Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Religion With No Power

The last five chapters of the book of Judges is as clear and stark a picture of what happens when we live with a low view of God as there is in the Bible.  Chapters 17-18 deal with idolatry and then 19-21 deal with the resulting sinful lifestyle of those who have no regard for the Lord God. 
In this passage there is a Levite who is traveling with his concubine and is taken in by an older man so he wouldn’t have to sleep in the streets of what obviously was a city full of wicked idolaters.  The picture is obviously given to make us think of Sodom.  The men of the city throw themselves against the door wanting their way with the Levite, not his concubine nor any other woman.  The solution of the Levite and his host is to offer up their wives and daughters as they seem to think that a man raping a woman is at least better than raping another man.  But the whole account makes it very clear that this Levite was part of Israel’s problem.  Just as the Levite in the previous chapters helped Israel become idolaters, so this Levite reveals the spiritual depravity of those who honor not God.  So he throws his concubine outside to save his own skin and then in the morning steps over her cold dead body and tells her to get up and saddle the donkey!  (Author’s embellishment)  Later he decides to get righteously indignant and cuts her up into 12 pieces and sends them to the twelve tribes demanding that someone be punished.
One of the points of Judges and especially in the last five chapters is that here is Israel, the people of God, offering tabernacle worship, memorizing the law, making sacrifices and so on, yet running around living equally as bad as the world around them.  It seems to warn us today that such a thing can happen even to true children of the kingdom.  We can offer spiritually sounding prayers and sing exceptionally godly hymns and preach Christ honoring sermons while gathered at church but then walk out and live as if we have a very low esteem of God.  While it is easier and less convicting to see this paralleling churches with unsound doctrine resulting in circuses of religious activity, I think even doctrinally sound people can fall into this trap and it is always more profitable to say, “Is it me, oh Lord” rather than “I am glad it isn’t me”.  Let me offer a couple of examples.
We men would quickly condemn this Levite’s actions as cowardly and ungodly and would be quick to state that we would never put our families in such harm’s way and I believe we would mean it and for the most part follow through if such a thing ever happened.  But is it possible that because we have little regard for spiritual danger (a result of having a low estimate of God) that we do, in fact, throw our families out into this world at least to their spiritual demise?  Do we give our children over to the public schools and to the televisions with little or no effort to counter balance the things they learn from these sources?  Then, when they turn out to be skeptics and atheists, we all of the sudden get a pang of guilt and point the finger at everyone but ourselves. 
Let’s be careful because it is easy to grow weary of guarding ourselves from the enemy.  Would we not think of throwing our daughters out to the gangs on the street, but care little if they are in church consistently to learn what God’s says?  We spend little or no time teaching them at home and living out our profession before them and then wonder what happened when they become adults and have no regard for the Lord. 
Oh, how cold, we say, for this Levite to step over the dead body of his wife and then we make plans to serve some other god on Sundays and think somehow in the morning everyone will be alright. 

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