Keeping a Vow to God

Judges 10-12

Jephthah, a rare godly man in apostate Israel, is called from exile to defend the typical church. He makes a pious but rash vow and honours it with an obedience matched by his daughter. Not a human sacrifice, of course, but a challenge of commitment.

In a time of great spiritual decline, Judges describes particular heroes of faith. The opening chapter is set in the time of Joshua, but after his death in chapter 2 we read ‘and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim’ and so on. Things went seriously wrong, and the Israelites lost their great liberty.

The backsliding, the evil associations, the intermarriage with pagans, the mixing of the culture of the Israelites with that of the Canaanites all led to a complete collapse of spiritual faithfulness and the adoption of idols. And we see the sad record of how the land was corrupted, God withdrew his hand of protection, and marauding invaders began to get the upper hand. There came about great times of repression, to the point later on that even Jericho – the great prize of the first conquest, taken by miraculous means – is captured by Moab.

Sadly this is happening all over again today, but in a different way. Bible believers are mixing with the ‘Canaanites’, adopting worldly music and worldly culture. It will lead to tremendous decline. You may see them at a certain time still preaching the gospel, still holding on to fundamentals, but because they’ve mixed their culture with that of the world, the blessing of God will be withdrawn, and things will collapse. We see it happening already. All over the Western world there are those who, in the last 50 years, have adopted worldly culture, and the quality of their churches has been lost. They are not the churches they used to be, by any means.

These scriptures are for our learning. These are great principles that we have to learn from.

But in chapter 3 there is a tremendous statement about Othniel, the first of the judges: ‘and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him’. And he was the first in a succession of judges which God raised up – all men who were set aside in a distinctive manner by the Spirit of God.

We notice, with Othniel, that the verse describing his raising up is very careful in its wording. He judged Israel first, and then went out to war. In other words, Othniel set about to reform the land before he could lead it to war and drive out the marauding Canaanites. And when things were straightened out, only then would the Lord be with them in defending themselves against their invaders.

Related Resource

True Christian Commitment

Here are the matters which should occupy the minds and plans of believers. ‘Whatsoever things are true’ refers to the spiritual realities which should be our chief concern, unless we are becoming pliable, indifferent and ambivalent concerning the service and standards of the Lord.

The Personal Spiritual Life

From the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to a life of commitment these chapters stir and encourage readers to advance spiritually. How may we ‘feel’ the presence of the Lord? What was Paul’s method for progress in holiness? And how may we sustain spiritual joy? These are among the themes of this tonic for present-day disciples of Christ.

Home » Sermons » Keeping a Vow to God