Archive for the ‘Benjamites’ Category

I Don’t Want to Do it My Way!

Oh I can’t wait for the refreshment that will be found in Ruth! Because these last five chapters have been a real cesspool…and sometimes hitting a little too close to home.

The last chapter of Judges (Judges 21) continues the soap opera of life where “every man went to his own tribe…to his own family….every man to his own inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
(her could just as easily be substituted for his)

And just like I couldn’t wait for Judges to end, so I can’t wait for the same conniving to end in my own life.

Just how many man-made schemes have we read about this month in our journey through Judges? Every question posed to the “children of God” seems to end up one way or the other, involving harm and death.

And what have these brilliant plans of men accomplished? They have gone full-circle. Their ultimate solution for the mistreatment of a woman (Judges 19) is the exploitation of at least 600 more women (Judges 21).

Oh the progress and forward thinking of mankind!

I have a tendency to relate more to the prodigal son rather than the older son in Luke 15. As a result, I’m inclined to criticize those who look down on others, all the while sympathizing with the one who wasted their riches with swine.

So in my forward thinking, I end up judging those who judge others. Hmmmmmm. Now how is that really all that different?

So here are the children of Israel judging the Benjamites for mistreating a woman, who end up mistreating women to help the Benjamites! Oh God for a heaven-centered balance!

Just how scheming, conniving, manipulative, rationalizing, and deceived we can become if the Lord does not intervene in our lives and disrupt the whole vicious cycle of it all!

O Lord, I don’t want to do it my way. My heart is desperately wicked and is unable to see what is right and good. Let me live in Your reality. Lord Jesus be my King.

The Costliness of Poor Choices

These last few chapters are an unusual read especially when I study them right after asking the Lord to communicate with me. “Lord speak to me. Show me Your mind.” And then to read about a prostitute gang raped leading to her death. Hmmmm.

Today’s no exception to this puzzling response from the Lord to my request. Judges 20 has me scratching my head, wandering what is going on with the children of Israel.

It seems like the last 5 chapters of Judges show an internal breakdown of Israel’s worship and unity. A whole disintegration of Israel seems to be occurring. As soon as we behave in an ungodly fashion (ie, neglecting God), unrighteousness is soon to follow, until we get outright wicked in our ways.

Aside from the bloody civil war that has occurred within Israel, the most noticeable element of this account was how often the concept of “one man” or “unity” is mentioned. I’m thankful to see that at least everyone else understood the atrocity of what was done to this lady.

What was Benjamin thinking? Why rally all your men to protect the guilty perpetrators? Where is their outrage? How did they manage to get unanimity in this decision to protect these murderers?

Whether it was tired of being the “little tribe” or the “youngest brother”, or being confronted by so many at one time, or a soft compassion for the rapists that thought the law of Moses was too harsh, their choice had far-reaching ill effects.

  • A civil war broke out.
  • 40,000 Israelites were slain.
  • 21,000 Benjamites were killed.
  • The whole city of Gibeah, men, women and children, up in smoke.

The only folks who needed to be dealt with were the men who raped and murdered the woman of chapter 19. But Benjamin’s choice cost so much more.

Conviction for me comes from the two battles that were fought and lost by the zealous children of Israel who inquired of the Lord.

  • A tenth of the men of Israel, were lost in that battle with Benjamin.
  • God demonstrated that the “race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.”
  • Attempting great exploits for God by trusting in our power and schemes shall always fail.
  • Israel had their own sins that needed to be addressed. (we need to remove the plank from our own eye before dealing with the iniquitous sliver in a brother’s eye)
  • And we must not think it strange that a good cause should suffer defeat for a while.
  • Nor should we judge the merits of a cause by the success of it.
  • Loss and affliction humbles us like no other impetus

Lord Jesus Christ, may my responses be in accordance with Your will. Preserve me from choices that are motivated by selfishness or ego. Gently humble me so I might perceive the world through Your eyes.

The Levites as a Litmus Test

Seems like after Samson’s death in chapter 16, things have been looking pretty bleak. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprise, after all, these chapters are just an outworking of what happened in the garden “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” We always seem to be wanting to define what is good and evil.

Thinking about today’s chapter, Judges 19, wasn’t all that fun. It was horrifying, graphic, angering, it stirred emotions that don’t get stirred very much in this news-evading, tv-drama-avoiding gal. But still God spoke to me about my own issues.

  • There’s the topic of procrastination again, which could have contributed to the ghastly events later in the chapter (verses 5-10).
  • What about the whole idea of judging those not of “our denomination” or “faith-base”? Though he was near Jerusalem and the day was far spent, he pressed on in the night to avoid staying with “foreigners”. (It looks like he would have been better off he had stayed with those who were NOT children of Israel).
  • Then there is the issue of just how wickedly the Benjamites treated their brother Levite. Can family really be so cruel?
  • Homosexuality makes an appearance in this chapter, along with rape, prostitution and pimping.
  • Oh, and how about the dramatics the Levite employed at the end of the chapter, almost as an attempt to lessen his involvement in the whole merciless exploitation?

It makes the head spin and the heart faint. 

And I’m wondering why I don’t feel this outraged when I hear about the kangaroo trial the Lord had to endure, and the gang rape of the whole world’s sin being put upon Him on the cross. Have I become so desensitized to the gruesome horror of the cross, that even Mel can’t capture the perversion of it all?

The last few chapters have a common denominator in the story line. Yes, there is the downward spiral. And the headlong trip into idolatry. But what strikes me the most is who the lead role is.<

The Levite, in chapters 17, 18 and then this chapter, serve as a litmus to just how acidic things were getting in Israel. What happens when the watchman is the burglar? Or he who is to be setting people free, is tossing folks in the dungeon? 

  • In chapter 17 the Levite is satisfied to disregard Micah’s idolatry for a few bucks. 
  • Chapter 18 have the Danites toting along a very cheerful and willing Levite to “bless” their corruption and disobedience.
  • Then there is the behavior we have from a Levite in this chapter.

Question…why isn’t he serving in the temple? Why is the Lord’s business being neglected? Could it be that if the Levites would have been tending to the calling the Lord placed on them, that not only would they be staying out of trouble, but perhaps all of Israel would be more godly?

I can imagine the excuses being rendered (not hard to imagine, because I hear them echoing in my mind). 

  • “Well, they aren’t paying us the offering like God said they should?” 
  • “Nobody wants to worship in today’s society.” 
  • “The times they are a changin’.” 
  • “What difference will one person make?” 
  • “I’m just taking a little hiatus.” 
  • etc.

Interesting that the story of David committing adultery with Bathsheba, and eventually murdering her husband, all began with:

“It happened at the time when kings go out to battle that David remained in Jerusalem and saw a woman bathing from his roof top.” 

Why wasn’t he where he was suppose to be? Oh the grief it would have spared him and other people if he had been.

Oh Lord God, show me where You want me, and compel me to concert my energies and efforts in Your work, and not my own wonderings. Grant me a new heart towards the shocking work You did on the cross for my sake, awaken me to it. And Lord Jesus, I pray You will minister to those who have suffered any type of abuse, especially sexually.