Summary: If Jephthah sacrificed his daughter... how did he end up in Hebrews 11 as one of the heroes of the faith? And if he didn't, why doesn't God tell us that?
OPEN: How many of you have ever been rejected? Me too.
Rejection can be hard experience for anyone, but it’s surprising to find that people we would consider famous have often been scorned by others.
• For example, have you ever heard of Harrison Ford? What movies has he been in? (Star Wars; Indiana Jones; and others). When he first started out, he was told by a number of movie executives that he didn't have what it took to be a star.
• Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star in 1919. His editor said, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
• Rudyard Kipling was the author of The Jungle Book, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and Captains Courageous and other books. He was fired from the San Francisco Examiner in 1889. He was told by an editor, that he didn't know how to use the English language.
• Winston Churchill repeatedly ran for office and was defeated every time he did so until he finally became the Prime Minister of England at the age of 62, just before WWII.
• Oprah Winfrey was fired from a job as a TV Reporter because they said she was “unfit for TV”.
• And the Beatles were rejected by several recording studio. One of those record labels famously said that “the Beatles have no future in show business”.
But my favorite story has to do with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. They were close friends and they were both fired from Universal Studios on the same day. Reynolds recalled:
“I was told I couldn't act, and Clint was told he walked too slow and his Adam's apple was too big. As we were walking to our cars, we were quiet. And finally I said, ‘You're in trouble Clint. I can take acting lessons, but you can't get a new Adam's apple.’”
Being rejected is no fun.
I've been there, I've done that and I burned the t-shirt.
It’s an insult to who we are.
I don’t like it!!!
The hero in our story today probably got hurt as badly as anybody could possibly be hurt.
His name is Jephthah.
From what I’m reading, it seems his daddy had been a prominent member of society.
The only problem was – his momma wasn't.
She was a prostitute.
When his father died, the other sons cut him out of the will and kicked him out of town. It literally says they “drove him away.”
In a single day he lost everything.
He’d lost his home, his family, and apparently he’d never had any respect.
Different people react to rejection in different ways.
• Some people just roll up in a ball and hide in the corner.
• Others take drugs or drown their sorrows down at the bar.
• Still others are like the people I told you about in the opening illustration. They dust themselves off, pick themselves up, and become overcomers.
But then, there’s other people, who are rejected by others, and turn to God for their comfort.
For example, there was a man named Albert Peace. Albert was a man in love. His fiancée was all he had ever wanted in a woman and they planned to soon be married. Then he discovered he was going blind. And the woman he had loved and hoped to share his life with walked out on him. She could not stand the possibility of living her life with a man whom she knew she’d need to take care of for the rest of her life.
Albert was shattered.
But in the midst of his tragedy, losing the love of the woman he’d have given his life for, he turned to the one whose love he knew he’d never lose.
He knew God would not reject him. And in those dark moments he wrote a poem that soon became the words to a famous hymn:
“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
For about 200 years, that song has brought comfort to 1000s of worshipers. Albert Peace turned to God in his sorrow. And I’m convinced that that’s exactly what Jephthah did.
Now, why do I think Jephthah turned to God in his time of struggle?
Well, because he seems to know his Bible pretty well.
When he was “elected” to lead the army of Israel into war against Ammon he first tries to negotiate with the Ammonites. He doesn't really want to go to war. People die in war, and he hopes to talk the enemy out of bloodshed. “Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question:
‘What do you have against us that you have attacked our country?’” (Judges 11:12)