Thursday, October 11, 2012

Judges 19 -- Still More "Right in Their Eyes"

For the moment, I believe that the Levite mentioned in Judges 19 is the same Levite who was elevated in the flesh by the spoiled brat Micah.

The account in Judges 19 is so depressing, controversial, and disturbing, that in one high school the principal ripped the chapter out of the Bible.

Like the other troubling and morally dubious accounts in the last chapters of Judges, I was hard pressed to understanding why such depressing distressing accounts were permitted to be in the Bible. Yet just as Paul explained to his young charge Timothy that all Scripture is for our benefit (2 Timothy 3: 16), so then can every believer rest assured that no matter how dreary and awful the account, we can trust that all things do indeed work for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8: 28).

Judges 19 -- Wow! So much scandal, and all in one chapter! Even the debauchery of Sodom and Gomorrah stood alone, yet here the account exposes the nation of Israel engaging in the same perversions and so much more.

For starters, we have a Levite who has taken a "concubine" or a "half-wife" -- he refuses to engage  the woman fully as his own flesh. This kind of tepid trepidation dominates in our world, where men and women are experimenting with sex and cohabitation, yet refusing to enter into the blessed and restful security of Holy Matrimony.

This same concubine then runs off and "plays the whore" (Judge 19: 2), even going to her father's house for four months. Once again, we receive a picture of parents who do not chastise or condemn the wickedness of their children, except this time we have an indulgent father doting on a loose and slattern daughter who has sold herself to be a "half-wife".

The Levite then meets with the father while trying to woo the concubine back to him. Father-in-law and son-in-law sit and eat and drink as if all is well, when the whole situation is riddled with fraud and shame.

Verse 10 is quite revealing for the desolation which has fallen upon Israel:

"But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him." (Judges 19: 10)

The Word refers to Jerusalem as "Jebus", which refers to the original pagans who lived in the city. Yet the names convey the focus of the nation and the people. "Jebus" means "trodden" or defeated, as though completely walked on. God does not want his children to feel trodden upon, for He has sent His Holy Spirit into us that we may be convicted of our righteousness in Christ, and also that the god of this world, the devil, has been judged (John 16: 10-11).

In Christ -- not in ourselves, and certainly not in our own eyes -- we are more than conquerors (Romans 8: 37) and Christ Jesus becomes our "Jerusalem", which means "fortress of peace". Yet for the Levite, his live-in girlfriend, and the amoral father, the capital of Israel is trodden down, and there is no peace to protect them.

When the Levite, his concubine, and his servant turn into Gibeah, the contemplate sleeping in the street, when an older man approaches them and urges them to come inside with him. This account mirrors almost exactly the terror of the public square in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), where Lot would not permit the visiting angels to sleep without, but urged them in.

"And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly." (Judges 19: 23)

The old man calls these wicked men "brethren" -- this is just unnatural affection.

And just as in Sodom and Gomorrah men of Belial sought to rape the visiting angels, so in Judges 19 sons of Belial also surrounded the home of the old man. Not wanting them to "gang rape" the Levite, he offers up his own daughter and the Levite's concubine for the men to abuse. How awful! Yet for all of the old man's pleading, the sons of Belial go after the Levite's concubine and abuse her at length, only to leave her on the doorstep of the old man's home when they have finished with their perversion.

The Levite's reaction to his defeated and dead concubine is stunning its sterile disinterest:

"And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place." (Judges 19: 28)

The same woman whom he ran after to woo her back -- after four months of running away -- the same woman whom he ate with, enjoying her in the presence of a father who did not love her enough to hold her accountable to get away from a scoundrel Levite. This same Levite just told the concubine to get up. I find it hard to believe that he did not know what was going on. A group of evil completely abuse this woman.

Such a sorrow, such a great evil. This is very much a picture of our fallen times as much as for the end-times, where men and women who do whatever they think is right in their own eyes inevitably reject the well-being of their own flesh and blood.

How the Levite handles this sudden and fatal turn of events provides one of the most grisly accounts in the Bible:

"And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

"And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds." (Judges 19: 29-30)

The Levite's arrogance ignorance of his own rampant evil underscores how lost, how dark, how gone are the children of Israel from the commandments of the Lord. He end up cutting the body in twelve pieces, one for every tribe, in order to exact revenge against the sons of Belial who raped his concubine to death.

That he would indict the wickedness of the sons of Belial as "no such deed nor seen" just escapes reason. Did not this Levite know about Sodom and Gomorrah? The question is moot, considering that they do not respect God's law and majesty to begin with, presuming upon themselves for all that they want and do. This Levite's conduct falls as low as the wickedness of those sons of Belial, yet as long as man presumes to be right in his own eyes, doing as he pleases without the Life of God in Him, being led by the Holy Spirit, then a man will inevitably play comparison games and justify himself at the expense of others.

Yet the Law of the Lord, when rightly and fully receives, refutes such evil thinking:

"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Roman 3: 19-20)

Grace cannot enter and have dominion over our lives as long as we insist on being alive in our own flesh, calling ourselves holy by any standard except God's!

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