Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Judges 17-21
Today’s reading in the Book of Judges marks the end of that period when Judges ruled in Israel. It was not God’s plan for Israel to have a king because He would Himself be the benevolent King of His people. To instruct and communicate His will to the people, the LORD appointed judges in the land. Some judges, like Samuel ruled well (1 Samuel 7:15), but others like Eli and his two sons (1 Samuel 4:10-18) brought disgrace to the office rousing the people to demand “a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5-6).
When Samuel prayed, the LORD instructed Him to “hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). The Apostle Paul would observe in the New Testament, “[the LORD] gave them judges until Samuel the prophet” (Acts 13:20).
Five times we read in today’s scripture, “In those days there was no king in Israel: but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25). To illustrate the wickedness and depravity that had taken hold in Israel, we are introduced to a man named Micah. Micah was guilty of stealing 1,1000 shekels of silver from his mother; however, learning she had uttered a curse on the thief, Micah returned the silver excusing his theft on the pretense of religion and his desire to have an idol shaped from the silver and revered in his “house of gods” (17:3). After returning the silver, Micah’s mother rewarded him with 200 shekels of silver, which he melted at a foundry and poured into a mold of the image that would serve as one of his idols (17:4-5). Increasing his wickedness further was Micah’s decision to employ a Levite priest to serve him and his gods (17:7-13).
In Judges 19 we learn the wickedness and immoral nature of Israel had become so great that the concubine (a woman of less stature than a wife) of a Levite priest had “played the whore against him” (191-2). Seeking and locating his concubine, the Levite priest journeyed toward his home, but along the way found it necessary to lodge in the home of an elderly man in the city of Gibeah that was of the tribe of Benjamin. The moral decadence of sodomy had become the practice of the men of Gibeah and that night they surrounded the house of the old man and demanded he put the Levite priest out of his house so they might sadistically rape him (19:22-23). To satisfy the immoral demands of the sodomites, the old man offered his daughter and the Levite’s concubine whom they took and violently raped until the morning light (19:24-26).
The Levite, finding his concubine dead at the threshold the next morning, returned home, took a knife and cut her corpse in twelve pieces that he sent as a rebuke to the twelve tribes of Israel (19:28-29).
Learning of the great wickedness in Gibeah, warriors of eleven tribes were stirred with indignation (20:1-11) and demanded the tribe of Benjamin deliver the sodomites of Gibeah into their hands (20:12). When the men of Benjamin refused, the tribes determined to go to war against Benjamin (20:13-17). At first, the battle went in favor of the rebellious tribe of Benjamin (20:18-25); however, after weeping, prayers, and offering sacrifices, the LORD assured Israel of victory (20:26-46).
Consider the cost that the tribe of Benjamin paid for tolerating sodomy in Gibeah: The tribe of Benjamin was decimated and only 600 men remained after the war (20:47-48). The Benjamites were also isolated from the other tribes who had determined their daughters would not be allowed to marry any men of Benjamin (21:1). Though victorious, the tribes of Israel were broken over the sin and wickedness that had taken hold in the land, leaving one of the twelve tribes nearly destroyed (21:2-6).
The book of Judges ends with this statement: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Those words describe our day for we are living in the midst of a nation that has rejected God, His Word, Law, and Commandments. America’s pulpits are filled with preachers who deflect the responsibility of declaring the Word of God and people who love the world sit in the pews and classrooms of our churches and schools (1 John 2:15-17). Like the mother of Micah who complimented his pretense of religion though he worshipped idols, too many Christian parents have compromised their homes and families accommodating the sinful carnality of their sons and daughters. Such compromise will inevitably lead to God’s judgment on our nation, homes, churches, and schools.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith