United As One

Judges 20:1-11

1Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. 2 The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand men armed with swords. 3 The Benjamites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said, “Tell us how this awful thing happened.”

4So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. 5During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. 7Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.”

8All the men rose up together as one, saying, “None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house. 9But now this is what we’ll do to Gibeah: We’ll go up against it in the order decided by casting lots. 10We’ll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.” 11So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.

Fire

In a small town, farmers would utilize street pavements to dry harvested rice and sometime chicken come and feed themselves. Of course, the person who watches the drying rice would find ways to shoo or drive away chicken.

How do you scare chicken attracted to rice? You make scary sound but they will keep coming back and try to eat some rice. An irritated watchman may use stone and try to hit or hurt that chicken in the hope that they would realize the danger. If a person’s chicken is hurt, he may react angrily and that would start a quarrel among neighbors. Such is life in that small town.

Yet, despite of pity quarrels, one peaceful night, a drunkard caused uncontrollable fire that burned his house, and the neighbors came, helped and tried to stop the fire from spreading. The town’s people helped each other when disastrous calamity happens. There was no Fire Department yet at that time.

Such is a picture of Israel when they have to help each other to stop the spread of wickedness in their community. The tragedy surrounding the concubine of the Levite has awaken the Israelites and tried to remedy the awful things that happened in their midst. To resolve the issue, they assembled in Mizpah.

1. Assemble

             1Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. 2The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, 400,000 men armed with swords. 3The Benjamites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said, “Tell us how this awful thing happened.”

The men of Gibeah had abused the concubine of the Levite. The men of Gibeah were Benjamites. The Benjamites tribe was very proud because their ancestor Benjamin was the only son of Jacob who was born in Canaan. They were also very expert warriors. When the Israelites assembled in Mizpah, the Benjamites heard about it but they did not join the assembly.

There were several places in Israel called Mizpah. When Jacob ran away from Paddan Aram to return to Canaan, his father-in-law Laban overtook him. They agreed and had a covenant to have peace between them. They made a monument of stones in the place where they made their covenant.

It says in Genesis 31:47-49, 47Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed. 48Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 49It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.

The term “Mizpah” literally means “watchtower” or to “look out.”

The place where Jacob and Laban made a covenant was named Mizpah to remind themselves that the Lord would watch over them.

Another place named Mizpah was located some 5 miles north of Gibeah, and approximately 10 miles north of Jerusalem. The Israelites assembled there to resolve the issue about the concubine of the Levite. Probably, they prayed that God would watch over their decision about the crime of the men of Gibeah.

We may not have such graphic problem to resolve among us but we may encounter a comparable issue to resolve. Leaders may abuse their authority. Brothers or sisters may disrespect each other. Still others may feel like they are more entitled to things they wish to do, just like the Benjamites. How should we resolve issues among us? We should also expect Christ to watch over us, right?

The Lord Jesus teaches in Matthew 18:15-20, 15“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The Levite knew he cannot resolve his case against the men of Gibeah. They were disrespectful. He needed the help of more Israelites.Wwhen they met in  Mizpah, they may have prayed and asked for wisdom. Do you believe that the Lord gave them the right decision on how to address the issue?

2. Address

4So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. 5During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel.  7Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.”

The Levites address the assembly and told them what happened. He emphasized the wicked intention of the men of Gibeah to kill him and what they did to his concubine that eventually killed her. The sin of Gibeah was an attack on the Levite as an individual and an attack to Israel’s spiritual practices as well.

If we encounter troubles involving our own people, how should we address the issue? What principle can we learn from the Israelites? Most often, our issues are internal. We have problem among us, within families, among friends and relatives and among church members. Such problem is no secret.

It says in Luke 9:46-48, 46An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

If you wish to be the greatest, Christ revealed the secret of it. We need to become less and let Christ become great in us so that when He rules in us, we become great in Him. Would agree that wanting to be the first and greatest like the original Disciples of Christ can spark relationship problem?

3. Agree

8All the men rose up together as one, saying, “None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house. 9But now this is what we’ll do to Gibeah: We’ll go up against it in the order decided by casting lots. 10We’ll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.” 11So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.

When the Israelites assemble before the Lord in Mizpah, they agreed on what they would do to resolve the issue. Did God give them a plan they would execute? Did God give unified wisdom on how they may execute their plan?

When they realized the wickedness of the men of Gibeah, they gathered together in an assembly and unified of what to do. Do you agree that God was working in the life of their leaders to agree on their decision? Four hundred thousand men assembled and they were unified. The Lord must have been active in their life so that no one in the assembly opposed their plan. They were united as one.

Like the Israelite who agreed on how to resolve the issue, unity in making decisions is what we need as a church. Unanimous decision would eliminate doubts that God want us to implement the plan we make. Pray that whenever we have decision to make as a church, we will be unified in our decisions.

We do not need to have problem for us to assemble and unified as one. But when undesirable events distort our unity, like the Israelites, we can always rely upon to the Lord for guidance.

It says in 2 Chronicles 16:9, 9For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

We will always face tough challenges in life. It’s part of life. God wants us to grow stronger in our faith and testing of faith reveals the level of our faith. Pray that you may grow more committed to the Lord than ever.

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