A Disturbing Narrative
There’s a story in the Bible, which grabs at my heartstrings whenever I read it. I’m troubled by the tragedy that unfolds, by the unnecessary waste of a young life, by the foolishness of a man’s vow, by the fact that our sovereign God did not intervene to save this young woman. It is hard to understand love’s sacrificial mindset.
I’m referring to the story of Jephthah’s daughter. Have you read it? If not, or should you need to refresh your memory, it can be found at Judges 11:29-40. In order for you to fully appreciate the message of this article, you will need to be familiar with this disturbing tale.
A Devoted Daughter
Now I’ve often heard about the special bond between a father and his daughter. It is not something to which I can relate, since I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my biological father. However, having walked with God for some years now, I believe I’m beginning to enjoy a similar bond with my Heavenly Father.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jephthah’s daughter loved her father very much. She was obviously watching and waiting for this mighty man of valour to return home from war. As soon as she sees him, she runs out to meet him. She’s overjoyed at his safe return. She celebrates his triumph in customary fashion, with tambourines and dancing. Alas, her love and devotion for Jephthah becomes her undoing. Her love for her father costs her life.
Now let’s apply this scenario to ourselves on a spiritual level. Do we love our Father God to the extent that it costs us our lives? I’m not referring to a literal death here. I’m referring to the demise of our old way of thinking and living, which runs counter to God’s commands, his word and his will. I’m referring to our constant challenge as believers.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Do we love God with ALL of our heart, soul and strength as He requires? Have we crucified our flesh with its affections, appetites and desires, as His word demands? (Deuteronomy 6:5; Galatians 5:24).
Whilst I reflected on the various elements of this story, I wondered: where was Jephthah’s wife? I imagined her busy at home, tidying up, or preparing a special home-coming meal. And then I remembered Martha.
Martha, who hadn’t chosen the ‘better part’. Martha, who became preoccupied with serving food instead of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Are we like this? Too busy with our personal business, or too busy ‘serving the Lord’ to sit at his feet, to make him a priority in our lives?
If this is the case, may I remind you of Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:38-39? (See Amplified Bible). May I remind you that to be his disciples, we are required to lose our lower life (the life focused only on earthly quests and concerns) and pursue the higher (God-quality and spiritually focused) life?
God’s Measure of True Love
Now, with regards to our relationship with the Lord, we learn from Revelation 3:16, that He prefers we are cold, rather than lukewarm. Fellow Christian writers and readers, let us not be deceived into thinking we are ok because we go to church, participate in Christian activities and believe in God. Don’t forget, the devils also believe! So let me ask you—are you guilty of loving God with your lips, whilst your lifestyle declares otherwise?
Jesus revealed in no uncertain terms that there will be those who are convinced they are in the right place with God, working his works etc., but the Lord will turn to them and say: I never knew you; depart from me. And let’s not forget the five foolish virgins who found themselves shut out from the marriage feast, to whom the same damning words were spoken: I do not know you!
Are we paying heed to these stark warnings? Do we take them seriously? Do we yet understand love’s sacrificial mindset?
The ‘S’ Factor!
God requires an intimate knowledge of him. Relationship. Not words. Not unfulfilled intentions.
It can be easy in this age of grace to become careless. To be like the prodigal son, to avail ourselves of the rich resources of God’s Kingdom (his love, forgiveness, grace) and squander them selfishly, without care or consideration for the high price paid for us to enjoy our inheritance.
Wake up daughters of Zion! Wake up to the fact that the only life worth living is in our Father’s house, under his protection, submitted to his rules and regulations.
Wake up to the fact that we have an enemy, who hates us, and seeks to deceive and destroy us 24/7. Those suggestions that we can take God’s resources and use them for our own ends, where do you think they emanate from? Satan of course! Embraced and endorsed by our selfish inclinations, by our own carnal appetites and agendas.
We don’t even have to commit terrible sins. Just not be fruitful. Just not be concerned about the issues on God’s heart. Just be too busy with our personal dreams and desires to care about the needs of our neighbour, to participate meaningfully in the work of God’s kingdom, to fall on our knees and pray.
Daughters of Zion, I speak to myself and I speak to you all – wake up! Let us understand love’s sacrificial mindset.
Love’s Mature Outlook
Moving on, I’d like to focus on another admirable quality of Jephthah’s loving daughter. She is not bitter with her father, or about her fate. How about you? Have your experiences of life caused you to become angry with God, resentful about your experiences and negative about your future?
Dear reader, I suffered many years of spiritual malaise because of wrong attitudes. I carried around in my heart an ever increasing record of offenses and was both inwardly and outwardly hostile towards those who hurt me. Yes, life can be unfair. However, spiritual maturity, faith and trust in our Father God, enables us to overcome and carry on with the right attitude.
Cultivate A Friendship Circle
Jephthah’s daughter called upon her friends and shared her sorrow. They mourned with her. Do you have good, genuine, spiritual friends whom you can call and depend upon when needed? Who will pray for, and support you if, or when things fall apart?
Now don’t be discouraged if you don’t have such supportive friendships. There’s always the help and counsel of the three Godhead members to fall back on. In fact, you should be pursuing close fellowship with them anyway.
I believe your relationship with each (Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), is vital to your spiritual health and strength. Your relationship with them should not be superficial. But deep. Strong. Like Paul’s—so that you are convinced in your heart that NOTHING can separate you from God’s love.
The Heroine’s Finale
As mentioned at the beginning, the story of Jephthah’s daughter always tugs at my heart. I usually take issue with God about it. Why did he allow her to die? It seems so harsh and unfair. I’ve never really gotten an answer.
However, I do acknowledge that God’s ways are higher than my thoughts and ways. We are not qualified to judge. Yet isn’t this how we can feel about the things we face in our own lives sometimes—about that false accusation, that persecution, that sudden catastrophe?
Jephthah’s daughter may have lost her life but she made history. God saw to it that she was inscribed within the pages of the Book of books.
There are those seeking to make history, to make a name for themselves, to make it according to worldly standards but in doing so, lose their own lives—whether literally, mentally, or spiritually.
Dear readers, let’s make sure we aren’t so foolish as to gain the whole world, yet lose our own soul.
Let’s remember we are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price. Let’s ensure that when all is done and dusted, our names appear in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
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I’d describe myself as a God-seeker and recovering perfectionist. From an early age my love of words and insatiable appetite for stories kindled a passion for writing. I’ve enjoyed modest publishing success both in print and online and spent several rewarding years as one of a team of editors for a Christian women’s publication. I like to write devotionals, inspirational articles and poems and occasionally a short story. My blogs are Women of Warfare and Purpose Driven Achiever where you can read inspirational and thought-provoking articles.