Archive for October 21st, 2009

Judges 21

Judges 21 tells the story of the aftermath of the massacre of the tribe of Benjamin.  There were only a few left from their defeat – about 600 men had escaped – but the rest of the tribe had been killed.  So now the dilemma – how do six hundred men build a future without any women?  The men of Israel meet at Mizpah and have taken an oath that “no man among us will give his daughter to a Benjaminite in marriage”.  There was no plan to allow that group to cause any more problems for the People of Israel.  After all, with no wives the tribe dies out quickly.  But as they sat in the presence of God, there was “widespread lamentation”.  People were upset that one of the tribes was missing.  It seems that the people from Jabesh Gilead had not shown up at all.  As the “People of Israel were feeling sorry for Benjamin, their brothers” they decided to take matters into their own hands and try and fix the lack of wives.  They had all sworn not to allow their own daughters to marry these guys, but they decided to kill all the people from Jabesh Gilead except the virgins and give those to the Benjaminites.  So they did exactly that and found 400 virgins to return with and hand over to the Benjaminites.  Still wasn’t enough women for them each to have a wife, so they scheme to get the rest of them a wife by kidnapping some of Shiloh girls after their dancing.  They got their wives and head back to rebuild their city and begin the long process of rebuilding their tribe.

Rather scheming activity isn’t it?  The final verse of Judges explains the conditions then, and far too much of our condition today.  Check out how this book ends: “People did whatever they felt like doing”.  Now we have the root of the problem.  When left to ourselves, we do what we want and things just don’t go well.  We go brain dead on what is right and wrong and quickly fall off the train of obedience.  We can’t be left to do what we want.  That is a plan for disaster and scripture certainly shows that over and over again.  Man left to his own nature, will screw up every time.  But the sentence before this close really defines the issue and the cause: “At that time there was no king in Israel”.  There is a leadership void.  No one is driving the bus.  Scripture says it this way another place: without vision the people will perish.  When we see strong leaders in scripture, people follow and if they are godly, the people walk with God.  If they are evil, the people go astray and fall into sin.  But when there are no leaders, the people default to evil as well and wander aimlessly missing the mark.  A lack of leadership has the same effect as bad leadership.  It may not happen as quickly as being led there, but eventually people seem to default to sin.  That is why spiritual disciplines and leadership are so critical.  If we are walking with God daily as individuals, and leading others in His ways, we can help people default to the right behavior and life.  It won’t happen accidentally or left to its own accord.  It takes discipline and work to stay on God’s path.  Life is not about doing what we want to do, but rather doing what God wants us to do.  It is not about me being me, but me living for Him.  Once we lose sight of that purpose for our lives, we are in for a tough road.  Are you walking with God each day?  Or are you doing whatever it is you feel like doing?  One is the formula for happiness and success.  The second a formula for disaster.  Which road will you choose?

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