Crumbling Under Compromise
Day: 44 | Plan: Joshua-Judges
Today’s Reading: Judges 20
Judges 20:12-13 (NIV) “The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What about this awful crime that was committed among you? Now turn those wicked men of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.’ But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites.”
The narratives of Joshua and Judges have been lessons in promise and pitfalls. Joshua is a book of conquest and Judges a book of compromise. As we near the end of Judges, the final recorded episodes of this dark period in the life of God’s people show how one compromise leads to another and ultimately the crumbling of a people.
The last few chapters have described the complete chaos that compromise can bring. In the story of Micah, we see the crumbling of the religious system of Israel. Israel was called by God to be a holy nation set apart for God. (Numbers 3:10; Leviticus 19:2) Micah is a man who steals from his mother, builds a shrine, makes an ephod and household gods out of cursed silver and then establishes his own priesthood. (Exodus 20:3-6, 12, 15) It’s corruption at its worst.
This mother’s complacency concerning her son’s lack of character is shocking. She is the instigator and an initiator of the idolatrous practices taking place in their home. (Judges 17:4) And a Levite passing through joins forces with them—making a complete mockery out of a sacred, God-ordained ministry. Everything about this home violates the law of God. (Judges 17)
It doesn’t take long for the corruption in the home to move into the culture. Why? Corruption is like cancer—it spreads. And soon the tribe of Dan is setting up their own community center for idolatry. (Judges 18) Their idolatry increases to include immorality and violence. (Joshua 19) It is a continuing downward spiral of sin. (Romans 1:21; Romans 1:32)
The sin in Israel continues to snowball in the story of the Levite and the concubine. The complete depravity of Israel’s community from a moral and political perspective is highlighted in this account. This story is appalling in its detail and leaves us wondering how things got this bad! How could such outrageous evil happen in Israel? When the Levite notifies Israel by sending the body parts of his concubine to each tribe, they are completely shocked by this horrific crime.
Today’s key verse shows that Israel rallied together and wanted to deal with the shocking sinful behavior in their midst. But the tribe of Benjamin stubbornly refused to turn over the wicked men of Gibeah. As a result, a bloody civil war broke out.
The Benjamites didn’t seek the Lord, admit their guilt or repent of sin. Instead of turning over the men guilty of gang rape and murder, they declared war against their brothers. (Judges 20:14) Perhaps their greatest sin was loyalty to their own tribe above their obedience to God’s Word. (Deuteronomy 13:12-18; Deuteronomy 22:25-26)
It’s sad but true: When we refuse to obey God’s Word, the results are always tragic.
Compromise leaves no part of our lives untouched by the consequence of our rebellion. It often starts small, but the cycle of sin will eventually leave a nation spiraling out of control. As we see in Judges 17–21 the decay of the family, the religious foundation and the social structure of a nation is a sobering scene. But it is what happens over time when we each do whatever we want to do and ignore God and His Word.
Oh, how like Israel we are! We often want to diagnose the problems in our churches, in our country or our world as being “out there.” The closing chapters of Judges show that the pieces begin to crumble and pile up when we ignore the sin right in our own hearts and in our homes.
I’m not fond of cleaning house in any sense. But can you imagine the collective improvements in our churches, communities and countries if we each looked at our own areas of compromise, humbly confess and ask Him to help us eliminate those?
- Are we allowing idols of control and independence to sit in our midst?
- Do we worship at the altars of comfort and self-promotion?
- Or perhaps we let gossip or bitterness or infighting fill our homes.
Let us be willing to come before the Lord with a heart of repentance. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Prayer: Lord, Your Word is truth. Thank You for these difficult but timely, applicable truths from Your Word. As we study these sobering passages may we pause to listen and to take these painful lessons to heart. Purify us with Your Word. Change us by Your Spirit. Reveal any areas of resistance … or compromise … or sin that may be creeping into our lives. Show us those places where we are refusing to obey You. Help us to recognize our sin and stop it before it begins to spiral out of control in our life! Lord, rally us around Your truth today and give us the courage to obey. In Jesus’ name, amen.
As we read the book of Judges, it becomes apparent that God’s people failed in so many... Read More
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