Seek God

Judges 21:1-5

1The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.” 2The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3“Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”

4Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. 5Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the Lord?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah was to be put to death.

Introduction

Have you ever argued if God would pay more attention to those who seek Him than to those who ignore Him? Shouldn’t God give equal amount of attention to everyone whether they believe in Him or not? Does God love each person equally?

Many people are thrilled to give surprise gift. Normally, recipients would express gratitude to the giver. Giving thanks is the acceptable gesture so as not to offend givers. Many gifts are appreciated but some gifts end up in a garage sale or worst thrown in a garbage bin. What the recipient needs is the most appreciated gift. Don’t you think?

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8, 7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The Lord implies that God doesn’t waste anything. He prefers to give His help to those who ask Him. He knew that the Israelites needed His help to have great fellowship among them but the Benjamites thought otherwise. They just did as they wished to do.

After the Benjamites were defeated in battle, the Israelites asked for reasons why they have to fight against each other as a nation. They cried out to the Lord in anguish.

1. Anguish

1The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.” 2The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3“Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”

The Israelites did as they saw fit to their lifestyle. Without regards to the Lord’s commands, they just did what they thought was suitable for them. The Israelites wanted to destroy the wicked men of Gibeah when they committed a crime, but the Benjamites resisted and fought them. Such conflict in Israel presents valuable but painful lesson.

Just 600 Benjamites men were left after the war. Despite of what happened, the Israelites cried in anguish in their concern that the tribe of Benjamin may perish. They did not know how they may help the remaining Benjamites. Eventually, they came to their senses that they needed God. As ultimate resort, they cried in anguish to the Lord.

It reminds us in James 4:1-3, 1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

It’s not be very pretty image to fight each other but it happens. Accepting defeat is not easy. Most often, being too proud to admit one’s mistake may spark quarrels among relatives, friends, or acquaintances. Superior felling over another may prevail.

The Older Son

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the older brother found it hard to rejoice when his younger brother came home. It says Luke 15:28-30, 28“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

The older brother demanded that he was entitled to have a party and not the younger son. He was too proud of his diligence and obedience so that he expected a celebration he can hold for his friends. The older brother represents a Pharisaical lifestyle of being entitled for their righteous conducts and practices.

Is it interesting? Does it help clarify that pride can cause resentments and miss the fun time? Pride does not come from God. It’s human sinful nature.

It says in James 4:6-10, 6God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. 7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

That’s exactly what the Israelites did when they cried in anguish seeking God’s help for the Benjamites. They hoped that in seeking the Lord, He’s ready to help them. Crying to God in anguish shows that they greatly needed God’s help. They surrendered to God and accepted that they cannot do anything else. It shows faith in Him evidently.

They did not stop seeking. They assembled before the Lord early the next day.

2. Assembly

4Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. 5Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the Lord?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah was to be put to death.

The term ‘early’ implies priority of need or ready to obey. They prioritized doing first whatever God would tell them to do. They wanted to know what God’s will before making a move. To assemble early exposed the immediacy and earnestness of need.

Probably, when they built an altar, presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and sought God’s favor, they practically expressed worship and faith in God. They also signified their togetherness when took an oath among themselves.

What they did has similarity to church assembly. As members of this church, we have signed a covenant to come together in an assembly to worship God. We agreed to give God’s tithes and our offering as gesture of gratitude and also to seek God’s favor.

It says in Malachi 3:10-11, 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

When giving God’s tithes, do you normally expect God to bless you more? Giving God’s tithes is practical act of faith. Does expecting God’s blessing an act of faith also? God promised to bless tithers. To hold onto His promise of blessing tithers shows trust that the Lord fulfills His promise. That’s faith in action and practice.

Have you heard someone suggesting that you don’t need to expect God to bless you when you give your tithes? Actually, God wants us to expect much from Him, why? Expecting much from Him when obeying His command about tithes is dependence upon Him, whereas, if we don’t expect anything from Him when we give His tithes, it shows some pride of being sufficient. It’s like saying, “I don’t need His help anymore,” right?

Pleasure Trip or Shopping

The wealthy son of a retired mother gave her a gift of pleasure trip. He bought a ticket for her to travel leisurely. The mother ignored it. She didn’t want to go because she did not like travelling around the world. She was satisfied staying in her home.

When her other son fetched her, drove around the city, had simple meal together and went shopping for some groceries, she was so excited. She was thrilled just being with her son chatting. All she wished for was time with her children not luxury travels.

Like the rich son who bought a ticket for leisure travel for his elderly mother, some people assumed that God needed their money for His leisure trip. God has been satisfied in eternity even before He decided to create humans. God doesn’t need anything from humans but He loves to have fellowship, little chat, just being with Him.

Sufficiency means we don’t need help. Most often, the Lord allows struggle for us to realize that we really need Him. He doesn’t require crying in anguish. When we weep before the Lord, it shows that we have no solution for problems, and we extremely need the Lord to help us. Seeking God’s help is practical expression of faith in Him.

It says in Psalm 121:1-2, 1I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? 2My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

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