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Made Easy


Jephthah is a person that God uses as an example of faith for modern-day Christians to imitate.  He had many family problems to overcome.  In fact, another shining characteristic about Jephthah that we should imitate is his forgiveness for his family.  Here are some highlights from his story.


  1.  Jephthah lived during a time when the children of Israel were living sinfully in the eyes of God (Judges 10:6-9).

    1. They had gone back to worshipping idol gods even though God told them not to (Exodus 20).

      1. So, God was rightfully angry with them.

      2. To punish them for their sins, God allowed the Philistines and Ammonites to dominate them.

        1. They treated the children of Israel cruelly.

  2. The children of Israel confessed their sin to God and repented of their idolatry (Judges 10:10-17).

    1. This was the best thing that they could have done.

    2. Because of their confession and repentance, God’s big heart of compassion moved him to end their misery.

      1. He would soon raise up a military general to fight for them and deliver them from the oppression of their enemies.

    3. Remember, whenever we sin, we must do three things to regain the forgiveness of God.

      1. First, we must repent, which means we must change our lifestyle to one of righteousness and leave a sinful lifestyle behind (Acts 8:22).

      2. Second, we must confess our sin to God as the children of Israel just did in Judges 10 (1 John 1:7-10).

      3. Third, we must pray to God that He would forgive us (Acts 8:22).

  3. Judges 11 starts to tell us the story of Jephthah’s life (Judges 11:1-11).

    1. He was a great warrior.

      1. This means he was a skilled fighter.

      2. Jephthah’s clan was called the Gileadites.

    2. A man called “Gilead” was his father, but his brothers were his half brothers.

      1. This is because Gilead had him with a woman who was a prostitute.

      2. His brothers rejected him, because he did not have the same mother.

      3. As a result, he was run off to another land called Tob (Judges 11:1-3).

      4. They rejected Jephthah, because they did not think he was worthy to receive any of the family inheritance from Gilead.

      5. They hated Jephthah for no legitimate reason.

    3. However, after some time had passed, the leaders of Jephthah’s hometown needed his help (Judges 11:4-11).

      1. The Ammonites were attacking the Gileadite people.

      2. So, now they need him, because he was a great warrior and they needed someone to command them in battle.

      3. So, they chose Jephthah to be their commander.

      4. These leaders of the Gileadites promised Jephthah that he would also become the leader of their clan when the battle was over.

      5. Jephthah accepted the offer.

        1. He became the military commander and the leader of the clan of Gilead.

  4. What do we learn from Jephthah’s background and willingness to fight for the same people who hated him?

    1. First, we learn that “family is family.”

      1. We should cherish our brothers and sisters whether they are our full sibling, half sibling, adoptive sibling, etc.

      2. We must still love them and treat them right no matter what, because God wants us to love others just like we love ourselves (James 2:8).

      3. We have no right to hate other people and this includes family (1 John 3:15).

      4. Thus, Jephthah’s brothers were very wrong for the way they treated him.

      5. We should never imitate their hatred and evil!

    2. Second, we learn the power of forgiveness.

      1. Jephthah could have been angry, bitter, and unforgiving toward his brothers, but he decided to risk his life to help them and the whole Gileadite clan.

      2. We must understand that we have to forgive family, friends, and all others of the evil things they have done to us.

      3. When we have this type of forgiving mind, God will forgive us of our sins.

      4. If we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us either (Mark 11:25-26).

        1. One of our biggest goals in this life as Christians is to learn how to forgive others.

        2. Everybody makes mistakes and so do you and I (1 John 1:7-10; Romans 3:23; 6:23).

      5. Jesus said to the Father God regarding those who were crucifying Him, “...Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).

        1. If Jesus could ask for the forgiveness of those who spit on Him, made fun of Him, beat Him, and nailed Him to a cross, then we can forgive others of the evils they have done to us (Matthew 26:67; 27:35, 42; John 20:25).

        2. Always forgive; no matter what!

  5. Judges 11:30 records Jephthah’s vow to God before he went into battle with the Ammonites.

    1. It reads, “30… If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering” (New International Version).

      1. This vow was a hasty decision on the part of Jephthah, which would cause him much sorrow later in life.

      2. We must understand that God tells us, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19 New International Version).

        1. That is, we should think things through thoroughly before we say anything.

        2. This includes when talking to anyone; including God.

  6. The Bible tells us that God honored Jephthah’s prayer (Judges 11:32-40).

    1. In other words, God gave Jephthah victory in battle over the Ammonites.

    2. However, there was a problem.

    3. Do you remember Jephthah’s vow to God before he went into battle with the Ammonites?

      1. He promised to sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him when he came back from the battle.

      2. Let’s see what happened when Jephthah returned home from battle.

      3. The Bible says, “34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.” 36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry” (Judges 11:34-37 New International Version).

        1. After two months, Jephthah sacrificed his daughter as he had promised to the Lord.

      4. Again, this teaches us to not make promises hastily, because we must honor our word when we do so.

      5. Think a promise through thoroughly before you make it, because you will regret a hasty decision that hurts you in the end.

        1. This includes bad things people want you to do as well.

          1. There are consequences that we must face by the decisions we make.

          2. Always remember that hasty decisions are usually bad decisions!

          3. So, don’t rush and make decisions.

            1. Pray about them first.

            2. Study your Bible on the topic first.

            3. Ask your parents about something first.

            4. Even ask other, more mature Christians for advice such as your minister or elders at the church building.

            5. You have a lot of resources to use to help you be a better Christian.

            6. Use them wisely!


In conclusion, we learned a lot from the story of Jephthah.  Never forget the lesson of forgiveness and love Jephthah showed us through his suffering in life.  If he can forgive family, then we can so as well.  Lastly, let us never forget to not make hasty decisions.  Usually quick decisions are bad decisions.  Consult God through prayer and study of the Bible before you do anything.  Consult your parents and church leadership as additional resources.  God will help you if you are open to listen before making hasty and bad decisions.

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