May 16, 2023
“The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.”
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“The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. Then the Israelites inquired of the Lord. In those days, the ark of the covenant of God was there, and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was serving before it. The Israelites asked: ‘Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites or should we stop?’ The Lord answered: ‘Fight, because I will hand them over to you tomorrow.’ So Israel set up an ambush around Gibeah. Judges 20:26-29 (HCSB)
Judges 20 is an example of “righteous indignation.” That is, once the Lord ordered Benjamin to be destroyed, the rest of Israel put family relations aside in pursuit of God’s will. This begs the question: Have you avoided holding a family member or someone close to you accountable because you don’t want to damage the relationship? Well, the truth is that the relationship is already damaged! Avoiding the “elephant in the room” will only prolong someone’s dysfunction. You should never value a relationship itself more than the well-being of the other person in the relationship. At that point, you’re only in the relationship for how it makes you feel. That’s not a relationship. That’s co-dependence.
We have learned over the past few chapters (because God has reinforced this idea daily) that the times of the Judges were times when people did what was right “in their own minds.” In Chapter 20, the “children of Israel” (Joshua 20:17) decided to unify and go to war against their brothers, the tribe of Benjamin. Before they went to war, they sought the Lord, Who directed them into battle. The problem arose when, after having sought the Lord and received His direction, Israel was soundly defeated by Benjamin. Men died. One may ask, “Is that fair? Why would God direct His people into battle and then allow them to lose?”
Perhaps, God was drawing Israel into a deeper relationship with Him. It is as if the people sought the Lord flippantly the first time and anxiously the second. When they approached Him from those postures, the Lord answered, “Of course, you should fight!” because it was the appropriate response to the offense. Yet, He did not promise Israel victory over Benjamin until they were truly broken and recognized their dependence upon Him. How do you approach the Lord? From a posture of scarcity (lack of resources) or abundance (recognizing God has more than enough resources to accomplish any task or situation He leads us to)?
One final thing to consider as we exit the “outrage in Benjamin” with respect to Gibeah is how the Lord chose a Benjamite from Gibeah to be king when the people asked. Beware of getting what you ask for.
“Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population.’ And all the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’ Samuel proclaimed to the people the rights of kingship. He wrote them on a scroll, which he placed in the presence of the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each to his home. Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, and brave men whose hearts God had touched went with him.” 1 Samuel 10:24-26 (HCSB)
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©Steve Wiggins 2021