Scripture

Proverbs 19:2
Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way! (NIV)

Observation

I expect that everyone who buys a lottery ticket wants to win. I wonder how many people who buy lottery tickets plan what they are going to do if they win? I’m not talking about the, “if I won the lottery” thoughts that so many people have. If I ever win a lottery I’d be surprised since I’ve not been one who typically buys tickets. About 70% of the people who win a lottery lose or spend the money within five years or less, whether it’s $500 million or $1 million (Reader’s Digest). I’m going to guess and say that they didn’t plan and hire financial advisors.

In whatever you do or ask for you should be prepared to accept the consequences. Whenever Jesus was talking to people about eternal things he would graciously give earthly examples to help people understand, “‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?’ (Luke 14:28 NIV). When He asked this question He was speaking of the cost to those who want to be His disciples. The essence of the question still applies to our lives today. Whatever we ask God for in prayer we should be prepared to accept it as if God has done it if we believe (Mark 11:24).

People ask God for all sorts of things. If you can think of it then someone has likely asked God for it. When we ask God for anything without the knowledge of who He is then there can be trouble. I’m not saying that God is a “Monkey’s Paw” God. Although, you will hear people say to be careful of what you pray for. God is not like that. People who honestly believe that God will allow harm to come to them because they “prayed wrong” do not know the character of God.

Jephthah the Gileadite is a perfect example of someone who desired something from God without the knowledge of the character of God.

Jephthah was an illegitimate son of Gilead who was driven from his family into the land of Tob. During this time in Israel’s history, the people had no king and everyone did as they wished. Everyone was a ruler unto himself following whatever rules they so desired. We can surmise that Jephthah was a successful man during this time who followed the “rules” of the day, gathering “a gang of scoundrels” (Judges 11:3) as followers.

Jephthah had to have been a successful military leader since the people of Gilead, hard-pressed by the Ammonites, sought him out to lead them in battle (Judges 11:4-10). When Jephthah and his forces attacked the Ammonites he made a vow to the Lord: “‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering'” (Judges 11:30-31 NIV).

The Lord gave victory to Jephthah and Israel over the Ammonites and when Jephthah returned home his daughter, an only child, was the first to leave the house to greet him (Judges 11:34). Jephthah was horrified because of the vow he made to the Lord, he would have to sacrifice his daughter. Although Jephthah was called to be a judge in Israel, it was clear that he didn’t know the character of the God whom he served.

One of the gods that the Ammonites worshipped was Molech, One way people worshipped Molech was by sacrificing children in fire. In a time when the people of Israel didn’t know God and were worshipping other gods, Jephthah might likely have attributed characteristics of other gods to the One true God. Perhaps Jephthah didn’t think that his only child would come to meet him when he arrived home or he was hoping it would be someone else. I believe that the practice of sacrificing people by the people around Israel was so well known that the mindset had been adopted by Jephthah with a thought process that this was how people appeased their gods.

Jephthah’s ignorance of God’s character resulted in an unnecessary human sacrifice. Furthermore, Jephthah’s vow to the Lord was reckless and worthless. We know that, before his vow to the Lord, that the Spirit of God had come upon Jephthah before making this vow (Judges 11:29). God had already moved in Jephthah so any vow that he made, especially one regarding detestable human sacrifice, wasn’t necessary.

When we get to know God then His character will be revealed to us. If we, like Jephthah, continue to look at God through a worldly lens without knowing who it is we serve, then we may find ourselves with hasty feet that miss the way.