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Bible Pathways 03/26/2004

March 26

Read Judges 10 -- 11

In Today's Reading:

Israel forsakes the Lord and worships idols; Israel oppressed by Ammonites for 18 years; Jephthah's daughter dedicated to God

After much suffering because they worshiped false gods (Judges 10:8), the children of Israel said to the LORD, We have sinned. . . . And they put away the strange (foreign) gods from among them, and served the LORD (10:15-16). And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead. . . . said to Jephthah (whom they had cast out of the community), Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon (11:5-6).

Jephthah held no bitter feelings for having been rejected, but prayed: If You shall without fail deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever comes forth of the doors of my house to meet me . . . shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burned offering (11:30-31). God arranged that Jephthah's daughter should be the first to meet him. Jephthah knew the Scriptures well and human sacrifices were condemned by God (Leviticus 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:29-31; 18:10-12). How could one imagine that this man of God would cut the throat of his daughter to offer her as a burned offering? To do that would have made God, as well as this man of faith, responsible for a vile murder, since it was the Spirit of the LORD who gave Jephthah his victory (Judges 11:29,32).

How he fulfilled his vow becomes clear as we consider all the facts. She was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter (11:34). The Lord had declared that all firstborn were to be "sanctified" — not sacrificed: It is Mine (Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:13). And his daughter's response to Jephthah's vow made the outcome unmistakably clear. She asked for two months to go up and down the mountains to bewail (lament) my virginity (Judges 11:37) — meaning to "bewail that I will never marry." Undoubtedly, dedicated to lifelong chastity, she became one of the servants of God in the Tabernacle.

God highly honored Jephthah as one of the heroes of faith, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises (Hebrews 11:32-33).

Word Studies:

11:3 vain men = worthless renegades; 11:37 fellows = female virgin companions; 11:40 lament = commemorate.

Christ Portrayed:

By Jephthah's only child as she wholly submitted to her father's will (Judges 11:34-40) even as Jesus wholly submitted to His Father's will. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus prayed: Not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26:39).

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Justice Sandra O'Connor, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA), and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (RI) · Country: St. Lucia (154,000) in the eastern Caribbean · Major languages: English and French patois · Religious freedom · 83% Roman Catholic; 13% Protestant; 2% spirit worship · Prayer Suggestion: Read, study, and listen to the Word of God so that your prayers will be answered (Proverbs 28:9).

Optional Reading: John 17

Memory Verse for the Week: John 3:17

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