Did the Old Testament Greats Understand God’s Plan? Part 36

This entry is part 36 of 45 in the series Did the Old Testament Greats Understand God's Plan?

Part 35 recap: Samson’s faith defeated the Philistines and aligned himself with God. He had ups and downs throughout his life, but in the end, he knew that God was most important to him. God also had a plan for Samson, he knew he would have a heart toward a Philistine woman, and he allowed that for the benefit of Israel. Although we have no idea what God will do with our lives, he does have a purpose to fulfill and his will, will be accomplished.

Part 36

This week we speak of Jephthah the outcast. Jephthah was a mighty warrior but was an outcast because his mother was a prostitute. He came from the land of Gilead which also was the name of his father. He and his wife had sons who grew up and disowned him. They did not want him to inherit because of his birth from this prostitute. “Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman” (Judges 11:2). However, when the children of Israel were in a bind and needed a warrior, it was convenient for them to call upon Jephthah who had moved to the land of Tob.

“And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words” (vs. 7-10).

Next, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, in agreement for his success over the children of Ammon: “whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” (v. 31). The Lord allowed Jephthah success. He defeated Ammon. “And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel” (v. 33).

When Jephthah returned to his house, he was greeted by his daughter. “And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back” (v. 35). His daughter learned of his vow and asked his permission to go to the mountain for a time to bewail her virginity. This meant she would express great regret, disappointment, or bitterness over her virginity. Upon her return 2 months later, he obeyed his vow and made a burnt offering unto the Lord. What do we learn from this man and his example? Can we take our vows lightly? Can we allow a slip of the tongue? “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:33-37). Jephthah kept his vow, would you have?

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