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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

2019.10.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 21

Read Judges 21
Questions from the Scripture text: What had the rest of Israel sworn (Judges 21:1)? Where do they go in Judges 21:2? What do they do? What do they cry out (Judges 21:3)? What do they do in Judges 21:4? What loophole do they try to use in Judges 21:5-8? Who end up being the answer (Judges 21:8b-9)? What penalty does Jabesh-Gilead pay for having failed to participate in the judgment upon Benjamin (Judges 21:10-11)? But who end up being spared from this judgment (Judges 21:12)? For what purpose were they spared (Judges 21:13-14)? What problem did they still have (Judges 21:15-16)? Why is lack of wives such a problem (Judges 21:17)? What obstacle is restated in Judges 21:18? What loophole do they now make use of in Judges 21:19-23? What explanation do they give in Judges 21:22? What are they finally able to do in Judges 21:24? With what comment does Judges 21:25 summarize what has happened here? Whose approval is never given of these methods in the text?
In a culture where we are accustomed to marrying primarily for ourselves, not considering marriage as a vital way of serving the Lord and the Lord’s people, there is much that is shocking to us in this chapter.

There is much here that is sinful—there is very little theological comment in the text, and definitely no approval from the Lord. In fact, the summary statement is, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” So the right way of interpreting is not for us to approve and imitate. THAT would make for a bizarre approach to courtship!

And yet, though their solution was cringeworthy, their concern was commendable.

They grieve over tragedy in the church (Judges 21:2). Do we grieve over the spiritual barrenness of the churches? Over children that learn to be worldly in the home and church, and depart the church into the world when they leave that home? Over those who leave churches that operate on a principle of what God wants to a church that gives them a bit more of what they want?

They are concerned to keep what they have sworn by Yahweh (Judges 21:7Judges 21:18). Of course, it is possible to vow to something that is positively evil, in which case making the vow was wicked, and keeping the vow would further be wicked. That does not appear to be the case here; but even if it were, the concern to keep their vow is commendable. In a place and time when believers think nothing of throwing away what they have promised before the face of God, it is sobering to think that, in some ways, the church is in a worse place than the people of God were in Judges 21. How easily do you break vows made before God?

They are concerned for the remaining Benjamites to have fruitful marriages (Judges 21:16-17). It has been a theme in the book of Judges that the wicked have failed to come out to war against the enemies of God and His people. But, from the slaughter of Jabesh Gilead, eligible brides’ lives are spared for the Benjamites who also deserved death and whose lives have been spared. Much of the tribe of Benjamin, from Judges 21 on, is made up of those who were under the sentence of death but spared! This factor, of each having spared from death for the other, would at minimum give the new couple a common starting point for their decidedly uncommon marriages. Now, the application would look very differently—modest apparel, carefulness in types of interaction, setting an example in how we talk about our spouses, etc.—but, the question is: how much are we putting into promoting one another’s marriages? What they ended up doing may not have been commendable, but their thought and effort puts many of us to shame.

Ultimately, this passage leaves us thankful that Jesus Christ is King in Israel, so that we would not be left to our own wisdom, desires, and rules. May we not only rest entirely upon who He is and what He has done, but also diligently employ His means in our lives, lest we be well-meaning but kingless fools and scoundrels.
In what areas of life/church have you been learning that the Lord has given instruction, where you had previously operated according to your own ideas?
Suggested Songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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