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Published / updated: 01 July 2009 | Author: Dele Oke

Who was Jephthah?

Read Judges 11
Jephthah was a Judge in Israel during the time when there were no kings. This was the period between the death of Joshua (The man who led Israel into the promised land of Canaan) and King Saul (The first King of Israel).

Jephthah was anointed by God to deliver the Israel from the oppression of the people of Ammonites. He was the son of a harlot. Driven out by his other brothers, who were legitimate sons, he was despised and rejected. He became a leader of out casts and by doing so acquired leadership skills.

These skills and God's favour caused the Israelites to call upon him in their time of trouble. He was summoned by the rest of Israel to come and deliver them from the bondage of the people of Ammon. Hence Jephthah became an unlikely leader.

A rash vow

Judges 11:29 33 summaries the story of Jephthah quite neatly.

29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, "If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering."

32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 33 And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith--twenty cities--and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. NKJV

Jephthah is known for his rash vow. The story goes on to record his victorious return from battle only to be met by his daughter. She comes out of his house to meet him. Jephthah sees no other way but to honour his vow. He actually offers her up as a burnt sacrifice!

An abomination to God

God's law is quite clear on God's views on offering people as sacrifices. Let's refresh our memory by reading Deuteronomy 12: 28 ? 32.

29 "When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' 31 "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. NKJV

Human sacrifice was never part of God?s will or purpose for any of mankind. This demonic practice was one the pagans and Canaanites were accustomed to. Unfortunately the people of Israel often followed the same example. Below are a few references to the barbaric act.

2 Kings 3:26-27
26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him seven hundred men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom, but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son who would have reigned in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering upon the wall; and there was great indignation against Israel. So they departed from him and returned to their own land. NKJV

2 Kings 16:1-4
16:1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. NKJV

Jeremiah 7:30-31
30 "For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight," says the LORD. "They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. 31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart. NKJV

21st century Christians

Is it possible that Christians today could make the same blunder as Jephthah?

Definitely not do I hear you shout!

Then think again.

It is unlikely that any God fearing person would offer their own child as a sacrifice to any deities. But remember that the ignorance of Jephthah was not transparent in those days. Only a close look at scripture reveals the abomination he unknowingly committed.

This was despite the fact that God's anointing was on his life (Judges 11:29). Then so were Abraham and David anointed men of God and they both had more than one wife.

Does this sanction polygamy?

Of course not. God?s desire for marriage has never changed since Genesis 2:24

The anointing has never been a sign of maturity or godly wisdom.

God?s anointing on our life is a sign of His calling, grace and blessing. The anointing is not a reflection of our maturity or depth of character. The latter two come from the time we spend with the Word, the Holy Spirit and learning from fellow Christians.

We Christians of the 21st century often seem to forget this truth.

Sincerely wrong and misled

We can be filled with the anointing of God yet devoid of the knowledge of His will. This is the situation that Jephthah found himself in.

Let me try and explain this in context of today.

How many godly men neglect their families and even go as far as abusing their wives (in deeds and words) only to step out into the church and act as ?beacons of righteousness?.

How many men have abused the authority and trust given to them in the workplace and church, skilfully eliminating all voices of correction, hurting and destroying anyone along the way who disagrees with their faulted attitude. Yet the anointing of God still seems to be present in their life hence they conclude all is well.

How many of us as Christians partake in backbiting and character assassination in the workplace and home, yet turn up in church or Christian fellowship the next week only to give accurate prophecies, hence we conclude all is well.

Unless we take a step back and consider our actions and motives in the light of God's word we may end up ?sacrificing our daughters? on a burnt offering and think we are doing God a service.

Is there anything in your life that needs to be sorted out?