Today, Pastor Doug concluded our study of the Old Testament book of Judges. He reminded us that this is not an inspirational book, but rather a very instructive book, as it records one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history. As we discussed last week, during the period of the judges, “there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Sound familiar? As a nation, we have abandoned God and embraced self. Just like the Israelites, we have let our own desires, rather than God, become our moral standard. Therefore, we are free to alter those moral standards to suit our changing societal values and desires. We foolishly think we only have to answer to ourselves in the moral realm—just like the Israelites during the period of the judges.
Pastor Doug relayed a tragic account from the book of Judges which illustrates just how morally depraved the nation of Israel had become. The story involves a Levite (priest and spiritual role model) who has a mistress. The mistress commits adultery with someone else, leaves the priest, and flees to her father’s house. The priest decides he wants her back and goes to retrieve her.
On their way home they decide to spend the night in the town of Gibeah, which is in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (one of the twelve tribes of Israel). No one offers them a place to stay for the night, so they plan to sleep in the city square. Then, it just so happens that a man who used to live in the Levite’s hometown walks by and invites the priest and his mistress to spend the night at his house. At first, things go well as they enjoy a nice dinner at their host’s home. Then, suddenly, they hear a racket: people are throwing themselves against the door, yelling “Bring the man out that we may have sex with him.” This account no doubt brings to mind the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19).
The Levite offers the crowd his mistress in his place, she is terrorized all night long, and in the morning, she is dead. The priest then dismembers his dead mistress into twelve pieces, and sends them to each of the twelve tribes of Israel, to let them know what these men of Gibeah have done. Representatives from around Israel met and determined that the guilty parties in Gibeah should be punished. They sent a delegation to the leaders of the tribe of Benjamin and demanded that they turn over those guilty of committing this great sin. They refused to do so. Why, we don’t know. We can conjecture, however, based upon the dictates of moral relativism (where everyone does what is right in his own eyes), they could have argued, “Who are you to judge us if there is no supreme lawgiver to whom we are accountable? If there is no objective standard against which this mob’s behavior can be tested, if morality is personally or societally determined, what right do you have to disagree with our standards?” The result: two battles between the eleven other tribes of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, as well as 65,000 casualties in just three days. The tribe of Benjamin was defeated during the second battle, and virtually wiped out.
Societies that adopt the viewpoint of the tribe of Benjamin will inevitably move toward dissolution and irrelevance. They reap what they sow. And that is what happened to the tribe of Benjamin. How does this story apply to us and our culture at this particular moment in human history? There is a striking similarity between the rapid moral collapse of Israel and that of the United States. We have gone from a nation that believed in moral absolutes to a nation steeped in moral relativism. In addition, God is patient and slow to anger, but He will not withhold His judgment forever. Our nation is not showing signs of repentance—in fact, it is just the opposite. Our nation is celebrating sins at which even Israel blushed with shame. Will America repent? What will happen to us?
Application / Challenge
- The church must assume its God-appointed role of being salt and light in society.
- We must seek to build redemptive relationships with our non-Christian neighbors.
- Christian parents must be intentional in passing along a Biblical worldview to our children.
TCCExtra – Extraordinary Resources
- Book: It Starts at Home – Kurt Bruner, Steve Stroope