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Going to Extremes to Fulfill Your Promises

King Solomon is considered one of the wisest individuals to walk the face of the earth. One wise saying warns against making vows that you can’t keep, Ecclesiastes 5:4-5. From an Old Testament perspective, if you didn’t keep want you promised, your words were worthless and reputation ruined. This is the context and setting when the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah who presided over Israel as a judge for a period of six years.

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 Then whatever or whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it or him up as a burnt offering, Judges 11:30-31.

Following a victorious battle, Jephthah is overwhelmed by a spirit of thankfulness. Wanting to pay tribute to God, Jephthah is moved to make a vow in Judges 11:32. While in the wilderness with many miles to travel before reaching his home, Jephthah decided to offer up a burnt offering to the first creature that crossed his path. Unfortunately, the forests were barren and his daughter was the first to greet him. Instead of reneging, Jephthah goes to extreme measures to fulfill his promise to God.

But the other one reproved him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty? 41 And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way [nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable]. 42 Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory! 43 And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise, Luke 23:40-43.

As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, it was clear to first century scholars that the Messiah was living in their presence. When the time was right, Jesus began a three year earthly ministry. Using 12 disciples and an additional 72 according to Luke, these individuals planted spiritual seeds to form churches. When the appointed time arrived to fulfill Old Testament promises, the disciples were confused. Believing Jesus would become an earthly leader, rising up to become King of the Jews, Peter was ready to take up arms. Instead, God has another plan, sending his own son as a permanent sacrifice to die for mankind, John 3:16-17. This is how the Lord goes to extremes to fulfill biblical promises.

by Jay Mankus

What Rewards will Last?

During the first century, a spirit of favoritism began to spread throughout the church at Corinth. Based upon verses 4-7, some church members were elevating Apollos and Paul to god-like status. To nip this in the butt by preventing others from taking similar stances, Paul explains the role that leaders and preachers play in the spiritual growth of their flock. As individuals share their faith or reach out to the lost, spiritual seeds are sown. However, it is God who waters and makes these seeds grow.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 12 But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done, 1 Corinthians 3:11-13.

Fearful that some had already selfishly taken credit for winning souls to Christ, Paul uses an analogy to set people straight about spiritual rewards. Building upon the apostle’s teaching of 1 Peter 1:6-7, Paul refers to the refining process. This test will expose hidden agendas, motives and personal goals. After everything has been uncovered and laid bare, only those rewards built on the foundation of Christ will last. Anything else will become like dust in the wind, quickly vanishing from sight.

If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward. 15 But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire, 1 Corinthians 3:14-15.

The above passage appears to parallel Hebrews 10:26-27 with a different focus. While the author of Hebrews 10 blames addiction to sin for just barely getting into heaven, Paul eludes to those who will enter heaven without a reward. To avoid experiencing a spiritual Christmas in heaven without any gifts under the tree, Paul addresses which rewards will last. Just as Galatians 5:16-17 warns Christians about sinful desires, eternal rewards are accumulated by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Thus, as hearts, minds and souls look upward, these heavenly treasures will survive.

by Jay Mankus

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