Getting right with God
In Judges, chapter 20, we read of a small civil war between the tribe of Benjamin and the rest of Israel. The war starts in the previous chapter when a Levite, on his way home with his wife, a concubine who had left him to go back to her family, stops for the night in the town of Gibeah of the tribe of Benjamin. The Levite is welcomed into the home of an old man, and while in the man’s house, other men of the city come to the house and want to have their way with him. To try to appease the men, the Levite sends his concubine to the men, who abuse her so much that she dies. When the Levite gets home, in order to make a statement to the Israelites, he cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends them to all the tribes of Israel. This gets their attention, and they come to him wanting to know what’s going on. When the Levite tells them what happened in Gibeah, they become righteous and want to punish the men who did it. But the tribe of Benjamin refused to listen and would not give up the men for punishment. The battle lines had been drawn;
And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What evil is this that has taken place among you? Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel. Then the people of Benjamin came together out of the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the people of Israel. And the people of Benjamin mustered out of their cities on that day 26,000 men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who mustered 700 chosen men. Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered 400,000 men who drew the sword; all these were men of war. The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.” Judges 20:12-18 (ESV)
Even though the men of Israel greatly outnumbered the people of Benjamin, and had consulted God before attacking, they were in for a surprise;
Then the people of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin, and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah. The people of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and destroyed on that day 22,000 men of the Israelites. Judges 20:19-21 (ESV)
In spite of this setback, the men of Israel re-grouped and inquired of God again. Again, God told them to attack, and again, they were defeated. So what went wrong? If God gave them the go ahead to attack, why were they defeated twice?
The answer is earlier in chapter 20, when the men first confronted the Levite about his wife they were told;
(Now the people of Benjamin heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the people of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this evil happen?” And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. And the leaders of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house against me by night. They meant to kill me, and they violated my concubine, and she is dead. So I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel, for they have committed abomination and outrage in Israel. Judges 20:3-6 (ESV)
The Levite told them that they all were responsible, the whole nation had gotten this bad. The men of Gibeah were not an exception, The rest of Israel were just as guilty.
After the second defeat, the men of Israel did what they should have done in the first place, they got right with God, they got back to where they belonged;
Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. Judges 20:26 (ESV)
Once they got right with God, they again asked if they should attack, this time God’s answer was different;
and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, “Shall we go out once more to battle against our brothers, the people of Benjamin, or shall we cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.” Judges 20:28 (ESV)
This time God didn’t just tell them to go ahead and attack, this time, God said that He would give them victory.
Often times, we will make the same mistake. We will go to God for guidance and help, but things still go wrong. Not because of God, but because we aren’t where we should be with God. We need to look at ourselves, and get right with God, and then God will bless our lives. Jesus explained this in one of his parables;
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matt 7:3-5 (ESV)
Jesus tells us that we need to look at ourselves and get ourselves right with God before we can do anything else. When we do, then we can experience God’s blessings. Are you right with God?