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April 23

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Reading for Today:

Judges 11:1–12:15
Psalm 50:7-15
Proverbs 14:28
Luke 17:1-19


Judges 11:31 I will offer it. Some interpreters reason that Jephthah offered his daughter as a living sacrifice in perpetual virginity. With this idea, v. 31 is made to mean “shall surely be the LORD’s” or “I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” The view sees only perpetual virginity in vv. 37–40 and rejects his offering a human sacrifice as being against God’s revealed will (Deut. 12:31). On the other hand, since he was 1) beyond the Jordan, 2) far from the tabernacle, 3) a hypocrite in religious devotion, 4) familiar with human sacrifice among other nations, 5) influenced by such superstition, and 6) wanting victory badly, he likely meant a burnt offering. The translation in v. 31 is “and,” not “or.” His act came in an era of bizarre things, even inconsistency by leaders whom God otherwise empowered (see Gideon in 8:27).

Psalm 50:8 I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices. The divine Judge’s condemnations are directed not at the act of sacrifice but at the people’s attitude in sacrificing (see 1 Sam. 15:22; Pss. 40:6-8; 51:17; 69:30; Is. 1:12; Jer. 7:21-26; Hos. 6:6; Mic. 6:6-8).

Psalm 50:9-13 will not take a bull from your house. God refuses mere ritual; it is an abomination to Him. He, unlike the pagan deities, needs nothing. He created everything and owns everything.

Luke 17:16 he was a Samaritan. Jesus’ sending the lepers to show themselves to the priest suggests that they were Jewish. This Samaritan had been permitted to associate with them when all were ceremonially unclean, but in their healing they did not share his deep gratitude.

DAY 23: Why does God make use of leaders who display such obvious weaknesses?

It is true that judges such as Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson exhibited gross failures, as well as successes. But as long as God chooses to use people at all, He will end up using people with obvious weaknesses. No one escapes that category. The point is that God uses people in His plans in spite of it.

This does not excuse the sins of a leader. Note for example that Moses forfeited his opportunity to enter the Promised Land because of an angry outburst (Num. 20:10; Deut. 3:24–27). Jephthah made a rash vow for which his daughter had to bear the primary consequence (Judg. 11:29–40). What probably ought to attract our attention to these servants of God is not so much their weaknesses, or even the great accomplishments, but the fact that they remained faithful to God despite their failures.

When we study the lives of the judges, we discover ourselves. The shared victories, defeats, mistakes, and right choices form a common link across the centuries and turn our attention to the God who worked in their lives. The invitation from the ancients remains silently compelling: If we are to live as boldly for God, surely we would discover each day that same kind of God’s immediate presence that was such a part of their experience.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214,