God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 6 - Judges 19-21: Civil War to Purge Evil

Today’s Reading: Judges 19-21

The Message

English Standard Version

Congratulations! You have made it through yet another book of the Bible (#8). The most depressing part is over (for a while, at least). Look for a great story tomorrow.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God's Chosen People do not want to fight their brothers but they have no choice.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

A Levite man and his concubine stayed in Gibeah, a city in Benjamin’s land. Unable to get at the Levite to molest him, Gibeah's men raped his concubine until she died. The Levite sent pieces of her body to the tribes. They sent representatives and decided to kill the men of Benjamin. They each swore not to marry the tribe's daughters.
Before each battle, God directed their steps and allowed the tribes to defeat Benjamin.
Distraught, the surviving Benjamites asked for wives for their sons. The other tribes allowed them to take wives from the people who did not fight.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

This story shows how evil God's Chosen People could become.

This story is out of chronological order—it happened near the beginning of the time of the judges. This story brings out the similarities between Sodom and Gomorrah and Gibeah. When Sodom and Gomorrah defiled God's land He rained fire upon them and destroyed the cities. In one way Gibeah is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. They did not have a covenant with God. They were not God's Chosen People. God had not saved their ancestors from slavery. God did not give them land. Gibeah had no excuse. God's Chosen People have no excuse to do wicked acts.

The people of Israel are rightly outraged and are willing to act.

This is important for the entire story. It is not enough that the man has provided proof of what happened. Israel must act swiftly to purge the evil from the land. So they fight. God can set things right on this earth when His Chosen People are willing to police themselves.
What does this mean for Christians today? This part is difficult because we have such different communities of Christians who are no longer in one culture. Several churches attempt to police the entire Christian world even though they have no influence on the ones they are trying to change. They preach sermons, they write "open letters," they teach classes about what other churches do, and they tell each other how bad these groups are. These acts are not the same as what went on in Israel. The best place to apply this text is our local congregation, our local towns, our spheres of influence. Americans getting hot and bothered by what Christians are doing in the Outback of Australia won't change anything until they are willing to send a force to bring justice to these Christians. Condemning the sins of people outside of your sphere of influence from pulpits and gossip is not the same thing as setting things right on the earth.

The tribes ask God to measure their response.

Israel does not want to fight Benjamin; however, they must purge their land of evil. This quandary is solved by asking God for the proper response. "They set out and went to Bethel to inquire of God. The People of Israel said, "Who of us shall be first to go into battle with the Benjaminites?" God said, 'Judah goes first'" (20:18, The Message). This continued every day they fought. When God's Chosen People police themselves, they should ask God for the proper, measured response.

May we all obey God and never need policing.

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