Click here to listen: The Battle of Gibeah
At the end of chapter 19 the Levite cut the concubine in 12 pieces and sent them to the tribes of Israel. We moved ahead to Judges 20 for this lesson, and the nation of Israel gathered as one man before the Lord and called the Levite to explain what happened. He gave a, well, abbreviated summary and then asked right then and there for counsel and advice (vv. 4-7).
- My concubine and I went to Gibeah to spend the night
- Men of Gibeah rose up and surrounded the house because of me
- They wanted to kill me, but ravished my concubine
- So I cut her in pieces and sent her to all Israel because men of Gibeah committed lewdness and outrage in Israel
Consider, the Levite incites this riot on a moral base in a time when there was no king in Israel. In other words, God’s government was rejected. They declared to the Levite (vv. 8-11),We won’t turn back. We won’t go home. But we will take turns at Gibeah, tribe by tribe.
They went on a hunt for the perverted men (NKJV), the sons of Belial (KJV), to remove them from Israel. They went against Gibeah with 400,000 men of war. Then they inquire of the Lord about which tribe goes first into the battle. Judah will go first. (vv. 12-18)
[Allow me to note briefly here that this is not to be prophetically applied to us putting our praise before us in the battle. The context is anarchy and moral decline, and the battle is internal family strife.]
So now, there’s no government in the land…the land is in moral decline…and this war is a family battle — Israel against one of its own, not an external enemy.
IRONY #1: IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A GROUP OF PEOPLE TO BE UNIFIED ABOUT THE WRONG THING.
The children of Israel, who could not rally to obey or love God consistently, are now unified as one man to go against Gibeah. This is the result when we reject God’s government — we do what is right in our own eyes. (Listen to the recording for the common Facebook example.)
IRONY #2: THE LEVITE WAS RIGHT TO EXPECT HOSPITALITY IN GIBEAH. GIBEAH WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SAFE.
Gibeah means “hill” and the Levite chose to spend the night there because “he had people.” It was supposedly a covenant city, a town of the Benjamin tribe’s inheritance. This is why he did not stop in the first city where the servant suggested they lodge for the night. Their expectation could have been based on Leviticus 19:33-34 (my paraphrase)
Treat the stranger like a native. Love the stranger as yourself because you were an alien in Egypt.
IRONY #3: DESPITE JACOB’S PROPHECY AND MOSES’ BLESSING, BENJAMIN SUFFERED DEFEAT. THE 25,000 MEN WHO DIED WERE ALL MEN OF VALOR.
Jacob’s prophecy over Benjamin in Genesis 49:7 was that they would know victory. “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.”
Moses blessed the tribe of Benjamin in Deuteronomy 33:12. His blessed them with safety and protection. “the beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.”
And to think, this all began in an environment without God’s government and guidance. Selah.
Let’s be aware, with right context, of the influence of a culture that rejects God’s government. It can inspire false righteousness…motivate us to make moves that agree with cultural clichés and not God’s word.
Another note on government — Ephesians 4 explains how God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the church as GIFTS. His leadership and government are GIFTS to/for us. Part of the job of the ascension gifts is to unify the Body of Christ God’s way. Let’s keep this in mind as well.
Love to all.