Do you think the world is a mess today? You’re right, I certainly agree, but then again, hasn’t it always been? If you think it’s worse than ever, I’d challenge you to go read some of the old testament, now that was a screwed up crazy world. They didn’t even have CNN & FOX to skew everything, imagine how crazy it must have really been!
Take Judges 19 for example, a guy welcomes a stranger into his house for the night, a truly nice & neighborly thing to do. Then some freakoids from the town bang on the door and ask for the male guest to be given to them so they can rape him, REALY??? I mean, that’s really when you know the neighborhood has gone to the dogs! So what do they do? Stand up to them? Confront them? Even hide in a closet? No, the man sends his concubine out in his place! What a despicably cowardly act. In the face of depravity, this knucklehead didn’t stand up to defend this woman who he was obliged to protect, out of fear he gave her up to be raped and murdered. The end consequence? A bloody civil war amongst the Israelites that costs the lives of 65130 fighting men and the entire city of Gibeah.
I wonder what would have happened if the man had stopped right there and prayed to the Lord almighty? Or what if the man of the house called the people out by name? I know he was an older man, but I’m sure he knew these men and their families. Maybe Judges 19 would have been a blank page, maybe it would be the story of a man who turned to God for protection. Instead it is a story of how far out of kilter our lives can get & consequently the lives of all those around us, when we act out of fear instead of faith.
2 Timothy 1:7
New International Version (NIV)
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
1 John 4:18
New International Version (NIV)
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
As I listened to this text the other morning whilst driving to work I was stunned, appalled and strangely comforted that I live in such great times. Yes there are horrific acts all around the world every day, there is terrifying civil unrest, there are wars, there is poverty, greed, acts of atrocity and all kinds of unsightly things. Yet we also have civil and human rights, more people (Christian or not) trying to make a positive difference in the world than ever, meeting the needs of the poor and broken around the world. Is the world a mess? Yes it is. Is it worse than ever? I believe it is better than ever, despite the fear that news stations try to sell us.
Let us in these trying times, cling to the hope of the Living God and reject the spirit of fear that he does not give us but the world tries to sell us. Take comfort in the knowledge through our fellowship with Jesus, we walk in the light, despite this dark world.
Judges 19 (NET Bible)
Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited
19:1 In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levite1 living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubine2 from Bethlehem3 in Judah. 19:2 However, she4 got angry at him5 and went home6 to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, 19:3 her husband came7 after her, hoping he could convince her to return.8 He brought with him his servant9 and a pair of donkeys. When she brought him into her father’s house and the girl’s father saw him, he greeted him warmly.10 19:4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, persuaded him to stay with him for three days, and they ate and drank together, and spent the night there. 19:5 On the fourth day they woke up early and the Levite got ready to leave.11 But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have a bite to eat for some energy,12 then you can go.” 19:6 So the two of them sat down and had a meal together.13 Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Why not stay another night and have a good time!”14 19:7 When the man got ready to leave,15 his father-in-law convinced him to stay another night.16 19:8 He woke up early in the morning on the fifth day so he could leave, but the girl’s father said, “Get some energy.17 Wait until later in the day to leave!”18 So they ate a meal together. 19:9 When the man got ready to leave19 with his concubine and his servant,20 his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look! The day is almost over!21 Stay another night! Since the day is over,22 stay another night here and have a good time. You can get up early tomorrow and start your trip home.”23 19:10 But the man did not want to stay another night. He left24 and traveled as far as25 Jebus (that is, Jerusalem).26 He had with him a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine.27
19:11 When they got near Jebus, it was getting quite late28 and the servant29 said to his master, “Come on, let’s stop at30 this Jebusite city and spend the night in it.” 19:12 But his master said to him, “We should not stop at a foreign city where non-Israelites live.31 We will travel on to Gibeah.” 19:13 He said to his servant,32 “Come on, we will go into one of the other towns33 and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 19:14 So they traveled on,34 and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.35 19:15 They stopped there and decided to spend the night36 in Gibeah. They came into the city and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them to spend the night.37
19:16 But then an old man passed by, returning at the end of the day from his work in the field.38 The man was from the Ephraimite hill country; he was living temporarily in Gibeah. (The residents of the town were Benjaminites.)39 19:17 When he looked up and saw the traveler40 in the town square, the old man said, “Where are you heading? Where do you come from?” 19:18 The Levite41 said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem42 in Judah to the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. That’s where I’m from. I had business in Bethlehem in Judah, but now I’m heading home.43 But no one has invited me into their home. 19:19 We have enough straw and grain for our donkeys, and there is enough food and wine for me, your female servant,44 and the young man who is with your servants.45 We lack nothing.” 19:20 The old man said, “Everything is just fine!46 I will take care of all your needs. But don’t spend the night in the town square.” 19:21 So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. They washed their feet and had a meal.47
19:22 They were having a good time,48 when suddenly49 some men of the city, some good-for-nothings,50 surrounded the house and kept beating51 on the door. They said to the old man who owned the house, “Send out the man who came to visit you so we can have sex with him.”52 19:23 The man who owned the house went outside and said to them, “No, my brothers! Don’t do this wicked thing! After all, this man is a guest in my house. Don’t do such a disgraceful thing! 19:24 Here are my virgin daughter and my guest’s53 concubine. I will send them out and you can abuse them and do to them whatever you like.54 But don’t do such a disgraceful thing to this man!” 19:25 The men refused to listen to him, so the Levite55 grabbed his concubine and made her go outside.56 They raped57 her and abused her all night long until morning. They let her go at dawn. 19:26 The woman arrived back at daybreak and was sprawled out on the doorstep of the house where her master58 was staying until it became light.59 19:27 When her master60 got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went outside to start on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, sprawled out on the doorstep of the house with her hands on the threshold. 19:28 He said to her, “Get up, let’s leave!” But there was no response. He put her on the donkey and went home.61 19:29 When he got home, he took a knife, grabbed his concubine, and carved her up into twelve pieces.62 Then he sent the pieces throughout Israel.63 19:30 Everyone who saw the sight64 said, “Nothing like this has happened or been witnessed during the entire time since65 the Israelites left the land of Egypt!66 Take careful note of it! Discuss it and speak!”
59sn A concubine was a slave woman in ancient Near Eastern societies who was the legal property of her master, but who could have legitimate sexual relations with her master. A concubine’s status was more elevated than a mere servant, but she was not free and did not have the legal rights of a free wife. The children of a concubine could, in some instances, become equal heirs with the children of the free wife. After the period of the Judges concubines may have become more of a royal prerogative (2 Sam 21:10-14; 1 Kgs 11:3).