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August 5th, 2012 – Judges 19

Click here to read Judges 19  on BibleGateway.com

A word of warning to those of you who are regular readers of EverydayDevotions – typically we find a lot of humor in the Bible in these devotions, but every so often we come across certain passages of scripture that offer very little in the way of humor. This is one of those days.

In Judges 19, we read the story of a Levite and his concubine. There has been much discussion about this story regarding the relationship of the Bible to the issue of homosexuality in our modern setting. For most people, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the big condemnation in scripture; but this story is just as powerful, and possibly moreso, since it concerns almost all Israelites, God’s chosen people who were supposed to be a shining light of his goodness.

THE DOWNWARD SLIDE 

In any case, while we could spend some time examining the sexual orientation angle, let’s look instead at the so-called protagonist of this story, the Levite. The first thing we notice about this man is that he is in a remote area; this was not one of the up and comers in the temple, but a simple everyday Joe living in the boonies.

Next, notice that he had a concubine. A concubine in the Old Testament setting was neither wife nor prostitute, but somewhere inbetween. They were members of the household, so they were more than just sexual partners, but they do not have the full rights of a wife, especially regarding inheritance. It would appear that they were basically women who did not have enough standing or looks or property to get married, but found a man that wanted an extra female around. It should strike us odd that a Levite, one of the priests of the nation, should have this sort of relationship.

The woman leaves this man and returns home, where he subsequently follows her to get her back. On the way home, they stay in a stranger’s home (very common in the Ancient Near East). Notice again how the author of Judges draws attention to the fact that this city he stayed in were composed of Israelites, not “sinful” foreigners.

In the course of the night, this “godly” priest sends his near-wife out to take his place with a town full of strange men, who essentially rape her to death. Shockingly, when he arises in the morning, he steps over her and calls her to get up and proceed on their way. It’s hard to imagine this heartlessness, especially from an Levite.

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD 

I’ll leave the gruesome details for you to read on your own, but I think we need to take a good look at this passage, and a good look at ourselves. This Levite probably saw himself as the spiritual leader of his town, the pastor or priest of his day. Yet one compromise, taking a concubine, sends his life and the life of the nation at large into an alarming spiral.

We often think that because we are “forgiven” or under “grace,” that the problems of sin don’t apply to us like they apply to all those sinners out there. We can easily grow complacent in our walk with the Lord, and make little compromises like watching that movie, reading that book, or dating that person. This story should be a sobering reminder to us of the devastation we can cause to ourselves and others when we begin to think that we are beyond such earthly temptations. The Bible is clear that Pride leads to great suffering, and sometimes we can even become prideful of our salvation. We think that since we are God’s special one, that we can get away with little sins and nothing bad will happen.

We need to pray that God will keep our eyes open to the temptations around us and our hearts clearly tuned to his will. Nothing else will keep us from falling.

 

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