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$500 Library Giveaway
Looking for quality Reformed literature? Is there empty space on your bookshelf, waiting to be filled? RHB is giving away a library of its best books worth over $500! Enter by end of Friday.

How To Save Marriage in America
Well, it certainly isn’t this way, but the statistics will remind you of how much it needs saving.

10 Connections Between Jesus and the Kingdom of God
Phillip Bethancourt: “When we miss the significance of the kingdom to Jesus, however, we can miss the significance of the kingdom for biblical theology and ethics.”

Ranking the Nine Toughest Leadership Roles
#1 will surprise you, but it shouldn’t.

Jesus The Savior of Expository Preaching
David Prince: “Expository preaching is preaching that takes a particular text of Scripture as its subject, proclaiming the truth of that text in light of its historical, epochal, and Christocentric, kingdom-focused canonical contexts, thereby exposing the meaning of the human and divine authors for the purpose of Gospel-centered application.”

Stories of God’s Grace: Meet Arnaldo

A Simple Way to Explain the Old Testament to Children

“Hey kids, gather round, I’ve got something amazing to tell you.”

“What is it Dad?”

“How would you like to go to Disney for a week?”

“Yeah, Let’s do it! Can we go tomorrow?”

“Not so fast, buddy? There’s a bit of a challenge here. In two weeks time, Disney are sending a man to Grand Rapids with five-day Disney passes.  He’ll arrive on a plane and the challenge is that we have to pick him out of the crowd of passengers if we’re to get the tickets.”

“O, Dad, that’s impossible. How will we ever manage that?”

“Don’t worry, Disney have sent some descriptions by email and they’ve also attached some pictures. The pictures are a bit unclear, a bit shadowy, but I think if we all study them every day for the next two weeks, surely one of us will pick him out?”

“Right, then, print them off Dad and let’s get studying.”

“O look, here’s a close up of his ear! And this one’s taken from the left. Here’s what looks like a silhouette….”

Two weeks later, one Dad and a bunch of kids arrive at Grand Rapids Airport. At home strewn across the floor are multiple crumpled and well-worn pages and pictures. The BIG day has arrived!

“Now concentrate kids, remember all that you’ve studied, all the descriptions and all the pictures. You can do it.”

“O Dad, I can hardly breathe, I’m so exited.”

“Not him….Definitely not him….Hmm, maybe….Yes, definitely. That’s him, that’s him.”

“Excuse me sir, do you have free tickets to Disney?”

“Children, children, get your hands out of my pockets. Yes, here, they’re in my briefcase. Look!”

“O, thank you, thank you, thank you, sir. We love you so much. Thank you for coming to us with such an amazing gift.”

“Wait you’re going to knock me over, why are you….let go of my legs…”

In some ways, the Old Testament is like that. God told Israel that His Son was coming, not with a Disney tickets, but with salvation. God gave them lots of descriptions and lots of pictures – of sacrifices, the Tabernacle, different personalities, different officials – lots and lots of pictures from different perspectives so that when His Son came, people would recognize him, and say, “There He is!” and throw not only their arms but their hearts around Him. And He doesn’t say “Let go!” but rather, “Hold me tighter!”

Check out

On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?
So grateful for Russell Moore and Denny Burk’s voices of sanity, clarity, and verity in these confusing and worrying times. Same issue, here’s Trevin Wax on If Daniel 3 Were Written Today.

The Reflex of Character
Powerful post and harrowing video from Michael Hyatt about a school shooting and a true hero. “As it turns out, the shooting incident was like the visible part of an iceberg. What wasn’t visible was Coach Hall’s character. Though it was tested in an instant, he had spent a lifetime building it—one choice at a time.”

America: A Dreamy Place That’s Kinda Like Heaven
I enjoyed Nathan Bingham’s reflection on emigrating to the USA and appreciated the spiritual lessons he drew from the experience.

The Movie “Son of God” And The Second Commandment
J I Packer: “As soon as the images [of Jesus] are treated as representational rather than symbolic, they begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger. Since it is hard for us humans to avoid this pitfall, wisdom counsels once more that the better, safer way is to learn to do without them. Some risks aren’t worth taking.”

25 Things Little Girls Wish Their Daddies Knew
“To all the daddies with little girls who aren’t old enough yet to ask for what they need from you, here is what we wish you knew.”

Arianna Huffington: How to Succeed? Get More Sleep

Jephthah’s Perfect Vow

“Jephthah is a rash fool who made a stupid vow and an even more stupid decision to keep it by offering his daughter as a burnt sacrifice.”

That’s the most common view of Jephthah that I’ve come across in the commentaries.

And it’s totally wrong.

Jephthah was a godly man who made a godly vow and who kept that vow in a godly way. No, he did not offer his daughter as a burnt sacrifice. But that’s because he did not vow his daughter as a burnt sacrifice. Here are 10 proofs:

1. His previous godly character: He was not a rash character. Notice how he dealt with the men who had wronged him when they came to ask his help (Judges 11:5-10), and also his patient dealings with the King of Ammon (12-27). He was not rash, but calm, controlled, sober, balanced, and reasonable.

2. He knew the Bible: He knew the history of redemption and used it to argue with the King of Ammon (12-27). Knowing the books of Moses well, he would have known that human sacrifice was forbidden.

3. He was filled with the Holy Spirit:  In verse 29, he is filled with the Holy Spirit, followed immediately by his vow in verses 30-31. Would he really make such a rash vow in such a spiritually elevated condition?

4. Alternative translation of verse 31:

The Hebrew in verse 31 can be translated in two ways:

Option 1: When I return in peace whatever I meet “it shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt sacrifice.”

Option 2: When I return in peace whatever I meet “it shall surely be the Lord’s, or I will offer it up as a burnt sacrifice.”

Option 2 is the best translation in this context and outlines how Jephthah has two possibilities in mind here. “If it’s a person, he/she will be devoted to the Lord. If it’s an animal, it will be offered as a sacrifice.”

5. Common Custom: This vowing of a person to the Lord was quite common in these days. There was an order of women (Exodus 38) that were specially devoted to serving the Lord where He was worshipped. Consider also the case of Samuel.

6. The Consequences: The emphasis in the consequences is not on her losing her life, but on losing her opportunity to marry and have children (verses 37-39). This is not about her becoming lifeless, but childless and husbandless.

7. Commemorate not lament: Some versions tell us that “The daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah.” The Hebrew word for “lament” here is not translated “lament” anywhere else in Scripture. It other places it means “to rehearse, to commemorate.”  The Israelite women are not going to lament her death but to remember with worshipful joy her devotion to God.

8. Possibility of Repentance: Leviticus tells us that rash vows can be repented off and replaced with money. Jephthah and his family had 2 months to find this out and put it right.

9. Leadership Credibility: Jephthah is not punished for this but reigns for six more years. Would he ever have been followed by people if he had sacrificed his daughter?

10. Hall of Faith: In the only other two places Jephthah is mentioned, he’s commended (1 Samuel 12:11 & Hebrews 11:32). Given that Judges 11 is the only thing we know about Jephthah, he would hardly have been included in such exalted company if the only thing we know about him was a gruesome sacrifice of his daughter.

He did not sacrifice his daughter but devoted her to the Lord’s service. He made a holy vow and kept it in a holy manner by devoting his only child to the Lord’s service for the rest of her days. And his godly daughter demonstrates beautiful godliness and submission as well, effectively counseling her father, “Dad, don’t cry, God’s given us victory over our enemies. What’s my little life for a few short years in comparison with all that He has done for us.”

I think it’s a tragedy how Jepththah and his daughter have been so maligned for such outstanding faith. Lots of commentators are going to have a lot of explaining to do when they meet them in heaven! Anyone want to start a Resurrect Jephthah’s Reputation Society?

You can hear more about the Judges, Jephthah’s faith and how he points us to Jesus in the following podcast.

Link to Jesus On Every Page Podcast

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

In today’s podcast I reference the following resources:

Nick Batzig on David as a Type of Christ.

Tony Merida on Preaching Christ in all the Scriptures.

Previous podcasts here.

Four Friends, Four Books

Here are four new books that you should consider for your book budget in the coming month. I really hope these books sell well and influence widely, not just because the authors have become friends over the years, but also because they cover four extremely important topics for individual Christians and for the church at large.

What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done
This is a book that’s been a long time in writing, but having been an avid reader of Matt Perman’s blog for a few years, I know it’s a book worth waiting for. So many Gospel-centered books don’t seem to touch real life, especially for the working man – that’s too “worldly.” And so many leadership and productivity books have no interest in the Gospel – that’s too “spiritual.” Matt has the rare ability to unite both. Here’s a video of an address gave at a Fortune 100 company recently on how to be a Christian in a secular workplace. He talks about avoiding the twin errors of spiritual weirdness (such as thinking you need to insert the gospel into every conversation, or call attention to God through strange trinkets like the “Faithbook” t-shirt I came across at a truck stop once) on the one hand and, on the other hand, thinking that our faith bears no relation to our work at all.” You can buy his book here and read John Piper’s foreword here.

United: Captivated by God’s Vision for Diversity
Click above for an interview with Trillia Newbell whose writings the Lord has greatly used in my own life not only to better understand biblical diversity but to love it, embrace it, and pursue it in my own life and in the church. You can buy it here and watch a conversation below between Trillia, Thabiti, and Kristie. Next to seeing a free North Korea before I die, more diverse churches are second on my wish list.

Preparing Your Teens For College
Preparing Your Teens For CollegeAlex Chediak’s another online friend who’s also had a major influence upon my thinking, this time in the area of College. His Thriving at College is a superb book for kids going to college (every church should have a box of these for every young person going to college each year). And now he’s written the partner volume for parents, Preparing Your Teens for College. You can read the first two chapters here to whet your appetite, then buy the book here.

The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived
Final Days of JesusI don’t think anything has ever helped me so much to enter into the final and climactic sufferings of Christ as this book by Justin Taylor and Andreas Kostenberger. By arranging the Gospel accounts in chronological order and reconstructing the timetable of the last week of Christ’s life, you feel as if you are present every step of the way, witnessing your own salvation being worked out and purchased. The additional notes and commentary are factual more than devotional, but the momentum of truth gradually builds until your heart is aflame with love for such a great God and Savior. Free study guide here and purchase here.