Study 8—Jephthah: The Outlaw Leader. What’s Next?. Study 9 The birth of Samson Study 10 The rise of Samson Study 11 The judgment of Samson Study 12 Men without chests Study 13 People without a King Study 14 Exiles in a foreign land Study 15 Living in a pagan society: five models
What’s Next? Study 9 The birth of Samson Study 10 The rise of Samson Study 11 The judgment of Samson Study 12 Men without chests Study 13 People without a King Study 14 Exiles in a foreign land Study 15 Living in a pagan society: five models Study 16 The dream of the kingdom Study 17 The fiery furnace
What’s Next? Study 18 The mad King Study 19 The writing on the wall Study 20 The lion’s den Study 21 Joseph and the dream Study 22 Joseph’s fall and rise Study 23 Joseph and his brothers Study 24 Joseph redeems his family Study 25 The feasts of the King
What is a Pluralistic society? Religious pluralism is a set of worldviews that stands on the premise that one religion is not the sole exclusive source of values, truths, and supreme deity. It therefore must recognize that at least “some” truth must exist in other belief systems. This is one example of “they can’t all be right.”
State of Dramatic Tension
Themes God relentlessly offers his grace to people who do not deserve it nor seek it nor even appreciate it after they have been saved by it. God wants lordship over every area of our lives, not just some.
Themes There is a tension between grace and law, between conditionality and unconditionality. There is a need for continual spiritual renewal in our lives here on earth, and a way to make that a reality.
Themes We need a true Savior, to which all human saviors point, through both their flaws and strengths. God is in charge, no matter what it looks like.
Judges 10:6-10 6 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him, 7 he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, 8 who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites. 9 The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great distress. 10 Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, "We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals."
Judges 10:11-18 11The LORD replied, "When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites[c] oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" 15 But the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now." 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer. 17 When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, "Whoever will launch the attack against the Ammonites will be the head of all those living in Gilead."
Question 1 What is the relationship the gods Israel worships to the peoples that enslave them? Every time Israel worshipped the idols of a nation, that nation ended up oppressing them. In this passage, we read in v.6 that they “served… the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines” and then in consequence, v.7 they were “sold… into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites”. So idolatry leads to enslavement. Later, in v.11, God names seven nations that oppressed them, which is parallel to the seven-fold idolatry of v.6.
Question 1 Why is the word “sold” used? This is a strong word. It has been used of what God did in Judges 2:14, 3:8, 4:2 as well as here. When you sell an animal to another, it means the new owner can do with it as he pleases. When we look back at how God “sold” the Israelites before, we know this does not mean that he abandoned them or nullified his promises to them. It does mean, however, that has stopped protecting them in some way. He lets the things they have been serving actually begin to dominate and “own” them.
Question 1 Why is the word “sold” used? 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:24-25) It is a punishment of “natural consequences.” Thus idolatry and slavery go hand in hand. Idolatry leads to slavery and slavery to idolatry.
Question 1 What does this teach us for our own lives? God says, “If you want to live for money, instead of for me then money will rule your life. It will control your heart and emotions. If you want to live for popularity instead of for me, then popular acclaim will rule and control you. If you want another god besides me — go ahead. Let’s see how merciful it is to you, how effective it is in saving and guiding and enlightening you.” So to be “sold” means to be “owned” by the things that you make more important than God.
Question 2 Why does God respond so harshly to their cry in v.11? Why? One commentator is very insightful: Up to now we may have given Israel the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that when she cries to him it is a cry of repentance, shallow though that repentance maybe. She is sorry for what she has done, and wishes she were different. But that assumption now has to be questioned. Yes, the cry is one of recognition…recognition, however, is not the same as repentance, as we see from the Lord’s reply, ‘Go and cry to the gods you have chosen’, it is as though he is saying, ‘I know what this cry of yours is. It is merely a cry for help, which might just as well be addressed to the Baals as to me.” – Wilcock, p.108.
Question 2 Is there a contradiction between v.13 and v.16? In v.13, God says categorically that “I will no longer save you”, because they have served other gods. Because they have so blatantly broken his covenant and commandments, and because even now they are not truly repenting. So he says in effect, “I am a just God — I must punish you.” Then in v.16, we are told that after the Israelites had begun to repent, “he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.” He said he would not save them — and then he saves them! Is that a contradiction?
Question 2 Is there a contradiction between v.13 and v.16? “Will God’s holiness and his demand for obedience override his promises to Israel? Or will… his gracious promises… mean that he will somehow overlook their sin? As much as theologians may seek to establish the priority of law over [love or vice versa], the book of Judges will not settle this question… This account portrays something of the conflict within God himself about his relationship with Israel. They sin and provoke him to anger (10:6-16), so much so that he swears he will deliver them no more (v.13). And yet he has committed himself to Israel so completely that he becomes himself vexed and indignant about their suffering… God’s relationship with Israel is at once both conditional and unconditional. He will not remove his favor, but Israel must live in obedience and faith…” – Dillard and Longman, An Introduction to the Old Testament. p.126-127
Question 3 What do these verses teach us about steps to spiritual renewal/revival? Steps to spiritual renewal. First, there is some kind of trouble. Second, there is renewed, prevailing prayer. Third, there is fighting through to real repentance. Third, there is fighting through to real repentance.
Question 3 What do we learn of real repentance? The two real signs of repentance: a sorrow for sin, rather than just for consequences, a sorrow over idolatrous motives, not just behavioral change.
Judges 11:1-6 1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. 2 Gilead's wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. "You are not going to get any inheritance in our family," they said, "because you are the son of another woman." 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a group of adventurers gathered around him and followed him. 4 Some time later, when the Ammonites made war on Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 "Come," they said, "be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites."
Judges 11:7-11 7 Jephthah said to them, "Didn't you hate me and drive me from my father's house? Why do you come to me now, when you're in trouble?" 8 The elders of Gilead said to him, "Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be our head over all who live in Gilead." 9 Jephthah answered, "Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives them to me—will I really be your head?" 10 The elders of Gilead replied, "The LORD is our witness; we will certainly do as you say." 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the LORD in Mizpah.
Question 4 What How did Jephthah’s early history make him an unexpected deliverer? He was the illegitimate son of a prostitute, who was driven out of his home, probably as a very young person, by his half-brothers. Then, in the wilderness, he attracted a band of “worthless” men who lived through robbery He was a complete outcast and a criminal from a broken home. Yet God raises him up to be the savior.
Question 4 How did it prepare him for his Judgeship? It is important to notice, however, that Jephthah is not simply prepared to be a savior despite his rejection and marginality and suffering, but through it. And, as vv.4-11 shows us, he is an extremely shrewd negotiator, a man of great intelligence.
Question 4 How is Jephthah like the other Judges and Jesus? Nearly all the Judges are people who are socially marginal and “unexpected” leaders — people who do not fit the world’s concepts of celebrity, power and greatness. He was “despised and rejected” by his people. Most importantly, Jesus did not save us in spite of his rejection and marginality but through it.
Question 5 What three arguments does Jephthah use to refute this claim in his letter of diplomacy? Jephthah’s first argument is historical (11:15-22). The second argument is theological (11:23-24). The third argument is one of legal precedent (11:25-27).
Judges 11:29-34 29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." 32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon. 34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."
Judges 11:36-40 36 "My father," she replied, "you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request," she said. "Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry." 38 "You may go," he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite custom 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
Question 6 What does Jephthah promise God? He did promised to make a human sacrifice to God if God gives him victory. He obviously expected it to be a servant or someone else — not his daughter.
Question 6 Why did he promise it? Deuteronomy 12:31 says that human sacrifice is “detestable” and something “the Lord hates”. There is no doubt about God’s will in the matter. Why then did he? First, this means that Jephthah had been deeply de-sensitized to violence by the atrocious cruelty of the pagan cultures around him.
Question 6 Why did he promise it? But second, Jephthah was not just infected by the pagan’s moral codes, but was still infected by the pagan, works-righteousness understanding of God’s character.
Question 6 Why does he keep it? Jephthah seems to have no concept of a God of grace. And when he obviously realizes his rash vow has trapped him (v.35), why does he not simply confess its sinful foolishness and break it and save his daughter? The answer is: he does not trust God. He was trapped by his mistrust of God. He seems to believe that God will strike him down if he doesn’t keep it.
Question 7 What a terrible story (perhaps the worst in the whole book)! What do you think the author hoped to teach us? What lessons can we learn from this incident. First, let’s consider the simplest lessons. We must be extremely careful with our words, our promises, our tongue. Also, we see that God can “write straight with crooked pencils”.
Question 7 But then there are the deeper lessons. We are always far more affected by our culture than the Bible. The biggest lesson has to do with our inability to believe in a God of grace.