I'm just a man seeking God's face...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Bible is Scary: Judges 19

The Bible in places can be scary; it can also give great hope. There are some stories that scare me and I know have scared some people away from God. I get to preach on one of those scary passages this week, Matthew 25:1-13. I truly am looking forward to sharing what God has been revealing to me about this passage.

But today I wanted to talk about another scary story. This one is more gross and disturbing. If you have a weak stomach or are highly emotional (weepy or angry) at this moment you may want to stop reading and wait to you level off. That might sound worse than what I mean, but you might get the idea when you read Judges 19.

So, let’s breakdown this disturbing/scary story. You’ve got a Levite who takes a concubine. In this time of history priest were allowed to marry and some did have concubines, though it was not common amongst the Levite’s. Most texts say she was unfaithful and so she left to return home. We don’t know in what matter she was unfaithful, but the Law would have permitted the Levite to put her to death. With her going to her father’s house suggests she may have left him because he was not living up to expectations.

After four months and him realizing that she was not coming back he went to go win her back. This does lend to the idea that he was the reason for her leaving and not her “unfaithfulness”. He journeys to get her and when he gets to her home her dad welcomes him in with open arms. I get the sense that she has also warmed up to the idea of returning to him because the dad “gladly” welcomes him in.

After a number of days at the fathers house the Levite with the woman head for home. As they traveled they were coming to the end of the day and needed to find a place to stay. The Levite passed on staying in a foreign town and headed to a town of “like” people, a town called Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. As custom they went to the center of town to see if anyone would let them stay in their home, but no one offered until much later. A man came in from his work in the fields and offered/insisted that they stay with him and not in the town center. This man knew what type of people lived in Gibeah and didn’t want to see harm come on these travelers.

While everyone was resting and eating at the man’s house in the hill just outside the city men from the city came to visit the travelers. And this is where the story turns bad, very bad. The men surrounded the house and demand to have the Levite come out so they can have sex with him. Yep, you read that correctly. If you don’t believe me read Judges 19:22. The owner of the house is appalled by this and suggest they take his “virgin daughter and the man’s concubine” instead. I don’t know about you but I get very angry thinking its okay to offer someone else to get raped. This group of men is given a choice, gang rap the Levite or gang rape the owner’s daughter and the Levite’s concubine. You should be able to tell already that this story is not going to turn out well.

The group of men doesn’t want the girls and demand to have sex with the Levite. I can’t imagine the fear that was in that house. This gang of men if not satisfied could end up killing everyone. The Levite, to save his own skin, basically throws his concubine outside. The men rape and abuse her throughout the night. At dawn they let her go, and by daybreak she has enough strength to get back to the house where she falls at the door. The Levite gets up and peeks outside to see if the evil men are gone. He finds his concubine there at the door as she falls into the house. The Levi seems rude by telling her to get up. We find out, or at least hope, she is dead. Boy, that sounded worse than I meant it, but keep reading and you’ll understand why I hope she is dead. He picks her up and travels home.

When the Levite reaches his home he proceeds to cut the woman into twelve pieces and sends the pieces to the tribes of Israel. The people watching this say, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!”

Why would this scary/disturbing story be in the Bible? Read the first and last sentence of this chapter once again, “In those days Israel had no King,” and, “tell us what to do!” The people of Israel wanted to live life by their own standard. They had no king telling them what to do or how to act. That first sentence also implies they did not seek God or His counsel. The last sentence also is an indication of the people’s heart, because they are asking the Levite and other men what to do, they are not seeking God’s direction.

When left to our own way or rule we are capable of more heinous acts than this. Without godly counsel and wisdom we are capable of horrible acts against each other. And that is why I believe God allowed this hideous history to be recorded in the Bible. May we take lesson from it, may we seek first the Kingdom of God.

Peace to you,