March 5

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.  37But 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 11:36, 37)

Nothing like reading about a father who murders his daughter as a sacrifice to the Lord to get you excited for the weekend…  I hope you were as appalled as I was when you read the story of Jephthah, who made a promise to God that if God granted him victory over the Ammonites he would sacrifice whatever came out of his front door when he came home.  I mean, come on, what was he thinking was going to come out?  His sheep?  Or maybe Mr. Jephthah was tired of his old lady and that’s who he was really hoping the Lord would want him to sacrifice?  But regardless, Jephthah’s daughter emerges and he makes good on his promise.  And unlike Abraham, God does not intervene.

So what can we learn from a brutal passage like this?  Well, for one, we see the truth in Moses’ law that you should never swear to God or make an oath to God.  God would have delivered the Ammonites to Jephthah any way, without the need for bartering with God.  You can not barter with God anyway, what He chooses is your destiny.

What I get from this is freedom.  Freedom to know that the Old Testament is not the guide to Christianity, and I will take my guidance from Jesus alone, where He tells the world that all the laws can be fulfilled by following two commands:  Love God and Love People.  ALL PEOPLE!  There’s no way Jesus would ever let someone sacrifice their daughter in the misguided devotion to God.  Thanks to Jesus, He offered Himself as the final sacrifice.  We need not spill any more blood in the name of the Lord.  Now when you look at the blood, you will hopefully only see what Pat Barrett sings in this last song I will share off his amazing album, “Act Justly, Love Mercy, Love Humbly.”

Reading plan:  Luke 4

Deeper reading plan:  Judges 13-16

Prayer focus:  pray that you can focus your life to fulfill the two commandments Jesus gives us and let go of the focus the world has always put on following old laws and ancient stories.

So the last bit of media I will share with you this week is what I feel should be on everyone’s must listen to list.  No matter where you stand on politics, “Renegades:  Born in the USA” is a powerful conversation between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen that is a fantastic reminder of the good that is still in America and the problems we still need to address.

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