Read Judges 19
Focus on verse 25-26
When everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes a culture quickly sinks into a moral vacuum. When God’s laws are abandoned and forgotten, men do wicked hurtful things to one another for their own entertainment and pleasure. This is a strange and sad account of how far the people of Israel had drifted from following the law of God that Moses had given them. It actually sounds vaguely familiar to the culture of Sodom and Gomorrah when the angel of the Lord rescued Lot and his family. The men of the community surrounded the house demanding to have sex with the man’s guest. The host tries to dissuade them from this atrocious behavior, and suggests they abuse his daughter and or the man’s concubine instead…
But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. (v. 25-26)
As we consider this account from a 21st century western perspective it seems wrong on so many levels. It has similarity to the moral depravity described in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed with a hail of fire and brimstone as a result. The fact that the men would send a woman out to be abused by this mob of sexual predators is also deeply disturbing to me. However, perhaps most chilling of all in this account is the way the man whose concubine was raped and murdered responds. He cuts her body up into twelve pieces and sends one piece to each tribe. In tomorrows reading we will discover how this action instigates a civil war in which the tribe of Benjamin is nearly wiped out.
What seems to be the lesson in this account is how quickly humanity slides into depraved behavior when the culture abandons God’s moral principles. It happened in the Old Testament, we see it in the New Testament, it continues to occur to this day. When we choose to abandon God and the truth of His word, we soon find ourselves slipping into habits and behavior that we formerly would have considered shameful. There will always be some in every culture who push the moral boundaries in the name of freedom. Ironically, those who abandon the moral principles they claim to be enslaved by, soon find themselves enslaved to a much more severe task master whose objective is to destroy humanity. True freedom is found in submission to God, nowhere else.