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1/14/13. Judges 21:1-25. Wives For the Benjamites-my devotional

1/14/13. Judges 21:1-25. Wives For the Benjamites-my devotional

 

Judges 21:1-25                                                                                                                               Monday, January 14, 2013

Key verse: 21:25                                                                                                                            Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF

 

                 “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

     Dear Lord, thank you for blessing the homecoming ceremony of a friend of ours. She was taken from this world early, but she had faith and left many seeds of love that are growing and sprouting and bearing fruit. She invested in people and relationships. Lord, help me to learn from her and hold onto faith and build up relationship with those around me. Thank you for help our family to be a blessing to another. Also thank you for giving me strength to accomplish all the tasks you have given me yesterday. You are the God of all strength. Now, Lord, please plant your word in my heart today. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

 Part l: The Sorrow Of All Israel (1-14)

The men of Benjamin were in trouble. Many were killed in battle and hundreds fled to the hills. People vowed never to provide brides for them. This was a problem. A whole tribe in Israel was in danger of vanishing. Let’s look at the story.

Verses 1-14 read, “The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.” The people went to Bethel,where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. “Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?” Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the Lord?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah was to be put to death. Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. “How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly. For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there. 10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11 “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin.”12 They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan. 13 Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. 14 So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.”

In their righteous anger, the men of Israel had made a foolish vow. (1) They vowed to not give any of their daughters to the Benjamites. This is a foolish vow. The men of Benjamin had done wrong, yes, but they had learned their lesson and now they needed to be accepted back and helped to build up their tribe. There needed to be come grace and forgiveness. The rest of Israel should have given themselves to the task of nation building. But they made a foolish vow and they kept the foolish vow. I am sure that God would accept their repentance on making a stupid vow and understand them breaking it. But the passage said that there was no king among them and everyone did as they saw it. They really needed someone to tell them the truth and how God was interested in building relationships among them and building a oneness among them so that he can be glorified among his people.

There is a good quality among these people however. They may not known how to help them properly, but they did have a concern about them and they wanted to do something about it. Since one tribe of Israel faced extinction, the Israelites made the marriage of the Benjamites their own problem, and called a national assembly. They cared and wanted to do something about it. They cared about these peoples’ marriages. They cared about their future in the household of God. They cared about their legacy and their destiny.

As Christians we need to care about other people. We need to care about their life problem and praying for them to achieve landmark events in their lives. What are the landmark events in peoples’ lives?  They could be as follows…meeting Jesus personally, graduation from highschool, graduation from college/university, getting a career job, marriage, establishing a family, getting the starter home, finding your  calling in life, find your convergence point where all things come together in life and ministry, grandkids, retirement, and finding the mission for your senior years, going to heaven and leaving a lasting legacy of faith for future generations. These are landmark events a person’s life. Blessed are those who achieve some semblance of landmark achievements in their lives.

We, as servants of God need to think more about peoples’ lives, more than just getting people saved.  We need to care about the landmark events and achieving them. We need to pray for them at least. We need to care and do something about. I thank God for pastors who cared about my life and future. Pastor Teddy cared about my future career. I was going to graduate with a liberal arts degree in Soviet and Eastern European Studies. Yes it was an interesting study, but not much of a future without getting a PhD in the area. Pastor Teddy cared and invited me to come and study nursing at Triton College. I became a nurse. This is God’s blessing. I have a fruitful and healthy and recession proof job. Sweet. Next was my marriage. On my own I could never marry a woman of such high caliber as Julie. If I tried I most likely would have been one of the divorce statistics. I was not dating and I was getting older. I was not married by 27. But servants of God cared about me. They care about my future family and two pastors prayed and introduced Julie and I together. We prayed and saw God’s hand in all of this and committed ourselves to each other. That will be 21 years ago this year. We have been so blessed because God cared and other Christians cared about our marriages. As the years progressed servants of God have concerned about our kid’s faith and happiness. They cared about the spiritual fruitfulness of our family. They cared about our future in ministry. They cared about our health and the quality of our marriage. We have been blessed to be surrounded by Christians who cared and who set out to do something about it.

I need to be a Christian who cares about other Christians. I need to pray about them reaching landmark events in life. And, if it God’s will, I need to step out and take some practical steps. (with the wisdom of God of course.) But in all of this I must follow the leading of the Lord.

The people of Israel wanted to help they came up with a solution that most of us could not understand. When it was discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come fight in the war, it was decided that wives for the men of Benjamin must come from the selfish city that didn’t care about the agony of their brothers. They were destroyed and all were killed except for the virgins who were given to the men of Benjamin to be their wives. This sounds a little extreme and it was. But this is 1300 BC God was working among his people in different ways than he deals with us in this age of grace. It was a brutal consequence for not participating in the war and their decision demonstrated the need for a shepherd to help them resolve their problems. If they had a respected spiritual leader, a king, to mediate in their conflicts, maybe there could have been a different outcome.

I can see here that God wanted full participation of all of his people. The people of that town should have come out and helped.  Even today there are consequences for sitting on the sidelines of Gospel history. There is alienation, isolation, fruitlessness, a nagging feeling that it might have been, sorrow, struggling with our own sins and vices instead of engaging in the work of the Lord and knowing Christ. It is better to find our calling and mission in life and give our hearts to it.

Part 2: The Girls of Shiloh (15-25)

Still there weren’t enough wives. So the Israelites made a suggestion to the lonely Benjamites. Let’s see what happened in verses 15-25,  The people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16 And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17 The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. 18 We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19 But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21 and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin.22 When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’” 23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them. 24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. 25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

When the girls of Shiloh came out to dance at their festival, each man would capture one for himself. In this way they could provide wives for the Benjamites without the fathers breaking their oath to God.  So they asked the men of Shiloh to have pity on the Benjamites when their daughters were taken as captive brides. It seemed a viable solution though not necessarily a desirable one.

Well, they came up with a solution. I think about the girl’s agony. They were literally kidnapped and forced to marry someone they did not know, not only that, these men were fighting against their people a little while earlier. They must have suffered a lot. I heard that such a tradition goes on in Mongolia where perspective wives are kidnapped and forced to marry.

There is a redeeming principle here. Sometimes men hesitate to pop the question. They hesitate to open their mouths and ask someone to marry them. They hesitate and loose the chance. Think of it this way…there is a nice delicious apple in a tree. Who gets the apple? Is it not the one who climbs the ladder and reaches out and grabs the apple? This may not be the best example. But there is a time that decisions need to be made and there are times when one must come out of their comfort zone and put themselves out there after praying about it. (However I would never advise someone to kidnap a prospective bride.) But I would advise someone to find God’s will and step out in faith.

Verse 25 is a commentary of the times.In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”God’s people needed a shepherd. The stage is set for the establishment of the monarchy and the coming of King David. May God raise up spiritual leaders among our people who can pray for, counsel and lead this generation.

Prayer, “Lord, help me to make the problems of your people my own problems and teach me to obey your word, not my own ideas.”

One word: God’s people need a shepherd who can lead the people in faith and the word of God.

 

 

 

 

 




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