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Passage: Judges 19-21

On Friday, April 3, 2015 (Last Updated on 4/3/2018), Yujin wrote,

It shall come about, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we shall say to them, "Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin a wife in battle, nor did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty."

The Israelites told the men of Benjamin to grab a wife during the celebration at Shiloh because if they "took" the women in this way, it could not be said that these women were "given" to them. Thus, they found no problem violating the spirit of their oath as long as they held to the letter of it. But were they really holding to even the letter since they encouraged the Benjamites to do this and assuaged the relatives by seeking their consent afterwards? 

Like Jephthah's oath, the Israelites' oath was also a foolish one. This too feeds into the closing commentary, "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

Friends, we fault former president Clinton for being disingenuous when he told the Grand Jury that he did not "have sex" with Monica Lewinsky. And rightly so, for he was simply parsing words in order to avoid admitting his crime. 

Our generation has become masters at parsing and twisting words so that sinful acts appear justified. Terms get redefined. Abortion-rights activists are called "pro-choice." Homosexuality is simply deemed an "alternative lifestyle." Illegal aliens are considered "undocumented workers".  And even when we cannot change the character of a wrong to make it look right, we appeal to our circumstances and upbringing to free ourselves from guilt. When black people rage against the police, people are reminded that blacks were oppressed in the past. When a father abuses his child, attention is drawn to the father's being neglected as a child by his parents. When Muslim terrorists kill Christians, some argue that these people simply want to be heard. 

Like Micah and his idols, like the idolatrous Danites, like the man with his concubine, like the immoral Benjamites, like these misguided Israelites, every one in their turn had a twisted morality and a distorted perspective of God's Law. 

Today, we are in danger of the same thing happening. Less and less people know God's Word. Even Christians are too dependent on their pastors and teachers to tell them what the Word of God says and means. People do not know the Bible for themselves.

The crisis in Israel was not a sudden phenomenon but was present from the very beginning, for we read

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).

This was clearly the begining of the end for Israel except for God's intervention through various judges and particularly through the last judge, Samuel. 

Friends, unless we develop a lifestyle of learning the Bible for ourselves and encourage our children and others to do the same, we may find ourselves just one generation away from the ignorance that leads to a Judges-like spiritual decline. 

Today, they are talking about equal rights for homosexuals! It is not enough that Christians are called to tolerate this immoral behavior in others, they are being forced to embrace and support it. The desire for moral purity is now being labeled bigotry. Politicians and judges, who care more for popular acceptance than truth and morality, are supporting such changes in our society. The acceptance of homosexuality is described as progressive when it is actually regressive, extending as far back as Sodom and Gomorrah, which God finally destroyed by fire and sulfur when their immorality and violence had reached a tipping point. 

The answer is the same as it has always been. People need to know the Word of God. It is the Word of God that will provide the clarity and perspective for Christians to navigate the murky waters of worldly philosophy and moral ambivalence. 

Passage: Judges 19-21

On Friday, May 31, 2013, Fernando wrote,

Judge 19-21

19:1 In these days when there was no king in Israel

21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Between these verses we see a crime and war and mercy. God’s provisions of life are kept (provisions of law and purging of evil).  This time was without a king but not without rules and order and a system of justice.

While the lord predicted prior to Samuel’s day that a King would come in a line of kings, we also receive a warning a revelation that having a king is not what God choose for Israel.

1 samuel  12

12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king.

The Lord warns what will happen when you do not have God as your immediate ruler, but place a proxy ruler over you.

1 samuel 8

11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Many would argue that our current government system is what is needed and the best way for reasons of justice and mercy and defense and economics (but would suggest this is akin to “the king will… claim as his rights”). But, if what the Lord has prepared is better, it should not be disregarded and I believe is the ultimate condition when Christ returns – The Lord of lords will rule over the earth, man to man.

James 1:25 & James 2:12 refer to a Law of Liberty. To package this with a bow, the Law of Liberty is the life and set of protocols God has prepared for everyday life. In the pre-king days, the days of Judges, there were wars and victories; there were property rights, there was justice, as we see in the story of the Levite and the purging against the tribe of Benjamin.

This time of no king was actually a time with a King (cf 1 samuel 12:12) “even though the Lord your God was your king.”

Elements of living under the fruits of the Law of Liberty can be seen in secular history. Times when there was no proxy between communities and God, this Liberty was under God’s Law – the ‘Law of Liberty’ (my use of the term is not what the bible implies in the term. But the manner in which God rules over us, and he even suggested to the Israelites is what I am suggesting.)

The Not So Wild, Wild West (a book I have not read but have heard lectures from it), is a book that looks at the ‘wild west’ piecing together how the wild west functioned without a government over it. There is a need for order and protection and this is to be executed by the people, as we see the Tribes doing. In the West, the communities would establish chambers and arbitration associations that would settle disputes. They had not legal right outside of the collective community to force obedience from the people, but those who did not play fair faced being shunned – as we see God providing for the Tribes. Violence faced the violence of the community – as we see the Tribes do against Benjamin.

You can even see a more modern application of this between international corporations. There are international arbitration courts, similar to the kinds developed in the ‘wild west.’ These courts have no power over a company in another country but if the corporations do not comply with the authority of these courts they face repercussions.

To obey authority is right, but authority does not need to mean what we know it to be. Children should submit to their parents, parents to their God, those who have authority to God. Just as the Lord wanted to be Israel’s king, just as he wants to be your King, and has put a plan in Christ for the fullness of time (Ephesians 1) to be the ruling king of the world, the blessings to obeying him in any circumstances are available – the conditions do not matter; such as the oppressive days of the new testament writers, theocratic rule of the Catholic church, or democracies of the current world – the Law of Liberty is always available, as available as God.

Romans 13

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

Many of the early American leaders tied liberty with virtuous people. Where they failed was in not tying this virtue to a more solid foundation than “these truths are self-evident.” If the church would rise to be the glorious body that it can be as it will be one day, we could live under a kind of greatness that was offered to the Israelites - not necessarily promises of land and such covenants but of comes form God's presence when we humble ourselves before him. The church must fast.

Fast in the sense of humbling ourselves and realize our true position, unworthy and truly appreciating what has been and continues to be given to. This is what the lord points to as our reason for being kind (because he was kind) for being merciful (because he was merciful). We must take this kind of fast; the fast expressed in Isaiah 58:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I

Passage: Judges 19-21

On Tuesday, April 3, 2012 (Last Updated on 4/3/2018), Yujin wrote,

Once again, we are given another picture of abject depravity in Israel. The story is of a Levite and his concubine. First of all, this Levite takes a concubine for himself, yet there is no indication that he has a wife. It appears that he is just unwilling to give her the status and privileges of a wife. 

While some translations of 19:2 read that she "played the harlot," there is good support for the variant reading, namely, that she was "angry with him" (see article). The context supports this latter translation better. Being so angry, she leaves him and goes back to her father's home.

Only after four long months does the Levite consider reconciliation. Now, he intends to "speak personally to her and persuade her to come back," (Judges 19:3), but when he gets to her, he spends day after day carousing with the father. When he is finally ready to leave, we are told that "he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine..." (Judges 19:10). I think there is a subtle message here that this Levite considered his concubine not much different from his animals.

As he travels back, the Levite chooses not to rest in the foreign town of Jebus, thinking that he would be safer in Gibeah, a town of Israel. Two things should become clear here. First, the very fact that there is a foreign town remaining signifies Israel's disobedience to God, because they were commanded to destroy and displace all these Canaanite towns. Second, and worse, we will discover that the towns of Israel were no safer, if not more dangerous, than the foreign towns. 

When they reach Gibeah, we discover that no one in the town is willing to give them hospitality, even though they require no provisions but shelter for the night (Judges 19:18-19). Again, this is more indication of their depravity. Israel was commanded in the Law to show hospitality even to foreigners, but here was a fellow Israelite, even a Levite, and they were unwilling to show hospitality to him.

But an old man, an out-of-town resident, shows them hospitality. But he does so with this foreboding warning: "But whatever you do, don't spend the night in the square" (Judges 19:20). In other words, it was understood that the town was not safe. So, what is about to happen was no coincidental occurrence. 

It would not be long before some "troublemakers" surround the house, asking for the Levite to be brought out to them for sex. The old man tries to assuage the mob and offers his virgin daughter and the man's concubine (seems kind of presumptuous here). Even this is heinous. But when wickedness is so prevalent, even morality gets twisted. The turn of events here almost precisely parallels the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed by fire. Compare this account with that one:

“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”  “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof” (Genesis 19:2-8).

I don't think this exact parallel is by accident. The writer wants us to understand that the conditions in Israel had descended so far that they were like the depraved city of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God judged by fire in the days of Abraham and Lot. 

Finally, the Levite steps foward and does the noble thing. No! He grabs his concubine and forces her out to the mob. This concubine that he would not legally take as a wife. This concubine that he had so offended that she left him to go to her father's house. This concubine that he intended to speak kindly to and persuade to come back with him. He throws her to the dogs.

After all the men rape her one after another, she returns to the house and then presumably dies there. When the husband sees her the next morning he does not comfort her or embrace her but gruffly says, "Get up! Let's go!" (Judges 19:28). Surely, he is more ashamed of her than sympathetic here.

After all of this, seeing the woman not moving, there is no indication that he checks to see if she is really dead or tries to get her treatment. Instead, the man cuts her up, sends her in pieces to the other tribes of Israel, and incites revenge, causing thousands of deaths, both of Israelites and Benjaminites. 

It is interesting that when he gives the account of what happened, he modifies the events somewhat. He says that the "leading citizens of Gibeah" came out against him. But the account indicates that it was a "crowd of troublemakers." These are hardly leading citizens. The Levite also says that they were planning to kill him. But the account indicates that they wanted to have sex with him. He also ommitted the part that he gave his concubine to the mob for them to rape her. Finally, he presumed that they raped her until she was dead. But she was alive right up to her coming back to the house. It appears that this Levite was not looking out for her, since he did not notice her till he went out the next morning. In other words, he could have saved her life.

The Israelites mustered their armies to go after Benjamin. Someone asked me why God allowed the Israelites to be defeated twice and lose thousands of lives before giving Benjamin over to them. I think it was because God was judging Israel as well as Benjamin. Note that when they inquired of God, it was not to repent or to get God's perspective but rather to get strategic help. They asked God from the first, "Which tribe should go first to attack the people of Benjamin?" (Judges 20:18). They didn't didn't didn't humble themselves before God. They didn't repent of the sins of Benjamin. They were only out for blood. Only after they suffered two huge losses did they humble themselves and repent, suggested in the "burnt offerings and peace offerings to the LORD" (Judges 20:26). 

The conditions didn't get any better in the remainder of the story. That is why right at the end of the account we once again get the commentary,

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

Apart from God's Lordship over our lives, apart from the wisdom of His Word to guide us, we would be no better than these misguided, self-directing Israelites. We would be no better than the Sodomites. We would be no better than the people destroyed by the Great Flood. In some ways, I fear that most people, even Christians, are not far from this state of mind. 

Therefore, I appeal to all of you. Choose to be the faithful remnant, which, though always a few, have been a part of every depraved generation from the beginning of time. Make it your priority to have real faith by diligently studying God's Word and humbly submitting every aspect of your lives in obedience to it. I feel that I am still so far away from where I need to be, yet I spend hours in His Word every day. So what does this say about some of you?! The words of James comes to mind:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:7-10).

Passage: Judges 19-21

On Sunday, April 3, 2011, Unmi wrote,
The beginning of this sad story begins with "In those days Israel had no king." (Judges 19:1) and ends with "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit." (Judges 21:25)
When I first read this, my initial thought was that it was talking about not having a human king since the Israeli monarchy had not been established yet, but as I thought about it more, I actually think that the "king" that this verse is referring to is God himself.  God had established the nation of Israel in the land of Canaan as a theocracy. God was their king, and "in those days," Israel had rejected God as their king, they neither worshipped or obeyed Him. Instead, "everyone did as they saw fit."
So what happens when everyone does whatever they see fit? The entire book of Judges is about that exact situation and culminates in the story of the Levite and his concubine.  With each progressive generation there is increasing depravity both individually and as a nation. Romans chapter 1 explains what happens when man rejects God.  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts...God gave them over to shameful lusts...God gave them over to a depraved mind...They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. (Romans 1:24-31)
But God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, saved us from our own depravity for without the Spirit of God in our lives we are also doomed for the same fate. Therefore, let us acknowledge who our King is and become faithful and obedient servants to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Passage: Judges 19-21

On Sunday, April 4, 2010, Fernando wrote,
We don't hear God's voice here. Can we infer what God would find pleasing? They made a vow and kept it, good; even so twice. They purged evil, good. But they are facing completely eradicating a tribe and find a solution through a loop hole. assuming God wants his people for his glory, I imagine stealing from tribe to another is .... Acceptable? I would have liked to see them ask God for a solution like they did in the battle. This loop hole solution and turning a blind eye... What can be inferred from God's character as to his view on this and possible preferred outcome?