Judges 21QUESTION: Bad Math/Dancing Girls - 1ANSWER:Judges 21 – Part 1
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
Pastor Nathan Shepherd stepped up onto the stage and thanked the band for their set. The final song had been a slow, worshipful recitation of Psalm 19, rhythmic talking with only percussion in the background. Then he turned to the 200-person congregation.
“You know, it’s kind of a bittersweet day around here. We are set to finish our study of the book of Judges and I’m not ready to stop. It has amazed me how much this twisted saga of the children of Israel living on their own mirrors the American church today.
“I want to give you all a quick update on where we are with our ‘Queen Eileen’ reef project. Many of you got to come to the screening of Reef Restoration Ministries’ 22-minute short documentary about the reef and the life of Cyrus Sandbury. If you didn’t see it, the story got front-page coverage yesterday from our friends at the Keys Sun-Sentinel. Thanks to B.A. Miller and his team for the grrrreat story and pictures.
“Basically, we are in a neat place on the project. We’ve been diving on the site daily. The state of Florida has given RRM a $100,000 grant to study and protect the reef. The bogus lawsuit that we all prayed about has gone away and the lawyers who brought the suit have had to pay us monetary damages. With the clear layout of the coral and the odd way its growing, I sense that this is going to be a great opportunity for Creationism going forward. It has become an awesome thing for RRM. I went on-line and Googled ‘Queen Eileen’ and ‘reef’ Friday night and got over 11,000 hits so the whole world is buzzing about our little serendipitous find. Praise God for showing it to us.
“In the last five chapters of Judges, we’ve said the theme is, ‘In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes’. In chapter 17 that meant setting up our own idols, our own rules for worship, and hiring our own priests. In chapter 18 it meant ignoring what God calls us to do and striking out in our own, in quotes, wisdom. In chapter 19 we saw the train wreck of pornography, adultery, procrastination, perversion, an escalation in crimes against the downtrodden, and sensationalism.
“In chapter 20 we encounter the sin I like to call ‘r2-d2 prayer and worship’ - treating God like a great uncle who lives in Seattle. We only think about Him and talk to Him when we think we need something or on His birthday.
Do you see the progression? When a nation starts fragmenting and each individual goes off-road and does what they think is right in their own mind, we spiral round and round and down into the toilet. We progress through making up our own religion, to ignoring God, to violence, through perversion, to a nasty place where we only ‘use’ God as a good luck charm. I, for one, don’t want to be there.
“In Judges 21 the commode-tion continues. One of the indicators that we might be treating God like that great uncle who lives 3,000 miles away is that we try to bargain with Him. In this final chapter of the book we find that Israel made two vows or oaths before God when they gathered at Mizpah.
“First, they vowed that no daughter of the men of Israel would ever marry a Benjaminite. Second, we find out in verse 5, that they had made a ‘great oath’ – whatever that is – about any tribe that did not send fighters to set the men of Ben straight. That great oath said, ‘He shall surely be put to death.’
“Now let’s take a look at their predicament. The army of Israel has gone off violently, maliciously, and half-cocked. In their whipped up, sensationalized furor, they’ve wiped out the tribe of Benjamin. Only 600 males remain. In verses 2 and 3, they bitterly weep to God. They say, ‘O LORD of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that today there should be one tribe missing in Israel?’ Wait now. Are these nut jobs blaming God for this? Holy mackerel! Now we’re talking clueless.
“But look at how we blame God for bad things today. Hmmm. And watch it continue. They have a problem they are going to take to God. So they build an altar right there and offer burnt offerings and peace offerings. They do God things, but they never talk to the LORD. It’s like a Kiwanis club meeting. They have an agenda and they follow it. But in verses 7 and 8 they take matters into their own hands.Judges 21 – Read Part 2!