Homosexuality used to be a sin that was only practiced outside the walls of the Church. Today, the homosexual lifestyle is condoned, and homosexuals are even ordained as ministers. But in this lesson from Judges 19-21, Stephen challenges us to forsake the growing voices of culture and go back to God's Word for the answer to what is right and wrong.
"Sodom & Gomorrah: Act II"
In our last session, we studied the impact of rebellion upon the religion of the nation; in this session we will study the impact of rebellion upon the morals of the nation.
The moral results are astounding:
The last three chapters of Judges expose the ultimate destiny of any person, nation or society who rejects the authority of God's Word.
- marital unfaithfulness
- civil war
Right about now you may be thinking, "Goodness, I'm so happy I've come to Colonial these past two weeks. Just think, we've studied the failure of nations religious standard, and the resulting false religious systems created; and now we're going to study the immoral perversions of a nation that degenerates into homosexuality and murder. I can hardly wait."
Others may think - why study passages like this at all - especially when we could be meditating on the book of Philippians.
Let me assure you of a couple of things:
1) The passages we study from Sunday to Sunday were for the most part predetermined several years ago as God led us to begin a study through the entire Bible. As we study through the Bible, the Bible ultimately speaks about every issue of life.
The good the bad and the ugly things of life.
2) The Old Testament scriptures are part of scripture that God declares to be profitable for the New Testament believer. Let me show you where:
2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness!"
Some passages, like Judges 19, may be for nothing more than teaching afresh that the moral standards of any nation or people are not up for a vote.
The spirit of our age says that we only want to hear the positive things that Scripture has to say, and that the preacher must always be "merry and bright." Quick fix sermons abound today that entertain and enlighten in superficial says.
I must confess to you that four years ago I found myself wondering, "What book of the Bible could I teach through that would be the most interesting and practical. This verse (2 Timothy) drove me to confession - "Lord, you said it is all profitable. . .then I will preach it all."
But in my heart I was positive that the congregation would sleep through the Book of Leviticus, and snore through the Book of Numbers and faint in the book of Judges. . .I still have no idea what to do when we get to I Chronicles. I'm hoping the rapture will occur before we get there.
Go to the Book of Hebrews and God makes three things clear
1) The Old Testament reveals a God who never lies - He is unchanging! (6:18) Paul also wrote in Romans 15:4 - "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
2) The Old Testament records the story of Israel for the sake of warning the believer of unbelief and sin. (3:12)
#3 - the Old Testament. . .
3) The Old Testament relives for us the life of believers to encourage our walk. (11:32 - What more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah - Judges!. . .Therefore since we have these men and women before us, let us lay aside the sin that so entangles us and run with endurance the race that is set before us. You a salesman - a housewife - a lawyer - a mechanic; single, married, mother, father. . .has it ever occurred to you that is the race that God has set before you, and He wants you to run it with (love, a smile) endurance - sweat and tears. . ."Don't give up."
God has recorded the lives of these witnesses to challenge and convict and encourage us. . .
Many times the O.T. simply reveals the darkness - this is the point of Judges - we are shown the depravity of human hearts, and the depths to which any nation will sink after denying God's authority.
Before our very eyes, this morning, we will watch Israel nearly self-destruct. And if we learn well our lessons, we need never experience the devastation.
Our story open with a man chasing after his wayward wife. . .
Judges 19: 1. Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah.
2. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months.
The text will indicate that the man had actually married this women, adding her as he would add a piece of real-estate to his personal collection.
If you sat down and read. . .you would notice - women in Israel have become nothing more than property. In these chapters women will be kidnapped, abused and raped.
Mark it down, when a society abandons God's authority, women become pieces of property, objects, things. . .in a home where the man rejects God's control, the wife will automatically become a doormat, a servant, a housekeeper. But where God is honored, a woman will be given honor, and protection, a right to have an opinion, she will be given dignity. And all the ladies and - AMEN; and all the men had better say - AMEN.
3. Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her ("to her heart" - this blockhead seems to be waking up here) in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father's house, and when the girls' father saw him, he was glad to meet him.
We don't read anywhere of their deep conflict being resolved - she has been unfaithful to him. . .but it seems the Levite puts on his game face for the relatives while at the same time bitterness grows - I believe this explains to some point the callousness. . .
This couple stay at the relatives home for 5 and a half days, even though the Levite tries to leave several times. His wife has accepted her husband's sweet talk - along with the flowers and chocolate candy and they finally leave.
19:14. SO they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin.
15. And they turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.
You need to understand that hospitality was considered a sacred duty in the ancient Near East. Resident of towns or villages were expected to entertain travelers in their homes.
No one would take them in! It grew dark and finally an old farmer returning from his fields sees them and invites them to his humble abode for dinner, conversation and overall good hospitality.
It's all about to be rudely interrupted. . .19:22. While they were making merry, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door saying, "Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.
23. Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly.
24. Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.
25. But the men would not listen to him, so the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them (lit. "Forced her out") and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn.
26. As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man's house where her master was, until full daylight.
27. When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.
28. And he said to her, "Get and let us go." But there was no answer. Then he place her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his home.
Now you know why this passage isn't on the 10 best loved passages list to preach to Sunday morning crowds.
It's tragic; it's crude; it's inhuman; you don't know whether to scream or weep.
This passage reveals the violence of sexual perversion
the men "pounded on the door" - lit. "hurled themselves at the door."
This scene mirrors the events of Genesis 19 that took place in Sodom - only in that story, there were angels who rescued Lot from the homosexuals.
But wait - in that story, the homosexuals were Gentile idol worshippers. Sodom and Gomorrah were admittedly anti-God. In Judges, the sexual deviants are Hebrew men - their circumcised sons of Abraham.
So also in our nation. . .in yesteryear, practicing homosexuals were outside the walls of the church - today their lifestyle is condoned, they are ordained; their unions are blessed, and the rest of the church that cries "Wrong" is narrow-minded/bigoted.
God has not stammered in his declaration. Israel, and America is clearly seen in Romans 1 (TURN THERE)
This passage gives us the Seven Steps to Self-Destruction:
Verse 21a - notice that these people "know God" lit. about God.
Now note 21. For even though they knew about God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened."
1) they refuse to glorify God - (give Him His rightful place)
2) they refuse to thank God - nothing came from Him anyway!
3) they refuse to acknowledge God - speculations ignore Him, because of these three, the next 4 steps are really consequences:
4) they become self-proclaimed experts "professing to be wise"
5) they lose the ability to discern truth (foolish heart darkened)
key word "darkened" - lit. "without insight"
I watched the interviews in LA after the rioting. Reporters asked the people, how can we stop this from happening again. "We need better education, more jobs, more money."
The nation becomes confused as to solutions - our own nation is confused as to solutions - the solution for venereal disease is sex education and free protection; clean needles.
But what happens. . .do they recognize the futility of their own wisdom? No, look at verse 22a. They're strutting around, ignoring God's revelation that deals with sin, not symptoms, but while they're spreading their feathers, God's word says they become "fools" - moron!
6) they create their own system of religion - leave the creator out. v 23.
So what does God do? He in effect, steps aside and let's let the idolater self destruct! And what are the symptoms that they are caught in the quicksand of immorality?
1) they become obsessed with sexual immorality (1:24)
2) they become obsessed with unnatural immorality (26,27)
key word - function - scheme Reject author, now order or creation.
What's happening in Israel is spelled out in Romans. Judges - Isa.
Let me read you what God has to say:
Isaiah 5:20, 23 "Woe unto those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter; woe to those who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right."
One million words from our self-proclaimed experts cannot overpower one word from God - God has spoken.
BACK TO JUDGES
The Levite takes his murdered wife home. . .29. When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, (Hebrew word "cut" refers to ritualistic dissection) and sent her throughout the territory of Israel.
30. And it came about that all who saw it said, "Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!:
This really worked - it shocked the nation awake!
1) The tribe of Benjamin defends the immoral offenders
look at 20:12. Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What is this wickedness that has taken place among you?"
13. Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and remove this wickedness from Israel. (shock of all shocks. . .is what happens next!)
14. And the sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the sons of Israel.
Whenever someone is convicted of guilt,
Two results come naturally:
1) Shift the blame (that's what Adam and Eve did)
"I have spent the best years of my life giving people pleasures and all I get is abuse and the existence of a hunted man." Who is this poor, persecuted humanitarian.
Cold blooded gangster Al Capone.
and when that doesn't work:
2) avoid the consequences
That's why a political figure can be caught on video-tape smoking crack and when he's exposed he hollers, "Entrapment". Then, when that doesn't work he says, "nobody was hurt. . ." Bottom line - don't make me pay for my crime!
In addition to the Benjamites defending. . .the nation didn't respond correctly. They made three foolish vows:
1) no one will go home until Gibeah is attacked and destroyed
2) anyone who does not join us will be killed
3) we will exterminate the entire tribe of Benjamin
So the war begins - notice 20:15. And from the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men.
16. Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hare and not miss. (left hands are usually right on target. . .sorry, couldn't resist that one)
17. Then the men of Israel besides Benjamin were numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.
Get the picture; 400,000 is just about the size of Iraqi troops during the gulf war. Now take less than half the population of Cary and go fight Iraq. Not very good odds.
v 18. -Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God, and said, "Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?" Then the Lord said, "Judah shall go up first."
Most tragic words - 1:1. Now it came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel inquired of the Lord, saying, "Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?"
2. And the Lord said, "Judah shall go up. . ."
Do you see the tragic implications. . .do you see the consequences of disobedience. . .this is the result of every man doing that which is right in his own eyes!
For the sake of time - the rest of this chapter catalogues the civil war with the tribes of Israel nearly wiping out the entire tribe of Benjamin.
20:48. The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.
21:1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, "None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.
2. So the people came to Bethel and stay there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly.
3. And they said, "Why, O Lord God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be missing today in Israel."
In typical fashion, the Israelite blames God. The Hebrew mind is unable to link action with consequence.
Dr. Wayne Dyer in one of his recent books told the somewhat humorous story about a speaker who was assigned the difficult task of speaking to a large group of alcoholics. He was trying demonstrate to them their danger.
On a table he placed two identical containers filled with a clear fluid. One contained water, the other pure alcohol. The speaker placed a worm into the jar of water. The worm swam around and then headed for the side of the glass. Scooping the worm out of the water, the speaker placed it in the other container. The worm convulsed and died before it even reached the bottom.
"There" said the speaker, "you have seen what happened to that worm. What does this simple illustration teach you?"
A voice from the back of the room said, "If you drink alcohol, you won't have worms."
So Israel, because their hearts and eyes were turned away from truly following Yahweh, they were unable to discern cause and effect.
And they now make matters worse - you see, they had made a vow that Benjamin would be wiped out. . .now they were sorry for that vow. 600 Benjamite men were all that was left of this tribe - they needed wives to bear children and carry on the tribal name.
Did they go to God for advise - counsel? No, they conceived their own plan.
Two Fold Plan to Save the Benjamite Men:
1) 21:10. And the congregation went 12,000 of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, "Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones.
11. And this is the thing that you shall do; yo shall utterly destroy every man and every woman who has lain with a man.
12. And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
Step One - kill everyone except the teenage girls - kill the girls father's mother's little sisters and brothers! The girls won't have anywhere to live nor anyone to take care of them. They won't have a choice but to become the property of a Benjamite man!
The plan is carried out - only 200 Benjamite men are still single.
2) Plan 2 - Kidnap girls who danced at the annual festival of Lebonah. 21:23. And the sons of Bejamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they carried away. And they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the cities and lived in them.
What does God have to say about it all - 25. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes!
When God's Word is rejected, the depravity in a person's heart is unbelievable.
When God's authority is denied, the destruction of a person's life is inevitable.
When God's Word is received, the difference in a person's life is wonderful.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, behold all things are continually passing away, all things are continually becoming new."
Linda Cavez - a lady in a different city, going now to a Bible believing church. . .