I will admit Jephthah’s story upsets me. He made a stupid statement, a ridiculous vow and God held him to it. As the result of a hastily spoken vow, Jephthah sacrificed his own daughter as a burnt offering. I’m kinda mad God didn’t let Jephthah off the hook.
But wait a minute. What does that say to me this morning? Maybe God’s not the jolly old buddy we’ve made him out to be. Maybe he is holy. Maybe we need to honor his name.
How many times have I heard, “I swear to God…” or how many times have I said, “God, if you… then I’ll…”
Is Jephthah’s story telling me there is no such thing as a casual vow? When before God a man and woman vow to love and honor each other does God really intend to hold them to that? When I promise God I’ll change, or stop doing something, does he really take me seriously?
Breaking a vow to God is a sin. And God is in the business of forgiving sin. I wonder if Jephthah had confessed his vow as a sin if things would have turned out differently for his daughter? I don’t know. But I do know God is faithful to forgive sin when we confess it.
Dear ones, we need to weigh our words carefully. Promising God – making a vow – is not something to take lightly. God is honest with us and demands we be honest with him.
Remember what he didn’t say to Jephthah. He didn’t say, “Oh, that’s ok, don’t worry about it”. He didn’t say, “Your heart was in the right place so just forget it.” What God didn’t say to Jephthah he is not saying to us today.
Holy God, may I not make promises I can’t keep. Help me to live up to the promises I’ve already made, knowing you take me seriously. And help me to confess the sin of broken vows. May my thoughts and the words of my mouth be acceptable to you today.