Saturday, July 3, 2010

Judges 19-21: Can anything good come out of Israel?

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."  

Yesterday's reading was sad.  
Today's was horrific.  

A man sends his wife/concubine out at night to be raped so that he won't be raped.  She's raped so many times that she dies at his doorstep, and so he cuts up her body into twelve pieces and sends a piece to the different tribes of Israel.  Together the tribes decide to get revenge and go to war against the Benjamites.  They also vow not to give any of their daughters to the Benjamites in marriage.

Too late the Israelites decide this is a bad idea because the Benjamites might just die off without wives, so they kill off men from a village that didn't participate in the battle and give the women to the Benjamites.  Except there weren't enough so they steal some other women from another village.  

And I'm just left asking, "What?"

Why does God even bother with these people?  
Is there anything good in them?

It's easy to get bogged down in the horror of these events, told without any commentary except that "Israel had no king and everyone did what he wanted to do."  

I get the whole grace thing, unmerited favor from a God who has compassion.  But really?  
These men have absolutely no value for women. 
They don't even value life.  

And yet, in this same time period, we get the story of Boaz and Ruth.
And Samuel is born in this time period, to these people.  

In the midst of this evil, God still chooses to work, still chooses to weave his plan, still chooses to love. 

I'm quick to judge the people in this book, but God is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love.  
I would wipe them out, but God disciplines for the purpose of leading them into repentance.  

And I'm so grateful that I am not God.  I'm grateful for his compassion in my own life.
I'm grateful that God still chooses to to work, still chooses to weave his plan, still chooses to love in the world we live in today.

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