A solemn warning from Judges 19

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.

Pay attention

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”  Hebrews 2:1

We live in an age of communication gone crazy.  Television, telephones, video games, Ipods and a multitude of other devices compete for our attention.  We can hardly focus our attention on one before we are distracted by another.  We seem to be a society of distraction.  But there are some things we cannot afford to be distracted from.  The writer of Hebrews warns us of this.

The words of Jesus are more than just words.  They are life.  And unless we heed those words, by listening to and obeying those words, slowly we will begin to drift, like a ship that isn’t anchored.  We will become leaky vessels, unable to contain what has been entrusted to us.

In America we are so very fortunate to have the freedom to own as many Bibles as we want.  I can take my Bible to work, I can read it in public places.  Yet this liberty is worthless if we do not pay attention to these words of life and let them penetrate deep into our souls.  This is no mere religious book.  It is the revealed truth about who God is, what He has done for us and what He requires of us.  Nothing in this world deserves more careful attention than this.

Let us be like Samuel – “Speak Lord, for Your servant hears.”


Benefiting from the Word

(John Angell James –  “The True Christian”)

If we would gain benefit by the word, we must make our PROFITING the specific object of hearing it preached. By profiting I mean our growth in religious knowledge, affection, and practice; in other words, the increase of our holiness, spirituality, and heavenly-mindedness. In nothing, I believe, are professing Christians more deficient, than in their manner of, and motives for attending the public means of grace. It is painful and humiliating to think how extensively the gratifications of taste, and the pleasure produced by eloquence and oratory, are substituted for the cultivation of the mind in scriptural truth, and the improvement of the heart in Christian excellence. To be pleased—and not to be profited—is the object of the multitude. Hence the question, so often asked of those who have been listening to the solemn truths of salvation and eternity, “Well, how have you been pleased today?” And hence also, the common answer to such an inquiry, “O greatly delighted. It was a most eloquent sermon.” Pleased we may and ought to seek to be, but only as we are profited. Eloquence we may covet and admire; but then it should be the eloquence of truth, and not of mere rhetoric; the eloquence which makes us hate sin, love God, and mortify our corruptions; the eloquence which leaves us neither time nor disposition to praise, or scarcely think of the preacher, but absorbs us in the subject; the eloquence which burns into the very heart and consumes our lusts, and stimulates and strengthens our virtues; the eloquence of the Bible, and not of the schoolbook.

Unforeseen Dangers in the Restricted Areas

Last week I read a tragic news story of a teenaged boy who trespassed into a restricted area of an amusement park to retrieve his hat and was struck by a roller coaster and died.  The story was so terribly sad to me and as I pondered it, this spiritual parallel unfolded…..

There is unforeseen danger in the restricted areas.  God has clearly – by His Word and His Spirit – marked certain things off limits.  Why?  Not to deny me any pleasure, but to protect me and preserve my life.  Although I may not see the approaching danger, or be aware of any threat to my safety, I need to understand that these areas have been restricted to me because there is indeed danger lurking there.  And when it comes, it may come so speedily that I am unable to escape.

Why do we feel the need to trespass into the restricted areas?  Isn’t it true that sometimes the very presence of a sign warning us to keep out only increases the desire to go in?  The apostle Paul said in Romans 7:7 “I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet”. 

Just a glance at the forbidden thing is all we want.  But Achan only took a few small items from the forbidden things of Jericho and it cost him his life and the lives of his family. (Joshua 7).

And who can forget the trespass of Adam and Eve that has affected us all?

Had this dear boy known it would cost him his life to retrieve the hat, I am convinced he would not have considered it that valuable.

And may we, as the people of God, not be guilty of disregarding the commands of God to possess trifles and worthless things.