The Importance of Scriptural Literacy in the Bible and Now

If Scripture shows the heart of God, how can we know him without understanding it? Scriptural illiteracy is not a modern phenomenon and neither is the damage it does.

The Story of Jephthah

The Old Testament tells the story of Jephthah, a military leader and judge whose Scriptural illiteracy lead to a disastrous outcome.

The story of Jephthah demonstrates the importance of understanding the nature of God something that has not changed since, says Jon* of the Program for Theological Education by Extension (PTEE).

In that time, the Israelites fighting the Ammonites and Jephthah was appointed as leader. After this appointment he made a vow, Jon says.

“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 New International Version).

Jephthah was met with great success and returned home. However, it was his daughter and only child who walked out of the house. The two both agree that regardless the vow must be fulfilled and the daughter is sacrificed. Though some scholars interpret this verse as the daughter being set to a life of celibacy and solitude.

Jephthah and Scriptural Illiteracy

“That story, it gives us pause as believers when we read it because it just does not feel like the right thing has been done. But the story doesn’t really say ‘did you do the right thing did he do the wrong thing?’ The narrator is quite silent and I think that’s on purpose. I think that the storyteller, the person who wrote the book of Judges, is inviting us to test our Bible knowledge to see whether Jephthah did the right thing or not,” says Jon.

In fact, Leviticus Chapter Five warns against making rash vows. There is even a way to atone for such a rash vow via an animal offering.

“I suppose, he did not know the Torah. And then the second part is why would he think it’s okay that God would enjoy and be pleased with a child sacrifice,” Jon says.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Kali Katerberg