January 14, 2021
Rev. Daniel Poon
This chapter talks about how the son of a prostitute turned a life of failure into a life of victory.
1. V1-3, Set Apart as Holy
Jephthah’s mother was a prostitute, so he was not accepted by the society at the time. But the Bible says from the beginning of this chapter that he “was a mighty man of valour”. How do we see ourselves? Do we see us as failure, or see us through the eyes of God? To be set apart as holy is to start by seeing oneself through the eyes of God, unlike Adam and Eve who just felt ashamed after sinning. We should be living under the breath of the tree of life, looking at ourselves through the eyes of God. Jephthah is a mighty warrior in the eyes of God, can we also see ourselves from the eyes of God rather than the eyes of the world?
When Jephthah was persecuted by his brothers, he did not respond with flesh and blood, but fled from them. A man of God can always attract people to follow them. Jephthah was like David in this matter. In the process of escaping from persecution, some worthless men—the people that the world despised—came to follow Jephthah. When we can see ourselves through God’s eyes, can we also see people around us like this? Do we have compassion for people, like how Jephthah saw those “worthless men” that the world found useless as having potential? Jephthah’s name means “he opens the way.” We can see from his life who was opening the way for him.
A man of God does not see himself from the eyes of the world, he sees himself with the eyes of God, and he is set apart as holy.
2. V4-11, Commit to God in Everything
The previous judges were all raised up by the LORD. However, in Chapter 10 verses 13-14, God said that he would no longer save Israel. In this chapter, we see that God has always been with us and has not abandoned us. So we see that although God has not raised up leaders for us, we are not sitting here doing nothing, we still need to seek God. How did the elders of Gideon find Jephthah? Why did these elders look for the child born to a prostitute? I believe it was because they had been seeking God. If not, from a human point of view, they would not look for a child born to a prostitute. This child magnified the Lord. When those people who looked down on him in the past, especially the elders who were highly respected, came to him to ask him to be a leader, he could have agreed immediately, but he did not.
V9, Jephthah was willing to exalt God in front of people. He humbled himself and asked, Does God really allow me to be your leader? Does God really hand the Ammonites into my hands? Because he exalted God, the elders were also willing to recognise God. Do we commit ourselves to God in everything, believe Him and humble ourselves in everything?
3. V12-33, Trust in the Lord in Battles
Jephthah is not a person of flesh and blood, but one who understood God’s heart. The Ammonites were the descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, so the Israelites did not fight directly against the Ammonites, only to draw a line with them and not to have disputes with them. Although Jephthah faced the attack from the Ammonites, he remained calm and told them the truth.
The king of the Ammonites wrongly accused the Israelites of occupying their land, and this answer did not arouse Jephthah’s anger. The mighty warriors of the kingdom of God are not only physically strong, but also brave, resourceful, and wise. Jephthah replied, “May the LORD… render judgment…” (v27). Here he exalted the Lord. When facing battles, are we willing to trust God and exalt the Lord before our enemy?
V28-33, Jephthah had no duplicity, but sincerely asked God to judge. So the Spirit of God came upon him, and God delivered his enemies to him to subdue the Ammonites. The victory of a battle is always the Lord’s, and not by people’s own strength.
4, V34-40, Walk in the truth
V34, Jephthah saw his only daughter coming out to greet him first. He had made a vow to God and he would fulfil it. One cannot break a vow to God, so he still dedicated his daughter to God (not to burn to death but let her serve God).
We see that Jephthah was set apart and he magnified God. However, when facing his daughter, he did not exalt God.
V35, this father was weeping in front of his only daughter, instead of thinking that it is very glorious to give his daughter to God. In contrast, Hannah, who was infertile, asked God for children, and God gave her Samuel the son. She then dedicated this son to God and did not cry. Jephthah made others feel that serving God is very bitter and pitiful. His daughter cried with her friends for two months because she had not been married in her entire life. However, what is wrong about not being married? Apostle Paul said that it is a wonderful thing for single ones to serve God wholeheartedly. Jephthah seemed to be a man of God and did not care about fame and wealth, but what he truly cared about was his daughter. Brothers and sisters, what do we care about in our life? Do we really think that serving God is good and a blessing? Jephthah did not think so, hence his daughter did not think it was good to serve God. What is the life we bring out, and do we make those under our authority see what it is like to follow God? Although Jephthah was a mighty warrior, he was not willing to entrust all of it to God. He led the Israelites for only six years before he passed away. The Bible does not say that the Israelites had peace during those six years.
Let us offer up wholeheartedly so that our followers will see that it is blessed and joyful to serve God.
The way of God is higher than our way. Help us to be set apart, to review our calling, not to look at the environment and people, but to look only at the destiny and path God has given us. Pray for God’s mercy and kindness to fill us, see ourselves as mighty warriors, and see that the people around us have great potential. We give our hearts to God, see that there are many unprepared places in ourselves, so we ask God to help us make the things in our hands and hearts ready, and see that fighting for God is a beautiful thing. Let us lift to God again what we care about—marriage, family, and children, ask the Lord to prepare everyone, and to fight for us. May God’s wisdom cover us, in the end time, turn defeat into victory, and become mighty warriors who are courageous and wise. Give us not only the heart to serve but also the courage to serve.
士师记 11 – 反败为胜的生命