It hurts to suffer as a result of past mistakes. But it’s worse when you are suffering for something you knew nothing about. Jephthah went through a tough time because of his mother’s lifestyle. His mum was a prostitute and in the land of Israel then people like her were not the ones others would want to befriend. I can imagine Jephthah growing up with no friends because of the stigma associated with his family. Other mum’s would have lectured their kids on why it was important to stay away from him. There must have been side talks and fingers pointing at him as he played outside.
Well it’s easy to overlook the hate from outsiders but the one from your family hurts very deep. Family meetings wouldn’t have been a nice time for Jephthah. His half brothers hated him so much so that they told him he wasn’t going to get an inheritance from his dad. They didn’t just chase him away from the house, they chased him away from the land. Basically he was banished. All as a result of something he didn’t commit (Judges 11:2).
Before telling us about his family circumstances, he is first of all introduced to us as a great warrior (Judges 11:1).
So glad that God sees the best in us! When man describes us by our weaknesses, God focuses on our strengths
When we surrender totally to God, He uses the whole of us including the not so good experiences for His glory. It’s only God that can birth a ministry out of our misery. Stop trying to prove your innocence to others. Many won’t believe you anyway. Focus on God and on yielding to His will and purpose and watch Him use that bitter experience into a testimony that will point others to Him.
He went ahead to be a great warrior despite the flaws from the womb he came from.
How we started isn’t really what matters. What matters most is how we end.
What are you doing with your today? Yes your dad wasn’t really there for you. You couldn’t afford to go to school. Maybe your family was the poorest in the land. I sympathise with you. However you really don’t want to spend the rest of your life watching others telling you sorry. Everything you need to succeed is on the inside of you. Quit the complaining. Gather the fragment of your life and make something out of it. The widow in 2 kings 4 said she had nothing. But God never leaves us with nothing. As Elijah revealed this mystery to her, it turned out that the little oil she was left with was all that she really needed.
Jephthah didn’t live at the mercy of his brothers. He went on with life. Yes a mistake was made yesterday. But it’s time to learn lessons from that and move on.
Faith would have made him opt for a better life. He must have believed in a God who was bigger than the mistake of his mother. A God who was bigger than the situation surrounding his birth. A God who specialises at making everything work out for the good of those who love Him. He sure had faith in God!
As life would have it, the Israelites were being attacked by the Ammonites. And then the elders remembered Jephthah. When God wants to favour someone, He can do anything just to make this happen. If the Israelites were living in peace, no one would have remembered Jephthah. But the all knowing God who is wisdom personified stirred the atmosphere and made a way for Jephthah to be remembered.
The elders sort for him and he came. Huh I don’t know about you but I would have told their messenger to tell them to go rot in hell. I would have told them to go fight themselves and I would have changed my nationality so I don’t have to deal with them ever again. Well if that is too harsh, I would have told them I was coming and they wouldn’t have seen me. These are the kind of people I put in the ‘love from afar zone’.
Well Jephthah didn’t act the way I could have acted. He forgave them. When he met them, they told him to come and help fight the Ammonites. They gave him a bargain saying that they will make him a ruler over all the people of Gilead if he led them. Interestingly they didn’t say they will make him a ruler if he won because they already knew that he was going to win. However Jephthah rephrased their statement and replaced his name with ‘The Lord’. (Judges 11:6-9).
Wow! Not only did he have faith in God, He was humble. He ensured he made them know that he had no ability of his own to win the fight. He redirected the attention of the people to God. He wasn’t going to share God’s glory.
In his dialogue with the king of Ammon, he made him realise that the land the children of Israel were living on (which was the reason for the dispute) was given to them by God. He also pointed out to the king how powerless his god was by telling him to keep whatever his god gave him (verses 23-24).
He didn’t allow his title make him proud. This is a very big lesson for us. There is nothing we have or have achieved that wasn’t given to us by God. Never assume that you are very well skilled in that profession or ministry that you don’t acknowledge God as your source. I’m sure it took Jephthah quite some time to train to become a great warrior. He was still human regardless.
As he acknowledged God, the spirit of God came on him (verse 29). He went on to make a vow to God.
“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”” Judges 11:30-31 NLT
After winning the fight, he faced a test. The kind I know I will honestly fail. As he was coming back from battle, the first person to meet him was his one and only child. Can you imagine how he must have felt? This should have been a joyful time for him and his family but it turned into a time of sorrow. He told his daughter that he had made a vow to God and his daughter told him to go ahead and fulfil the vow he made to God. This goes to show that not only did he fear God, He also made God known to his family. They had a deep reverential fear for God. And to cut this long story short, he sacrificed his daughter unto God. He passed his test. He knew that God gave him his daughter as a gift. He didn’t allow the blessing God gave him to become an idol and a reason to break the vow he made to God. How amazing is this!
His faith, humility, forgiveness and obedience to God gave him a place in Hebrews 11. I find his story very challenging. If he isn’t referred to as a hero, then i wonder who? He was a hero indeed! To know that he is bearing witness to my faith walk (Hebrews 12:1) challenges me to do better.
And so my decisions based on this study are;
- Not to allow life circumstances stop me from becoming that which God has called me to be
- To always remember that my life is orchestrated by God and trust His leading
- Never to rely on my strength
- Always return every glory to God
I am sure you must have learnt something from this. If so, please let me know in the comment section below.
I have created a separate category for this series. Please click on it to read about Samson, Barak, Gideon, Rahab, Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham and Sarah, Noah, Enoch and Abel.
See you next time as we look at another hero of faith – David; who was a man after God’s heart.
God bless you!