No Turning Back (Judges [11]29-40)

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No Turning Back

Text: Judges 11:29-40

Place Preached - (Mississauga International Baptist Church)

Date Preached - (03/03/02)


A vow could be positive and included all promises to perform certain things for, or bring certain offerings to, God, in return for certain benefits which were hoped for at His hand (Gen. 28:20-22, Jacob; Lev. 27:2,8; Num. 30; Judg. 11:30, Jephthah; 1 Sam. 1:11,

A Vow could be negative in the sense that a person bound himself or herself to abstain from certain things.  As in the vow of the Nazarite.

Key Verse 35B “…..for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.”

Relate background of Jepthah’s life and his campaign against the Ammonites.


1. Jepthah’s birth (Illegitimacy – 11:1-2)

Exiled and alienated by his half brothers. (Exalted by God)

2. Jepthah’s band of men (11:3)

Similarity to David.

3. Jepthah’s Character

Knew the Lord / Purity of Life (One wife) / Strong Leader

4. Dearth of Leadership in Israel (10:15-18)

5. Jepthah’s rise to Leadership.  (11:4-11)

He rose to leadership by virtue of the strength of his character – Contrast with Abimelech.

            a). He was a man of integrity and trusted judgment.

b). He was a good judge of Character able to discern men who were reliable.

c). he united his followers behind a common purpose.

d). He handled opposition wisely and acted decisively.  He took the initiative.

e). His personal life was above reproach.

6. Jepthah’s answer to the King of Ammon (11:12-28)


Some have accused him of making a rash vow.

Others suggest he was moderately influenced by paganism.

What was his vow? (Vs.30-31)

Burnt Offering/Human Sacrifice?

NO!!!  Here are several reasons why….

1. He was Spirit-filled/led/empowered when making his vow vs.29

2. Human sacrifice was strictly forbidden by God (Deut 12:29-31)

3. Along w/ the prohibition, he would have known God’s law of redemption. (Exodus 13:11-16)

4. The word “for” can mean “in the place of”.

5. His daughter’s response (vs.36-37)

She was more than willing to accept the fulfillment of her father’s vow as being of the Lord.

6. Jepthah’s name is recorded amongst the faithful.

Hebrews 11:32  And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Perpetual service in the Temple/Life of Celibacy?

This is most likely considering the following…

1. Indicated by the daughter’s response vs.37

She was bewailing her “virginity” not her loss of life.

2. Emphasis of verse 39 – “And she knew no man”.

3. The yearly “lament” of the daughters of Israel vs.40

The sense in which the word lament is used here speaks of praise and commemoration of the daughter of Jepthah’s unselfish submission to God’s will.

The predominating principle of this story is that Jepthah made a vow unto the Lord and he kept it.

Key Verse 35B “…..for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.”

How does this apply to us?  -  In Many Ways!!!

Let’s consider some important truths regarding the making and keeping of vows.

I. Our Vows are made unto God and not unto man.

Vs. 30And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD

Vs. 35I have opened my mouth unto the LORD

Ephesians 6:6  Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

This is true of our secret as well as our public engagements.

A. Marriage Vows

Purity / Faithfulness / Honour / Love

“Till death do us part”

B. Altar Calls & Invitations

The Biblical message calls for personal decisions.

II. Our Vows made unto God must be Kept. Vs.35

I cannot go back!!”

Ecclesiastes 5:4 -5 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

5  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

They are to be “Paid” & “Performed

The Vows may be a gift (financial or otherwise) or fulfilled in an action.

Luke 9:62  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

We need to be flinty-faced ploughman” – David Atkinson

The idea is that of burning our bridges behind us.  (Elisha)  (The fishermen who left their nets)

Leaving all to follow Him.

PAUL, counting “”all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” – Phil 3:8

Romans 11:29  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

III. Therefore, Our Vows unto God must be carefully considered

Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find the making of vows regarded as a religious duty (Deut. 23:22), but the fulfilling of a vow was considered as a sacred and binding duty (Deut. 23:21-23; Judg. 11:35; Eccl. 5:4; compare Ps. 22:25; 66:13; 76:11; 116:18).

Deuteronomy 23:22  But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.

They are not required!!!

Obedience, however, is required.

We do not VOW to do something that is already commanded.

EXAMPLES: Tithe / Baptism / Attend church faithfully. Etc.

There are only a handful of individuals in Scripture who made vows unto the Lord.

Jacob, Hannah (Samuel’s Mother), Paul (NT) and Jepthah.  John the Baptist and Samson who were Nazarites.

….and they kept them

We need to be more serious minded about the things of the Lord.

It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry [Prov. 20:25].

Don't make a vow until you are sure of what you can do. Don't publicly dedicate your life to God until you have thought it through. God doesn't want that kind of a sentimental decision. I'm afraid there is too much of that today.

An empty profession leads to an empty life!

But a full-Salvation means an abundant life!!

IV. Our Vows unto God must be thoroughly embraced and rejoiced in.

Vs. 39-40

In Mal. 1:14 the offering of what was of less value than what had been vowed is vigorously condemned.

Malachi 1:14  But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

Psalms 76:11  Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.

Psalms 116:18  I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,


Christian Profession


The Church

Vocational Christian Ministry

Conclusion:     (Review)

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