Deliverance Under Jephthah
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Judges, that portion of the Word of God that we are considering together in these lessons. Today we will be looking at chapter 12 of the book of Judges. We would like to suggest to you that you review in your mind the various apostasies that Israel entered, or as we have designated them, the disciplines and deliverances which God found necessary to bring into their lives. We have the review today because we are going to begin the discussion of a new discipline and a new deliverance. You will remember the children of Israel sinned, God disciplined them at the hand of Mesopotamia for eight years, and He delivered them at the hand of Otniel. They sinned again and God disciplined them at the hand of Moab for eighteen years and delivered them at the hand of Ehud. They sinned again and He disciplined them at the hand of the Philistines for an unstated period of time, and He delivered them at the hand of Shamgar. They sinned again; He disciplined them at the hand of the Canaanites for twenty years, and He delivered them at the hand of Deborah and Barak. They sinned again, were disciplined at the hand of the Midianites for seven years, and He delivered them at the hand of Gideon.

In our last lesson, we talked with you about a usurper by the name of Abimelech and what occurred because he, the son of Gideon by a concubine, attempted to become king. It is sort of a parenthetical portion of the book of Judges because he was not actually one of the recognized judges of Israel.

In the early part of the portion of the Word that we consider together in this lesson, we have two other judges mentioned. We do not say anything about them by way of a detailed study because there really isn't anything much to say about them. The judges were named Tola and Jair. If there was any discipline that was necessary, it was not described in the book of Judges, and consequently there is no name given for any disciplinarian. We merely mention the fact that they are listed in chapter 10 of the book of Judges with nothing more said than that.

Now we want to begin with a consideration of a discipline at the hand of the Ammonites that lasted for eighteen years and was brought to an end through the deliverer, Jephthah. As we consider together the deliverance that was wrought at the hand of Jephthah, I hope that there will be some very definite truths that will be able to fix themselves in your minds.

Remember that we have suggested to you that each portion that we have reviewed for you and each that we will look at follows a three-point outline. There were disobediances on the part of Israel; there were disciplines, and there were deliverances. As I was reviewing this for you, I purposely did not change the inflection of my voice, and I may have sounded somewhat to you like a broken record. I wanted to sound that way because I wanted to impress upon you that the nation of Israel followed a life that was made up of disobeying, followed by discipline, followed by deliverance with what might be termed an unusual monotony. That monotony, as we are going to see, is going to be interrupted because we are going to see that even God, Who is known for His longsuffering and for His tender mercies, becomes weary with the continual procedure of disobedience in spite of discipline.

Disobedience Characterized By Ecumenicity

Let us consider Israel's disobedience in this particular instance, and I believe we should begin with the particular paragraph that begins with chapter 10, verse 6:

Judges 10

6And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.
7And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel…

If we were going to sum up this particular description of Israel's disobedience, we would sum it up with a word that is familiar to most of you in your newspapers and in your religious periodicals, “ecumenicity.” “Ecumenicity” is a word that describes the ecumenical movement where there is such a desire on the part of so many people to put all of the churches of the world in one great big lump; some folk would even go so far as to say all of the religions of the world.

Notice that Israel, at this particular time, after the death of Gideon, went so far as to not only follow Baalim, as their forefathers had done, but to include the gods of all the surrounding nations. They remind us of the folk to whom Paul preached on Mars Hill, as it is recorded in chapter 17 of the book of Acts, where they have an altar to every god they could think of; and then for fear that they might have left some god out and thus invite his wrath upon them, they built an altar to the unknown god to be sure that they included everybody. This was the sad state of Israel at this particular time. They had taken into their religion, the worship of Jehovah, the religion of every god about whom they had ever heard.

The Lord our God is a jealous God, and so we are not at all surprised to find that His anger would rise hot within Him, and He would feel that He needed to do something with them.

Presuming On the Grace of God

There was another thing that characterized their disobedience. I have used one word to describe it. It is the word “presumption.” I have used that word because it describes what we believe God had in mind when He dealt with the children of Israel in this particular instance.

Notice please, beginning in verse 10 of chapter 10:

Judges 10

10And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.
11And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?
12The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.
13Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods…

Nothing unusual occurs down to this statement here. It is the same old story repeated over and over and over again, but now we hear God say, beginning in the last part of verse 13:

Judges 10

13…wherefore I will deliver you no more.
14Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

I have used the word “presumption” to describe the sin of the Israelites on the basis of the fact that God said, in the last part of verse 13, “I will deliver you no more.” Israel presumed upon the grace of God. They said to themselves, “God has delivered us; He will continue to deliver us. It doesn't matter what we do.” They reached a place in their lives, by presuming on the grace of God, where God said, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.”

Let's think clearly so that we will not be misled by some of the statements that I want to make to you. It is possible to presume upon the grace of God. God says in His Word, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” God says in His Word, “I have called, and you have not answered; I have stretched out my arms, and no man regarded. Therefore, when you come to me, I will laugh at you in your calamity. I will not hear you.” The Word of God says, “He that be often reproved, and hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be cut off, and that without remedy.” The Word of God says, “There is a sin unto death; I do not say that you shall pray for it.”

I believe that sinners presume upon the grace of God when they presume that they have all their life long to receive Christ as their Savior. Oftentimes when you are dealing with the unsaved, they will say, “I'm not ready to accept Christ right not–some day, but not now.” They act as if the whole decision rests in their hands, that anytime that they want God, they can beckon a messenger boy and say, “God, I'm ready now for You to take care of my life.” God says, “One day there will come a day when such a call will come, and God will say, 'You find your god somewhere else'.”

There are believers who make too much of repentance and confession of sin. Does that shock you for me to say that? There are some believers who make too much of repentance and confession of sin. I am concerned–and I am choosing my words carefully here, because I could be misunderstood–about believers who are always in and out of fellowship. I am concerned about believers who say, “Oh, I was out of fellowship yesterday.” I am concerned about believers who, at the close of the day, say, “Lord, if I committed any sins today, forgive me.” Why am I concerned? Because this was Israel's history. Israel's history was the history of sinning and confessing and sinning and confessing and sinning and confessing and sinning and confessing. We could go on like a broken record indefinitely. Then one day God said, “I have had enough.” One day God said, “I'm not going to listen anymore. I will deliver you no more.”, and God's chastening hand was ready to fall.

Listen carefully; I'm not suggesting to you that you should fool yourself into thinking that you don't sin; but I'm suggesting to you, Beloved, that you should be careful that God's disciplining hand does not fall upon you because you treat, as a believer, disobedience to God's revealed will entirely too lightly.

Insincere Confession

Let's look for a moment at the discipline that God visited upon Israel, and perhaps we will be better able to understand what I am talking about. Look at chapter 10, and notice the paragraph which begins with verse 7:

Judges 10

7And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
8And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.
9Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.

Israel was sore distressed because she was in the hand of the enemy. Look at verse 10:

Judges 10

10And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.

I have designated that particular prayer as Israel's surface confession. They confessed on the surface. They said, “Lord, we have sinned against Thee, because we have forsaken our God and also served Baalim.” In all probability, as the additional verses would indicate, they prayed this prayer while they were on their way to worship in the temples of Baal. You see, they were confessing, but that is all that they were doing. Their confession was a surface confession.

Don't tune me out until you think through this clearly. I am convinced that believers can fall into the habit of confessing sin by rote. They can even confess the sin they are contemplating. They can develop the idea that so long as they confess their sin, it doesn't matter whether they sin or not. And though it may seem like a ridiculous statement for me to make, I'm convinced by the activities of some believers that they develop the habit–perhaps unconsciously–of saying, “Lord, forgive me for the sin that I am about to commit,” for they make their plans to commit sin and go ahead and do it and plan after the sin to seek God's forgiveness. This, Beloved, is what I call surface confession, because it does not go beneath the surface.

Israel's Sincere Confession

Look at verse 15. After God had dealt with them more sorely, after God had brought them face-to-face with their sin, He said, “I'm not going to do anything for you; you've got these gods whom you seem to love so much to do something for you.” Notice in verse 15:

Judges 10

15And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: [they had said that before, hadn't they? They had said that down in verse 10, the very same words, ”we have sinned.” But now notice the difference with which they confessed their sin] do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee;…

What is the difference? Down in verse 10, they were confessing their sin. “Lord, we've sinned,” but now, in verse 15, they are saying, “Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee this day.”

Notice in verse 16:

Judges 10

16And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD:…

I refer to this, Beloved, as Israel's sincere confession. It went beneath the surface. They said, “Lord, we need to be disciplined. We need to be, but do, Lord, deliver us.” And then to indicate that they meant what they said, “They forsook their sin and served the Lord God.”

Forsaking the Sin

Beloved, oftentimes when we find ourselves standing in the need of prayer, as the songwriter has said, we may find ourselves falling into the habit of making promises to God that we very well know that we cannot keep. “Oh God, if you will just answer this prayer, I will promise you that I will never tell another lie so long as I live.” Now that is foolishness. You probably will tell another lie, and God knows you will. When I'm talking about a sincere confession, I'm not talking of the habit people have of promising God they will never do thus and so again if God will only answer their prayers. I am talking about the truth that is taught in such passages of Scripture as “He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall prosper.” I am talking about the truth that is taught in such passages of Scripture, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord God will not hear me.”

When I get to the place where I need to be on praying ground, where I need to have God answer my prayers–oh, we all pray, and we expect God to work, and some of the things that we pray about are not so vital; it really doesn't matter whether the answer comes or not–I don't promise the Lord that I will do thus and so. I do remember that if I regard iniquity in my heart–that is, if I tolerate it, if I pet it, if I act like it doesn't make any difference–God is not going to hear me; and I pray, “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Whatever the Holy Spirit of God brings to my mind, I confess it.

I don't promise God I will never do it again. God knows my frame; He knows that I am dust. But I do recognize that God cannot hear my prayer if there is unconfessed sin in my life, and unconfessed sin means more than confessing with the lips. It means that you feel the same way that God feels about it, and God hates sin. You cannot hug sin to your bosom and confess it by repeating a few words about it and feel the same way that God feels. There must be a sincere confession. God's discipline comes until the surface confession turns into the sincere confession.

God's Concern for Our Misery

Before we leave the subject of God's discipline, I want you to notice one statement in this passage of Scripture, verse 16, the last statement, speaking of God:

Judges 10

16…and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

I have used the words, “God's concern,” to describe that one simple statement. How often have God's children asked the question, “Doesn't God care?” Yes, He does care. Sometimes when God has to bring His disciplining hand upon us, we get the idea, and the Devil would magnify it, that God simply doesn't care. He does. Did you notice this statement? “God's soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” You've heard the proverbial statement of the father who punishes his son; and as he delivers the blow, he says to his son, “Son, this hurts me worse than it does you.” And the son is never able to understand the father's words, because he's the one receiving the licks. But, Beloved, though earthly fathers may have made a proverbial statement about that and can be able to talk about it without any real depth of feeling, I remind you that God means it. It hurts God when He has to discipline us. It hurts God when He has to chasten us, and He's concerned over our misery.

Let me inject this: We must not make the mistake of thinking that every kind of suffering is related to chastening. Please remember that. God chooses some of His chosen vessels for the purpose of suffering in order that they might magnify His name. But at this time, we are talking about sin; and we are talking about the fact that God finds it necessary to discipline for sin.

Jephthah - a Type of Christ

Did you notice that when the children of Israel put away the strange gods from them, God eventually provided a deliverer? I want you to think with me for a bit about God's deliverer.

There have been many interesting stories here in the book of Judges about the various deliverers which God raised up when the children of Israel cried out to Him, acknowledging their sin in sincerity. But this particular deliverer is introduced to us in chapter 11 of the book of Judges, and I would like for you to notice with me one or two things about him. Look at chapter 11, verse 1, please:

Judges 11

1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour…

Jephthah was his name, and the word “Jephthah” means, “he who opens.” His origin was presented in the first verse, and it was a rather strange origin for we read:

Judges 11

1…and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

Yes, in the eyes of his brethren, in the eyes of the Gileadites, in the eyes of his nation, he was a bastard. He was the son of a harlot. He was an illegitimate child. Because that was true, you will notice there is a word given about his rejection. We read in verses 2 and 3:

Judges 11

2And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman.
3Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men [that is, men of war] to Jephthah, and went out with him.

This son of a strange woman was rejected by his own people. They said, “We don't want to have anything to do with you. We don't want you around us. Get out!” And he left. I want you to notice that he stayed away until they recalled him, and a description of his recall is presented in the paragraph which begins with verse 4:

Judges 11

4And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
5And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:
6And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.
7And 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 [there was a time when you would not have me. Why do you want me now?] ?
8And 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, [we need you now] and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead [we want you to come back as our king. Yes, yes there was a time when we did not want you. There was a time when we rejected you, as an illegitimate child, but we want you to come back now. We need you.] .
9And 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 [Are you sure this is what you want?Do you really want me to come back and be king] ?
10And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.
11Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, [notice] and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.

In the Word of God, there are many types of the Lord Jesus Christ, many pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, He must have the preeminence in all things, and God has given us one picture after another in the Word of God concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. I would like to suggest to you that Jephthah is one of the most interesting types of the Lord Jesus Christ that I believe you will find anywhere in the Word of God, and I would like for us to spend a little bit of time considering Jephthah as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, in relation to his name. What was it that Jephthah's name meant? Remember, we said it meant, “he who opens.” Do you recall what the Lord Jesus Christ said about Himself in the Gospel of John, chapter 10? It might be wise for us to turn there, and notice the paragraph that begins with verse 7:

John 10

7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Jephthah's name meant “he who opens.” What was it Jesus said? “I am the door.” He's the only one who can open the way to glory, and of course you are familiar with what is recorded in Revelation, chapter 3, verse 7, the message recorded to the Church at Philadelphia, when the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I have the keys of David. I can open and no man can shut, and I can shut, and no man can open.”

Rejection of Jephthah

Jephthah was the man who opened the door. The Lord Jesus Christ, by His very activity, fits into the type represented by his name. And what about his origin? Jephthah was the son of a strange woman, wasn't he? His brethren held that fact over his head and said that he was the son of a harlot. Remember what is recorded in John, chapter 7, the paragraph which begins with verse 40:

John 7

40Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
41Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
43So there was a division among the people because of him.
44And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.

As the conversation continued, you'll notice over in chapter 8, beginning with verse 40:

John 8

40But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41Ye do the deeds of your father. [notice carefully] Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

“You are a bastard.” That is what they said to Jesus Christ–the same thing that the brethren of Jephthah said to him and recognized the same origin. And what happened to Jephthah because of his origin? We mentioned his rejection. His brothers said, “Get out; we don't want you; we want nothing to do with you.” Remember what is recorded in chapter 19 of the Gospel of John concerning the Lord Jesus Christ when Pilot was, in his cowardly fashion, doing everything he could to deliver the Lord Jesus Christ? You'll notice in verse 14:

John 19

14And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, [Pilot did] Behold your King!
15But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

They rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, and so bitter was their rejection of Him, if you will glance down to verse 19:

John 19

19And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
21Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.

They rejected Him. I think thus far, you are able to see the parallel. You're able to recognize Jephthah as a type of Christ, but do you remember that they recalled Jephthah when they were in a great state of distress? When the enemy came in on every side, they knew there was no hope within themselves, what did they do? They sent word to Jephthah, and said, “Come back and be head over us. Come back and be our king.” I want to suggest to you, Beloved, that what they did to Jephthah years ago, Israel is going to do for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I believe in the not too distant future.

Notice chapter 12 of the book of Zechariah, verses 9 and 10:

Zechariah 12

9And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem [there is going to come a day, when all the nations will be gathered against the city of Jerusalem. Then notice verse 10] ,
10And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me [a better word is ”unto me”] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

“They shall look unto me.” What's going to happen one day when the nation of Israel has endured distress as long as she can endure it? She is going to look to the Lord Jesus Christ and invite Him to come back to provide for her deliverance; and as Jephthah came back and provided for the deliverance of the Israel of his day, so will the Lord Jesus Christ come back and provide deliverance for Israel, the day of which I believe is not too far in the distant future.

Deliverance Characterized By Aribitration

Let's look for a moment at God's deliverance. The deliverance that God provided through Jephthah was characterized, first, by arbitration. If you go back to the book of Judges and notice in chapter 11, verses 12-28, you will find that Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of Ammon, saying, “What hast thou to do with me that thou art come to fight against me?” And then the conversation is recorded, and you would think you were reading a modern-day conversation. As a matter of fact, if you were to change the word “Ammon” to “Arab,” you would think you were reading a twentieth century story. The Amorites said, “We have a right to this land; it's ours.” Jephthah said, “You have no right to it. God gave it to us.” And they said, “No, we are in it; we're going to keep it.” Jephthah said, “No, you're not, because this land is ours because of God's promise to Abraham. We've conquered it, and we are going to expel you out of the land.”

I want to say to you, Beloved, all of the council tables of the world related to the Israeli-Arab conflict will not settle one thing because God gave the land to Israel, and the Arabs want it. God will not let them have it, for what you read here chapter 11 is but a miniature description of what is going on today in Israel and what will develop into the greatest conflict this world has ever seen.

The Anointing By Jephthah

Yes, I am concerned about other places, but that's not where you need to pinpoint your attention. The Middle East is where you need to keep your eyes, because there will the great conflagration eventually evolve, and all because the Amonites say to the Israelites, “We want your land.” And God says through his deliverers, “You won't have it.” Now, there is another word that describes the deliverance that God provides. Arbitration is built upon old accusations and ancient claims, but the second word that I want to leave with you is the word, “anointing.” You see, these men had come to Jephthah and had asked him to be their deliverer–we are speaking about the human Jephthah now, not about the type of Christ–and the human Jephthah was no more powerful than any other one individual until something happened to him. That thing that happened to him, I have described by the word, “anointing.”

When the Holy Spirit of God came upon Jephthah and he was able to subdue all of the children of Ammon,the Spirit of God came upon Jephthah in the same fashion that He came upon Gideon. You remember when we studied the story of Gideon, the deliverer, we learned that when the Holy Spirit came upon Gideon, He literally clothed Himself with Gideon. Look at verse 29:

Judges 11

29Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

The Holy Spirit literally clothed Himself with Jephthah, and the Spirit-anointed Jephthah was the one who won the victory over the enemy.

May I suggest to you something I have said to you very often? There is nothing new about it, but it needs to be said and re-said and be re-emphasized: God is still looking for clothing for the Spirit of God. Did you know that? God is still looking for men with whom the Spirit of God can clothe Himself and do great and mighty feats. Now, you will be able to do anything that you have the strength to do along certain lines, but Beloved, you have no idea what you are able to do until you permit the Holy Spirit of God to clothe Himself with you. Then great will be the things you will be able to do.

Jephthah's Vow

There is one last thing we need to consider about Jephthah, and it provides a problem. A great deal has been written, much discussion has been held, many heated arguments have revolved around what is referred to as “Jephthah's vow.” Will you look at verse 30 of chapter 11, please:

Judges 11

30And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
31Then it shall be, that 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.

Then you will come down to verse 34 and you will read:

Judges 11

34And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
35And 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.

This was Jephthah's vow: “Lord, the first thing that meets me when I return from battle, I will offer to Thee,” according to the text before us, “as a burnt offering.” The first thing that met him was his daughter. A great many people criticize Jephthah for making a vow. They say that it was an act of the flesh, an effort on Jephthah's part to please God. Page after page after page has been written along that line. Now, if that is your opinion, God love you; we will not fall out about it, but I don't believe that that interpretation should be placed upon Jephthah for making a vow. Jephthah was a man sincere before God; and out of a sincere heart he said, “God, I just want to render gratitude to you.” Look at the passage of Scripture carefully. He was not saying, “Lord, I want to make a bargain with you.” No, no, no, no, you cannot bargain with God ever; but Beloved, don't deny the possibility of the sincerity of an individual who says to God, “God, You are so wonderful, You are so marvelous, You are so great, I want to give You something.”

I do not belong to the school of thought that criticizes Jephthah for making the vow. That means that I think it was all right for him to make the vow, but he found himself in a dilemma, did he not, for his daughter came out to see him, greeting him on the day of victory? If we are to accept what is recorded in verse 31 at it's face value, then it would mean that he had to offer his daughter as a burnt offering before the Lord, and the very thought offends us. We abhor the idea of a man such as Jephthah, whose name is recorded in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, on the honor roll of faith, would offer his daughter as a living sacrifice to God! Perish the thought! We don't even want to think about it, and we don't need to think about it, for he didn't offer his daughter as a burnt sacrifice.

Look at verse 31 very carefully with me now:

Judges 11

31Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, [notice he didn't say, ”if I return,”] shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

Look at the word “and.” In the Hebrew text it may be translated by the word “and” or it may be translated by the word “or.” Either meaning is proper. Context determines it. I believe that what Jephthah said was, “Lord, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, shall surely be the Lord's; whatever comes out of my house first, I will give to you, Lord. I will dedicate it to you, or I will offer it unto a burnt offering.” Now, it is conceivable that nobody would have come out of his home to meet him for any number of reasons, and if no one came out, then he would offer a burnt offering to the Lord. But if somebody came out, he would dedicate that person to the Lord. There is no history of human sacrifices in this period of Israel's history. It would have been an impossibility. A man of God would not have done it.

True Subjection to God's Will

I believe that when his daughter came out to meet him, God whispered, “Remember what you said. My hand is on this girl; I need her. I want you to give her to me like you said.” And he rent his clothes. He was sorrowful. Why? He had no sons. This girl was the only way that he could continue his progeny, and if she were to be dedicated to the Lord, she was to be dedicated to perpetual virginity. I think that is the explanation of the last paragraph of the chapter, when she said to her father, in verse 37:

Judges 11

37And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

And she did. Then she entered the service of the Lord.

I want you to notice with me what I have designated, “true subjection,” for it's so rare. Yes, the promises we make to the Lord, we make them readily; but true subjection is so rare on the part of believers, it always thrills my heart when I see it. You'll notice the last part of verse 35: Jephthah said, “For I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.” This is true subjection, isn't it?

Let me ask a question to provoke your thinking. How many of you have opened your mouth unto the Lord and then when the circumstances became different than when you opened your mouth unto the Lord, you rationalized and you went back? You didn't keep your word. Statistics would amaze you if accurate ones were kept, and those that are kept, inaccurate as they are, amaze you, the number of young people whose hearts have been moved, some young men to preach God's Word. They open their mouths to the Lord, and they say, “Lord, I will preach. This is what you want me to do.”

Then the Devil comes along with another opportunity, while they are in the midst of preparation. What do they say to the Devil? “I have opened my mouth unto the Lord; I will not go back.” No, they rationalize. They'll say, “I'll do this for a while, and I'll eventually get back.” Sad thing is, they never get back. How many young people have felt the call of God to go to the regions beyond to declare the story of Christ, called to be missionaries. It was so real when the call came. Then what happened? Oh, things changed, and they got involved in a lot of things, and the next thing they knew, they were busy about other things. When that first little detraction came from the Devil, they should have said to the Devil–and it was the Devil, not God, for God never sidetracks anybody–“I have opened my mouth unto God, and I cannot go back.”

God, forgive the number of us who have opened our mouths unto God and gone back.

Glance at verse 36 for a look at another beautiful illustration of subjection. Father said to daughter, “Daughter, it grieves me to say it, but I've dedicated you to the Lord. I have made a vow to God.” If she had been like young people today, she might have said, “You old fool, what you do with God is your business, but don't you involve me in it.” But oh, the beautiful subjection! She said unto him:

Judges 11

36And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

“My father, if you have given me to God, I would not want you to go back on your word. I will do what you suggest.”

The Development of Subjection

Parents, how many of us have dedicated our children to the Lord, perhaps even before they were born? Certainly when we held them in our arms for the first time, we dedicated them to the Lord, but we never mentioned it to them. We kept it to ourselves. We let them live however they wanted to live. We forgot we dedicated them to the Lord. I wonder if there wouldn't have been a difference in some cases, if Father or Mother, as the child began to grow and assert itself, would have said, “Son” or “Daughter, before you were born, I dedicated you to the Lord. You are God's. You can't just live any way that you want to live. You are God's.” Perhaps when they reached the age of accountability, instead of going off and doing what they wanted to do and breaking the heart of the father or mother, they would have said, “My Father, whatever you told God about me, I'll do.”

Subjection, Beloved, is not a quality with which we are born. Will you remember that? It's a quality that is developed.


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