Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Modern Day Jephthah


We all hear stories in the news from time to time of some child who tragically dies because his or her parents refused medical attention.  Many of these cases involve certain churches that convince their members that medical treatment is sinful or that it is a lack of faith.  As foolish as this is, many sometimes wonder why these children are allowed to die for the foolish decisions of their parents.  Sadly, many fail to consider that God will many times allow the natural consequences of our actions play out in our lives.  The worst of these cases are not when those consequences are taken out on the one who makes the foolish decision, but on the ones that they love.  Let's look at a similar situation from the Bible.
And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, "If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering." So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith--twenty cities--and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she [was his] only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it."   Judges 11:30-35 NKJV
Jephthah made a foolish pledge.  He promised God that no matter what came out to greet him at his house, he would sacrifice it to God, no matter what it was.  I do not know what he could have been thinking, but it was a rash decision made in foolish haste.  When he returned and his daughter ran out to him, he was crushed.  Please do not make the mistake that God desired him to sacrifice his daughter to Him.  The only person ever rightfully sacrificed was Jesus Christ and that was God's own son.  Yes, Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, but God never intended that sacrifice to come to completion.  Jephthah made a foolish pledge then foolishly acted out on it costing the life of his only daughter.  Such is the same as those parents today who watch their own children die out of some misguided idea of faith. 

What these people fail to realize is that God has never disallowed the use of modern technology or medicine.  Neither Jesus nor anyone else in the Bible make any mention of the sinfulness of using medicine.  In fact, Paul told Timothy to use wine for his stomach.  Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts, was a physician.  Jesus even used the physically ill seeking an earthly physician as a metaphor for the spiritually sick seeking the Great Physician.  If you look at Old Testament law, much of it was centered around being sanitary to prevent illness and priests were given medical knowledge on how to diagnoses certain illnesses and even how to determine if they were cured.  The very idea that we are to ignore modern medicine screams foolishness.  The Bible never makes such a claim, nor should we. 

God uses modern technology.  That is a fact we can not deny.  Jesus and the apostles used sandals for walking to protect their feet.  Of course we do not see sandals as "technology," but at that time it was.  The armies of Israel used modern weapons to affect victories given by God.  Yes there were time when God's angels destroyed the armies of Israel's enemies, but that was not always the case.  In fact, that was a minority of the time.  The men put on their armor, took up their swords, rode their chariots, and used all the weapons of what was modern warfare at that time.  Israel also used what was modern transportation in that they rose the seas on ships and the land on carts and animals.  Once again, not modern by our standards, but modern by their standards.  Why would God use modern technology for everything but medicine?  Why is armor fine for protecting a soldier from an enemy even for a soldier trusting in God, but a vaccine is not just as fine for someone protecting their body from an illness?  I understand that the Word of God must define science, but plain simple science can not be ignored.  A cold is not a spiritual attack by satanic forces, but an attack on our body by tiny organisms we have since discovered.  Infections are not some mystical spiritual thing, but an overgrowth of bacteria in some part of our body.  Cancer is not supernatural, but a very natural mutation of some part of our body.  Our bodies are physical things that are subject to physical attack.  We trust God to heal, but we must allow God to use whatever means He sees as fit and not whatever means we think are more spiritual. 

The fact is that unless God explicitly tells us so, we are completely foolish to turn away modern medicine when facing disease.  God has provided some amazing cures and turning those away are turning away things God has provided that have saved countless lives.  Some may like to think they are being more faithful, but they are just being more prideful and they are tempting God.  Satan whispers the lie that whenever we are sick, God will heal us.  That is not true.  Many faithful Christians have died of illness and every faithful Christian has died of something.  Until the rapture, that will be a fact of life.  God has given us free will so people are free to foolishly tempt God out of some misguided notion of faith.  Personally, I would rather follow the example of Jesus when He was faced with the same notion of tempting the Father.
and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In [their] hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' "  Matthew 4:6-7 NKJV

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