Have you ever been in a desperate situation and you have begged and pleaded with God to give you victory or bring you out of something? Has your plea ever been coupled with a vow of your own?
"Lord, if you will do this for me or answer in this way, then I will do this ____________________________________."
You can fill the blank above with many promises. The question is: When God does answer those pleas, do we keep our end of the bargain? Do we even feel comfortable with what we promised? Do we think that God took our words seriously? Or do we just go on with life once the situation has been dissolved? We may think these questions are a bit odd, but truth is, we shouldn't make promises to God. He is God. He knows the deepest depths of our hearts and minds. He knows what our reactions to His answers and direction will be. Unfortunately, when we are truly seeking deliverance or really wanting a particular answer from God, we are quick to throw up a "I'll do this if you will just do that, God." Haven't we all done this at some point? I know I have.
Judges 11 and 12 tells us about Jephthah, a man who had to live out this very situation. Jephthah didn't have the best of beginnings, but God chose to use Him. God does that, you know. He uses those who feel the most unworthy. The ones who feel they may not have anything to offer. God uses His people no matter what their backgrounds, upbringings, accomplishments, successes or failures. He used Jephthah in this same way.
Jephthah was the son of Gilead and a prostitute. He didn't get to choose His parents, but God created and chose Jephthah for his family and for his time. God is the creator of life from the very moment of conception. No matter what the situation, no child is conceived without God's divine creation. Life is up to Him, not us, and for every life He creates- He has a plan and a purpose. Gilead had many legitimate sons with his wife, sadly as the sons grew they become hostile with Jephthah and they eventually ran him out of his homeland because of his mother. The brother's didn't want to share their inheritance with one who was not legitimate.
Jephthah was a great warrior and there came a time when trouble came upon Israel. The elders knew how great a warrior Jephthah was, so they sent for him to come and lead their army against the Ammonites. He wasn't quick to agree, so the elders began to bargain with him.
"'Because we need you,' the elders replied. ' If you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we will make you ruler over all the people of Gilead.' Jephthah said to the elders, 'Let me get this straight. If I come with you and if the Lord gives me victory over the Ammonites, will you really make me ruler over all the people?' 'The Lord is our witness,' the elders replied. 'We promise to do whatever you say.' So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him their ruler and commander of the army. At Mizpah, in the presence of the Lord, Jephthah repeated what he had said to the elders." ~ Judges 11:8-11
Jephthah went on to lead Israel's army and he summoned the King of Ammon with a message. The King of Ammon was angry that Israel stole his land, years before, and after Jephthah explained how Israel obtained the land, the king ignored the message and pursued battle with them. But the Lord chose Jephthah for such a time as this, and He would bring victory to His people.
"At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he led an army against the Ammonites." Judges 11:29
Before we move on, I want to point out the first portion of this verse. "At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." The Lord was with him. In complete control. Why is this important? Because of what is about to unfold. Jephthah is going to make a vow with the Lord and He will have to keep it. My question is: If God was with him, if the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, then why did he feel the need to make any vows at all? Was there a need for it? God was already in control of the battle.
"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.' So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave him victory. He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to an area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. 'Oh my daughter!' he cried out. 'You have completely destroyed me! You've brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.'" ~ Judges 11:30-35
Okay, let me be real for just a moment. What kind of vow was that?! "Whatever comes out of my house to meet me." What exactly did he expect to come out of his home? Did he actually think through his vow before speaking it? I don't know about you, but the only things that could come out of my home would be my husband and my children. How could such a promise be made?
The Lord did, indeed, give him victory, and as we see above, his daughter, his only child, came out to greet him. I can't imagine the sorrow he must of felt when he realized what he had done. Chapter 11 ends with Jephthah's daughter accepting her father's vow and asking for two months to mourn with friends up in the hills. Jephthah allowed her this time, and upon her return he kept his vow.
"When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah's daughter. " ~ Judges 11:39-40
God was leading Jephthah to battle and without thinking through the consequences Jephthah made a vow to the Lord that forever changed his life. He not only lost his daughter, he lost his future, his legacy. However, he did keep his vow to the Lord.
What can we take away from this story? I want to be more aware of what I flippantly promise to God just to get an answer to a prayer or a desperate situation. I also want to realize that if I choose to make a vow to the Lord, I must remember who I am talking to. I'm promising God, creator of all things, that I have something to give him. That's not a vow you break. That's not something you just lay aside when the crisis is over. We must take our conversations and relationship with the Lord serious. He loves us, He created us, and He gave His Son as a sacrifice for us. Don't take that lightly. He is the only Worthy One and He deserves our loyalty and faithfulness.
I also want to be more mindful of what I say. I want my words, whether they are to God or anyone else, to be trustworthy. I want to think before I speak. I want to be able to discern the possible consequences of what is coming out of my mouth and what I am promising or agreeing to. I tell my children repeatedly, that every decision we make comes with a consequence. A good decision comes with great consequences, but a bad decision comes with bad consequences and those consequences aren't just thrown upon us, but also to those around us whom we love. Let's make a commitment to watch our words. Let's be sure to think through something before speaking. Let's be mindful of what comes out of our mouths and the possibilities that may come with those words.
Father, thank you for loving me, for directing me, and for choosing me. I love you and I adore you. Lord, I don't always think through my words before speaking. Help me to be mindful of this and to be aware of the consequences of my words. Help me, Lord, to only speak what can be trusted. I love you, too, Lord. In the sweet name of Jesus, amen.
May God bless your reading, this coming week!
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. "
Hi! I'm Andrea, wife to my handsome hubby, homeschooling mama to my 5 amazing blessings (with one more on the way), and daughter of the King of kings. I am so glad you have stopped by my little piece of the web. My prayer is that the Lord will use this blog to encourage you in your personal, daily walk with Christ.