The people of Israel are again (still) doing evil in the eyes of the Lord (Judges 10:6), so God lifted his hand of protection and permitted the Philistines to torment them. Israel cried for help, and God responds, “Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you” (Judges 10:14). But the people cried louder and God relented and raised a leader and Judges 11 is beautiful grace.
His name was Jephthah and he was born of a prostitute, but lived with his dad and his dad’s wife and their legitimate sons. A constant reminder that his father strayed, when Jephthah was old enough to leave, he did. He collected worthless fellows as companions and formed a mob, a mob that could fight, and Israel needed fighters. How Jephthah developed a deep faith in God isn’t recorded, but he spoke of his Lord more than anyone else in Judges. He was a mix of street smarts, worldly manners, and impassioned faith. God chose Jephthah to lead Israel.
He made mistakes, one in particular. He vowed to God, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return shall be the Lord’s, I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” His daughter was first out the door to greet him. His vow was foolish, even wicked, pagan, and ungodly; but that was the way of the world he knew. If you want the help of the gods, make big promises. The Bible records life as it happens, unvarnished. It records that Jephthah “did with her according to his vow that he had made” (Judges 11:39). The Bible is a rough read.
A guest interviewed on “The Tonight Show” said, “I don’t know anybody who could read the Bible and still want to be a religious person. It is a book filled with immorality, wickedness, and then just plain silliness.” Yes, it is. It is raw humanity in need of God’s strength and guidance, which to me makes it eminently readable. Three millennia later, I live in a world that is every bit as immoral, wicked, and silly. I need God, the kind of God who will work with a guy like Jephthah.
My Lord, You show me your love in grace. I do not deserve it, I do not even desire it, and I certainly do not seek it. And then You die for me anyway. You take my sins on Yourself, you pay the price of justification, and You share Your righteousness with me. You adopt me as Your child, teach me Your ways, and give me Your strength.
How can I possibly not love You? I love because You first loved me.