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From bad to worse-- a look at Judges 16-21
From bad to WORSE
Thoughts on Judges 16-21

Last week, in asking you to read Judges 16-21, I essentially asked you to read one of the most glum, gross, depressing, and shocking portions of the Bible. Judges 16-21 details the descent of the Israelites into evil--and not just the common man, but every person of that society - including those who were the religious leaders and the rescuers that God raised up to save His people.

This descent into evil begins in Judges 1-2 and intensifies chapter after chapter through the entire book, culminating in one tribe of Israel coming within less than 1000 people of being totally wiped out-- and this by a short but violent civil war. (Judges written not in chronological order but based on the theme of the increase of evil when people abandon God)

Now some of you may ask, seeing as we are a week away from Christmas-- "How does the depravity, downward spiral, and wickedness of Judges 16-21 relate to Jesus and Christmas?" I will show you how.


A BRIEF OUTLINE OF JUDGES 16-21

1. Judges 16 -- Things are BAD when your leader is a sexually charged, self centred, ultra violent man. Judges 16 details the events leading up to Samson's death

-God used Samson to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines- endowing him with supernatural/divine strength-- essentially he like superman-- able to perform incredible feats of strength
-Though possessing a faith in God, Samson was one of Israel's most self indulgent Judges and deliverers.
-Sex with prostitutes, random acts of violence, marriage with non Jewish women, disrespect of his parents, terrible judgement and decision making: This was the life of Samson
-In Judges 16 Samson reveals the secret of his supernatural strength to a Philistine wife (that came from God). The Philistines seize him, gouge his eyes out.
-In the final moments leading up to his death-- as he stood in a temple of Philistines filled with thousands of people-- Samson prays this prayer-- Judges 16:28-30 "Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived."

Note: Even in death his concern, his motive was self centered "REVENGE"


INTERESTING NOTE: While Samson was a real piece of work, who basically lived for himself most of the time, God's will of punishing the Philistines (Judges 14:4) and releasing his people from bondage was accomplished. Such Illustrates the delicate balance that always exists between FREE WILL AND GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY - wherein God's perfect and holy will is always done in and through free will

God's perfect, holy, glorious will is always accomplished, yet this does not violate the truth that He has given us FREE WILL. FOLLOW THE LORD-- FOLLOW CHRIST FROM YOUR HEART!

Another thing: Samson got to heaven-- not by works, but by faith (despite the abundance of his sin-- he had faith). He listed in Hebrews 11:32. Salvation is by faith alone- faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says; " For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it."


2. Judges 17-18 THINGS GET WORSE. The idols of Micah and the slaughter of the people of Laish

Things become increasingly sordid in Judges 17-18.

In Judges 17 we are introduced to a man named Micah (not the good one of the Book of Micah), who basically stole his mother's life savings. Hearing that she had uttered a curse on the one who stole her money, Micah confesses that he's the one and returns the money. Micah's mother then asks God to bless him. Micah then proceeds to take some of the silver at his mothers urging and makes an idol and his own worship centre. One day a Levite of BETHLEHEM (those devoted to serving God and teaching the people God's ways) happens by Micah's house. Micah hires him to be his priest and to tend to the idols of his house. The Levite agrees and Micah thinks to himself "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest" Judges 17:13

WOW-- what a wrong sense of God (take a corrupt Levite, install him as a priest over shrine filled with idols and then conclude that since you have a guy who comes from the Levitical tribe in your house that you will be blessed)

Things get worse: We learn that some of the tribe of Dan are looking to expand their territory. They stop by Micah's house and ask the Levite/hired priest to inquire of God to see whether their mission would be successful. The priest then proceeds to tell them to "Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval."

To make a long story short, the Danites discover a city of unsuspecting and peace loving people (Judges 18:27-28). Buoyed by the false priests message they go back home, get their army and then proceed -IN THE NAME OF GOD NO LESS- to kill every last one of them-- and to top it off, they stole Micah's priest and idols and made him priest over their entire tribe.


A very important point

a. Sometimes people do incredibly evil things in the name of God/Christ. (see Judges 18:27-28)

i.e the Micah and his mother and their idols, their corruption of a corruptible Levite
i.e The Danites slaughter of the people of Laish.

Just because a person does something in the name of God/Jesus, doesn't mean its for Jesus or approved of by God. i.e The crusades

To learn how to please God and to be blessed we must get in the WORD


3. Judges 19-21-- IT DOESN'T GET MUCH WORSE THAN THIS!

If the slaughter- in the name of God- of the people of Laish was bad, then prepare for the worst.

I'm sorry if you find this over the top, but the Book of Judges and it's shocking accounts exist, in part, to make a point about our sinful natures and much we need Jesus.

In Judges 19 we are introduced to another Levite. He takes a concubine (which he shouldn't have done) from BETHLEHEM. She's unfaithful to him. He goes to her house and takes her back. After some delay in leaving her father's house they travel until it gets dark, stopping in the square of a town called Gibeah (where the future and failure of a king named Saul would one day be born). After waiting for some time- to be welcomed into someones house- an old man takes them home to his house. During the middle of the meal a bunch of men pound on the door, wanting to have sex with the Levite man. Showing how utterly messed up they were the Levite hands his concubine/wife over to them. His wife/concubine ends up dying at their hands--and I don't think he really cared for in the morning he steps out the door, sees her lying there and says "Get up; let's go" v.28. So what does this "man of God do" -- and I say this sarcastically. He loads her up on his donkey, takes her home, cuts her up into 12 pieces and sends her parts to each of the 12 tribes.

So disturbing and so horrific was this act that the 11 tribes of Israel gathered together to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin- who decided to take the side of the men who raped to death the Levites wife. After suffering heavy losses the 11 tribes prevailed over the Benjamites nearly wiping out the entire tribe (men, women, children, and their animals). All that remained were 600 men who had fled into the wilderness. After some time the 600 were granted amnesty. While they were granted amnesty all the other tribes had sworn that they would not provide their daughters to them in marriage-- guaranteeing that the tribe of Benjamin would disappear--- except a novel solution is designed. To provide wives for the surviving Benjamites the leaders counsel them to go to the festival of the Lord at Shiloh, hide in the vineyards and then grab a girl of their choosing to be their wife-- and then they (the leaders) would pacify their incensed fathers and brothers. Such was done and the book concludes with these words "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit"


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

a. From bad to worse: Such is the consequence of the abandonment God and doing what ever one wants.

Hence the key verse of Judges -- Judges 21:25

b. We are sinners in need of salvation

We are meant to be revolted by our reading of the later chapters of Judges!

Not only are we meant to be revolted, we are meant to draw this conclusion about ourselves-- I am a sinner. The inclination of the Israelites hearts in those days, is the inclination of every heart.

In Romans 3:10-18 Paul writes of our natures apart from Christ saying; "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know." "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

What Paul writes of us is true. Apart from Christ, this is what our hearts are like-- WE are sinners in need of being saved from ourselves, hurting others, and the judgment to come. This is what the book of Judges proves- showing us what the human heart is inclined to do apart from the blessed restraints of God's law.

Our calling: Holiness and the pursuit of it.

c. God is incredibly merciful

After reading the Judges and all the evil the Israelites committed against the Lord and did so in increasing measure, a legit question to ask is "How come God didn't totally wipe them out?" Instead, God gave them chance after chance, saving them from their enemies when they repented (and even then their repentance was not complete)

Thankfully, God does not treat as our sins deserve. Psalm 103:10. His mercy and grace is incredible and always has been.

The supreme example of his love and mercy is in sending Christ to earth to save us from our sins. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

d. The Book of Judges points us to Jesus and the miracle of Christmas

What is Christmas about? It's about God the Father sending His eternal Son to earth on a rescue mission, to save us from our sins and the judgment that we deserve for our sins.

As depressing as the Book of Judges is, for it is a depressing picture of us in our sin- it points us to Jesus and He who is the cure for our sin and came on a RESCUE MISSION to save us- so put your faith in Christ!.

A neat passage

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.