Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Judges - "Designer Religion"|
Chapter: Jud 17
Passage: Jud 17:1-13
A. Find Out:
1. What did Micah confess and to whom? v.1,2
2. What did she do with the silver? v.3,4
3. What did Micah do? v.5,6
4. Who was looking for a home? v.7-9
5. So what did Micah do with him? v.10-13
1. What signs are there in this chapter of devotion to God?
2. What signs are there of superstition?
3. How would you therefore describe this situation?
A dictionary defines ‘syncretism' as an attempt to reconcile different systems of belief. That is what we now find here in this chapter, which moves from showing us the judges to ruled, to practices that prevailed. It shows us a family situation where there is a middle-aged man, Micah (who has at least one grown up son), and who appears to have his mother still living in the home. He had stolen her savings and she had cursed the thief. Fearful of the curse he returned the money and she, in gratefulness of the return, had the silver turned into a statute(s) that became the focus of their worship.
The story shows us the spiritual nature of these people, still wanting to worship, and their references are continually towards the Lord (v.3,13). They are aware of the low spiritual state of the nation and try to create their own mini-spiritual-provision. Micah wants a focus of his religion and so creates a shrine, puts the images in it and appoints one of his sons to act as a priest for them. When a travelling Levite comes back he buys him into his service, because the Levites were the tribe that served in the tabernacle. We thus have a blend of worship of God moulded together with superstitious idol worship – a messy religion far from that which God had ordained through Moses- yet it does show the spiritual desires within these people, misguided as they were! That indicates the general state of the Land at that time.
1. We cannot make up our own religion. The Lord decrees the way.
2. Self-centred religion is in fact godless.
Chapter: Jud 18
Passage: Jud 18:1-31
A. Find Out:
1. How did the Danites come to Micah's house & what happened? v.1-6
2. Where did they go and what did they report back? v.7-10
3. On their trek back north where did they stop? v.11-13
4. What did they do there? v.14-21
5. What happened when Micah found out? v.22-26
6. What happened when they went north? v.27-31
1. What was the main problem of the Danites?
2. How did they resolve that?
3. What was the significance of Micah in the account?
To catch the sense of what was happening here you really need a fairly good Bible atlas. The tribe of Dan had settled in a central area to the west of the land, but had been confined to the hill country by the Amorites ( 1:34 ). Eventually they send out a scouting party to go and look for land that was free from oppression. The route of this scouting party took them first east and then up into the territory of Ephraim in the very centre of the land where they came across Micah's house and his Levite who acted as a seer for them, confirming they would be blessed on their expedition. Then they went far north until they came to the far extremity of the land, to Laish which looked good to them.
They then returned home and told the others in the tribe what they had found. The conquering expedition, going to take that piece of the land, followed roughly the same route and so when they passed by Micah's house they took all the accoutrements of the man-made religion there and persuaded the Levite to go with them. They then continued north and took the land previously spied out, and renamed it Dan. Thus there because a second area of Dan in the far north, which had within it the basis of false religion that we observed in Micah's house in the previous study. Thus we see conquering the land, but not clearing out the false religion but making their own! Not a good time!
1. Superstition shows its face in many ways.
2. Superstition has no place in the Christian faith!
Chapter: Jud 19
Passage: Jud 19:1-30
A. Find Out:
1. What started off this terrible episode in Israel 's life? v.1-3
2. How did the father-in-law try to persuade the Levite? v.4-9
3. But what did the Levite do & where did they end up? v.10-15
4. How did they receive hospitality? v.16-21
5. Yet what happened? v.22-28
6. So what did the Levite do? v.29,30
1. What does this story say about travel in Israel at that time?
2. What does it say about the moral state of the land?
Why is this story included in Judges? First, because it shows the state of Israel at that time and, second, because it lays the foundation for what follows in the remaining chapters. It is without doubt a terrible account from a variety of viewpoints. First the Levite takes a concubine – less than a wife, a sexual servant. Not a good starting place. There is disharmony between them and she goes back to her home in the south. He follows and is well received by her father who prevails on him to stay.
He does for four days, but on the fifth he takes her with him late in the day and makes for home. It's a long way so they have to find somewhere to stay on the way. When eventually taken in by a good man in Gibeah, their evening was interrupted by evil men of the town demanding homosexual favours. The Levite eventually sends his concubine outside to satisfy them, where she is raped to near death.
Everything about this is revolting and evil. Although the Lord is not mentioned, it is no wonder that death comes on the land in a large measure as a follow-on to this state of affairs. What follows has to be the judgement of God, by the hands of men. The girl clearly dies and the Levite takes he home, dismembers her body and sends parts of it round all the tribes of Israel . ‘Shock treatment' is an understatement to describe what he does. He is basically saying to Israel , this is terrible but not as terrible as what is happening in the Land. Do something!
1. Unrestrained desires lead to sin and evil. Beware.
2. God's people are called to be holy.
Chapter: Jud 20
Passage: Jud 20:1-48
A. Find Out:
1. What happened as a response to the Levite's shock tactics? v.1-7
2. What did they decide to do? v.8-13
3. So how did it go? v.14-21
4. How did Israel get reassurance? v.22-23
5. What happened to further drive them to seek God? v.24-28
6. What happened on the third day? v.29-48
1. What appears to be the righteous intent of Israel ?
2. How is the Lord brought into this?
3. What has been the end outcome of all this?
The purpose of establishing Israel as a nation, was to create a nation that was in relationship with God so that God could use them as a light to the rest of the world. For that to happen, meant that that relationship had to be real. For a number of years now that relationship had been virtually non-existent, but the Lord will not sit back and let that continue; it's too early in their history, He wants much more to be done and seen, so this people will truly provide a testimony to the rest of the world. So we see these events.
Sin has produced some horrible events involving this Levite and his concubine. He shakes Israel by sending her dismembered body to all the tribal leaders. They come out, hear what has happened and decide to go against the perpetrators of this horrible thing. You would think that twelve tribes against one would be a foregone conclusion, but that is far from the case!
Benjamin wreak havoc on the force from the rest of Israel and thousands are killed. Israel seek the Lord to guidance. Is that the first time for many years? The Lord says continue. Many more are killed and Israel really seek God in earnest and He confirms victory. Many are killed. Was this the judgement of God on what had become an ungodly nation? It's not stated, but it would appear that it was.
1. God often brings disciplinary judgment through others' sin.
2. God uses a variety of means to call people to account. Beware!
Chapter: Jud 21
Passage: Jud 21:1-25
A. Find Out:
1. After the fighting over what caused anguish? v.1-6
2. What was their particular problem? v.1,7
3. Who had not turned out & what punishment was decreed? v.8-11
4. Who did they save and what happened to them? v.12-14
5. Yet what problem still remained? v.14b-18
6. How did they overcome that? v.19-24
1. How was there regret in Israel after the fighting?
2. How did an act of judgement become a help?
3. What other means did they use to help?
Our last sight of Israel in this book is somewhat bizarre. In the previous chapter we saw how six hundred Benjamin warriors had fled to the hills but everyone else in the towns was killed in the rampant slaughter that when on, in the fury of Israel against the wrong things that had happened. Benjamin had become a pariah among the tribes and the rest of the tribes had even taken an oath in their anger not to let their daughters marry into Benjamin. Now the fighting is over and the anger subsides, Israel realises that for the first time since Jacob, one of the tribes will soon be completely extinguished because there are simply six hundred Benjamin men left and no women. There is anguish over this.
However, at the same time there is an awareness that not everyone had responded to the solemn call, and death had been the penalty decreed for whoever had not come. They realise that it is the people of Jabesh Gilead who had not come and in the process of bringing judgement they spare the young girls to become wives for the Benjamin men – but there are not enough. A way is suggested – that the remaining Benjamin men be permitted to take girls from Shiloh at the celebrations there- thus the people of Shiloh would not be giving their daughters. A strange way to circumnavigate their oath, but these were strange, largely godless times as the final verse shows!
1. Unrestrained anger leaves us with big problems to sort out.
2. Promises before God are not to be dismissed lightly.
RECAP - "Self-Destruction & Consequences" - Judges 17-21
In this final group of 5 studies we have seen :
Micah & the Levite 17:1-13
- How an idol was made (17:1-4)
- Micah's religion (17:5,6)
- Micah installs the Levite (17:7-13)
The Settling of the Danites 18:1-31
- The Danites send out spies (18:1,2)
- They encounter the Levite at Micah's house (18:3-6)
- They find Laish & report back (18:7-10)
- 600 set out and come to Micah's house (18:11-13)
- They take the Levite & images (18:14-27)
- They take Laish and named it Dan (18:27-31)
The Levite & his Concubine 19:1-30
- An Ephraim Levite takes a Bethlehem concubine (19:1)
- She left him and returned home (19:2)
- The Levite went to persuade her to come back (19:3)
- 4 nights her father gets them to stay (19:4-8)
- Eventually they leave late in the evening (19:9,10)
- The seek shelter at Gibeah (19:11-15)
- An old man offered them shelter (19:16-21)
- Homosexuals demanded he handed the Levite over (19:22)
- Instead they put out the concubine (19:23-26)
- Finding her dead he returned home (19:27,28)
- He cut up her body and sent it around Israel (19:29,30)
Israel Fights Benjamin 20:1-48
- Israel gather to consider what has happened (20:1-3)
- The Levite shares what the Benjamites had done (20:4-7)
- Israel determine to punish the Benjamites (20:8-11)
- They demand that they surrender the culprits (20:12-13)
- Benjamin refuse (20:13-17)
- Israel seek the Lord (20:18)
- Israel fight Benjamin and loose 22,000 (20:19-22)
- Israel seek the Lord again (20:23)
- The 2nd day they fight and lose another 18,000 (20:24-25)
- Israel seek the Lord a third time (20:26-28)
- On the 3rd day Israel inflict 25,100 casualties (20:29-46)
- 600 Benjamites escape to the hills (20:47,48)
Strategies to continue Benjamin 21:1-25
- Israel 's oath prevents giving wives to Benjamin (21:1)
- Israel cry to the Lord (21:2-4)
- Awareness of the oath against those missing (21:5)
- Concern over the problem created (21:6,7)
- Women taken in the judgement on Jabesh Gilead (21:8-14)
- Concern over the problem still not solved (21:15-18)
- Solution suggested (21:19-22)
- Solution worked out (21:23-25)
This last section of Judges at first seems a hotchpotch of separate incidents but there does seem a link. The key link is the phrase “everyone did as he saw fit” (17:6 & 21;25) which sums up the attitude and godlessness existing in Israel at that time. There also seems a link between Micah and his Levite and the Levite who caused the eventual act of judgement to occur.
This section of the book seems to give us a general indication of the terrible spiritual state of this fairly new nation. Designer worship seems to prevail – do what seems right to you – a far cry from the covenant relationship established at Sinai. The destruction of large numbers of Israel in the attempt to punish Benjamin, have a sense of the indirect judgement of God about it. Paul spoke about how God “gave over” people to self-destructive judgement (Rom 1:24,26,28) and that seems to apply here. Because they have largely abandoned the Lord, He steps back and lets them act on their own (with a little bit of encouragement form Him) and destruction ensues.
1. Turning from God means turning to self-destruction.
2. Doing your own thing usually means self-harm.
3. Foolish behaviour always brings harmful consequences.
Ask the Lord to etch the awfulness of this picture of Israel's foolishness on your heart as a warning. Thank Him for the wonderful provision of life and blessing through Jesus. Ask Him to hold you close and to keep you close to Him.