Not Counted

Judges 21:6-12 

6Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. 7“How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” 8Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly. 9For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.

10So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11“This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin.” 12They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.

Introduction

            Have you ever done something you think as excellent but others won’t count it as excellent enough? Many immigrants have graduated with a degree from prestigious universities in their country of origin. Yet, their certificates have little equivalence if not disregarded, not counted when they applied for work in Canada.

Did immigrants do the right decision when they studied in their country of origin? Yes? College degree is added qualification for immigrations but not necessarily sufficient to guarantee competence in Canada standards. There are standards in other countries that can’t measure up to Canada standards. Such reality illustrates that our standards of goodness is enough for us but can’t measure up to the heavenly standard of goodness.

Just as immigrants cannot dictate that college degree from their country of origin is good enough in Canada, humans cannot dictate which goodness is acceptable to God. God allows humans to do goodness but not necessarily count it as goodness to Him.

When the Israelites decided on things they may have considered good for them, the Lord did not prevent them from doing what they decided to do. Why? Did God want them to learn that good deeds or things that originated from mankind are bound to fail? Sometimes, as lesson to redirect us to lifestyle acceptable to Him, God allows us to fail.

  1. Fail

6Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. 7“How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” 8Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly. 9For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.

Jabesh Gilead was located east of the Jordan River in the northern part of the territory of Gad. When the Israelites gathered to fight against the Benjamites, the men of Jabesh Gilead may have assumed that the Israelites did not need them, and because they were not directly affected by the battle that happened on the west of the Jordan.

The decision of the people of Jabesh Gilead not to join the battle may have been right in their eyes. They did not want to be involved in troubles that did not directly affect them. The Israelites cannot accept that the people of Jabesh Gilead failed to send their fighting men to battle against the Benjamites. It’s unforgivable to the Israelites.

Can you sense similarity to our actions? We don’t want to get involved in other’s battle. It’s their problem not ours. Why bother? We want to secure our peace, right?

It says in 1 Samuel 12:23, 23As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.

Prophet Samuel has personal conviction that he commits sin if he failed to pray for the Israelites or taught them a lifestyle acceptable to God. Do praying for others and teaching godly lifestyle responsibilities assigned only to spiritual leaders? Parents should pray and teach their children. Children should also pray for their parents and siblings.

The Old Testament laws are guidelines of right behavior and attitude even if they don’t directly affect us or benefit us. One of the laws of justice and mercy that the Lord instructed has been recorded in Exodus 23:4-5, 4If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. 5If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.

But since we don’t normally find ox or donkey in the city, how can we apply the principle of such instruction? When the Holy Spirit is at work in our life, we will know.

Flat Tire

I was driving leisurely on our way home when the driver of a van signalled us to roll to down the window of our car. What? It was almost zero degrees celsius. Anyway, I rolled down the window and the driver of that van shouted that our tire was running flat. I slowed down and stopped near an intersection. Truly, our tire was flat.

There are many good things we can do even when nobody tells us to do. Pick up garbage and throw them at the garbage bin inside the church building, in school or at home or arrange furniture. Those are good starts of doing good deeds.

Keep remembering what it says in James 4:17, 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

The Lord watches our actions and even rewards good deeds done in secrets. Do you agree? Trivial things in our eyes are crucial building blocks for godly character.

The people of Jabesh Gilead may have known that the Benjamites were expert warriors. They were scared, and did join the battle to save their lives. It was a mistake. The Israelites destroyed them anyway when they find out that they were absent.

  1. Find

            10So the assembly sent 12,000 fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11“This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin.”

 12They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead 400 young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.

The Israelites did what they considered as moral lesson for Israel when they killed the people of Jabesh Gilead. It was not mentioned how many residents were living in Jabesh Gilead but the found 400 virgins were spared and brought them to their camp.

Was it acceptable to God when the Israelites killed the people of Jabesh Gilead? Remember that the Israelites in that particular generation decided to do things that they considered acceptable to them but not necessarily acceptable to God. They did as they saw fitting to their lifestyle. And God let them decide of their own, why?

As we read the story of Israel, what can we learn from it? If we decide to do things on our own instinct, we should not be surprised if they are not counted as acceptable to the Lord. We must always consider the will of God when making decision.

In the New Testament, there were spiritual leaders who decided on things they may have considered as good in their eyes but not necessarily commanded by the Lord.

Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 1:12-18, 12Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

There were two groups of people who thought they were doing what’s right.

The first group consists of the Jewish leaders who were very zealous of Judaism. They charged Paul so that he was put in prison.

The second group consists of the preachers who wanted to rival Paul. Yet Paul did not prevent them because Christ was preached anyway.

Someone said, “Good or bad publicity, still publicity!”

The Lord allowed the Israelites to do whatever they considered good in their eyes but He punishes anything punishable and rewards anything that deserves reward.

Our lesson: Anything we do in life (study, work, hobby, leisure), we must make it sure that it would count for our eternal treasure. We’ve got to do the will of God.

Christ said in Matthew 6:20-21, 20Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

><((‘> .. ><(((‘> … tmec\2019 … <‘)))>< .. <‘))><

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.