were to be delivered from this enemy. Power for service is always in the Spirit of God. 

3. He showed devotion to the Lord. Of all the judges, his devotion to the Lord Himself is most clearly seen. He gives the Lord His place in their history, in conflict he acknowledges himself to be but the instrument of the Lord and his vow, however ill-advised, marks a high point in sacrificial devotion. A rebuke to our cold hearts! From a man who knew the Scriptures and abhorred the child immolating Ammonite god Molech, it is clear (cf. Lev. 5. 4) that he committed his daughter to perpetual virginity—a sacrifice that makes our heart tremble. Perhaps his slaying of the Ephraimites is to be seen in the same light—there his deep concern for the Lord’s honour set over against a tribe steeped in idolatry. 

 

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