Let me just say this on the front end: I know the title is long! I couldn’t get around it, and in a few more lines, I’m certain you won’t care.
My current book choice for “pleasure reading” is by Rachel Held Evans and it’s called A Year of Biblical Womanhood (2012). She tried for one solid year to “take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible” (see back cover of book). I enjoy this book in small chunks and make time to mull it over —
Could I do it? Would I do it? Would I survive the crisis of faith the journey guarantees Thankfully though, I don’t have to answer for me. I can simply read.
And today I reached her December focus — obedience. Her goals were to call her husband “Master,” interview a polygamist and honor with ceremony the memory of women who died as victims of biblical misogny (practices that promoted hatred of women).
Yeah, I know. Heavy.
Well I got to her description of the ceremony and read about women I expected. The unnamed concubine from Judges 19 made the list and I was glad for that. If you look on this site you’ll find the series on the concubine. Next, she honored Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah caught between Sarah’s carnal solution and the divine wait for Isaac. She also honored Tamar, the princess and daughter of King David whose rape by her half brother Amnon left her “desolate and without a future” (p. 65).
But the other woman honored was a surprise and her story sent me on my own rabbit trail to bring a few thoughts to you. The other woman was Jephthah’s daughter. Read the account in Judges 11. Jephthah’s parents were Gilead and a prostitute. Gilead was married and his wife bore him sons, which excluded Jephthah from receiving an inheritance. When the sons were grown, they put Jephthah out.
Jephthah was a valiant warrior and a judge. After the separation from his brothers he moved away and a group of worthless men joined themselves to him. Later, in the time of war, Israel’s elders asked Jephthah to help them fight. He reminds them of their hatred and mistreatment. To right their wrong, they offer him headship over all Gilead if he fights. Jephthah agreed; he fought and brought victory and became their leader.
At a crucial point in the battle, Jephthah offered what God did not require. He made a foolish vow. He made a “deal” with God.
Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering. ~ Judges 11:30-31 NASB
His daughter was the first out of the door to celebrate his return. Jephthah just knew an animal would run out and there was his sacrifice (Evans, p. 63).
And this is why I titled this entry, Rejection with Promotion without Redemption Forces a Foolish Vow. There was no ram, like with Abraham and Isaac. There was no divine intervention. In our day we may say that no amount of prayer and consecration activity could change the event. Jephthah told his daughter about his vow, and she courageously agreed. her final request was to go to the mountains for two months to mourn with her friends.
How many of us still today claim we are processing out of deep rejection wounds? How many of us, with our wounded selves, are walking in various promotions — career, quality of life, ministry? And how much frustration do we secretly carry with the Father because He didn’t come through and rescue us from foolish vows? We saw a little late that what we promised wasn’t even necessary, and so we had to kill what we loved dearly to keep our vow. To God.
Just something to think about. Jephthah could’ve just asked, “Lord, shall I pursue?” Or, “Lord, will you give Ammon into my hand?” But that’s what happens when we skip steps…we tend to overcompensate with what’s not necessary or required. My thought — Jephthah took the offer to lead as God’s vindication of the mistreatment he suffered from his brothers. He jumped from rejected man with worthless companions to leader of all Gilead…just because he could fight. There may be more entries to follow this one, but Loved Ones, please don’t let your gift create acceleration in your life FOR WHICH YOU ARE NOT HEALED OR READY.
Selah, and love to all. (please share this one)
Reference: Evans, R. H. (2012). A year of biblical womanhood. Dallas, TX: Thomas Nelson.
Image: Jephthah’s daughter