Day 12

Jephthah’s Vow and Sacrifice

from the reading plan

Judges 11:1-40, Psalm 51:1-19, Matthew 5:34-37

Our past plays a major role in our present. However, our past doesn’t always impact our lives for our good. We all carry baggage from soured relationships that negatively affect how we relate to people today. Our past can haunt us, whether it’s things that we’ve done, or—more often than not—things that have been done to us.

That is the case with Jephthah. When he was younger, his own family abandoned him (Judges 11:2–3). The very people that should have been trustworthy and faithful to support and protect him stripped him of his familial rights and discarded him like garbage.

Since he was abandoned before, I wonder if Jephthah struggled to trust that his God would be there for him when he needed it most. Like so many of us, although he presented himself publicly as one who is confident in the faithfulness of the Lord (v.27), maybe privately he was not so certain. And so he offers the Lord a bribe that he disguised as a vow. But what makes this story so disheartening is that even before uttering a single word of his vow, the Lord had already given the man everything he needed, for the Spirit had already come to him (Judges 11:29).

This is a reminder to me that sin has a way of begetting more sin. The cycle of sin is real and its consequences are often levied on the innocent most of all. Unfortunately, we are helpless participants in that cycle. None of us, not you or me or Jephthah, can fully undo the damage of sin.

But Jesus has done what we could not. He can heal and repair what sin has done to us. His free gift of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation destroys the power that sin has over us. In Christ, we are freed from our past, and His sacrifice serves as an eternal reminder that our God will never abandon us. Jesus has answered David’s prayer, “according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion (Psalm 51:1).

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