By Jacob Toman
How do you feel when someone lies to you? What emotions and reactions are stirred up within you the moment you realize you’ve been deceived?
In Judges 10-12 we see the life of Jephthah as one that is a picture of God’s relationship with his Old Testament people. Jephthah's life is full of conflict and he lived in an age of broken promises; similarly, God’s relationship with his people is marked by their broken promises and broken vows of love.
Read Judges 10:6-18...
Who are the characters (people) involved in this passage? (Hint, lots of “ites”)
In Judges 10:7 we’re told God became “angry”. What explanation is given for why God is angry? (Hint, see 10:11-14)
How does Israel respond to God’s critique of their life choices? (Hint, see 10:15)
What will the reward be for leading the attack against the Ammonites? (Hint, See 10:18)
Read Judges 11:1-11...
How is Jephthah and his family lineage described? (Hint, see 11:1-2)
How would you describe Jephthah’s relationship with his brothers?
What is the promise of the elders of Gilead to Jephthah? (Hint, see 11:8, 10)
Read Judges 11:12-28...
How does Jephthah address the Ammonite King?
What power does Jephthah appeal to in his message to the Ammonite king? (Hint, see 11:23-24)
Read Judges 11:29-40...
What are the terms of the vow Jephthah makes to God? (Hint, see 11:30-31)
One of the repeated themes throughout the story of Jephthah is that of faithfulness to vows. The people of Israel were unfaithful to their vows to the Lord by serving false gods (10:6). The father of Jephthah was unfaithful in his marriage to his wife (11:1). The brothers of Jephthah were unfaithful to their kin (11:2). The vow of the leaders of Gilead to make Jephthah ruler is questionable as seen by Jephthah’s initial concern of their insincerity (11:7).
The sad irony of the story of Jephthah is that there are many parties who break their vows and are dishonest, yet when it comes to the murder of his own daughter, Jephthah keeps his vow! Oh the tragedy! The one person who should have been unfaithful to his vow!
How does Jephthah's leadership of Israel end? (See 12:7)
Think today on the promises you’ve made. Are there promises you regret making? Are there promises you ought to keep but haven’t followed through? If you’re a believer in Christ Jesus, then trust in this promise from Jesus:
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
- Matthew 28:20b
Despite all the unkept promises, deceit, and broken vows in our own lives, our God is a faithful, promise keeping God who is with us and never forsakes us.