Judges 20:4–7 (ESV) 4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. 5 And the leaders of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house against me by night. They meant to kill me, and they violated my concubine, and she is dead. 6 So I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel, for they have committed abomination and outrage in Israel. 7 Behold, you people of Israel, all of you, give your advice and counsel here.”
Last time, we looked at seven signs that a culture is crumbling under its own corruption. Rewarding evil, especially in the home headed the list. And second, was the personalizing of religion – so that it becomes completely subjective. And it is in considering that second element that I want to return today to consider the aftermath of the conditions outlined in Judges 17 & 18. It shows itself in all of its grizzly detail in chapter 19, summarized above in chapter 20.
A Levite, not living in one of the appointed Levitical cities, in a questionable relationship with a concubine, went to bring her home after she ran away from him. Acting on religious bigotry, he seeks shelter in a town of professing but non-practicing Jews, instead of staying among the pagans. When he is attacked in his host’s house by a band of men reminiscent of the events at Sodom and Gomorrah, he tosses his concubine out to the rabble, who rape her all night. She crawls back just before dawn, and passes out on the door step. The spineless, twisted Levite prods her to get up so they can go – and in her unresponsive state, transports her back home, where he either finishes the job of killing her himself (the text isn’t clear) or simply dismembering her into 12 pieces – sending the mutilated remains throughout the 12 tribes to get them to act on how he sees HE’S been abused. In his account (above) – he never mentions his own complicity – just the “abomination and outrage” it all is.
Now 4 things stand out in all of this.
1. (Chap. 17) Personalized “designer” religion which is built around the celebration of human goodness, without reference to mankind’s fallen condition and need for redemption – cannot help but eventually feed into the basest features of mankind eventually ruling the day. How desperately we need to address this very issue in American “Christianity”.
2. (18:1 & 19:1) Rejection of God as king in the heart and mind of the individual, in favor of a mere “helper-Deity” whose purpose is to make me happy – will always unravel the person, the home and society. This will be magnified in 1 Samuel when the people cry out for a king like the nations around them – only to be 1 Samuel 8:7 (ESV) “And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” Jesus cannot merely be our Savior – He MUST be our Lord. Or it isn’t Christianity.
3. (18:1) Abandonment of God’s goal and purposes for something easier and more desirable is ultimately cosmic treason.
4. Look at the unimaginable patience and grace of God to endure all of this from His own people – without utterly destroying them.
What a God we serve. What a Christ is ours. What a salvation is brought to us by His blood.