vCan God use us
in spite of our unfortunate backgrounds?
vHow should we
handle threats and accusations?
vIs it a wise
thing to make a vow to God?
you verbalize it or not, you might believe that your background or personality
or upbringing or family ties or physique or connections or talent or level of
intelligence or age may be a handicap that holds you back from being used by
God. Nothing could be further from the truth. You may
have some unfortunate situations you had nothing to do with that you believe
hold back so that God cannot use you or He may not be inclined to involve you
in any substantial way for the work of the Kingdom. I want you to know that
that is not true. If God is sovereign then He is also sovereign over our
situations and instead of believing they hold you back, understand that they
are designed to allow you to uniquely contribute to God’s work. A man like Jephthah could have believe the same about himself, but in
spite of his background, in spite of the decisions of others designed to hold
him back, he actually had an opportunity to make a difference for the work of
God in Israel.
YOU BACKGROUND DOES NOT HAVE TO
DISQUALIFY YOU FROM SERVICE TO GOD
Background: The writer wants us to
be clear on Jeph’s background. (1) He is from Gilead. That is the territory NE of the Jordan River. This is significant because the Ammonites in 10:8
had been crushing this territory for 18 yrs making life miserable for it’s inhabitants. (2) He is a valiant warrior and this is
what apparently makes him attractive to the inhabitants of Gilead. (3) He was half-Canaanite and illegitimate son, which made life hard
for him, as we will see. (4) His father was Gilead (Num 26:28) probably in line of the namesake of the territory of Gilead so associated with prominent clan. (5) His brothers ran him out of
the house and family and he fled with no inheritance but with his life as an
outcast. (6) Worthless adventurers gathered around him possibly with his
reputation as a mighty warrior. (7) They went out with him most likely on
exploits of some kind up in the area of Tob where he
resided. Interesting to compare him to Abemilech.Abemilech was Gideon’s son of a concubine so also
illegitimate 8:31. He hired worthless men to serve him 9:4. He killed his
brothers—70 of them. He forced the people to make him king while Jeph was asked. God sent an evil spirit to him while the
Spirit of the Lord came upon Jeph. Abim’s background was used for revenge & personal
acclaim. Jeph’s background did not disqualify him
from use by God.
thrashing the Gileadites for years (10:8). The elders
of Gilead wanted to make Jeph
general of an army vs 6. His
answer in interesting in vs 7—actually his brothers
did that but apparently the elders were involved somehow. Either they did
nothing to help him or an appeal to these elders was rejected agreeing instead
with his brothers, which was the cause of his flight to Tob.
They ignore his question vs 8 and up the ante from
general to civil leader of the people. So Jeph says Now let me get this right—you’re sayingvs 9. The elders agreed even making God a witness with a solemn oath vs 10. Then a
formal ceremony followed vs 11 and all was done
before the Lord. No coup. No murders. No money. Your history can be used to get
your way or accepted for what it is and then be used in service to the Lord as
opportunity comes. You choose.
NEGOTIATING PEACEFUL RESOLUTIONS MAY
what should we do when we face threats and accusations? The Ammonites message
was that Israel give back land they had taken from Ammon years ago and there would be peace. Jeph as the leader attempts diplomacy as a response to
threat and accusations. His excellent argument is this:
Israel took the land of the Amorites not the Ammonites. Israel would not have taken Ammonite land because God via
Moses forbid them to do that. This was because they were descendents of Lot (Deut ) vs 12-18. (2) What right do you have to this land? It was
never yours in the first place. It belonged to the Amorites who we defeated
after attacking us. Israel had even stopped short of taking land from the
Ammonites during this time (Num -24) vs 22. You have land—stick with thatvs 19-24. (3) Surrounding
nations have never questioned Israel’s right to the Amorite land including the king of Moab your neighbor vs 25. (4)
Israel lived in this territory 300 years and you have
never disputed this right before vs 26. (5)
Conclusion: 1. He denied any wrongdoing. 2. He made clear they were in the
wrong. 3. The Lord will make judgment about thisvs 27. Naturally, the Ammonites rejected this reasoning withoutany kind of a
reasonable answer to it. It is the way people respond when they want to do what
they are doing even if it does not make logical sense. It’s like negotiating
with a Muslim extremist terrorist. It may be the right thing to do but that
does not mean it will work or reasoning with someone who is having an extra
VOWS ARE UNWISE BECAUSE YOU CANNOT
CONTROL FUTURE CIRCUMSTANCES
A vow is made: We have the only direct statement of God’s
intervention in this whole campaign in vs 29. He
makes a vowvs 30-31 and he
did it after the Spirit of God came upon him. OT leaders received HS for
purpose of accomplishing service for God—not specifically for holy living as
indwelling today. So presence of the Spirit not related to the vow or its
fulfillment. He says if God gives him victory whatever comes out of his door at
house or tent in Mizpah, he will give to God.
Battle Ensues: With negotiations broken down, armed conflict ensued 32-34. Jeph crossed into
Ammonite territory destroying 20 cities with a tremendous defeat humiliating
them. Returning home, his only daughter came out jubilant and celebrating his
victory vs 34. The writer wants us to know that she
was his only child. He was devastated but committed to keeping his vow to God vs 35. She was willing to fulfill this vow and had no
relations with a man—meaning he had no posterity—no descendents. Why make such
a stupid vow if you only have one child who is likely to come out of that door?
He had pagan background as half-Canaanite and they practiced child-sacrifice so
is possible. However;
Mosaic Law prohibits human sacrifice (Lev ; 20:2-5; Deut ; ). (2)
Sacrifices had to be carried out at tabernacle by Levite Priest who because of
the Law could not do this. (3) Human sacrifice unheard of in Israel until reign of Ahab (2 Kgs
16 & 21). (4) Seems this would be out of step with Jeph’s
dedication to God. (5) Vs 37 & 39 sound like her sacrifice was to remain a
virgin and this is what she was mourning not death. Burnt offering figure for
sacrifice to God in this case daughters virginity.
Jesus says do not make vows to God. It is evil to do so Mt 5:33-37.
Vows are evil because you cannot control future circumstances making them
subject to chance and the unknown and your unable to
Vows can be an indication of spiritual weakness where you are unwilling to
accept a situation with faith in God.
Living our lives in a fallen and cursed world makes it unwise to live from vow
to vow instead of trust in God who works thru our situations.