Summary: We all make dumb mistakes. Jephthah certainly did when he made a vow to the Lord that could affect someone else. That someone was his daughter. This sermon looks at the story as it lifts Jephthah’s daughter up as a woman of grace and faith.
How many of us have ever done something that was really dumb.
How many of us have promised something that we can’t fulfill
Or we have put our foot in our mouth.
This morning we are going to continue our series on women in the Bible by looking at a woman who has no name
We know her as Jephthah’s daughter.
And besides our passage for today, we really don’t know much more about her.
Her dad, Jephthah, did something totally stupid, I mean it was extremely dumb
And in the face of her dad’s mistake, she showed complete grace and faith
Every time I read this story about Jephthah’s daughter, my heart goes out to this faithful woman.
Well, let’s step back and see what’s going on.
During this time in Israel’s history, Israel was without a king.
Joshua had died and Israel was at war with the Canaanites.
For the next several generations, the nation of Israel faced a roller coaster of obedience and disobedience to God.
When Israel was disobedient, God would punish the people.
They would then cry out for help from God.
God would send a judge (or someone who would dispenses justice, punishing the evil-doer and vindicating the righteous while offering wisdom. )
The judge would lead Israel for some time, then die and Israel would go right back to sinning.
God would punish them, they would cry out for help form God, and then God would send another Judge.
Jephtah was one of those judges that God sent to help Israel
His father was Gilead and his mother was a prostitute
And after Gilead’s other sons grew up, they drove Jephtah away b/c he was a son of another woman, not their mother’s son (especially since Jephthah’s mom was a prostitute)
Jephtah was a child of shame and thus he was rejected by his family and his community.
Well, once again, Israel gets in trouble for sinning and the Ammonites where coming in to destroy them
Israel had no leaders at the time, so they approached Jephtah to lead them since he was such a good warrior.
After sometime and feeling the need to be accepted, not rejected, Jephthah agrees.
During the battle, Jephthah makes a vow to God that whatever comes out of his house went he returns, he will sacrifice it to God.
Now, I’m not sure what Jephtah thought was going to come out of the house, but his own daughter came out when he returned.
And as he sees her emerge, he is reminded of the vow, and the grief settles in.
In responses to her father, here is what she said ““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. 37 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.”
There’s a lot of debate over whether Jephtah killed his daughter or he used the alternative option of sending her to serve in the temple, never to have children.
The Mosaic Laws forbid human sacrifices and God would probably not be happy that she was killed.
Deuteronomy 12.31 says “You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
Unfortunately, even though scripture prohibits human sacrifice, Jephtah most likely killed his daughter
Scripture says “He did to her as he had vowed.”
The consequences of this vow meant that Jephthah would
1- lose his only daughter
2- never have descendants
Jephthah’s daughter is a woman who needs to be remembered
She didn’t argue with her father, but encouraged him to fulfill his vow to the Lord
And when given the chance, she didn’t run away, but returned to face the vow.
M Nicholson writes “Think of her, that child of an outcast — brought up in a heathen land and in a camp — think of her, how pure, how unworldly, how unselfish, how noble in spirit! Think of her patriotism, think of her self-sacrifice, that you may abhor all that is mean and selfish, and worldly and untruthful; and that you may cease to grudge the sacrifices your Father in heaven requires in love and wisdom, and for your own deliverance and safety.” (M Nicholson, Biblical Illustrator)
Our passage of this faithful woman leaves us with these thoughts.
We need to be careful what we ask of God and be careful of what we promise to God.
Jephthah should have never made the promises that he did.