A very dark day….and some Light relief

30 05 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR : Judges 18 v. 1  – 19 v. 30;

JUDGES
Danites settle in Laish – We are reminded that this is the period before Israel had kings. The Danites are seeking land to settle and they send five warriors to spy out the land. They arrive in Ephraim and at Micah’s house (see yesterday’s readings), where they spend the night. They encounter the Levite priest there who gives them a blessing on their onward journey (‘Your journey has the Lord’s approval’).
The men arrive in Laish, a place of security and peace, and so they return to tell their clan all they had seen. It sounds like an easy target, and a fruitful land to possess.
600 Danite men head out for battle, camping en route. When they reach Micah’s house, they take the idols, the ephod and the other household gods and the priest also (better that he serve a whole clan in Israel, than just one household), to go with them to Laish. Micah and his neighbours ran after them and overtook them, challenging them to return the goods and their priest.
The Danites warn them that destruction will fall heavily upon them if they don’t turn back, and leave them to their mission.
That’s what they do, fearful of the repercussions. The Danites continue to Laish and attach, burning down the city. There was no near neighbour to help the people of Laish.
The Danites claim that land, settling there, and naming it…..Dan (how original!).
However, the Danites set up the idols, and their priests tended a shrine there (all the while the ‘house of God was in Shiloh’).

A Levite and His Concubine – Oh, and by the way….‘in those days Israel had no king’…and look what else happens…
This is a horrendous story – almost too sordid to tell. How far humanity can fall….so far from all God desires and requires.
A Levite from Ephraim’s hill country takes for himself a concubine from Bethlehem. She is unfaithful to him, and so returns to her father in Bethlehem. After four months, he goes to Bethlehem to bring her back to himself (taking his servant and a couple of donkeys….why am I still fascinated by the presence of donkeys in so many Bible stories).
He is made welcome in his father-in-law’s home, treated to great hospitality (food and drink) over three days, and encouraged to stay a fourth night, and pressed to stay a fifth. However, the Levite leaves with his concubine heading towards Jerusalem. The servant encourages them to stop locally for the night, but they press on towards Gibeah in Benjamin’s territory (the Levite believes the hospitality in an Israelite town will be so much better than in a ‘foreign’ town – how wrong he proved to be !!).
No-one in the town of Gibeah offers them a place to stay, and they are stranded in the town centre.
Eventually, an old man returning from working in the fields, invites them to stay at his house, and he gives them food and drink.
Evil men from the town encircle the home, demanding that the old man brings out the visiting Levite, so they ‘can have sex with him’.
The owner of the house makes an unbelievably appalling offer – ‘not the man, but you can have my virgin daughter and his concubine’.
When they refuse, the Levite sends his concubine out to them, and she is abused and raped throughout the night and dumped at the door to be found in the morning.
The Levite shows no compassion, no love, simply saying, ‘Get up; let’s go’. What a disgusting ordeal. And once he gets her home, he cuts her body up (her having fallen at the doorway the night before, and her lack of response, suggesting that she is dead at the door, or in a coma, or similar…), and sends twelve portions of her body to the twelve tribes of Israel, as a sign, to rouse them to bloody action….

horrendous, criminal activity, a dreadful indictment of those whom God had brought into the promised land….the time is nearing for new leadership, the time for a King is approaching

JOHN
The Validity of Jesus’ Testimony – so, following on from the unbelief of the Jews, and the dispersal of those who were accusing the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus’ next words to the people are:
‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

Referring back to John’s prologue (chapter one), where Jesus is the Word made flesh, in Him is life, and that life is the light of men – Jesus is Word, Light and Life…all reinforced in this one verse (above).

Jesus is challenged, again, about the way He witnesses to / for Himself, without need of other witnesses, therefore what He says cannot be validated.
‘I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going….I stand with the Father who sent me…my other witness is the Father.’
Jesus is next challenged about who His father is.
‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.
Though the temperature is rising, it’s not yet time for Jesus to be seized. He continues to teach in the temple courts.
‘You are of this world; I am not of this world…if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins….when you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be…I speak just what the Father has taught me.’

Obviously, many are plotting and planning to seize Jesus, to ‘bring Him in’, whilst we are told many others ‘put their faith in Him’.

PSALM
‘With God we shall gain the victory,
and He will trample down our enemies…’

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