The Gospel Observer "Go therefore
and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe
all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20). --------------------
May 27, 2018 --------------------
The story of Jephthah recorded in Judges 11:29-40 has caused
difficulties for Bible students. Jephthah, by the Lord's leading, is
about to wage a major battle against the Ammonites. Before going off
to battle, Jephthah makes a vow to God. The first thing that greets
him from his home when he returns victorious from battle would be
given as a burnt offering to God. The vow was not well thought out.
Jephthah could not control who or what would first come from his
door. In a sense he was letting chance determine what he would
be offering. Some scholars point out that word translated "whatever"
in Judges 11:31 is actually more properly translated "whoever." 
Hence, there is a strong indication that Jephthah was expecting to
offer a person to the Lord as a burnt offering.
Herein lies the point of confusion. We know that God despises human
sacrifices. The sacrifice of children to idols carried a death
penalty (Leviticus 20:1-5). In Jeremiah 7:31-32 God not only said it
wasn't commanded, He said that He never thought about asking for it.
"When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which
you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land,
take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them,
after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not
inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their
gods? I also will do likewise.' You shall not worship the LORD your
God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates
they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and
daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be
careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from
it" (Deuteronomy 12: 29-32).
Why would God allow Jephthah to win a battle after vowing to offer
up a human being to Him? Why is Jephthah listed among the
heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32? Even if we argued that
Jephthah wasn't expecting a person to come out of his door, wasn't
it possible for an animal unsuitable for sacrifices, such as a dog,
to exit his home first? How could Jephthah know that an unblemished
cow, goat, or lamb would be the first to greet him?
Old Testament Sacrifices
The Mosaical Law contained a variety of offerings (Leviticus 7:37).
Sin offerings were given when a person unintentionally sinned
(Leviticus 4). Guilt (or trespass) offerings were given when a
person sinned unintentionally and had the possibility of making
restitution for his sin (Leviticus 5:1-6:7). The purpose of the
grain offering is never directly stated, but it appears to be used
to express thankfulness to God (Leviticus 2; 6:14-23). It was
offered at first harvest and in combination with other sacrifices,
perhaps to show thankfulness for forgiven sins. Peace offerings were
to show fellowship between the worshiper and God (Leviticus 3). When
combined with other sacrifices, the peace offering was always done
last as sin must be atoned before fellowship can exist with God.
Burnt offerings are related to the sin and guilt offerings
(Leviticus 1). It was offered for the atonement of sin (Leviticus
1:4), but the one making the offering could chose what was being
offered. All the offerings involved burning portions, but the burnt
offering was given wholly to God (Deuteronomy 33:10). Only the skin
of the animals offered were kept (Leviticus 7:8). Dedication
offerings were given when articles of the tabernacle or temple were
put into service or when a person became a priest.
The burnt offering and grain offering were to be done on a daily
basis for the nation. The sin offering, guilt offering, and
dedication offerings were done as needed for the individual. The
burnt offering, grain offering, and peace offering were offered by
individuals at appointed occasions, such as feasts, as the
fulfillment of a vow, or as a freewill offering (Numbers 16:3;
When an individual offered a burnt offering, grain offering, or
peace offering he was allowed to choose to offer whatever he desired
within certain guidelines. For example, money and goods were given
as freewill offerings (Ezra 1:4-6; 8:28); however, money gained from
prostitution could not be accepted as fulfillment of a vowed
offering (Deuteronomy 23:18). Even words of praise were considered
to be freewill offerings (Psalms 119:108). Obviously, items that
were not sacrificial animals were not burnt, in whole or in part.
Instead, they were used in God's service. II Chronicles 31:14 speaks
of a man appointed to oversee the usage of freewill offerings.
Jesus's death upon the cross is described as a combination of
offerings. His death is called a sin offering (Hebrews 9:24-10:3;
13:10-14). If you recall that offerings which were burnt were said
to be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord (Leviticus 1:17; 2:2;
3:16), you can see then that the Lord's death was also a "burnt
offering" even though he was not burnt (Ephesians 5:2). This is
because Jesus gave himself wholly over to God to appease God's
In the same way, Christians are expected to be a whole (or burnt)
offering to God when we dedicate our lives in the service of God
Special Rules for Vowed Sacrifices
Peace offerings, grain offerings, and burnt offerings could be vowed
to God. When the vow was fulfilled, the offering had to be made
(Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Ecclesiastes 5:1-4). Just about anything that
belonged to a person could be vowed to God: people (Leviticus
27:2-8), livestock (Leviticus 27:9-13), homes (Leviticus 27:14-15),
or property (Leviticus 27:16-25) are given as examples. Most vowed
offerings could be redeemed, or bought back, and most of Leviticus
27 deals with how to determine the redemption price. However,
certain things could not be redeemed: sacrificial animals (Leviticus
27:9-10), firstborn clean animals because they already belong to the
Lord (Leviticus 27:26), or anything that a man sets apart for
destruction, whether man, animal, or property (Leviticus 27:28).
Anyone whom the Lord has set apart for destruction cannot be
redeemed as they are under a death sentence (Leviticus 27:29). By
implication, firstborn children also could not be redeemed if they
are vowed because they already belong to God (Exodus 13:2, 12-15).
In addition, anything vowed once and redeemed, could not be redeemed
if it was vowed a second time.
Obviously, anything vowed as a burnt offering is vowed for
destruction. It cannot be redeemed. If it is a sacrificial animal,
it will be offered up to God. Everything else becomes most holy and
belongs to God (Leviticus 27:28). For example, property that becomes
vowed for destruction, whether on purpose or by selling it before it
is redeemed, becomes the property of the priests (Leviticus
27:20-21). Other things would be put into service for God.
This is how Samuel, the firstborn son of a Levite (I Chronicles
6:16, 28), came to serve the Lord (I Samuel 3:1). His mother made a
vow that if she was given a child, the child would be given to the
Lord (I Samuel 1:11). Though Leviticus 27 allows for vowed children
to be redeemed, a firstborn child already belongs to God and hence
cannot be redeemed.
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter
When Jephthah returned from a victorious battle, the first person to
greet him from his house was his only child. Because she was his
first child, he would not be able to redeem her. Because he vowed
her for destruction as a burnt offering, she not only could not be
redeemed, but she was also marked as being most holy to the Lord
(Leviticus 27:28). Both Jephthah and his daughter realized that
Jephthah's vow bound his daughter to be a virgin for the rest of her
life. For Jephthah that meant the end of his lineage.
His daughter rightly encouraged her father to keep his vow. She just
asked for two months to bewail her virginity (Judges 11:38). Notice
that she did not grieve over her short life because her life wasn't
coming to an end. When Jephthah fulfilled his vow, it is noted that
she never had sexual relations with a man (Judges 11: 39). There is
no mention of her losing her life because of her father's vow, nor
is there any need to make such an assumption. Only sacrificial
animals could be placed on the altar. Everything else was either
redeemed or placed into service for God.
What would Jephthah's daughter do in service to God? I'm sure there
were many jobs the Levite women did which Jephthah's daughter could
have joined in doing. There are two verses mentioning women who
served at the door of the tabernacle (Exodus 38:8; I Samuel 2:22).
From John 18:16-17 and other ancient sources it appears that women
were frequently employed as doorkeepers. Some believe that women
vowed to God became the source of these workers. There is also
mention of the widow Anna who stayed at the temple and served the
Lord with fasting and prayers (Luke 2:36-37), like those mentioned
in Psalm 134.
 New English Bible, Translator's Notes: "the one coming
out, who comes out from." The text uses a masculine singular
participle with prefixed article, followed by a relative pronoun and
third masculine singular verb. The substantival masculine singular
participle הַיּוֹצֵא; (hayyotse', "the one coming out") is used
elsewhere of inanimate objects (such as a desert [Num 21:13] or a
word [Num 32:24]) or persons (Jer 5:6; 21:9; 38:2). In each case
context must determine the referent.
— Via Articles from the La Vista church of Christ -------------------
News & Notes
Folks to be praying for:
Rick Cuthbertson’s surgery went well, and the cancer was
eliminated. He is now back home.
Benny Medlock was admitted to the hospital recently, due to
an aneurysm in his artery. He also has a cyst on his kidney, a
hiatal hernia, a hernia around the navel, plus a bad case of
arthritis that is mainly in his back.
Tommy Lindsey is having medical appointments to determine
whether he can have the liver transplant. Prayer has been asked on
his behalf for strength and stomach relief.
Rhyan Thomas, who recently had seizures, is now on medication
for it and is needing an EEG to determine the specific type of
seizure. Hannah Laughlin (loss of speech, along with severe
headaches, body tremors, and nausea at times)
Danny Bartlett (has been having pain in his leg that also
makes it difficult to walk).
Charles Crosby (healing from knee surgery)
Ginger Head will be undergoing testing for a spot on her
Others to also pray for: Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Deborah
Medlock, Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley,
Misty Thornton, Belinda Medlock, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Mary
gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John
2) Believein the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repentof sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faithin Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts
5) Be baptizedin water for the remission of sins
(Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1
6) Continue in the faith,living for the Lord; for, if not,
salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.