Last night I taught a Bible Study from the book of Judges, chapters 19 and 20. It's a scary passage of scripture. In it a priest who is much more focused on himself than upon God decides to avenge the brutal rape and murder of his live-in girlfriend. The fact that a man who is supposed to represent God even HAS a live-in companion ofa sexual nature should speak volumes about HIS character. The fact that his society put up with that kind of immoral behavior from it's priesthood should speak volumes about the deteriorated condition of the culture in which it occurred.
Anyway, he carves her up into 12 pieces and ships her dismembered body all around the country to the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel, explaining that the tribe of Benjamin is to blame for this horrible act. But this isn't the scary part.
You see, all of Israel, 400,000 warriors, gathers together to make the rapists pay for their wicked behavior, but their brothers in the tribe of Benjamin are offended that the rest of the family wants to hold them accountable. Accountability wasn't en vogue in those days. So the men of Benjamin rose up to defend the offenders!
The rest of the Israelites come together to ask God who to send into battle first, and He tells them to send Judah. Judah acts in obedience to the Lord's direction and is promptly defeated by Benjamin! Twenty-two thousand men of the tribe of Judah are killed in the battle, and the people of Israel are completely confused!
Again they seek the Lord, and again they are sent against Benjamin, but again they suffer a huge defeat! This time 18,000 are slaughtered!
Finally, after once again fasting and praying for God's direction, Israel goes up against Benjamin, and this time they are victorious. But why did they fail the first two times!? When God is on your side everything should just flow, shouldn't it? Not necessarily.
Listen, I love the fact that God includes this in the Bible! If I were keeping the historical records for God, I would be tempted to leave this one out! "They trusted Him, OBEYED Him, and look what happened!"
We tend to focus primarily on those 2 initial defeats because we value "success" above almost anything! But in God's economy there are more important things than our agendas.
Remember, God is far less concerned with our success than He is with our character. WHO you are is a much bigger priority for Him than what you accomplish...
- Pastor Robert Fountain