God leads His people in a Crisis
1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, to the LORD in Mizpeh. 2 The leaders of all the people, all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand infantry that drew sword. 3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpeh.) Then the children of Israel said, Tell us, how did this wickedness happen? 4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was killed answered and said, I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin to lodge, I and my concubine,
- The phrase, the husband of the woman, tells us that this was the woman God designed for this man.
- She was ‘bone of his bone’ flesh of his flesh’ like Adam and Eve in Genesis 2.
- What God did for Adam was the pattern, not an isolated incident.
- But this man didn’t marry her. He just kept her for a concubine—Judges 19:1, 2.
5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, surrounded the house by night, and meant to kill me: and they forced/raped my concubine, so that she died. 6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have done evil and wickedness in Israel.
- He didn’t tell the truth.
- He didn’t tell them that he let the men have her.
- He didn’t protect her but gave her to them in place of himself.
- Evil has no power but through human choice.
- Evil had convinced these men of Gibeah that satisfaction lay in homosexual rape.
- They chose evil.
- In Job 1 God told Satan that Job feared God and turned away from evil. In Gibeah the men turned away from God and followed evil.
- Genesis 4:7 If you do good, will you not be accepted? and if you do not do good, sin lies at the door. Its desire is to you, but you are to rule over him.
7 Behold, you are all children of Israel; give your advice and counsel. 8 And all the people arose as one man saying, None of us will go to his tent, neither will any of us return to his house. 9 But now this is what we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot; 10 And we will take ten men of a hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to supply food for the people when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, that they may repay all the vile acts that they have done in Israel.
- A tenth of the men were sent to gather food for the army. The rest were preparing for battle. Benjamin was a tribe of fierce warriors.
11 So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, knit together as one man. 12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you? 13 Now deliver to us the men, the children of wickedness, that are in Gibeah, so that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the children of Israel:
- They were given the opportunity to avoid war by turning over the rapists/murderers. They refused.
- They protected their own though they were steeped in evil.
- Evil is put away by the death of those who follow evil.
- There is no rehabilitation when it has gone this far.
- Like Pharaoh of the Exodus, nothing will change such hardened hearts.
- Pharaoh saw God’s power and glory ten times. These men of Gibeah have had their lifetime to choose right from wrong.
14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel. 15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities, twenty-six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered, seven hundred chosen men. 16 Among all these people there were seven hundred chosen men that were left-handed; every one could sling stones at a hairs breadth and not miss. 17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.
- They were great warriors.
18 And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God and said, Which of us will go up to the battle first against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah will go up first. 19 And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and camped against Gibeah. 20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in battle formation to fight against those at Gibeah. 21 And the children of Benjamin came out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground 22,000 men of the Israelites that day. 22 And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle formation in the place where they put themselves the first day. 23 And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and asked counsel of the LORD saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)
- Joshua 7 shows that men died in battle when the nation wasn’t pure toward God. When the hearts and lives of God’s people were pure toward Him they went into battle without loss of life. He wants only good for His people. He wants to give them long, blessed lives.
- Judges 5:8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates:
- Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
24 And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. 25 And Benjamin went out against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed again down to the ground 18,000 of the children of Israel; all these drew the sword. 26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people went up and came to the house of God and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27 And the children of Israel inquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
- The offerings cleansed them of their sins and reminded them of God’s great love for them. Evil is not easy to get rid of. Just like the war on terror. It’s long and difficult. It requires perseverance and divine assistance. Finally they asked God.
- John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
God alone gives the victory
28 And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it (the ark)in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or will I stop? And the LORD said, Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.
- 1Samuel 14:6 for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
- 1Samuel 17:47 for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.
29 And Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30 And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in battle formation against Gibeah like before. 31 And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to strike of the people, and kill as at other times, in the highways, on the way to go up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32 And the children of Benjamin said, They are struck down before us, like at first. But the children of Israel said, Let’s flee, and draw them from the city to the highways. 33 And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in battle formation at Baal-tamar: and the ambushers of Israel came out of their places, out of the meadows of Gibeah. 34 Ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel came against Gibeah, and the battle was fierce: but they did not know that evil was near them.
The LORD struck down Benjaminfor their evil
35 And the LORD struck down Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day 25,100 men: all these drew the sword. 36 So the children of Benjamin saw that they were defeated: for the men of Israel gave ground to the Benjamites, because they trusted the ambushers that they had set beside Gibeah. 37 And the ambushers rushed on Gibeah; the ambushers made a long sound with the trumpet, and struck all of the city with the edge of the sword. 38 Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the ambushers: they were to make a great smoke rise up out of the city. 39 And when the men of Israel pulled back in the battle, Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty persons of the men of Israel: for they said, Surely they are struck down before us, like the first battle. 40 But when the whole consumption of the city began to rise with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven. 41 And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil had come upon them.
- Pride is always amazed when it gets what’s coming. Pride thinks itself invincible; but only God is invincible.
- Revelation 1:18 I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
42 Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them; and they destroyed those that came out of the cities in the midst of them. 43 So they surrounded the Benjamites, chased them, and trampled them down with ease opposite Gibeah toward the sun rising. 44 And eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant warriors. 45 They turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned five thousand men of them in the highways; and chased hard after them to Gidom, and killed two thousand men of them. 46 So that all that fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were valiant warriors. 47 But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness to the rock Rimmon, and stayed in the rock Rimmon four months. 48 And the men of Israel turned again on the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the animals, and all that were found: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.
- God wants only to bless.
- Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stands in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night. 3 And he will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also will not wither; and whatsoever he does will prosper.
- Psalm 91:1 He that dwells in the secret place of the most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings will you trust: his truth will be your shield and buckler. 5 You will not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand will fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes will you behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; 10 There will no evil befall you, neither will any plague come near your dwelling. 11 For he will give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh saying, None of us will give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife. 2 And the people came to the house of God, and stayed there until evening before God. They lifted up their voices and wept a great weeping; 3 And said, O LORD God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that today one tribe is lacking in Israel? 4 And the next day the people rose early, built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5 And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that did not come up with the congregation to the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning anyone that did not come up to the LORD to Mizpeh saying, He will surely be put to death. 6 And the children of Israel sighed for Benjamin their brother and said, One tribe is cut off from Israel today.
- They made two oaths at Mizpeh. They swore not to allow any of their daughters to marry a Benjamite. And they swore to kill any city of men in Israel that refused to help them fight this battle.
7 What will we do for wives for those that remain, since we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them our daughters as wives? 8 And they said, What one of the tribes of Israel did not come up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And behold, no one came to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. 9 For the people were numbered, and behold, none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead were there. 10 So the congregation sent twelve thousand of the most valiant men, and commanded them saying, Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, including the women and the children. 11 And this is the thing that you are to do, Utterly destroy every male and every woman that has lain with a man. 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them to the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 13 And the whole congregation sent some men to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon to proclaim peace to them. 14 So Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them wives whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead: but there were not enough. 15 And the people sighed for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a break in the tribes of Israel.
- Remember Israel was God’s nation on earth. They were to give eternal life to the world.
- How can they serve God when they are deep in evil?
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, What will we do for wives for those that remain, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin? 17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe not be destroyed out of Israel. 18 However we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn saying, Cursed is he that gives a wife to Benjamin. 19 Then they said, Behold, there is a yearly feast of the LORD in Shiloh in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. 20 Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; 21 Watch and see if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come out of the vineyards, and every man of you catch his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
- Ordinarily this would have been considered kidnapping and punishable by death.
- However, the leaders of Israel made an exception.
- Exodus 21:16 he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he will surely be put to death.
22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to us to complain, we will say to them, Favor us for our sakes: because we did not reserve each man his wife in the war: for you did not give to them at this time, that you should be guilty.
23 And the children of Benjamin did this, and took wives according to their number from them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned to their inheritance, repaired the cities, and lived in them. 24 And the children of Israel left there at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family: and every man went from there to his inheritance. 25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did what was right in his own eyes.
- God’s ways give wisdom.
- Man cannot trust his own thoughts and ways to be the best.
- The Israelites had the first six books of the Bible, the words of God given through Moses and Joshua. They could have done what was right in God’s eyes.
- Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
- Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf will not wither; and whatever he does will prosper. 4 The ungodly are not like this: but are like the chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly will not stand in the judgment, or sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly will perish.
SUMMARY: Judges 20-21
- The LORD leads His people during crisis
- He alone gives the victory
- He cleansed the tribe of Benjamin from their continued evil