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Friday, September 2, 2011

Bad boys, Bad boys.... or Commitments in the hour of desperation (5)

Let’s really examine what Jepthah has really said, and try to make some sense of it as we look for the application for ourselves.

“Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” (Verses 30-1).

Do you see a problem brewing here? Someone with some common sense should have given him a Jethro Gibbs smack in the back of the head and said, “How can you be so blinded by your own foolish arrogance, what would you expect to come out of your house?”

Text: Judges 11:1-12:7

What’s the first bit of fooloshness?

Remember that back in verse 9, Jephthah has already given the Lord credit in advance for any victory he might win. So, it is assumed that before he goes to battle, he will be going in the name of the Lord God of Israel.

Also keep in mind that Jephthah had already given the king of the Ammonites an Israeli history lesson and an opportunity to back away from this situation. This tells us that he knows his history. He knew about the exodus from Egypt. He knew a great deal about Israel’s victories in taking and keeping the land. He also knew that Gideon defeated the hoards of Midian with only 300 men just about 95 years earlier. And, he knows that all that this was the hand of the Lord.

Nevertheless, Mr. ‘I want everything in writing’ Jephthah says, “If Thou wilt indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand…” I will do / give something in return.

He presumes to cut a deal with God. If You do this, then I will give You something in return; but only if You do this thing the way I need to have it done..

Despite what we know about Jephthah and his faith, this is a clear demonstration of faithlessness. Who is he that he should cast doubts as to God’s power and promises?

It is the most arrogant of presumptions that God would need anything we might possess, in return for His help and blessing.

For instance, can you picture yourself saying, “Oh, Lord, I’m going in for this job interview, and if you help me get it I will tithe and give offerings for missions and to help the poor and needy”. I don’t understand where the “IF” comes in. Is that not our human obligation? To help each other, as we express our gratitude that we are not be among those groups, at least not today. Didn’t Christ say something about how we treat “the least of these?”

“Oh, Lord, if you help me (or my loved one) win this battle with this disease or this malady I will strive to serve you better in the church and in my life.” I think the Lord would ask us, well, how might you still be of service to others in this life, even in the midst of your trial?

There is no place in the Bible that says we should give our praise, worship and thanks, only when everything is going right, only when it is convenient or comfortable, or only after you have been delivered you from all your trials. But once again, I digress...

The point is that Jephthah should not have offered God any frivolous vows in exchange for His help.

Who exactly is this God you serve? Is it the “slot-machine” god of prosperity gospel? If I tithe, act correctly, stop cursing, stop drinking, stop beating my family, find a job, survive this illness, _____________ (fill in)….If I do the right thing or get what I want, I will serve God and others better. Trust me…you won’t. And if you do, it will only be until the next time you need crisis or chaos intervention.

Do you try to make bargains with God?

Jephthah has offered this pact out of his faithlessness in and to God. But we are also here to talk about our everyday lives, and learning to be leaders.

Do you demonstrate sufficient faith in family members and co-workers?

Or are you micro-manager?

Do you help others, only to get?

Do you hold other hostage in return for favors, promotion or other benefit?

Or do you help others because it is the?

Let us examine ourselves boys and girls...


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