Sometimes we can do what God asks of us and suffer disastrous consequences. When this happens we can do one of two things, we can turn away from God and blame Him for our misfortunes, or we can humble ourselves and continue to do exactly what He asks. To see a clear example of this we need only turn back in history to a dark time in the land of Israel.
The Israelites were forced to do the unthinkable—attack one of their own tribes. The stage was set because of the wicked inhabitants of a town called Gibeah. A band of men brutally gang raped and killed the wife of a Levite The story is actually even more disgusting and you can read the account in Judges 19 to capture the full context. Gibeah was a Benjamite city and when the offended Levite brought to his nation the account of what happened, the leaders of the collective tribes demanded Benjamin turn over the criminals for punishment. Incredibly, they refused and took up arms to defend their flagitious (vicious) brethren.
Several disturbing questions come to mind when reading this story. First, why in the world would the Benjamites defend such a heinous crime? What exactly were they thinking? Clearly, they had abandoned their love for God and conviction to follow His laws.
At God’s direction, Israel banded to attack Benjamin with the tribe of Judah drawing the assignment to lead the charge. Four hundred thousand soldiers moved to combat 26,700 warriors from Benjamin. They should have easily routed the wayward tribe. Instead, they lost 22,000 troops. Stunned, but undeterred, full of tears but submitted to God, they asked Him if the attack should continue. The Lord said, “Fight against them” (20:23). In the second day of battle 18,000 men were slaughtered by Benjamin’s fighters. God let 40,000 men die and still the evil doers were unpunished! Why? Imagine what was running through the minds of the Israelite warriors as they gathered again before God. Feel their pain!
Judges 20:26—The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD.
Again Israel sought God’s desire. Once more He told them to fight. On day three they were victorious, destroying 25,100 Benjamites (20:35). Such an awful cost was shouldered to accomplish justice. It is conceivable that God was not just purging evil from Benjamin; He was refining all the tribes. Very rarely is sin localized or monopolized. If immorality was ripe in Benjamin it was probably seasoned throughout the land. We have to trust God’s punishment. When we wander the path of rationalization we reach a destination far from where God would have us tread. We allow small sins to exist until they become much bigger. Slowly a tribe of saints becomes a contumacious (rebellious) clan. Purging is not pleasant work but for God to get our attention, He must thoroughly punish. We may see an overzealous hand at work. We may not understand. But there is a reason Israel continued to seek God.
From deeper wounds comes deeper healing. There is a time for heavy weeping; better to wail and fast and find His favor. He will forgive and from our tears and repentance will come joy and blessing. We have to trust His purging.
No one receives punishment at the hands of God that they do not deserve.—R.C. Sproul in What is Reformed Theology?
©2011 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)