Read Judges 21:1-12
3. The Results of the War. The men of Israel had made an oath to not give their daughters to marrying men for Benjamin. Remember in chapter 19-20 that there was a terrible rape, covering up for the wrong doers, and war. However, the men of Israel did not want to lose a tribe. So they took 400 virgins from the people of Jabesh Gilead. The killed the men, non-virgin women, and children.
- Our promises. Notice in vss. 1-2 that the men of Israel were concerned about keeping their word. First, as believers, we should be known for keeping our word. God hates a lying tongue. We can start with our church covenant, wedding vows, employment contracts, and the like.
Second, we should be careful about making promises, because there may be some unexpected consequences, as in the text. Let’s seek God’s wisdom about making and keeping our promises.
- Our prayer lives. Notice in vs. 2 that the men gathered to pray and cry together about the condition of the nation. It is sad to see how difficult it is to get a crowd to gather to pray for the health of our churches and communities. It is even sadder to see how difficult it is to get men to gather for serious prayer.
Let’s work on our corporate prayer lives. In times like these, we should be praying individually and corporately for the health of our churches and communities in addition to our families and individual lives.
- Giving. Notice in vs. 4 that the people offered burnt and fellowship offerings. The burnt offering was concerned with atoning for the sins of the ones giving the offering. A fellowship offering was an expression of thanksgiving and dedication to God.
A key point is that the praying and crying of vs. 2 was accompanied by heart felt giving. In like manner, we should make sure that we are not just being emotional on Sundays. We should give from our hearts, not out of obligation and law, but out of thanksgiving and love. Let’s work on giving like we are serious about being dedicated to the Lord.
- Faithful attendance. Notice in vss. 5-9 that bad things will happen to the people of Jabesh Gilead because they failed to assemble with the rest of body. On one hand, killing them is too harsh for our taste. We do prune those who are absent and/or negligent in giving. But on the other hand, those who claim to be a member of a church should make serious effort to be faithful in attendance (see Heb. 10:24-25).
Not only would our churches be stronger, by our personal, family, and community lives would be better, if more of the members were faithful in attendance and growing. Let’s work on being faithful in our attendance and growing, while deliberately encouraging others to do the same.
- Records and accountability. Notice in vss. 8-9 that the records showed that the people of Jabesh Gilead were absent. This means they had records and were holding people accountable. In like manner, our churches would do well to maintain and refer to relevant records. We should hold one another accountable for doing what we said we would do.
Remember that the church covenant is made among the members, not between the members and God only. Let’s work on having God honoring records and accountability in our churches for the sake of stronger members, families, and communities.
- Obedience and discipline. Notice in vss. 10-12 that 12,000 men are sent to kill men, children, and non-virgin women among the people of Jabesh Gilead. They also kidnapped the virgin women. First, the text is describing what happened, not prescribing what we should do. We should prayerful seek to understand context before applying a text.
Second, after we deal with the shock of the text, we should remember that bad things happen when we don’t line up with God’s will for our lives – being faithful in our duties with the larger body of God’s people. Third, we should consider how the low level of discipline in our churches impact the high level of absenteeism. The likelihood of excellence without discipline is extremely low. Let’s work on striving to obey God’s will about obedience and discipline.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being obedient, instead of disobedient. God has much for those who obey His will.
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