Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Judges, Chapters 10-12 … To study these chapters, go to this link -
Highlight Reference Passage : Judges 10: 29-35 … 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 LORD that I cannot break.”
My Journal for Today: Today’s chronological read in Judges (in Chapters 10-12) takes me through a disturbing story involving the Judge, Jephthah, a man born as the illegitimate son of a prostitute, and a man who was disinherited by his father; yet, he became the leader of the Israelites, leading them out of a long period of idolatry and subjugation into victory over the oppressors of Israel.
Yet, in today’s passage we see that even though the Holy Spirit had come upon Jephthah; and he was called out by God, he was still a very fallible man who could – and did – make a rash promise to God without thinking through the ramifications of bargaining with God as to his own future. And the implications of this story certainly apply to all who call upon God – our God, … especially in times when things seem difficult or oppressive.
Perhaps in such times, you might have prayed rashly, “Lord, if You deliver me from this, I’ll ____________.” And I’ll let you fill in that blank of a promise, which you made to God, praying to overcome whatever dire circumstances led you to make such a promise about your future.
Well, Jephthah made such a promise, as we read above; and low-and-behold, it cost him the life of his only daughter. Now, perhaps we have not been so rash to make such a foolish promise to God; but God’s word is pretty clear in telling us never to make rash promises or vows to God.
And Jephthah should have known this principle because Moses had clearly stated this in the Book of the Law, which God’s people had to give them teaching in moments like these. In Deuteronomy 23: 21-23, God stated through Moses, “ If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.”
And so, from these Old Testament teachings and true historical accounts like this one in the life of one of the Judges, we should certainly learn that God is not asking us to make rash promises about the hereafter. All God wants from us is our faith and trust in His promises for the here-and-now. We can also read that from the words of Solomon in a passage that you may have (and if not, should have) memorized. You may be thinking right now of Proverbs 3: 5-6, which is my wife’s favorite verse. It states, and I quote from memory (and the NKJV), … Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
All God expected of Jephthah was trust in Him as the promise-keeping God of Israel. All God expects of us is that same faith and trust. So, today, as you follow along with me, reading through these passages in Judges, let’s ask ourselves if we’re trusting God the way we should; and if we’re tempted to make some very human, but very foolish, promise to God, let’s back away and simply trust that God knows best for us; and He will watch over us and guide us no matter what our circumstances might be.
My Prayer Today: … God, You are my God and You watch over me today; and that’s all I need to know. Amen