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Courage Part 3

May 5th, 2008 · No Comments

Purpose
Vol. 2 Issue 18
May 2, 2008
The Weekly Newsletter of True Potential Publishing

Courage Part 3

In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.” (Judges 17:6)

We have met the enemy, and he is us” – Pogo

We’re going to hang with the Judges for one more week. From last week’s letter you could tell that things were beginning to go astray in Samson’s time, but after he died life in Israel really started going south.

After Samson’s story there are five chapters left in Judges. Taken as a whole the last five chapters are an unholy, depressing, disturbing mishmash. Kind of like HBO.

The theme for the whole section is, “In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.” Whoever wrote the book just keeps repeating, “In those days Israel had no king.” It was like everybody did their own thing, no matter how screwed up, and everybody else just stood by scratching their heads wondering what was going on. Kind of like the current presidential campaign.

Let me share a little so you know I’m not kidding. Chapter 17 starts out with a guy who steals a pile of money from his mother. She throws a curse on whoever stole the money. So he gets nervous about the curse and says to mom, “Hey mom, it was just me who took your money, but here it back again. No hard feelings, right?”

Well, mom’s tickled about getting the money back. She pronounces an anti-curse and dedicates the money to God by having a silversmith mold some of the stash into idols for her son. I’m sure God appreciated that little gesture.

Son steals from mom. Mom curses son. Son returns money. Mom blesses son and makes idols with the money. Sure, I know that kind of stuff happens all the time nowadays, but back then, that kind of behavior was pretty screwed up.

It just gets better from here.

Now that Micah (the son) has the idols he needs a priest. He installs one of his sons as priest … might as well keep it in the family. Between the idols and the priest Micah figures he’s got God in his corner. I can’t figure out how Micah could have mistaken a homemade priest and idols made of silver for the presence and approval of God. Boy, people sure were ignorant back then.

Then Micah cuts a better deal. A genuine bona-fide priest, a Levite, comes strolling into town. Seems he didn’t like where he came from and was looking for a better deal himself. Micah makes the deal, upgrades to a genuine bona-fide priest and sonny boy returns to civilian life. That’s much better.

In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.”

Enter the guys from Dan. Remember back to the children of Israel entering the Promised Land? Each tribe was given it own land by God. Everything was mapped out in advance; they just had to go claim it. Well, the tribe of Dan was having a bit of trouble convincing the current residents to vacate so they could move in. They were wandering around homeless, looking for place where the indigenous residents weren’t quite so belligerent about leaving their homes.

Way up north there was a peaceful happy little place called Laish. The Bible describes the place and its residents. “… [T]he people were living in safety … unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else.” (Judges 18:7) It was a lot like Vermont.

The guys from Dan, figuring Laish was much easier pickins than the land they were supposed to occupy go up to evict the peaceniks occupying the place. On the way they stop by Micah’s house to ‘liberate’ his idols and make the priest an even better deal. “Instead of being God’s stand-in for just one family, why not be one for a whole tribe?” The priest, always looking for a better deal, took them up on it. Micah, figuring losing his idols and his priest was better than losing his head, had no choice but to let them go.

The brave Danites (guys from Dan) marched on. “They took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else.” (Judges 18:27-28) Such a proud day for Israel.

We’re not done yet. Next story.

A Levite (the guys who were supposed to be God’s representatives) acquires a concubine. That’s a girl who provides all the privileges of a wife without the hassle of a legal commitment. The concubine is unfaithful (gee, funny that?) and goes home to daddy. Levite guy chases after her, spends some time with dad, and begins his journey home, concubine in tow.

Levite, manservant and concubine stop for the night in Gibeah. The manservant wanted to stay in Jebus (that’s Jerusalem) because it was closer, but Levite refuses because Jebus was full of Jebusites … “not our kind of people.” Gibeah was occupied by Benjamites … “our kind of people.”
They should have stayed in Jebus.
A man from Gibeah invites the travelers into his house and they’re just getting settled in for the night when there’s a pounding on the front door. The local chamber of commerce demands that their host turn over the Levite, “so we can have sex with him.” Nice.
The host, the epitome of hospitality, offers his virgin daughter to the mob of men, trying to spare his guest from being raped by the local menfolk. Of course the men don’t want to rape a girl.

They want to rape a man. Nice.

The Levite, not wanting to put his host to any trouble, tosses his concubine to the mob. Well, a concubine is better than nothing.

The proud and noble Benjamites rape and abuse the girl throughout the night. At dawn she stumbles to the front stoop of her master’s host and falls over dead. Nice.

The Levite (remember, he’s the guy that tossed his concubine to the mob in the first place) is extremely ticked over the loss of his female property. He cuts the dead girl into twelve pieces and ships a piece to each of the tribes of Israel. Nice.

Everyone is just shocked! How could such a thing happen here!? People assemble from all over Israel to address this tragedy. The Levite tells everybody his story and off they go to teach the Benjamites of Gibeah a lesson. The rest of the Benjamites wouldn’t have that so they go to join their brothers in the defense of Gibea.

Israel sent four hundred thousand soldiers to take care of business in Gibea. That’s a lot of soldiers. The Benjamites gathered to defend Gibea were only twenty-six thousand seven hundred; but they were pretty good fighters.

Battle of Gibea – Day 1: Four hundred thousand Israelites attack the city. The Benjamites rush out to meet them, kill twenty-two thousand Israelites and go back inside the city. Well, that plan didn’t work.

Battle of Gibea – Day 2: Three hundred and seventy eight thousand Israelites attack the city. The Benjamites rush out to meet them, kill eighteen thousand Israelites and go back inside the city. Dang! We need a new plan.

Battle of Gibea – Day 3: Israelites get a new plan. Most (but not all) of the Israelites attack the city. The Benjamites rush out to meet them, the Israelites run away and the Benjamites give chase. The rest of the Israelites come out of their hiding place and run into the city while the Benjamites are gone. Plan works, twenty-five thousand Benjamites are killed, six hundred run away and the Israelites burn Gibea.

Here’s where the plan gets screwed up.

The Israelites start to feel bad that they killed all but six hundred Benjamites (Now, they feel bad). To make it up to the Benjamites, they hatch a plan to find new wives for the six hundred survivors. They burn down one of their own cities, kill everybody except for the virgin girls and give them to the left-over Benjamites.

But it wasn’t enough girls. There were still two hundred Benjamites without new wives. All the other Israelites said, “You’re not going to give our girls to the Benjamites.” So they told the two hundred wifeless guys, “Look, there’s a party in Shiloh (another one of their own cities) next week. When the girls come out of the city dancing, each of you grab one and run away” (these were their own girls!).

“In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.”

Well, that’s how Judges ends. Pretty depressing isn’t it?

*****

It’s been an interesting week in South Carolina. An eighteen year old boy was arrested for planning to blow up his high school. Mom and dad called the police when they took delivery of ten pounds of ammonium nitrate the boy wanted delivered to the house.

Another eighteen year old boy killed his dad, step mom, little brother and step sister, and then went four-wheeling. Not a big deal, apparently.

A man drove over from Alabama and raped a fourteen year old girl he met on Myspace. That’s social networking at its finest.

You want to know the screwed up thing? This stuff is all pretty common. Doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore. And its not just in South Carolina; it’s in California and Indiana and everywhere else.

“In those days Israel had no king; every one did as he saw fit.”

Sounds kind of like us doesn’t it?

Any good news Steve?

Yeah there is. We live here but we’re not citizens. There’s another country we belong to where this kind of thing doesn’t happen. The country I’m talking about does have a King. And everybody does what He sees fit. Things work out better that way.

People as far back as Abraham knew about this other country and they looked forward to finally settling down there. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13 – 16).

Keep looking up. You might catch a glimpse of it.

Until next week.

Committed to King and country,

Steve Spillman

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