The story of Jephtah
“30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
32 So Jephthah… defeated them… Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”
36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”
38 So he said, “Go” … And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed” (Judges 11:30-39)
God’ dealings with man
God does not judge the children for the sins of their parents “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20).
This story does not portray the will of God but the will of Jephthah. When Jephthah committed his daughter to perpetual virginity, he did that against the will of God. He did what he wanted to do. In fact, this story was given in the Bible to warn parents from making hasty vows that could harm their own children.
One must remember that although Jephthah worshiped the God of Israel, and in the undertaking relied on Him, he had grown up in an alien land among heathen people. Among these heathen nations human sacrifices were offered in times of great crisis. This is seen in the act of the king of Moab who sacrificed his eldest son to his god Chemosh as a final act of desperation to save his city from the attacking Israelites (2 Kings 3:26, 27).
The Spirit of God came upon Jephthah in order that Israel might be saved from destruction. But the presence of the Spirit does not guarantee infallibility. The one who receives the Spirit remains a free moral agent, and is expected to make appropriate progress in his spiritual growth and knowledge.
Jephthah, in his ignorance of what was right, rashly vowed an evil thing and carried it out. And Jephthah did not seek counsel from the Lord.
In His service,