Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Judges 20:1-2 (NIV)
Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand men armed with swords.
Judges 20:1-2 (MSG)
Then all the People of Israel came out. The congregation met in the presence of God at Mizpah. They were all there, from Dan to Beersheba, as one person! The leaders of all the people, representing all the tribes of Israel, took their places in the gathering of God’s people. There were four hundred divisions of sword-wielding infantry.
“Then all the sons of Israel from Dan [in the north] to Beersheba [in the south], including the land of Gilead came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. The chiefs of all the people of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand men on foot who drew the sword.” -AMPLIFIED
Judges 19 ends with these words, “He (the Levite) lifted her (his concubine) onto his donkey and set out for home. When he got home he took a knife and dismembered his concubine—cut her into twelve pieces. He sent her, piece by piece, throughout the country of Israel. And he ordered the men he sent out, “Say to every man in Israel: ‘Has such a thing as this ever happened from the time the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until now? Think about it! Talk it over. Do something!’” -Judges 19:29-30 (MSG)
We find the response to this hideous summons given by the Levite did what exactly what he expected to it to do. All the people of Israel, with the exception of the tribe of Benjamin, turned out en mass. They gathered before the Lord at Mizpah; 400,000 men armed with swords.
An accounting was given by the Levite of what had happened in Gibeah, which was part of the tribe of Benjamin. The tribes sent messengers to confront the tribe of Benjamin for what had happened. Benjamin basically told them all to mind their own business. The tribes, “…set out and went to Bethel to inquire of God. The People of Israel said, “Who of us shall be first to go into battle with the Benjaminites?” God said, “Judah goes first.” -Judges 20:18 (MSG)
The people went up to God at Bethel, yes, but they went did not come truly seeking God’s direction, Instead they were asking God’s blessing on a choice that they had already made. God tells them to send Judah to go into battle to face the tribe of Benjamin first.
The people went up and camped before Gibeah. They marched out against Benjamin the next morning and were promptly devastated. Twenty-two Israelite divisions were destroyed; that would have been 22,000 men.
The people went back to God. “The Israelites went back to the sanctuary and wept before God until evening. They again inquired of God, “Shall we again go into battle against the Benjaminites, our brothers?” God said, “Yes. Attack.” -Judges 20:22-23 (MSG)
Again the people were not coming with a contrite heart. They came weeping, yes. They came inquiring of God, yes, but there was no sign of remorse. They had not come with humble hearts; repentant for how they had been living their own lives. Instead they came that they were doing the right thing; never once considering to ask God’s will in the situation. They just assumed that they were in the right. (Just like an exasperated parent God shook His head and said, “Yes. Attack.”. For He knew that they were not going to listen to Him; He knew they had already made up their minds.)
“The upshot is this, Israel: I’ll judge each of you according to the way you live. So turn around! Turn your backs on your rebellious living so that sin won’t drag you down. Clean house. No more rebellions, please. Get a new heart! Get a new spirit! Why would you choose to die, Israel? I take no pleasure in anyone’s death. Decree of God, the Master. “Make a clean break! Live!” -Ezekiel 18:30-32 (MSG)
The people needed to come to a place of repentance, but they had not arrived at that place yet. They set out once again to confront the tribe of Benjamin at Gibeah. We will find out what happens there tomorrow. Suffice it to say though that because the people’s hearts were still not right with God it was not a good end.
Take some time to consider these words penned by the Apostle James today. “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” -James 4:7-10 (MSG)
Lord, help me to be humble before you; seeking your guidance and direction and not expecting that you will follow my plans. Help me to also run quickly to you and repent when I have sinned. I do not ever want to let sin separate me from you. Have your way in my life, dear Lord.