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Jephthah was a mighty warrior amongst God’s Family. But because he had a different mom than the rest of his brothers, they didn’t like him and kicked him out of his home. So Jephthah had to live out in the wilderness.
Later those brothers and all God’s Family had some trouble with their enemies. The enemies wanted to take back some of the Promised Land from God’s Family. So the leaders of the Family went and found Jephthah in the desert.
“Uh, Jephthah, we know you are really good at fighting. Could you come lead us against these enemies who want to take our land?”
“Seriously?” said Jephthah. “You hated me and chased me away so that I’d have to live in the wilderness. And now you’re asking me to come fight your battle for you? If I come back to help you, and the Lord helps me defeat these enemies, will you really let me lead you?” The men promised they would let him lead and would listen to him.
Jephthah returned with the men and asked the enemies, “What’s your problem? Why do you want to fight?”
“We want our land back. You guys took it from us,” the enemies answered.
Jephthah boldly replied. “Uh, excuse me. That’s not what happened. We actually didn’t take any land from you. You weren’t even involved. When the Amorites wouldn’t let us pass through, they fought us. We fought back and God helped us beat them. So if our God helped take this land from them, does that mean you should be able to have it all of a sudden? You can have whatever land your false god gives you. But we are going to keep what our God gave us — THIS LAND. We’ve been living here for 300 years. Why haven’t you done anything about it before now? Get over it. It’s not our fault that you started this war. God will decide between us today who He wants to have the land.”
But the Ammonites paid no attention and attacked.
God’s Spirit came upon Jephthah and he started gaining, gaining, gaining ground on the enemy. Jephthah wasn’t just waiting for them to keep coming toward him, he was goin’ hard after them.
In the middle of all the excitement and hard work and emotions of the fighting, Jephthah made a vow as he called out to God for help, “God, if You will help me win over these enemies, then when I get back home after the battle, then the first thing to come out my front door will belong to You. I will sacrifice it as an offering to You.”
As Jephthah advanced, advanced, advanced, God helped him win over all those enemies. So after that, the Ammonite enemies stopped bothering God’s Family.
Jephthah was so happy to have helped God’s Family win the victory. But he was also glad to be going home. As Jephthah neared his house he remembered the vow he had made to God about sacrificing to God the first thing that came out of his front door.
I’m not really sure what he expected to come out that door… maybe a lamb or a goat or a chicken or a dog. I don’t know. But his only child, his lovely daughter, is what came out the door. She came out dancing and singing for him as he approached the house.
He tore his clothes in sadness as his daughter ran up to him. “My daughter! I’m so sad because I made a vow to God, and I can’t go back on it!”
Could it be Jephthah made a hasty promise to God without thinking it through? By how upset Jephthah was, we can know that he was not expecting his daughter to come out that door. Best I can guess maybe he had some animals that usually came in and out that door. So the question is… if he did make a hasty or not-thinking-it-through promise to God, does that mean he should just tell God, “Never mind God, I’m not going to give You what I said because that would just be too hard for me.”? No, Jephthah knew he couldn’t break that vow to God. And like Abraham with Isaac, Jephthah knew God could raise her from the dead if He wanted.
And besides that, God is not random. God knew who was going to come out that door next. Or He could have made something else come out that door first. So, He chose that sacrifice. Could it be, like Enoch, that God wanted that dear girl up with Him in Heaven?
Now I can’t tell you that I understand why all this happened this way. And the Bible doesn’t say a lot more about it. But, we do know that Jephthah is mentioned later in the Bible as someone who had GREAT FAITH. Could it be that his faith was that he could see with Heaven-Eyes that there was more to his daughter than just her soft skin, or her freckled face, or her dancing feet. That was all just her seen-world, made-for-earth body. Could it be that his faith was that he could see that real life was more than this temporary seen world? That there was a Forever World… a Forever Life, and that life was what really MATTERED.
Do you want to hear the really special thing? Jephthah’s daughter understood. When he told her about his vow to God, she said, “Daddy, if you promised God you would do this, then you need to do what you said you would do, because the Lord gave you your victory over your enemies. He kept His part of the deal, so you need to keep yours, Daddy.”
That sounds like she had Heaven-Eyes too, doesn’t it? So, while I don’t understand all of this story, one thing I do know is that anyone with a soft heart and Heaven-Seeing Eyes is Safe with God — with nothing to worry about or be afraid of.
Then Jephthah let his daughter go up into the mountains to be with her friends for a little awhile, but when she came back Jephthah kept his promise to God. Now Jephthah’s daughter would get to sing and dance in Heaven forever and ever… for her Father!
And after that, each year all of the ladies in God’s Family would take 4 days to remember this lovely Heaven-Eyes-Seeing girl.
And even thousands of years later, Jephthah is mentioned as a mighty warrior of faith.