How far will America go before God says, “That’s enough?” When will America take a long hard look at it’s sin and confess it to a holy and loving God?
I’d like to suggest that there is a model in scripture whereby we can judge ourselves and rescue our society. Ironically, it’s found in a book called, Judges.
In Judges 19-21 the story is told of a man who gave his concubine to a group of attackers who raped her all night long, leaving her dead the next morning. It is a scene reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom.
As the story goes, the man took his dead concubine, cut her into 12 pieces and sent her to the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. In shock, the leaders gather and ask themselves how such a terrible evil could have been committed in Israel. After a brief investigation, they decided to confront the tribe and people who committed this evil, the men of Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin. They gathered as an army and demanded that Benjamin give up the guilty parties to justice. But to their dismay, Benjamin not only refuses to give up the guilty parties, they actually come to their defense!
Doesn’t this remind you of some congress members and senators who come to the defense of groups like Planned Parenthood who murder children and sell their body parts? Or law makers and judges who advocate for the gay lifestyle and worse? In today’s America we sin and use our freedom to defend it. But scripture says, “Do not use your freedom as a covering for evil” (I Peter 2:16).
In Judges, Israel goes to war against Benjamin but is twice beaten badly by their opponent. After offering sacrifices and prayer, Israel says this to the Lord, “Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?” (Judges 20:23). The Lord answers yes and the ensuing battle nearly wipes out the tribe. Grieving over what has taken place, Israel then has mercy and comes up with a plan to help Benjamin be restored and save their tribe.
How is this a model for America?
I suggest this story presents us with three options.
First, we can be Gibeah, those who commit sin, have no remorse, and commit unspeakable acts worthy of judgment. Like Gibeah, left to our own devices, judgment is sure.
Second, we can be like Benjamin, those who defend those who sin, and fight on their behalf. They may not commit the same evil, but they come to the evil man’s aid and defend his right to do evil. Isn’t this what we are doing today?
Third, we can be Israel, who rose up against the men of Gibeah and Benjamin and eradicated the evil from among their midst. Yet, they also had compassion on them, helping the remnant to rebuild their tribe. In other words, we must judge ourselves and radically change our society, being proactive in removing our evil. But there is a catch.
Israel lost many men in the first two battles against Benjamin, because they did not have a right heart before the Lord in going against Benjamin. After being defeated twice, Benjamin asked the Lord, “Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?” Notice that little phrase, “Fight against our brothers.”
This wasn’t just a matter of judging evil. Rather, it was a recognition that a terrible evil was about to befall their nation. A tribe was near to being wiped out. It was then that Israel recognized that they themselves were not wholly clean before the Lord. It is like the Lord saying, “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42). Judgment may be necessary, but judgment always requires humility.
I’m not suggesting violence or going to war. But I am suggesting that only a radical, God-fearing change in society will cause wrath to turn away from us. But if we are not willing to do the hard things, then what will happen to us?
Shall we be Gibeah? Shall we be Benjamin? Shall we be Israel?