Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday, 11 September 2015, Judges 11-12; John 4:31-54 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 11-12; John 4:31-54

Despite his outcast status, Jephthah is selected to lead the Israelite armies against the Ammonites. He argues that Israel has proper claim to the lands east of the Jordon after living there three centuries. God’s people today, too, have a homeland that the Lord has appointed: the promised land of the new creation. Christians may appear an unimportant minority on earth, with no particular claim to power, and losing influence as society becomes more and more secular. Yet God still guides the affairs of the world in the interest of His people. Jephthah’s carefully crafted speech and military victory over the Ammonites are overshadowed by his rash vow to sacrifice the first thing that comes out to him from is doorway-which turns out to be his only child. Because she requests two months to mourn her virginity rather than her death, it’s possible that she was to be offered or dedicated to perpetual service at the tabernacle, such that she could not marry. Jewish commentators, first-century historian Flavius Josephus, and Christian Church Fathers believed that Jephthah did indeed offer his daughter as a burnt offering. In other biblical texts, there were methods of substitution (e.g. the Lord accepted a ram for Isaac). The firstborn of every womb, spared by the Lord when He passed over Israelite homes in Egypt, belonged to the Lord but could be redeemed by the Levites, who were assigned to lifetime service. Either way, this serves as an excellent example why we shouldn’t make rash vows in the Lord’s name.

The tribe of Benjamin, in its pride and jealousy, is angry at not participating in the glory of Jephthah’s victory and threatens to kill the Gileadites. Instead, identifying their enemies by their regional dialect, the Gileadites defeat Ephraim, killing 42,000 of their fellow Israelites. God uses Jephthah, a sinner, to deliver His people. God’s grace to and through Jephthah may remind us of the deliverance He provides for us through Christ.

In our Gospel reading Jesus graciously reaches out to a Samaritan woman, leads her to recognize Him as the Messiah, and through her brings other Samaritans to receive His life-giving blessings. Christians sometimes allow social and cultural barriers to hinder their witness to Christ and His love for all people. Just as Christ forgave the woman her past and present sins, He now freely offers His forgiving love to us and calls us to spread this Good News.

The official, whose dying son Jesus heals in Galilee, comes to a genuine faith in Him before the sign, the wonder, is done. Unlike this official, many today will not believe God’s Word unless they are first shown demonstrative proofs. Despite such unbelief, the Lord still calls them to faith so He may forgive and bear their burdens.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Judges 13-15; John 5:1-24


Nathan Reimer said...

I too was blown away by Jephthah's vow to sacrifice whatever walked through the door as he returned, of course it turns out to be his only child is the one who walks through. You can almost see something like this happening ahead of time. This is another reminder to watch what we say.

TammyIsBlessed said...

We consistently teach our kids (and need to remind ourselves) to think before we speak - likely no other Bible narrative backs that teaching up more than this one!

How often do our careless words hurt those around us?

Conrad said...

We should be slow to speak and when we do, we should think first. However, Jephthah did follow through on his vow.

Pamela said...

you have to wonder what he thought would come through the door?! I'm not sure I could have gone through it...

I thought it was interesting that so many came to know Jesus by the testimony of the Samaritan woman.
You would almost think her reputation would not have supported her words and that people could have easily dismissed her.