Judges 20:6 “So I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel, for they have committed abomination and outrage in Israel.”
Outrage: what an apt word to describe the spirit of the age. Everywhere we look today, be it in the press, on social media, or in one-on-one conversations, we see outrage being expressed. Some are outraged over the words and actions of Donald Trump. Others are outraged that Donald Trump is being attacked and blamed for everything under the sun. People are outraged about what happened to George Floyd and other people of color that have been brutalized and murdered by police. Others are outraged by the widespread looting and rioting that has taken place in its wake. There is outrage that some people don’t seem to think that “black lives matter” and there is outrage by others that some of these same people don’t seem to think that unborn children’s lives matter. People are outraged over Covid-19: its origins, the governments and/or public’s response to it, and the impact it’s had on jobs, graduation ceremonies, nursing homes, etc., etc. It seems the reasons for outrage never end. But do you know what? The spirit of outrage is nothing new.
Today I read through Chapters 19-21 of the book of Judges, which are the concluding chapters of this book. The last verse of Chapter 21 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” But, interestingly, while everyone did what was right in HIS OR HER own eyes, those actions were an outrage to others who were doing what THEY saw as right in THEIR own eyes. It’s evident throughout the Book of Judges, but particularly so in these concluding chapters.
Chapter 19 begins with an account of a Levite, one of the “holiest” men of Israel, taking a concubine for himself. That in and of itself was a sin, but apparently not in the eyes of this Levite. But then, the concubine proves unfaithful to the Levite and thereby sinned against him. She goes back home to her father, and the Levite pursues. Eventually she is restored to him, and he departs to take her back to his home. On the way there the Levite’s servant suggests that they stop for the night in the city of Jebus. However, the Levite refuses because the Jebusites were foreigners and not Jews, and to stay there would be an outrage. So, he decides to stay in the Jewish city of Gibeah, at the home of an old man who had befriended him. While there he is solicited by homosexuals, something the old man calls a “wicked” and “outrageous” thing. His solution? He offers to give the mob his own daughter as well as the concubine for the night to do with as they please. When the men refuse, the Levite sends his concubine out nevertheless. They abuse her all night, then murder her. Although the Levite thought it was somehow alright to send his concubine into a lustful mob, the fact that they killed her was an outrage to him. He was so incensed that he cut her into 12 pieces and sent the pieces throughout all of Israel in a bizarre means of spreading the news about what had been done. This then led to the outrage of all Israel as over 400,000 men gathered to wreak havoc on Gibeah and the entire tribe of Benjamin of which those of Gibeah were a part. This led to war between the Benjamites, who defended the outrageous actions of the men of Gibeah. When the dust settles, over 25,000 Benjamites and over 40,000 men from the other tribes lay dead. Yet the mayhem didn’t end there, as more death and more outrageous actions soon followed.
Outrage upon outrage, but not the SAME outrage, as the things that tripped some people’s triggers had seemingly no effect on others. What a reflection of the day in which we live. What a symptom of the condition in Israel at the time of judges as well as in our own time which can both so aptly be described as “everyone (doing) what (is) right in his own eyes.”
So, what’s the remedy? Is there any hope? Probably not if the condition of everyone doing what is right in his or her own eyes just continues. It’s all a result of what the Bible calls great hardness of heart. It’s all a symptom of judging right and wrong by our own very imperfect standards while giving almost no heed to the Judge Who has laid down His Law for all. And while there may be social change that comes about when the outrage about some perceived wrong hits a fever pitch for enough people, hardness of heart is never overcome on a social level. No, the change to a hardened heart will only ever come about one heart at a time, as the Savior of the world turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. It’s only then that what is an outrage to the God who loves the world but hates the world’s sin becomes an outrage to us, and it’s only then that we find that what is an outrage to God dwells in every human heart.
It is ONLY God that can change this. He is the only hope. It’s a hope that is described time after time in the Word of God, if we will only look to that Word for the answer. Listen as Paul describes the change that is possible, a change that transformed him from a terrorist to one who loved with all his heart both the Lord and the people he had formerly terrorized. It was a miracle that could only be attributed to God: “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:17-32).”
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