Despite the teaching of sociologists, this world is not becoming better and better, but rather growing worse and worse. There is a shocking breakdown of morality, a complete collapse of morals: pornography, homosexuality, rape, child abuse, murder, adultery, and lawlessness. Then, in the professing church, there is a “form of godliness which denies the power and presence of God.” In recent years, there has also been an invasion of demons into our Western culture, which has resulted in disastrous and tragic incidents.
The Lord reminds us, brethren, that “we are in the world, but not of it.” John reminds us that “we should not love the world, neither the things of the world. He that loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” He also said, “he who doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
The last chapters of Judges have been described as the cesspool of the Bible. The sex crimes committed by the sons of Benjamin caused the pagans around them to blush in shame and disbelief. The spirituality of the nation was at a low ebb. Even the leaders were delinquent.
Malachi, a Levite who was set apart to care for the holy things of God took a second wife. His wife was a concubine. He undoubtedly conformed to the practices of the world around, but was totally displeasing to God. This action was “sin” in God’s eyes and it triggered off a series of sins that affected the whole nation. The Levite sinned and the concubine lost her life. The village of Gibeah, the tribe of Benjamin, the people of Tabish Gilead, and the Shiloh - yea, all of Israel - suffered, because of the sin of one man.
The events which took place in Gibeah were atrocious and despicable. “The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” The men of the village were obviously homosexuals. They are described as “worthless fellows;” that is, “sons of the devil.” They wanted to rape the Levites, but instead, one gave his wife.
Beloved, despite what behavioral scientists are saying, homosexuality is sin in the worst form. It is frightening to see this gross sin rear its ugly head in our communities, schools and churches. Also, to see its adherents becoming braver and more militant? God’s judgment will fall on those who practice this sinful perversion as it did on Sodom and Gomorrah. See Romans 1.
What kind of a man was this Levite? And to add to the horror of his action, he was a functioning leader in Israel. His cowardly action led to indescribable humiliation and suffering for his wife. These sons of the devil abused her all night, and when dawn broke, she was found dead at the door. Note the sin of backsliding here. A backslider is capable of committing every sin in the book, except for renouncing Christ. The Levite, though backslidden, was sensitive to the enormity of his own sin and the sin of the nation. He cut his wife’s body into twelve pieces and sent a piece to each of the tribes. See Judges 19:29-30.
The people gathered together at Mizpah “as one man” to the Lord. Consider the “Unity.” They were shocked and decided to send an army to Gibeah. The sin-hardened, unrepentant sons of the devil refused all overtures, marshaled an army and declared war on Israel. The whole tribe was affected. On the other hand, when Israel saw the attitude of their brethren, they assembled at Bethel, the house of God, and sought His guidance by dealing with their wayward brethren. “They that wait upon the Lord.”
Assured of God’s blessing, 400,000 troops marched against Benjamin, who had raised 26,700 men. The outcome of the first day of battle was surprising. Israel, although obviously in the right and in the will of God, were routed and fled, leaving 22,000 men dead on the field of battle. That night they encouraged themselves in the Lord. They wept and sought His face for guidance.
The next day of battle was almost as disastrous as the first. When roll-call was taken, 18,000 men failed to answer. The scene depicted in Judges 20-26 is a sad one. They were bewildered. They did not understand, but they wept and fasted before the Lord all day. They also offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. At this point it seemed that the people were being broken before the Lord. God can only use broken things. The delay in victory was God’s way to humble and break His people and bring them to sincere repentance.
At the point the ark is mentioned. Phinehas the priest interceded before God. The answer this time is, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.” The third day’s battle began with a few successful skirmishes by the Benjaminites. They were riding the wave of success, forgetting God and relying on their own resources. Part of Israel’s forces pretended to retreat, drawing the Benjaminites after them. Then, a carefully selected ambush force captured the unprotected city. That day 25,100 Benjaminites were slain and Gibeah, that wicked village, was completely destroyed. Was this a victory for Israel? This was God’s judgment against sin. Judges 20:35 says, “The Lord struck Benjamin.” [Note: God working through David and Goliath, Gideon and 300 men]
The leaders of Israel did not hold a great victory parade at the close of the battle. The nation had been humbled and broken. Instead, they made their way to Bethel and wept. This was not a time for celebration, because one of the tribes had been so severely disciplined that its survival was in question. Israel’s repentance was deep and sincere—they offered sacrifices. [Discuss “confession” and “repentance”]
The leadership devised a plan to save Benjamin from annihilation. The six hundred survivors needed wives. Earlier, the men who had gathered at Mizpah were so shocked by the conduct of the Benjaminites, that they vowed they would not allow their daughters to marry a Benjaminite. Recalling that the people of Jabesh-Gilead had not been present at Mizpah, perhaps they sympathized with the Benjaminites. An army was dispatched to destroy them and to bring all the virgins to be wives of the Benjaminites. Four hundred were provided. The remaining Benjaminites obtained their wives by kidnapping them at the feast at Shiloh.
The book closes with a statement that summarizes the period of the Judges. No king, no authority, no order—everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Conditions prevalent: lawlessness, disobedience, false worship, deception, carnality, immorality.
2 Chronicles 7:14—“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”
Points to ponder:
- God punishes sin.
- The sin of one person affects the whole group.
- Sin is either judged by the individual or it is judged by God.
To prevent sin: “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”