How Did God’s People Fall This Far?
Day: 43 | Plan: Joshua-Judges
Editor’s Note: Today's passage includes a sexual assault that may serve as a trigger due to something in your past. We have included a free resource at the end of the teaching that equips you with tools to help you overcome your past experience through the power of God's Word.
Today’s Reading: Judges 19
Judges 19:22 (NIV) “While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, ‘Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.’”
Immersing ourselves in God’s Word entails reading it in its entirety, even the hard stuff. Today is the hard stuff. It’s a chilling story I wish we could leave behind and study only that which is comforting and encouraging. But we can’t. “All Scripture”—not just the parts we are comfortable with—“is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Immorality, habitual sin, tolerance and compromise dominate our story today. As you read this passage, it might remind you of the times in which we live. We can use those same words to describe culture today. Times have changed, but people have not.
Judges 19 opens reminding us again that Israel had no king. Everyone continued to do what was right in their own eyes.
We meet an unnamed man, a Levite from Ephraim, and his concubine (a woman who had limited marital privileges). Scripture tells us she was unfaithful to him and fled to Bethlehem to be with her parents. The Levite, desiring reconciliation, followed a few months later to persuade her to come home. She and her family warmly welcomed him; they reconciled. It seemed a fairy tale ending to their troubled past.
Little did they know the terrifying evil lurking just around the corner. As they set off for home, nightfall came, necessitating they stop for the night. In Old Testament times, there were no inns or public houses. Custom dictated travelers wait at the town square for someone to take them in.
The Levite passed through pagan cities, intentionally choosing to stop in Gibeah, an Israelite city inhabited by Benjamites. He must have believed they would be safer there, with their own people. Curiously, only one person, an old man from Ephraim, welcomed them into his home.
Sometime during the evening, a gang of wicked men banged on the door, demanding the old man send out his male guest so they could have sex with him. Knowing God’s law forbid their detestable request, the host tried to dissuade them. (Leviticus 18:22; 1 Timothy 1:10) The law mandated he had a duty to protect his guest from harm.
Undeterred, the wicked men persisted, so the Levite shoved his concubine out the door to satisfy their desires. They raped her all through the night. The Levite not only failed to protect her but also slept through their abominable acts. Scripture tells us he “awakened” the next morning to find her lying unconscious in the doorway. He scooped her up, lay her over his donkey and headed home.
The real tragedy in our story today lies in the heritage of the evil men in Gibeah. They were not heathens or pagans. They were God’s people. Descendants of Benjamin’s tribe living in God’s Promised Land, under God’s authority, surrounded by and recipients of His abundant blessings. Yet, they lived as the pagans did. Doing what was right in their own eyes.
They arrived at this place because they failed to obey God’s command to destroy and eradicate the Canaanites who inhabited the Promised Land. Instead, they lived alongside the Canaanites, comingled their business and personal lives with them, married and had children with them. They not only tolerated sin, they embraced it. Morality slipped a bit here and a bit there until it led to moral confusion. Eventually, moral confusion led to the extreme moral decline witnessed in this story.
Times have not changed. We too live in a land of perverse morality. Where does our loyalty lie? Will we live as God’s holy and set apart people, or will we live a life of habitual sin and compromise? We can either accept God’s ways and experience the abundant blessings accompanying it or reject God’s ways and experience the crushing weight of its consequences.
Prayer: Father, I confess it’s sometimes easier to commit to obedience than actually do it. Sometimes I think my way is best or the world’s way makes more sense. Give me a heart of obedience. Give me a humble and willing spirit to walk in Your ways, no matter how intensely my feelings and emotions try to sway me. Help me to honor You in my choices and please You alone in all I say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If today’s teaching served as any kind of a trigger for you due to something in your past, you’re not alone. Research tells us sexual abuse and violence may affect as many as 1 in 3 women. Wendy has written a book about her triumph overcoming sexual assault through the power of God’s Word. Click here to download a free chapter of Wendy’s book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.
Read Genesis 19:1-10. Some refer to Judges 19 as Israel’s Sodom and Gomorrah. They compare... Read More
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