And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
So let’s just pause there. What Jephthah just did was wrong. You don’t make deals with God. You obey God and trust God, period. You don’t say, “If you do this, I’ll do that.” So this was not right before God. We must guard in our own lives against this tendency to say, “Well, God, if you do this, I’ll do this.” That’s not a heart of trust in God, of love for God, of obedience to God no matter what.
Sin warps our minds that we do one thing wrong and that leads to another and another.
So there are examples of this in Judges. Think about Gideon. So many times people say, “Well, I’m going to put out a fleece and I’m going to ask God, if he wants me to do this, do that.” These are not examples for us to follow in this way. We don’t bargain with God. We don’t cut deals with God. We obey God. We trust God. We love God with all our hearts. We do whatever he says without question. So that’s the first thing, Jephthah the did wrong. But now verse 34. So he had just said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, when I return, then whatever comes out of my house, I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
So verse 34 says, then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child. Besides her, he hadn’t either son nor daughter. The rest of the chapter goes on to describe how Jephthah did what he had said he would do. He offered up his own daughter for a burnt offering, which was obviously sin and evil. Someone might say, “Well, that’s what he said he would do. He was just keeping his word.” One evil act doesn’t justify a second evil act. We don’t think, “Well, I promise to do something evil. So I’m going to do it.”
This is the way sin works. It so warps our minds that we do one thing wrong and that leads to another and another and another. This case, horrible, heinous, unimaginable things as he takes his own daughter’s life. So here we see in Judges yet again a picture of the spiral of sin and the danger of sin in each of our lives. So we pray, God help us to obey you wholly today. In each of our lives, in the way we think and what we desire and what we say, what we do, God help us to follow you wholeheartedly, to trust you completely with our lives. God keep us from any tendency in us to bargain with you, to even think about trying to cut a deal with you. God help us, forgive us for even thinking that way sometimes. God help us to trust you. You are so good to us. You are loving to us. Your ways are better than our ways. Your thoughts are better than our thoughts.
So God help us to trust you, help us to obey you, to follow you. God, if we sin in some way, which we pray that you would keep us from it, but God, we pray that you would help us to be quick to repent, to confess that sin, to receive your grace and run from it, not let it lead us into more and more and more sin, into a spiral of sin just like we see all over the book of Judges that leads your people to places they couldn’t have imagined before that as we read it can imagine people getting there, doing this or that.
But God we know this is how sin works. So help us to run from it in our lives in every way, help us to run from sin today, tomorrow in our lives and to trust you and your word to us, your love for us. Deliver us, save us from ourselves and our tendencies to sin daily, we pray. In Jesus, we praise you as the victor over sin who lives in us, whose spirit is in us, who enables us to walk in obedience to you. So keep us in step with your spirit. We pray according to Judges chapter 11 in Jesus’ name. Amen.
View the 2021 McLean Bible Church Reading Plan.