Posts Tagged ‘finding Jesus Christ’

Judges 19:1-30 (Part 3 of 3)
The Levite and His Concubine

One of the things that struck me as I read through this passage was the fact that (1) why did the Levite wait so long to go retrieve his mistress/concubine and (2) why did the passage go into detail about the amount of time it took for the Levite to leave the house of the father of this girl that was his mistress. So much time in this passage is devoted to these two things, there’s got to be something there out which there is a biblical nugget to be mined. What I came up with is the party lifestyle and the pride that goes with it.

First off, even though there are references to multiple references in the Bible of many have multiple wives and or mistresses. It never turns out good. Because God’s design is for one man and one woman to be in a relationship of fidelity and intimacy. The clearest evidence that monogamy is God’s ideal is from Christ’s teaching on marriage in Matthew 19:3–6. In this passage, He cited the Genesis creation account, in particular Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, saying “the two will become one flesh”, not more than two. Another important biblical teaching is the parallel of husband and wife with Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:22–33, which makes sense only with monogamy—Jesus will not have multiple brides, only one bride and it His church. The 10th Commandment “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife [singular] … ” (Exodus 20:17) also presupposes the ideal that there is only one wife. Polygamy is expressly forbidden for church elders (1 Timothy 3:2). And this is not just for elders, because Paul also wrote: “each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Paul goes on to explain marital responsibilities in terms that make sense only with one husband to one wife.

It is very important to remember that not everything recorded in the Bible is approved in the Bible. Consider where polygamy originated—first in the line of the murderer Cain, not the line of Seth. The first recorded polygamist was the murderer Lamech (Genesis 4:23–24). Then Esau, who despised his birthright, also caused much grief to his parents by marrying two pagan wives (Genesis 26:34). God put a number of obligations on the husband towards the additional wives (it was another of those regulations that God put in place to regulate a bad situation that already existed such as his rules about divorce – the hardened heart regulations), which would discourage polygamy.

God also forbade the kings of Israel to have “many wives” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Look at the trouble when Israel’s kings disobeyed, including deadly sibling rivalry between David’s sons from his different wives (2 Samuel 13, 1 Kings 2); and Solomon’s hundreds of wives helped lead Solomon to idolatry (1 Kings 11:1–3). In view of the problems it causes, it is no wonder that polygamy was unknown among the Jews after the Babylonian exile, and monogamy was the rule even among the Greeks and Romans by New Testament times.

Since she is called a concubine, it means that she was almost a wife. She was probably a gift to the Levite from a family that could not meet their obligations to him in some way or as a way to seal an alliance between families. For her not to be a full-fledged wife may presupposed that the Levite already had a primary wife, the legal wife according to God’s law. Therefore, it seems to me with my 21st century sensabilities that this Levite was not opposed to wheeling and dealing and playing loose with the interpretation of God’s law. It may have been more important to him to (1) seal a political alliance that gave him more influence in his region of the country or increased his access to wealth or both or (2) have access to additional sexual opportunities without it being frowned upon. If he had two women in his home, it would double the opportunity, ya know.

So we have a guy here that is supposed to be an example of God’s higher standard for His people. He is a Levite after all. But he is no better than the normal Israelites at this point and he is no better than the pagan cultures surrounding Israel. He plays footloose with the standards set by God.

Second, even though we have established that having multiple sex partners at the same time was not God’s intention for the marital home. But having said that, this woman who was part of his home life should have been someone he cared about and took care of. However, the dude waits like four months to even go after her. She got mad at him and left him to go back home to her dad’s house. Yet, the Levite just sits back at home. He must have been like go ahead girl I don’t care. You’ll see. You’ll miss me. You’ll come crawling back to me. It must have been a big deal to the girl because she was not coming back. How prideful this guy must have been to let a woman he cared for to be gone for 4 months without as much of care to go look for her. He must have been a selfish guy with I can replace her very easily attitude.

Third, we see the passage spends a good many words about the hospitality shown him by his mistress’ dad. The Levite was ready to go but he was easily convinced to stay another two days. It was a party I guess. It says that had another two days of feasting. Seems like this guy was easily dissuaded from what he knew he needed to do by the party. He must have had a party attitude about life. Everything can be suspended or forgotten for a party. He probably was the kind who lived his life waiting for the next party. You know, where you can let your hair down. Get blasted. Do wild things. Do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Yep. Fits in with the profile that we are building here. He was a guy who bent God’s commands to suit his lifestyle. He was arrogant. He was self-centered. He was a party boy.

With that in mind, let us read through Judges 19 now with an eye toward the treatment of the concubine in this passage/chapter. We may condemn the Levite for his treatment of her but before we get all morally outraged, let’s then think about our modern-day ways that we treat life in the same way:

19 Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. 2 But she became angry with him[a] and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem.

After about four months, 3 her husband set out for Bethlehem to speak personally to her and persuade her to come back. He took with him a servant and a pair of donkeys. When he arrived at[b] her father’s house, her father saw him and welcomed him. 4 Her father urged him to stay awhile, so he stayed three days, eating, drinking, and sleeping there.

5 On the fourth day the man was up early, ready to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have something to eat before you go.” 6 So the two men sat down together and had something to eat and drink. Then the woman’s father said, “Please stay another night and enjoy yourself.” 7 The man got up to leave, but his father-in-law kept urging him to stay, so he finally gave in and stayed the night.

8 On the morning of the fifth day he was up early again, ready to leave, and again the woman’s father said, “Have something to eat; then you can leave later this afternoon.” So they had another day of feasting. 9 Later, as the man and his concubine and servant were preparing to leave, his father-in-law said, “Look, it’s almost evening. Stay the night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get up early and be on your way.”

10 But this time the man was determined to leave. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine and headed in the direction of Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). 11 It was late in the day when they neared Jebus, and the man’s servant said to him, “Let’s stop at this Jebusite town and spend the night there.”

12 “No,” his master said, “we can’t stay in this foreign town where there are no Israelites. Instead, we will go on to Gibeah. 13 Come on, let’s try to get as far as Gibeah or Ramah, and we’ll spend the night in one of those towns.” 14 So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin, 15 so they stopped there to spend the night. They rested in the town square, but no one took them in for the night.

16 That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah, where the people were from the tribe of Benjamin. 17 When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.

18 “We have been in Bethlehem in Judah,” the man replied. “We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I’m returning home.[c] But no one has taken us in for the night, 19 even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves.”

20 “You are welcome to stay with me,” the old man said. “I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.” 21 So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.”

23 The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. 24 Here, take my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don’t do such a shameful thing to this man.”

25 But they wouldn’t listen to him. So the Levite took hold of his concubine and pushed her out the door. The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light.

27 When her husband opened the door to leave, there lay his concubine with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said, “Get up! Let’s go!” But there was no answer.[d] So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.

29 When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine’s body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

30 Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?”

In this passage, when viewed from a personality profile perspective, we see that…well…for a great number of us, we see ourselves in the Levite. We pride, arrogance, self-centeredness. We see a person who was once probably idealistic about loving God but never to the point of accepting God as Lord. He may have been one of us who started down the slope of oh, this sin is OK and oh, that sin is OK. I am still a Levite. It is ok for me to act like the pagans do by having multiple sex partners in my home. Kind of like how we do in modern times of that it is ok to have sex while single because (1) it feels good and (2) it is OK because I care about this person and (3) God just wants me to be happy. God will make an exception to His rules, just this one time. Here we see a guy that cast the mistress aside for 4 months because of a disagreement of some sort. Apparnetly, he didn’t care. He wanted to win the fight. He was right. She was wrong. Don’t let the screen door hit where the good Lord split, I bet he might have said (if they had had screen doors in the 1100’s BC. How many times have you and I split up with a girl or guy that we have been dating and been having sex with outside the marriage covenant and for pride’s sake and to win at all cost, we toss the relationship aside for pride. Here we see a guy that was a party animal too. It took him two days to leave his mistress’ dad’s house because of the party. How many times, have you and I in the past lived that party girl or party boy lifestyle where you forget your morality and do stuff that you will regret later but at the time it seemed OK? How we lower our moral standards and do stuff that we would normally not do when we live the party girl or party boy lifestyle. Our moral standards lie in a pile beside our clothes near the bed of whomever we went home with.

Then, you add to that the conclusion of this story that we talked about in my last blog. This guy just had gotten so self-centered that he through his woman to the dogs as if she were a piece of meat, a piece of property. How often, in the past, did you and I treat people that way. Use ‘em for what we want and then throw ‘em away when that don’t fit into our plans anymore or there’s a better offer that just walked by. That is how many of us lived our lives before we came to the cross. The self-centered, arrogant, party boy or party girl lifestyle never ends well. We will find our rock bottom one day.

Are you sick and tired of living life in this manner? Are you tired of searching for meaning in life but never finding it? Are tired of seeking value in sexual relationships but always feeling like there’s something missing? Are you tired of ending up alone in your soul and trying to fill it up with parties?

That hole in your soul is designed to be there. That hole in your soul is designed to be filled by Jesus Christ. You know that everything else that you have tried has come up empty and wanting. That is by design. Only God is to fulfill us. Come to the altar now and admit to the Lord that you have turned your back on Him. Admit that you ran from Him because you thought your party lifestyle was better. Admit to Him that you were wrong. Beg for forgiveness and ask Him to come into your heart and make you fulfilled, and new, and vibrant once again. He is slow to anger and He is quick to forgive your sins. Once you accept Christ as Your Savior, it’s not about do and don’ts. It’s about a fulfilling new relationship that changes you from the inside out and changes your perspective. He is the one that fills the hole in our soul.

Amen and Amen.

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