The Jephthah Cycle - Day 3
Dear Lord, give me Your wisdom in my decisions and help me to trust You with the outcome. Prevent me from taking things into my own hands and making unnecessary sacrifices to accomplish my goals. Amen.
Read: Judges 11:29-31 (NIV)
“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. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 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.””
I’ve never made a vow like Jephthah and my first thought when I read this is “What are you thinking?!” Jephthah is getting pumped up for battle against his enemies and does something pretty stupid here. He makes a vow which - at least in my head - can only end poorly. What is he really expecting to walk out of his own house when he comes home? An animal? A lamb to sacrifice perhaps?
When I come home from work sometimes all three of my daughters (ages 2 to 6) come out to greet me yelling, “Daddy!” Even thinking about this makes me smile and warms my heart right now. Well, unfortunately, this is almost exactly what happens to Jephthah. Except instead of three daughters he has one. And not just one daughter but she is his only child. And who “comes out of the house to meet” Jephthah, but his only child and daughter! Now he must fulfill his vow to God and sacrifice her as a burnt offering! How painful this must have been and on so many levels!
If Jephthah had not followed through with his vow he would have been outcast if not severely punished - even unto death. But look how Jephthah’s human zeal and selfish ambition to win the battle cost him dearly. Instead, if he had trusted God and the leading of the Spirit of the Lord, he would have accomplished the same thing without the unnecessary and very costly sacrifice.
Where are you sacrificing unnecessarily in order to take life into your own hands? Think about the ways that you are making costly choices for a gain which God can control on His own. He wants your heart and trust, not trade-offs for worldly gain.
Dear Lord, Your ways are difficult to understand sometimes. I need You to show me how to walk in obedience to them. Help me to trust You with the outcomes without trying to make trade-offs for my own worldly gains. Amen.