Peace Offering

Judges 21:13-25

13Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. 14So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.

15The people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. 18We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”

20So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. 22When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’”

23So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them. 24At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. 25In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

Introduction

When you were younger, your parents may have told you to wash dishes. You wished to play with your friends or computer games but your parents insisted that you wash the dishes. You grumbled and complained inaudibly. While washing the dishes, you were not very careful, and unmindfully, one or two glasses were broken suddenly.

Did you feel guilty about it? Did you ever consider replacing what was broken?

Even if it would be beneficial to you, do you hate being told of what you may do?

It says 1 John 3:15, 15Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

The terms ‘brother or sister’ pertain to fellow believers in the Lord. We may not like the lifestyle of other believers but we have to be very careful not to hate them even if they don’t agree with us or they do things we don’t like. Can we avoid hatred against fellow believers when we are filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit?

The Israelites got angry when the Benjamites did not want to surrender the murderous men of Gibeah. Unmindful of result, the Israelites went to battle and destroyed the Benjamites. There were only 600 Benjamites who escaped, and because they almost wiped out one tribe of Israel, the Israelites grieved subsequently.

The Israelites took an oath not to give their daughters to the Benjamites. They killed the people of Jabesh Gilead who did not join the battle. They spared and sent 400 virgin women as peace offering to the 600 Benjamites but there were not enough for all of them. So, they came out of an idea during an annual festival in Shiloh.

1. Idea

13Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. 14So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them. 15The people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 

The author who wrote the last chapter of the book of Judges commented that the Lord caused the battle among the Israelites that destroyed the proud people of Benjamin except for 600 men. Do you consider problems to have originated from God? Does it practically show faith in God if we accept problems as part of His design for us?

If there’s one person who should complain about problems, it was Job. Yet, no problem has shaken the integrity of Job. It says in Job 2:9-10, 9His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Job welcomed good or bad events as testing of his faith in God. He implied that to disregard God during problems is foolishness. Indeed, God rewarded practically Job’s faith and integrity. God restored his fortune. May God bless us to have integrity like Job.

16And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. 18We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”

Interestingly, the Israelites had camped in Shiloh, and an annual festival of the Lord held in Shiloh. Was it a coincidence? At the festival, only unmarried young women were expected to join. No man, no married woman was allowed to participate. It was not specified what the festival was but only young women were allowed to dance.

The lesson we may look at this narrative is the unconventional decision that the elders of the assembly made just to help save the tribe of Benjamin. And, such decision supports the idea that the Israelites did whatever they considered best for themselves. And, God did not prevent their idea, why? Did God expose the great difference between obedience and disobedience to the will of the Lord? Probably!

Rescue

King David had many flaws and weaknesses but his faith in God was exemplary. Before he fought the giant Goliath, youthful David said to King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:32ff, 32“Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33King Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Like King Saul, many people may doubt if we can face our problem when they compare us to expertise of people in this generation. But faith in God is proven to be genuine when we are confronted by giant problems. David’s faith in God was proven true when he defeated the giant Goliath. What giant problem have you overcome yet?

King David testified of what God has done in his life in Psalm 144:1, 1 Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

David believed God gave him expertise. In comparison, did the elders of Israel believe that God can solve their dilemma when they gave instruction to the Benjamites.

2. Instruction

20So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. 22When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give your daughters to them.’”

23So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them. 24At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. 25In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

Nobody opposed the instruction of the elders of the assembly. It was the best idea they agreed upon to provide wives for the Benjamites without breaking their oath. It was a communal decision. Everyone agreed that it was the best solution. It’s another example that the Israelites did whatever they think best for themselves.

The best decisions or solutions to problem that human can think about may have temporary benefits but have eternal consequences also. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:10, 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Expect repercussion of every deeds, either sinfulness or righteousness. By faith, we can decide, think and act righteously when empowered by the Spirit of Christ. That is the actuality of having Christ as our Lord. To submit to the will of the Lord and serve Him with all our life is the greatest decision for our benefit in this life until eternity. Christ said in John 12:25-26, 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

The term ‘honor’ is properly interpreted as ‘fix a price or value’ which means that God the Father has a price tag for our service when we follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

May each of us keep serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!

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