I’ve been reading Judges and, boy there are some good parenting lessons in this book. I’m writing because I would like your take on chapter 11, specifically the vow Jephthah made to God. Why do you think God allowed him to go through with his vow and not stop him, especially since she was his only child? I think of Isaac and how God sparred him from Abraham. Any thoughts?
I agree about Judges and parenting. The stories are even more appropriate to studies about spiritual leadership more broadly.
I believe God allowed Jepthah to act foolishly for the same reason he allows you and I to act foolishly. There is a thing I know you are very well familiar with called free will! God is not in the habit of forcing us to not sin or to not act foolishly. He allowed Adam and Eve to eat the fruit. He allowed the Jews to rebel against him. He also does not always just swoop down and rescue us from our own foolish behavior. Jepthah was human like the rest of us. This is one of the wonderful things about the Bible–how truly human the characters in this amazing book are, compared with the rather false histories of the time from other peoples. I would add that this story does have something to tell us about parenting. As our children become adults it is foolish for us to be always rescuing our children from the consequences of their bad decisions. That God allowed Jephthah to act foolishly is consistent with the nature of God’s relationship with us as presented throughout the Bible.
As for Abraham, this is a COMPLETELY different situation. Here Abraham was acting in faith, not foolishly, as he was commanded by God to offer Isaac. God was not rescuing Abraham from foolish behaviour but blessing him for his faith. Besides, the saving of Isaac from death on the third day was a foreshadow of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day, as the Hebrew writer tells us in Hebrews 11:18. The circumstances of Jephthah and of Abraham could not possibly be more different. I hope this helps.