The Bible says in Judges 11:24-27, “Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess. And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time? Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.” The Ammonites had a major complaint against Israel and against Jephthah since Jephthah was the judge of Israel. According to the Ammonites, they wanted “their” land back. They were threatening war in order to get the land back. In the verses previous to these, Jephthah pointed out that the land they wanted was taken by Israel because Israel’s God had given them victory in battle. Jephthah knows that the Israelites serve false gods who have no power, and so Jephthah says in verse twenty-four, “Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess?” Whatever your god gives you is what you have. We have whatever our God gives us, and He has given us this land so we are keeping it. Jephthah was full of confidence, Jephthah was determined, and Jephthah was full of faith in the Lord. Basically, Jephthah warned them in verse twenty-five, “And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab?” You are no better than other kings that we defeated, and you will be doing the wrong thing if you attack us, and God will be on our side. And so Jephthah says in verse twenty-seven, “Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.”
The Bible says in Judges 11:28-31, “Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him. Then 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. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then 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.” Notice the first phrase of verse twenty-nine, “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.” In the Old Testament the Spirit of God came upon a few individuals, but in the New Testament the Spirit is given in this powerful way to every believer. What a tremendous difference between the Old and the New! What a blessing to live in the days of the New Testament when such a great capacity to serve God with effectiveness that only the Spirit can give. It was prophesied in the Old Testament that such a day would come. The prophet Joel is quoted in Acts 2:17-18 that says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God,I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” We are told in Romans 8:9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” And it says in Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” We get the Spirit as soon as we are saved through faith in Christ, and He never leaves us. Just make sure that you follow the leading of the Spirit. It says in Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And Christians are told in Ephesians 4:20, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
In Joshua 11:30-31 we are given the vow that Jephthah made. The vow shows how dedicated Jephthah was to the Lord. Jephthah recognized God’s blessings and benefits, and Jephthah wanted to do things to show his appreciation to God. And so the vow was simply Jephthah saying, if the Lord gives me another blessing that I am hoping for and praying for, then I am going to give back to Him. Believers should always look into the future and say, “What more can I do for the Lord in the days ahead?” Plan for serving the Lord in the future. Jephthah’s vow is given in verse thirty-one, “Then 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.” We will see that Jephthah fulfills his vow in a symbolic way, but not literally. Do what makes sense. God is not against logic and practicality.
The Bible says in Judges 11:32-35, “So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 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. And 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. 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.” Jephthah promised to offer in sacrifice to God the first thing that he saw when he returned from battle. That first thing was a person: his daughter. No, Jephthah did not burn her to death in a sacrifice. But he did keep his word from a symbolic standpoint. It was very important to Jephthah that he keep the word that he promised to the Lord. No person is any better than their word. In the course of life many people have told me that they are going to do a certain thing and then do not do it. Too bad that there are not more people like Jephthah.
The following verses tell us how Jephthah’s vow was fulfilled. Jephthah’s daughter was his only child. If she did not get married and have children, his lineage would cease, and he would have no descendants. The Bible says in Judges 11:36-40, “And 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. And 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 he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.” In verse eleven we see that Jephthah’s daughter was a spiritually minded young woman. She understood that it was important that her father be a man of his word, and that he be faithful to the Lord. She supported her father. Not only did Jephthah sacrifice her, but she sacrificed herself. The sacrifice was that she would never get married and never have children. She would never have her own life with a husband, but would stay in her father’s household. She accepted that as being God’s will for her. She is not the only one that God has guide to have a celibate life. Others have followed the Lord honestly, and that is where life led them, and thus that is where God led them: to not get married. Spiritual children are more important than the children of the flesh. Honoring a commitment to the Lord Jesus is more important than anything you will ever do in this life. Jesus said in Matthew 19:12, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” A eunuch is someone who does not get married.
The Bible says in Judges 12:1-6, “And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire. And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.” Verse one shows how arrogant and violent and ungrateful many of the children of Israel had already become at this time. Jephthah was the Judge of Israel. Jephthah had just defeated the enemy and saved all of them. And now they threaten to burn him with fire because he fought the battle without their help. But Jephthah does not back down. He points out in verse two that they had a chance to help in the battle and they would not do so. He had to go to war without them, but the Lord gave him the victory anyway. It turns out that the Ephraimites were messing with the wrong person. Jephthah and his men took control of key passages across the Jordan River, and they were able to recognize the Ephraimites by their pronunciation of the word “Shibboleth.” All in all, forty-two thousand Ephraimites died in the fighting. This was a civil war in Israel, but Jephthah won that war too. Be careful about entering into a quarrel, especially with someone that God has chosen. You just might lose. Jesus loves peace-makers, since there are not very many of them in this world. Therefore, God is not on the side of those who start trouble, but on the side of those who finish it. You are permitted to defend yourself but under the law, and in the will of God.
Copyright; 2020 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved