Sunday, 6 April 2014

(97) April 7: Judges 18-19 & Luke 10:25-42

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider in what ways the Danites display unfaithfulness.

To ponder:
Israel hit rock bottom. The Danites’ lack of faith is already seen in the fact that they have failed to “come into their inheritance.” Indeed, contrasting Caleb’s confidence in encouraging Israel that with the LORD’s help they can overcome the most terrifying peoples, the Danite spies have confidence only to speak these words for a “peaceful and unsuspecting people,” whose city they attack and burn down. The suggestion is that these people should have been offered peace terms (Deut 20v10-15), not displaying the wickedness that warranted God’s judgement on the others.
            Again and again, Micah’s carved image, ephod, household gods and cast idol are mentioned. They are central. Not only do the Danites plunder a fellow Israelite, but they covet and steal his means of idolatry, and threaten Micah and his neighbours when they protest. And the priest shows no concern for his former master, being “glad” to serve a tribe, because it means a higher status (18v19-20). There is warning here for ministers who seek advancement through compromise.
So Micah’s assumption that “the LORD will be good” to him (17v13) because of his idols and self-employed priest is proved delusionary. As is the priest’s declaration that the Danite spies journey “has the LORD approval.” It is all too easy to tell oneself one’s actions please God or find someone who will tell us that. But scripture, here God’s law, is the measure of such things.
            The story ends noting that Moses’ grandson and his descendents then acted as priests with the idols until the captivity – presumably by Assyria (722BC). The mention of Moses’ grandson suggests these events must have taken place early in the time of the judges, perhaps before Othniel (1v34, 2v10, 3v7).
            Out of all Israel the Levites should have known better. But not only was Micah’s priest a Levite, so is the subject of the most appalling event that follows. A concubine was a sort of second class wife. Perhaps hinting to her husband’s character, she leaves him. But the striking thing as her husband seeks to get her back, is her father’s generous hospitality in contrast to what follows. Having eventually left, the Levite refuses to stay amongst the Jebusites because they are not Israelites, preferring Gibeah. But there, no-one displays the expected hospitality by taking them into their home, despite the fact they would not need provision. Eventually an “old man” does, only to find the men of the city acting just as those in Sodom did when warranting God’s judgement (Gen 19v2-9). Moreover, the host himself suggests offering the two innocent women instead of the men, which the Levite does, causing them to be raped and abused all night. The next morning he then callously tells his concubine to “get up,” but she is dead. He then has the gall to self-righteously cut her into twelve and send the parts throughout Israel as a testimony against what happened.
            This is sickening. And it is supposed to be. 19v30 tells us it was the most appalling thing that had ever happened. And the words: “Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!” speak to the reader. The answer is actually hinted at four times in chapters 17-21: “In those days Israel had no king” (17v6, 18v1, 19v1, 21v25). Israel need to cry out to God for a righteous king to administer God’s law, and with appropriate justice to keep people faithful to it. More than that, they need God to circumcise their hearts so that they can actually obey it (Deut 30v6). There is therefore warning throughout of how far a culture that has rejected Christ can fall. Without the objectivity of his rule and the renewal of his Spirit, it should be no surprise when chaos reigns.

Praying it home:
Praise God for the righteousness, order, stability that stems from Christ’s rule. Pray that as our nation experiences the chaos that stems from rejecting him, people would see their need of it.

Thinking further:
None today.

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