Uniform Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 18, 2017
Purpose: To affirm that people who disagree on many issues can still work together to accomplish common goals
Bible Lesson: Judges 11:4-11, 29-31
Background Scripture: Judges 11
Key Verse: And Jephthah said to Gilead’s elders, “If you bring me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them over to me, I alone will be your leader.” (Judges 11:9)
Judges 11:4-11 (CEB)
(4) Sometime afterward, the Ammonites made war against Israel. (5) And when the Ammonites attacked Israel, Gilead’s elders went to bring Jephthah back from the land of Tob. (6) They said to him, “Come be our commander so we can fight against the Ammonites.”
(7) But Jephthah replied to Gilead’s elders, “Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me away from my father’s household? Why are you coming to me now when you’re in trouble?”
(8) Gilead’s elders answered Jephthah, “That may be, but now we’re turning back to you, so come with us and fight the Ammonites. Then you’ll become the leader over us and everyone who lives in Gilead.” (9) And Jephthah said to Gilead’s elders, “If you bring me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them over to me, I alone will be your leader.”
(10) Gilead’s elders replied to him, “The Lord is our witness; we will surely do what you’ve said.” (11) So Jephthah went with Gilead’s elders, and the people made him leader and commander over them. At Mizpah before the Lord, Jephthah repeated everything he had said.
Judges 11: 29-31 (CEB)
(29) Then the Lord’s spirit came on Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh, then through Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he crossed over to the Ammonites. (30) Jephthah made a solemn promise to the Lord: “If you will decisively hand over the Ammonites to me, (31) then whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me when I return victorious from the Ammonites will be given over to the Lord. I will sacrifice it as an entirely burned offering.”
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
There are a few historical facts that should be brought out about this week’s lesson. Jephthah was an illegitimate son of Gilead. Born of a prostitute, and rejected by the legitimate sons of Gilead. He was run off and denied any part of his father’s inheritance, by his brothers. So, Jephthah went north to Tob. There he became the leader of a band of outlaws, and he was very successful in that endeavor.
Meanwhile the Lord had become very upset with the habitual disobedience of the Gileadites and all of Israel. As recorded in Judges 10 (13) But you have gone away from me and served other gods, so I won’t rescue you anymore! (14) Go cry out to the gods you’ve chosen. Let them rescue you in the time of your distress.”
Of course, as soon as they repented, God repented and forgave them. That is where this week’s text comes in. Once again, God does not choose the best character to fulfill His mission, but he chooses the willing. Jephthah bargained with the desperate Gileadites and they agreed with the conditions.
Jephthah had to feel a great deal of vindication for the way his brothers had treated him, now he would become the ruler of Gilead.
On his way into battle Jephthah made a deal with God. Now I know none of you have ever done that. The deal found in the following verses: (30) Jephthah made a solemn promise to the Lord: “If you will decisively hand over the Ammonites to me, (31) then whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me when I return victorious from the Ammonites will be given over to the Lord. I will sacrifice it as an entirely burned offering.”
I think our purpose statement might be misleading, it is not about us agreeing or disagreeing amongst ourselves. It is, are we being obedient to the Lord or to other men?
God’s principles cannot be abandoned just to bring peace, God expects and demands obedience. And He is always willing to forgive if we repent of our own foolishness.
Jephthah was unable to take back his deal he made with the Lord, and it cost him the life of his only daughter. It was Jephthah’s lack of faith that cost him his only daughters life. It is that same lack of faith that can cost us eternal life.
At the end of chapter 11 we read this tradition (40) for four days every year Israelite daughters would go away to recount the story of the Gileadite Jephthah’s daughter. Because of her willingness to become the sacrifice, this virgin daughter becomes a type of Christ. She willingly lays down her life, to save all of those in Gilead.
While parts of this lesson can be very disturbing, it should be noted, God responds to those that diligently seek Him. We are never more than a word of repentance from God, no matter how far we have strayed.
My hymn for this week is “Lord I Am Coming Home.” You too may have wandered far away; God’s arms are always open for the repented sinner.