The Durability of Faith in 2021; Part 2

January 26, 2021
Dear Visionary Leader:
Last week we began looking at the durability of faith. There is a huge need today for men—real men: men of character, men of integrity, men that will stand, men of strength. Our world is in trouble because our homes are in trouble, and our homes are in trouble because men have failed to be the men of God that they ought to be.
In this chapter we are going to study about a man who was a man of faith. His name was Jephthah. Most of us have not heard of Jephthah, but God has heard of him. God wrote about him in Hebrews chapter 11:32, of the great heroes of the faith. He didn’t tell anything about him but just says Jephthah was one of these mighty men. We are going to find out the marks of his character. What made him such a mighty man—a man of steel, a man of strength? What was his character like? He was one of a handful of men that God put in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11.
There are several durable qualities of strong faith. Our Lord desires for these powerful qualities to help us to endure the test and trails that will come our way during our lifetime.
We Need Commitment in the Face of Disappointment
I want you to read an extended passage, but please read it carefully. In verses 29-31, we read, “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children…into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”  In essence he said, “God, these Ammonites are wicked; and they’re cruel; and they’re fierce. And Lord, I need Your help, and I’m going to make You a solemn promise: Lord, if You will give me the victory, if You will allow me to come home victoriously, the first thing that comes out of my house to meet me when I come back—whatever it is—that’s Yours, Lord, and it will be offered up to You.”
Then, verses 32-34 we read, “So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come unto Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards”—and so forth. In verse 34: “And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou has brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceedeth out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.”
Have you got the picture? “Lord, I need You. O God, I’m in a battle against my enemies. God, I want to make a promise to You—a vow, Lord: if You will give me the victory, I will sacrifice the first thing that meets me, that comes out of my house when I get home.” God gives him the victory; and then, when he gets home, out of the house, dancing and leaping with joy, is his beautiful daughter. Can you imagine the situation? What would you have done?
Well, what is all of this about? I know your mind is going 10,000 miles an hour, if this is the first time you’ve ever really noticed this passage of Scripture. Well, let me relieve your mind and tell you that this is not human sacrifice. Jephthah did not kill his daughter. No man would have made a vow concerning human sacrifice, if he had been a man of God.
We need to understand the context. In verse 29: “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.” Now, whatever he’s saying, he’s saying with the anointing of Almighty God upon him. Remember this: that he was a man of faith, and he was led of the Spirit.
The Bible expressly condemns human sacrifice. Now, had this man been an ungodly man, and had this been a thoughtless promise and not a promise impelled and led by the Holy Spirit, then we could say, “Well, perhaps, he carelessly and thoughtlessly promised to sacrifice for a burnt offering; and now, he had to kill his daughter.” In Deuteronomy 12:31 we read, “Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods;”—talking about the Canaanites—“for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.” God said, “Don’t do that.” So, we know that Jephthah was led of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God would never lead Jephthah to contradict the Word of God.
What’s the answer to this? In verse 31 there is a clue; here’s what Jephthah said: “Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” Look at the word “and.” That same word may be translated—and is translated…or, let’s read it this way: “When I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” That is, “It’s going to be consecrated to You, Lord, for Your service, or it’ll be a burnt offering,” because he didn’t know what was going to come out of the door. So, he’s just simply saying, “Lord, the choice is Yours, and I can trust You. What comes out of the door, it’ll be consecrated to You, or it’ll be a burnt offering. God, I can trust You to do the right thing.” The Spirit of God was upon him. So, his beautiful daughter came out of the door, and he kept his vow: he consecrated her to the Lord.
Why was this whole thing such a great disappointment to him?” Here was a man—a family man—who’d not really known the joys of a family when he was a child. Here was a man who had hoped, like every Hebrew, that he would be a part of the line of Messiah—that the Savior would be in his descendancy. And what girl in Bible times did not have the true value of being a wife and a mother? But he gave his daughter over to being a perpetual virgin. That is, her life was to be separated—never to get married, but to serve the Lord. Jephthah knew that he would have no grandchildren.
In verses 37-40 we read: “And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.” That is, “I’ll never know the joys of a home and a baby.” “And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came t pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,”—that is, that someone would be set aside to perpetual virginity to serve the Lord. I guess the counterpart of that today we would look on as some that we call nuns. In verse 40 we read, “that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah.” They don’t speak of her as dead but as living. And, the word lament here may be translated, “to talk with.” They went yearly to see her—to talk with her.
Here was a man—a man of strength, a man of steel, a man who refused to be shackled by the past, a man who refused to be bound by his enemies, but a man who was bound by his word. We need character in the face of difficulty, confidence in the face of danger and commitment in the face of disappointment.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking
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