Sunday, March 21, 2010

2010 – Mar. 21 – When Vows Become Shibboleths

Study from God’s Word Judges 10 – 12: 15 … Passage for Reflection: Judges 11:35 … NIV 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."

My Journal for Today: Do you have faith in God? Well, most of those who read this, knowing who I am and who you are, will likely respond “Yes,” to that question. But what if I were to ask, “Are you faithful to God?” What would your response be then?

There is a difference between “having faith” and “being faithful,” isn’t there? And we saw that difference on trial in the story, in Judges 11, of Jephthah, who made a vow to God; and then this man of God had to carry out that vow when it ultimately meant him having to sacrifice his own daughter as a signature of his faith. Jephthah had to not only have faith in God, but he had to show his faithfulness to God by carrying out a vow which was tested much as the test used in Judges 12 where certain people had to declare their allegiance to God by their pronunciation of the word “Shibboleth.” And like those tests, when God lays a test of faith before us, we may not ignore it; and we’ll have to show our faithfulness openly by our actions.

No, the only way we can show our faith at times of testing is by living up to the values we hold as believers. If we have faith, we often are asked to show that faith by living up to what we believe with actions. Life will challenge us, … God will challenge us; … and we’ll have to declare whom we follow by the choices we make and the actions which show who we are. In Judges 12 one people, the Ephraimites, wanted to cross the Jordan to Ephraim, and the Gileadites would ask them to pronounce the word “Shibboleth,” and if they said “Sibboleth,” it showed them to have allegiance to pagan gods; and they would be killed.

I know that this reads as cruel and unusual; but in that day it showed that – and carrying over into our day – beliefs are critical. And how we demonstrate our beliefs is even more important. Jephthah certainly passed his own “shibboleth,” when he fulfilled his horrible vow to the one true God which involved the life/death of his daughter. The question becomes, do I pass the faith test when I live as Christian. Is my life a “shibboleth” or a “sibboleth.” When I’m tested to cross my Jordan of faith, do my actions match up to my words of faith? I say I’m a “Christian.” When you see me living, do my choices and actions give me away; or do I fail the test with my actions not living up to my words? Only you who know me can be my judge in this life; but God is certainly my Judge for eternity; and I can only pray that my declared faith is my actual faithfulness in real life.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I say, “Shibboleth!” Amen

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