Our God revealed in Scripture could very easily be credited with this quote. If you’ve read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, then you know there is plenty of God’s Word that is offensive to our modern and post-modern sensibilities. That is especially true in the Judges 10 and 11 narrative often referred to as, Jephthah’s Tragic Vow.
You probably know the gist of the story: Jephthah vows that if the Lord gives him a military victory over the Ammonites, then he would give as a burnt offering whatever (whomever?) comes out of his front door to greet him upon his return from battle (cf. 11:30-31).
Horror of horrors, we discover in v. 34 that Jephthah’s only daughter is the one that comes out to greet him!
In the middle of expressing to her the great trouble that is happening he says, “…and I cannot take back my vow” (v. 35).
I remember screaming at Jeph’: “What do you mean you can’t take back your vow?!?! Of course you can and you should!!!!” And because he didn’t take back his vow, we receive one of the most offensive looks at the extreme cost of our salvation.
And that angle is very important if you are going to preach this narrative beyond the moralizing that goes something like: “Christians are careful about making rash vows to the Lord unless they cause tremendous heartache…”
Along with being careful whenever we make deals with God, this narrative is an opportunity for us all to express our gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice of God’s only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The parallels in the story are telling: Jephthah is a picture of…
- our despised and rejected Savior (vv. 10:17–11:11)
- our Savior who wins the victory for us (vv. 11:12-29)
- the extreme cost of that victory (vv. 11:30-40 and the sacrifice of Jephthah’s only child).
It doesn’t solve all the problems of the offensive narrative, but maybe this angle will help you help your listeners give thanks for God’s costly free gift.
Preach well for the sake of His glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).