Tuesday 23 Jan 2018
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John 6:49 -50

Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.

 

When grace and faith seems not enough

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Judges 11:30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands,

There is an important message to take on board in our relationship with God, one which appears to have gone missing on Jephthah when he decided to make the vow mentioned in this passage, one which brought him great sorrow. To start with why did Jephthah make this vow?

Because he was desperate and because he needed God to come to his aid would be the immediate answer. To which we need to ask again, did God demand a vow from him in order to come to the aid of his people? What existing arrangement did God put in place in the covenant that he made with Israel with regards to going to war against their enemies?(Deuteronomy 20).

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.- Deuteronomy 20:1

Why then did Jephthah feel the need to go beyond this laid down instruction in other to please God? Was his action based on faith or works? The issue here is that Jephthah decided to operate outside of  the laid down procedure, he operated outside of faith...he opted for works rather than submit himself to the grace extended to Israel through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the very grace richly captured by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy.

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.- Deuteronomy 7:7 — 8

 Whenever we feel we need to go outside of God's grace to us in Christ, we are operating outside of faith. Whenever we feel that we need to go beyond what God's word reveals to us , not only are we operating outside of faith, but we also risk making the same costly error that Jephthah made. An error that did not only cost him the life of his daughter, but one which also cast aspersion on the name of God, for it would seem that God condones human sacrifice, an act he calls abominable and is forbidden in Israel (Jeremiah 32:35). I found myself having to debate against a man who pointed to this act as a proof that God condones the abominable act of human sacrifice. This is the magnitude of damage an individual can do both to themselves and indeed to the body of Christ, when they feel that the grace of God is not sufficient for their needs.

Please Lord deliver us from the temptation to operate outside of your grace, forgive us our error where we try to earn by work that which grace has made available through faith.