Ever been in a tough situation? Ever cried out to God for help because you didn’t know of any other way? Ever found victory thanks to God? How long did you remember and live up to it? Did you happen to get to comfortable and start going your own way? Did you forget where you were at? Did you forget how you got out of it? Did you not remember the grace, the love, the hope, and the peace God had given you? Did that victory give you enough hope that you started to feel self-confident? Did that victory give you too much boldness to start thinking about things from your own view, your own perspective, your own standards? Did you start living unto what you thought was right in your own eyes? How long will you remember?
Today’s reading starts out with such a challenge and we see people afterwards falling back to doing what was right in their own eyes…
Battle of Gibeah
1Then all Bnei-Yisrael went out and was assembled as one man, from Dan to Beersheba with the land of Gilead, before Adonai at Mizpah. 2The chiefs of the people and of the tribes of Israel presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God—400,000 foot soldiers armed with swords. 3Now the children of Benjamin heard that Bnei-Yisrael had gone up to Mizpah. Bnei-Yisrael asked, “Tell us, how did this wickedness take place?” 4So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, answered and said, “I came with my concubine to Gibeah of Benjamin to spend the night. 5Then men of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house over me at night. They intended to kill me, but instead, they raped my concubine until she died. 6So I took my concubine and cut her into pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s possession. For they have committed something obscene and degrading in Israel. 7Behold, all you sons of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.” 8Then all the people arose as one man saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house. 9But now this is what we will do to Gibeah: we will go up against it by lot. 10We will take ten men of a hundred throughout the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to supply provisions for the troops, so that when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may do to them according to all the disgrace that they have committed in Israel.” 11So all the men of Israel were gathered against the town, knit together as one man. 12And the tribes of Israel sent men through the tribe of Benjamin saying, “What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? 13Now therefore, give up the men, the worthless fellows that are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge this evil from Israel.” But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their kinsmen Bnei-Yisrael. 14So the children of Benjamin were gathered from their towns to Gibeah, to go out to battle against Bnei-Yisrael. 15On that day the children of Benjamin mustered 26,000 swordsmen from the towns, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who numbered 700 chosen men. 16Out of all these troops there were 700 chosen men that were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. 17Meanwhile the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, numbered 400,000 swordsmen; all men of war. 18Then Bnei-Yisrael arose, went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They asked, “Who is to go up first to battle for us against the children of Benjamin?” Adonai replied, “Judah first.” 19So Bnei-Yisrael rose up in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and arrayed for battle against Gibeah. 21But the children of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and struck down 22,000 men of Israel on the field that day. 22But the people of the men of Israel rallied their strength and arrayed for battle again in the same place where they had arrayed themselves the first day. 23Yet Bnei-Yisrael went up and wept before Adonai until evening, then inquired of Adonai saying, “Shall I again draw near to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?” Adonai said, “Go up against him.” 24So Bnei-Yisrael advanced against the children of Benjamin on the second day. 25Benjamin came out against them from Gibeah again the second day and struck down 18,000 of Bnei-Yisrael on the field—all drawing the sword. 26Then all Bnei-Yisrael went up, and all the people came to Bethel and wept and sat there before Adonai. They fasted that day until evening and they offered burnt-offerings and fellowship offerings before Adonai. 27Then Bnei-Yisrael inquired of Adonai (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Pinchas son of Eleazar son of Aaron had ministered before it in those days) saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or should I cease?” Adonai replied, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give him into your hand.” 29So Israel set men in ambush against Gibeah on all sides. 30Then Bnei-Yisrael advanced against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and arrayed against Gibeah, as at other times. 31The children of Benjamin came out against the people, but they were drawn away from the town, and they began to strike and kill some of the people (about 30 men of Israel), as at other times, on the highways, of which one goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah. 32So the children of Benjamin said, “They are defeated before us as before.” But Bnei-Yisrael said, “Let us flee and draw them away from the town to the highways.” 33Then all the troops of Israel rose up from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar, and the troops of Israel in ambush burst out of their place west of Geba. 34Then 10,000 troops chosen from all Israel made a frontal attack on Gibeah, and the battle became fierce; but the Benjamites did not know not that disaster was about to strike them. 35Then Adonai struck Benjamin before Israel—Bnei-Yisrael killed 25,100 of Benjamin that day, all drawing the sword. 36So the children of Benjamin realized that they were defeated. Now the men of Israel had yielded ground to Benjamin, because they relied on the ambush that they had laid against Gibeah. 37So the men in ambush rushed suddenly upon Gibeah, then the men in another ambush advanced and struck the whole town with the edge of the sword. 38Now there was a prearranged sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush—they would make a great beacon of smoke rise up from the town— 39then the men of Israel would return to the battle. When Benjamin began to strike, killing about 30 of the men of Israel, they said, “Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.” 40But when the beacon began to arise up from the town in a pillar of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them, and behold, the whole town was going up in smoke to the sky. 41Then the men of Israel turned back, and the men of Benjamin were terrified, for they realized that disaster had struck them. 42Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the way of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them. Meanwhile those who came from the towns massacred them in their midst. 43They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easily overtook them, near Gibeah toward the east. 44Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell, all them were men of valor. 45Then the rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, but they picked off 5,000 of them on the highways. They pressed hard after them to Gidom, and struck down 2,000 more of them. 46So all who fell that day of Benjamin were 25,000 men drawing the sword—all of them were men of valor. 47But 600 men turned and escaped into the wilderness, to the rock of Rimmon, and stayed at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48The men of Israel turned back against the children of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword—the entire city, the cattle and all that they found. They also set on fire all the towns that they found.
–from Judges 20
Just because you didn’t have victory on your first attempt doesn’t mean you should give up! Just because you didn’t have victory on your second attempt doesn’t mean you should give up! We need to be seeking God and continue to press on and do it God’s way! He has a plan and a purpose that are good! His way is better than our way! His way is higher than our way! So let’s not lean on our own understanding, but let’s trust in God instead!
Israel Preserves the Benjaminites
1Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah saying, “None of us will give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.” 2So the people came to Bethel and sat there till evening before God, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3They said, “Adonai God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that one tribe should be missing in Israel?” 4Then it was on the next day that the people rose up early and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. 5Then Bnei-Yisrael asked, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the assembly before Adonai?” For they had made a great oath concerning anyone who did not come up to Adonai at Mizpah saying, “He will surely be put to death.” 6Now Bnei-Yisrael felt sorry for Benjamin their brother and said, “Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel. 7What should we do about providing wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Adonai not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” 8Then they inquired, “Which one of the tribes of Israel that did not go up to Adonai at Mizpah?” Then behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. 9For when the people were numbered, behold not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10So the congregation sent 12,000 valiant warriors there, and commanded them saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11Now this is the thing that you will do: you are to utterly destroy every male and every woman who has lain with a man.” 12So they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known man by lying with him. They brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 13Then the whole congregation sent and spoke to the children of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed shalom to them. 14When Benjamin returned at that time, they gave them the women whom they had spared from the women of Jabesh-gilead. Yet they were not enough for them. 15So the people were sorry for Benjamin because Adonai had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16Then the elders of the congregation said, “What should we do about wives for those who are left, since the women have been destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17They said “The survivors of Benjamin must have heirs, so that a tribe would not be blotted out from Israel. 18Yet we cannot give them wives of our daughters,” for Bnei-Yisrael had sworn saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin!” 19So they said, “Behold, there is the feast of Adonai from year to year at Shiloh” (which is to the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and to the south of Lebonah). 20So they commanded the children of Benjamin saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards, 21and watch, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh should come out to join in the dances, then come out of the vineyards, and let each of you catch his wife from among the daughters of Shiloh. Then go to the land of Benjamin. 22So it will be, if their fathers or brothers come to complain to us, that we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously for us, because we did not provide each one of them his wife in battle—nor did you give the girls to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23So the children of Benjamin did so, and took the number of wives from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the towns and settled in them. 24So Bnei-Yisrael departed from there at that time, each man to his tribe and family. Everyone went out from there to his own inheritance. 25In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
–from Judges 21
Do you realize the heritage that is behind you doesn’t keep you from becoming the person God has created you to be? It’s not about a perfect family tree, it’s about being obedient and faithful to the calling God has on your life! God can use you to complete the work He has for you! Consider the promise God made David:
2 Samuel 7:16 – Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’
Consider David’s response:
2 Samuel 7 NASB
18Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far? 19“And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord GOD, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord GOD. 20“Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord GOD! 21“For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know. 22“For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23“And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods? 24“For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God. 25“Now therefore, O LORD God, the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as You have spoken, 26that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You. 27“For You, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 28“Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant. 29“Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord GOD, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.”
And today’s reading concludes with Matthew 1 and the lineage of Jesus…
Forefathers of Yeshua the Messiah
1The book of the genealogy of Yeshua ha-Mashiach, Ben-David, Ben-Avraham:
2Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,
3Judah fathered Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram,
4Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,
5Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse,
6and Jesse fathered David the king. David fathered Solomon by the wife of Uriah,
7Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, Abijah fathered Asa,
8Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, Joram fathered Uzziah,
9Uzziah fathered Jotham, Jotham fathered Ahaz, Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
10Hezekiah fathered Manasseh, Manasseh fathered Amon, Amon fathered Josiah,
11and Josiah fathered Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12After the Babylonian exile Jeconiah fathered Shealtiel, Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,
13Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, Abiud fathered Eliakim, Eliakim fathered Azor,
14Azor fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Achim, Achim fathered Eliud,
15Eliud fathered Eleazar, Eleazar fathered Matthan, Matthan fathered Jacob,
16and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Miriam, from whom was born Yeshua who is called the Messiah.
17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the Babylonian exile are fourteen generations, and from the Babylonian exile until the Messiah are fourteen generations.
The Miraculous Birth of Yeshua
18Now the birth of Yeshua the Messiah happened this way. When His mother Miriam was engaged to Joseph but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
19And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, made up his mind to dismiss her secretly.
20But while he considered these things, behold, an angel of Adonai appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Miriam as your wife, for the Child conceived in her is from the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
21She will give birth to a son; and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by Adonai through the prophet, saying,
23“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”
24When Joseph woke up from his sleep, he did as the angel of Adonai commanded him and took Miriam as his wife.
25But he did not know her intimately until she had given birth to a Son. And he called His name Yeshua.
–from Matthew 1
So don’t give up! Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith because of your past! Have hope and press forward for the glory of God and His kingdom!