This is perhaps one of the saddest stories and the lowest point in the life of Israel. This story teaches us that sometimes it is safer to be with pagans than to be with God's people who are living in rebellion against God.
The Levite chose to pass by a closer city belonging to the Jebusites and travel later into the evening to spend the night, in what he assumed would be a safer city, among his own people. Little did he know that he would be sleeping with the enemy and the enemy was his own people. What happens to his concubine reveals the absolute spiritual and moral corruption of Israel. They had no regard for priests at all, nor did they respect women. They were completely given over to sexual sin.
The Levite's shocking response galvanizes Israel to action. The rape and murder of the girl and the subsequent dismembering of her body awakens Israel to see the depth that they, as a nation have sunk. Sometimes it takes a shocking event to stir people to action. I think of the assassination death of Martin Luther King. This shocking death propelled an entire nation to a long overdue action--the desegregation of our nation.
We have become our worst enemy. Children are no longer safe on our streets, in our schools, in our homes (Internet pornography, etc.), or even in our wombs. For years we focused exclusively on the enemy beyond our borders not realizing, until it has almost become too late, that we are sleeping with the enemy.
This horrific event galvanized Israel into action:
- They went up to Bethel (where the ark of the covenant rested)
- They wept before the Lord
- They fasted that day
- They presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD
- They inquired of the LORD
We, as a nation, must come to our spiritual senses. I wonder what it will take to shake us up and cause us to return to the LORD?
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Judges 19:1-20:48
- Review Leviticus 21:7,13-14 and describe Levitical marriage requirements.
- In light of the Leviticus passage how would you describe the Levite in today's reading?
- As nightfall nears why does the Levite pass the Jebusite city and go further to the city of Gibeah?
- How are the people of Gibeah described? How does this story compare to Sodom and Gomorrah?
- How does the Levite respond to the concubine's death?
- What does his response to her death do to, or rather, for Israel?
- What was the soldier ratio between Benjamin and Israel?
- The defeat after the first two battles provoke Israel to what activity?
- So, how does God use this terrible death in the life of Israel?
Pray for our nation. Pray for our churches. Ask the Lord to grant us hearts of brokenness and repentance before Him.