Judges 20 – Part 2QUESTION: Revenge/Sensationalism - 2ANSWER:Judges 20 – Part 2
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
“The three-inch, banner headlines hit all the daily papers in Israel and hit a big nerve among the people. When the children of Israel got this news, 400,000 fighting men drew their swords and drew together to avenge this horrific act. But, they didn’t seek the LORD.
“The Levite stood up before this mob and recounted what happened at Gibeah. But, he didn’t call upon them to seek the LORD. He stirred them up by basically saying, ‘What should we do about these evil Benjamites!’
“The charged up mob decided to take ten percent of the men of Israel to go and wipe out the evil, brutal, murderers of Benjamin. But, they did not seek the LORD.
“Let’s stop right here and make this personal. We will likely see more terrorist attacks on American soil. We will and should be outraged if and when this happens. But, we all need to seek the LORD before we ‘army-up’ and go to war. Truly, rightly, and deeply seek the face of God. The Israelites got fired up, mustered their army, gave inflammatory speeches, but they did not truly seek the face of God.
“They sent diplomats to Benjamin. In verse 13, the diplomats requested, ‘deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this evil from Israel!’ But the men of Benjamin refused to be diplomatic. They gathered their own army without seeking the LORD.
“They were poised to have a civil war in Israel and I can’t see that as God’s will. But the children of Israel wouldn’t know God’s will because they were all doing what was right in their own eyes. How did they get there? How was it that they were at the bottom of our seven-step cycle? Note that they were at a point most distant from the LORD.
“Statistically there were 400,000 warriors of Israel encamped against about 26,000 men of Benjamin. But Benjamin’s army was very well-trained and, we are told, they had an elite force of 700 left-handed men who were incredibly skilled with a sling. Verse 16 tells us, ‘every one could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth and not miss.’
“In verse 18, the Israelites went to inquire of God. But they didn’t ask ‘should we go to battle?’ They said, ‘who should go to battle first?’ God said, ‘Judah first!’
“Just as we see in 2 Kings 20, God answered Israel according to His permissive will – a la, ‘If that’s what you want to do’ – rather than His perfect will. This is something we need to be hugely aware of when we send up R2-D2, self-inspired, selfish prayers today.
“So off they went into battle and, in an amazing upset, the 26,000 warriors of Benjamin slaughtered about 22,000 Israelites on the first day. Israel wondered, ‘How did this come about? Didn’t we pray?’ So in verse 23 they went back and prayed until nightfall. They asked, ‘Shall I again draw near for battle against my brother Benjamin?’ And God said, ‘Go up against him.’
“So in the second battle, the army of Benjamin wipes out 18,000 Israelites. What? This battle should have been a blow out. The Israelites had to be saying, ‘Hey, we’re the good guys. God is with us. We have sixteen times as many men as our enemy. But, they’d lost 40,000 men in two days. Hmmm.Judges 20 – Read Part 3!