Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2nd Class Women

Dirty old men
Predatory college students
Manipulative teenagers
Broken women and children

The world seems full of this evil.  Men, young and old, who use and abuse women and children for their own selfish, cruel pleasure, with no thought or care about the carnage they leave behind.  I understand why some women don’t trust men and hate them. Or don’t trust God and hate Him.
I can’t get away from this, even my morning’s Bible reading was there, at the end of the book of Judges.  This story bothers me every time I read it.  The men of Benjamin seek out the stranger in town, a Levite, to rape him.  Sounds like a replay of Sodom, only the good guys, Israel, are now evil, which makes it infinitely worse.  The Levite’s host offers them his daughters, and the Levite pushes his concubine, a kind of a second class wife, out to them.  Really?!  This is where I start to get angry.  And then this man, who is not only an Israelite from God’s chosen nation, but a Levite, the tribe chosen by God to minister before Him, is surprised to find her dead on the door step the next morning.  This father and this Levite seem as guilty as the men of the town to me.  They let it happen.  The man knew what he was doing when he gave them the woman, he can’t have been that stupid.  Was he just blind?  Did he not want to believe the evil in Israel?

But when he finds his wife dead, he is angry, perhaps at himself too, and he calls out the entire nation.  The way he does this is particularly distasteful, but then the whole story is.  He cuts the woman into pieces and sends the pieces throughout Israel.  Israel responds, and war is declared on this city in the tribe of Benjamin.  Rather than hand over the evil men to be judged, the whole tribe of Benjamin rallies around the guilty city to defend it, and civil war ensues. 
The men of Benjamin are apparently stronger warriors, and they win massive victories in the first two battles.  Where is God in this?  I don’t understand.  Why is evil stronger than good?  Is it because violence is inherent in evil’s very being?  Why do the good guys always seem weaker?

Israel might have been wondering the same thing.  All Israel weeps before God.  40,000 warriors have died.  40,000!  I can’t even imagine that number.  God tells them to attack again, that they will win this time.  They do, and set up an ambush using the pattern of the earlier defeats to lure the Benjamites out of the city and into a trap.  Thirty more Israelites lose their lives in this, but it works and the town is destroyed, and the tribe Benjamin is destroyed.  20,000 soldiers of Benjamin are killed, and all the women and children; 600 soldiers escaped.  Not only the tribe of Benjamin, but the entire nation is devastated.  65,000 men have died, and an entire tribe has been all but wiped out.  How many who fought for the side of evil were not evil?  How many innocent lives were lost?  There is no way of knowing.  But the men who died in the service of God gave their lives for Him and for justice, for what was right.  Is that a bad death?  He used the deaths of the soldiers in Israel to lay an ambush that led to victory in the third battle.  Were those deaths senseless or useless?  God used the death of a second class wife to purge evil out of Israel and bring an entire country to its knees.  In a real sense, He woke up Israel and brought about revival through her death.  Was that a wasted death?
Was it worth it?
Was God wrong?

This story closes the book of Judges with these words, “In those days there was no king in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Purging this evil cost many lives, but it set the stage for a coming king.  My anger at evil and injustice can turn into bitter mistrust and hatred, or it can set the stage for a coming King and Savior.  Will I fight for right, against evil, or will I be angry at God and men and life?

I can be angry at God and men and life now,
or I can long for a perfect life in Heaven,
and an end to all sin and tears,
including my own.

©Rebecca A Givens, 04/08/14


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