After God sent the tumbling round loaf of barley bread into a soldier’s dream and conquered an army (really that’s what happened) in Gideon’s lifetime, we later see many years of on and off peace – peace when a “judge” was raised up to lead the people and listen to God on their behalf – and we see many years of rebellion by Israelites (just like we see us individually get away from our faith at times). The Book of Judges details certain times and these leaders/”judges” which brought peace. We know only a little about Tola and Jair, who came before Jephthah and know very little about Ibzan, Elon and Abdon who were “judges” after Jephthah. But for Jephthah, he has a mighty LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG story for us, and I can not start to gleem all the lessons from the details. It’s too much. Yet, there are 3 pieces I can tell you about from my reading (and I encourage that you read all this yourself): 1) that people remember the details of what people promise them. 2) God remembers what we promise to God. and 3) God always keeps His Promises… TRUTH!
1) Jephthah was wronged by people who later came back and said – hey don’t mind we treated you badly, you can trust us now – we NEED you. (yes how many times has that happened to us!) Jephthah did help them – and the Lord was with Jephthah.
2) Jephthah made a promise to God – and to his dismay his own daughter had to take the severe consequences that Jephthah promised God – to be the offering to God – and his daughter also knew that what was promised to God must be done. She knew it and took her situation to heart. Wow. God knows all about sacrificing His own child. And God’s child Jesus knows all about sacrificing His own self for the Will of God. We as children of God are called to be people of sacrifice and do the Lord’s bidding.
3) Jephthah and the Gileadites fought the Ephraimite forces because he “saw that you wouldn’t help” in a previous battle, forcing Jephthah to take his own life in his hands (with God’s help) and the Lord gave the victory. Then the Ephramites were killed and any other Ephramites were continually challenged based on how they pronounced the name of a city. It is those details that set them apart – made them stand out as being against Jephthah.
Details Details… we say that all the time when we shrug off the little things that we think are not important – but to God, all things of the heart are important – all promises are important – all detail details are important.
What are we promising to God today – or in the past – do we forget the worst situations that God delivered us from and just flippantly forget? Do we remember the details of our prayers? we are told to not promise God anything we can’t commit to… at the same time, the safest promise we can make to God is our lives – and take it day by day, step by step, detail by detail…
While we are told to not sweat the small stuff with everyday life in grievances, we are truly blessed when we count our blessings of God, delivered down to every last detail.
And God? He already detailed our Salvation and His Kingdom for us to know – just keep in His Word and His Word will keep you in His story.
History is HIS story.. He is Faithful from the beginning to the end.
1) Judges 11:1-10 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.” Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?” The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?” The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.”
2) Judges 11:29-40 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.”
Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
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. 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 father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
“You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
3) Judges 12:1-7 The Ephraimite forces were called out, and they crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We’re going to burn down your house over your head.” Jephthah answered, “I and my people were engaged in a great struggle with the Ammonites, and although I called, you didn’t save me out of their hands. When I saw that you wouldn’t help, I took my life in my hands and crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave me the victory over them. Now why have you come up today to fight me?”
Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, “You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh.” The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.
Jephthah led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in a town in Gilead.