I always have a hard time reading about the idiotic vow Jephthah made to God, and the fact he killed his own daughter to honor that vow. God had given Israel the victory. But was that victory a direct result of Jephthah’s vow, or was it because God simply wanted to rescue the Jews? Did Jephthah’s vow have anything to do with the result? I don’t think it did.
I noticed the silence for the first time today. First, God was silent when Jephthah made the vow. God didn’t ask for or acknowledge the vow. Secondly, God was silent when the girl pleaded with her dad for a two month reprieve. And I don’t see Jephthah checking with God to get His approval for the delay. Thirdly, God was silent when Jephthah “did to her as he vowed.” I don’t read where God blessed Jephthah for following through, for killing his daughter. This seems to me to be a one sided vow.
I’ve read this before and felt the lesson here was for us to be careful what we promise God. And that is a good lesson to learn. I’ve even read it and applauded Jephthah for following through with the hard task of fulfilling his vow. But today I feel God has me looking at the kind of vows He wants of us and holds us accountable for, and for the vows He doesn’t even consider worthy to acknowledge.
For instance, when Jephthah promised to kill the first thing that came out his front door, he was promising to break the sixth commandment. That would be no different than saying, “I’ll have sex with the first person who walks out that door,” or “I’ll make an idol of the first tree I see.” Are those vows we think God would want us to honor? I doubt it.
Also, where do we see God honoring human sacrifices? Yes, I remember Isaac. But Isaac wasn’t killed. God doesn’t ask for anyone’s blood to be spilled on an altar, except that of His Son.
Sometimes people make rash promises to God, then live for years with the burden of fulling that promise, when God wasn’t even in it in the first place. It’s a waste of time and energy, it holds us chained to a cardboard wall. It’s meaningless.
God doesn’t barter. He doesn’t trade His blessings for anything we withhold from ourselves, or anything we do as a result of a one sided vow. I think what I hear Him say today is, if I have held myself captive because of a misplaced vow, I can let it go. He’s not going to hold it against me.
Make a vow to love God, to repent of sin, to follow His Son, to resist temptation. Those are vows God holds us to, and the vows He blesses. Let the Bible be the standard by which you make your vows to God.
Otherwise, that vow might be as binding as mist on a sunny day.