In Judges 19 I have heard an urgent warning for our day….
“As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him.” Judges 19:22
(A little bit of background) Earlier in the chapter we are introduced to a Levite who has traveled to Bethlehem to retrieve his concubine who had run away. Getting a late start on the trip home, they found themselves near the city of Gibeah (of the tribe of Benjamin) as night was beginning to fall. Finding nobody willing to take them in for the night (verse 15) they made their way to the open square of the city. About that time the old man mentioned in our verse above came in from his work in the field and invited them into his home for the night. The perverted men of the city (enough of them to surround a house) came to the old man’s house with wicked intentions. The Levite puts his concubine outside the door and she is violated by these men to such an extent that she dies. When this becomes known in Israel, forces gather for war against Benjamin and not only Gibeah, but nearly the whole tribe of Benjamin is wiped out.
Usually I pass through this chapter pretty quickly because, to be honest, I don’t want to spend any more time than necessary thinking on what has happened. But when reading this last weekend I couldn’t pass over it. In it I saw a picture of the day we live in.
Consider this – the man of the house was familiar with the city. It was his home. He knew the kind of people who lived there and the wickedness that was prevalent. His insistence that the visitors not spend the night in the open square indicated that he knew it wouldn’t be safe for them. Yet once they are all safely inside his house, there seems to be no concern about what may be happening outside as they are “enjoying themselves”, or “making merry”. In that little cocoon of safety they enjoyed a carefree meal, eating and drinking…yet evil was gaining ground and about to pounce. And the old man knew the danger, yet did nothing. Possibly he thought that getting them into the house would be enough to protect them. It was not.
In a culture that placed a high value on hospitality, it is extremely odd that they were refused a resting place for the night at anyone else’s home. Except when you consider that the rest of the inhabitants of the city also knew what manner of men dwelt there. And even though they knew these travelers would be in danger, they just weren’t willing to be inconvenienced or put themselves at risk to help.
We cannot afford to ignore the intensity and urgency of the days we live in just because it hasn’t (yet) affected us personally. We are in the safe little house of America, but even here the enemy is working to surround us. While we are busy enjoying ourselves, eating and drinking, and having church, the forces of darkness are advancing at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters in other nations are experiencing horrible persecution and our eyes are dry. It isn’t a day to play it safe or worry about how to not have our comfort infringed upon.
The inhabitants of Gibeah who were living in denial of the evil all around and refusing to get involved….they all ended up being swept away in the destruction that resulted from the evil acts commited there.
It is time to seek the face of God like our lives depended upon it. Because it may very well be that they do.