Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Judges 20:26-28 (NIV)
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. And the Israelites inquired of the Lord. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?” The Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”
Judges 20:26-28 (MSG)
All the People of Israel, the whole army, were back at Bethel, weeping, sitting there in the presence of God. That day they fasted until evening. They sacrificed Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings before God. And they again inquired of God. The Chest of God’s Covenant was there at that time with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, as the ministering priest. They asked, “Shall we again march into battle against the Benjaminites, our brothers? Or should we call it quits?” And God said, “Attack. Tomorrow I’ll give you victory.”
“Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; and they sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And the sons of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there [at Bethel] in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I quit?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will hand them over to you.” -AMPLIFIED
We continue with the story of Israel fighting against their own, the tribe of Benjamin, because of the sin of Gibeah against the Levite and his concubine. Twice all the other tribes had gone up against Gibeah, which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin and twice they were soundly defeated. Twice they had gone before the Lord with their preconceived plans already made, asking God to endorse what they had already decided to do. Twice they had come before the Almighty One with sin of their own still in their lives.
After the second battle, where the Israelites lost an additional 18,000 men, the people of Israel must have been feeling devastated. Here they THOUGHT they had been doing everything right, but they had not yet humbled themselves before God. The people were looking at the sin of Gibeah, which was truly evil, but were overlooking their own sin. The whole nation was living in a state of sin and the whole nation needed to be humbled under the Mighty Hand of God!
Finally the people came back, not with preconceived ideas, not just weeping over their defeat, but with humbleness and with repentance. They waited on the Lord; for they fasted until evening. Now they came seeking God’s directives in the matter.
“Before they only consulted God’s oracle, Who shall go up first? And, Shall we go up? But now they implored His favour, fasted and prayed, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings , to make an atonement for sin and an acknowledgment of their dependence upon God, and as an expression of their desire towards Him. We cannot expect the presence of God with us, unless we thus seek it in the way He has appointed. And when they were in this frame, and thus sought the Lord, then he not only ordered them to go up against the Benjamites the third time, but gave them a promise of victory: Tomorrow I will deliver them into thy hand, Jdg 20:28.” -Matthew Henry
The people once again went up against Gibeah, but this time they were doing things God’s way. The Voice Translation brings across a few things clearly:
1.) “So the warriors of Israel changed their strategy…” vs. 29
2.) “The warriors of Benjamin thought they would succeed again.” vs. 32
3.) “…the Israelites were following a new plan…” vs. 32
4.) “The battle was a fierce one, and the warriors of Benjamin did not realize that their end was near.” vs. 34
5.) “…the Benjaminites were surprised.” vs. 40
We find these words in Judges 20 that give us a pretty good idea of how this final battle would turn out; “The main force of Israel turned and began attacking fiercely, and the warriors of Benjamin lost heart, for their doom was upon them.” Judges 20:41 (VOICE)
What had changed the direction of this civil war? The fact that the people had finally humbled themselves before God, repented, sought His face and waited on Him. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” -1 Peter 5:6-7 (AMP)
“If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people, and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:13-14(AMP)
Lord, humbly I come before you. Here I am, Lord, with all my imperfections and flaws. I want to set aside my pride. I humbly ask that you have your way in me. Allow your Holy Spirit to do a work in my life as I sit humbly here at your feet. Help me to take the time to WAIT on you as you touch my heart, life and mind. Lord, I am repenting of the sin in my life. I want to be what you want me to be. Please, make me more like Jesus. Lord, have your way in my life, I pray.