This week in my Bible Study I have been reading in the Book of Joshua and Judges. As I read these two books I had many moments of “WOW! I didn’t remember that little tid bit!” or thoughts like “That’s a bit harsh don’t ya think?” and then my favorite “Why do ya supposed God included that?”
Many times, especially when I am deep within the pages of the Old Testament, I have moments when I wonder why things happen the way they did. Things were so very different back then, but then in reality human nature today is not very different even after several thousand years.
Every time I come across a difficult bible passage I have to ask myself to look past my confusion and ask a different question.
I have to look for myself in the passage. Do I have any similarities with the characters in the passage? Does my behavior resemble that of the characters? What modern day analogies can I see in the examples I have just read about?
How many times did the Israelites wander away from God and bowed their knee to man made idols?
How many times do I allow the world to distract me for God?
How many time did the Israelites ignore God only to turn to him during times of trouble and plead for Him to come to their rescue when they found themselves under attack by neighboring countries?
How many times do I try to solve a problem on my own and fail and then as a last resort remember to ask for God’s help?
How many times do I say something that I really don’t mean or let my mouth get the better of me?
This week I read a very difficult passage that really hit home for me the dangers in allowing your words to run away with your emotions. We were given a very good example of how dangerous it can be to say things without thinking.
Judges 11:29-40 (New International Version)
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. 33He 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."
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.
Harsh? Maybe so!
When I read passages like this I have to pare it down and look for the common denominator that I can relate to my life.
I can certainly relate to staying something at the spur of the moment and then thinking better of it later, or possible even wishing that I had just kept my mouth shut all together.
In my younger days how many times did I hear myself say ”Well my kids will never do that!” Y’all I learned my lesson in a major way where this small statement is concerned! Never say never…..
How many times do I make snap judgment in my thought life about someone else's situation and think “I would have done that so differently!” without having any knowledge beyond what I can see on the surface.
I can only assume that as soon as Jephthah saw his beloved daughter coming out of his house he wished he could retract his statement and go back and take it all back.
Thankfully, I have the power to think before I speak. I pray daily for the discernment to know when to speak and when to hold my tongue.
Thankfully, I have the control to look before I leap. I pray daily for the wisdom to know when to act and when to remain still.
It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.
Y’all this time around in Disciple I has been such a rich experience and we are only a quarter of the way done. I am so excited to see where we will all end up.
What revelations God will provide for me and for my group along the way! I can’t wait to uncover them!
Each week I tell my group to continue to be a thirsty sponge and to soak up as much of God as they can get.
God’s word is rich!