“So the men (of Benjamin) took (the Levites) concubine and forced her forth to them, and they had intercourse with her and abused her all the night until morning. And when the dawn began to break they let her go…and her master rose up in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way: and behold, his concubine had fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said to her, “Up, and let us be going.” But there was no answer for she was dead…and when he came into his house, he took a knife, and took hold of his dead concubine and divided her body limb by limb into twelve pieces and sent her body throughout all the territory of Israel. And all who saw it said, ‘There was no such deed done or seen from the day that the Israelites came up out of the land of Egypt to this day: consider it, take counsel, and speak your minds.’ Then ALL the Israelites came out and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah, from Dan even to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead…There the Israelites asked, ‘How did this wickedness happen?’”
Judges 19: 25-30; 20: 1-3
“How Did This Evil Happen?”
Have I ever been on the receiving end of the evil of violent behavior from another?
How did it make me feel to be abused, emotionally, verbally or physically?
“A violent act pierces the atmosphere, leaving a hole through which the cold, damp draft of its memory blows forever.”
Jane Stanton Hitchcock
“To hate the devil and all his works is one thing, but to say who is the devil and which are his works is another.”
It is one of the most grisly and abhorrent stories in Scripture. As I read and reread the words penned in Judges 19 and 20 about the brutal abuse of one of God’s precious daughters and the subsequent butchering of her body, I felt a horror welling up within me. And a question kept rising in my heart. “How could people sink so low?” What is worse, and almost mind-boggling to comprehend, is that the abusive rape and dismembering of God’s child was done by none other than His sons, the Israelites!
Think about this for a moment. It’s as if a group of men from a church down the street from you walked into your church, grabbed one of the young wives, took her away, abused her all night and then dumped her body on the threshold of your church door the next morning.
I know it sounds gross and disgusting. Even impossible to happen. And yet, in Judges, we find that after years of everyone that belonged to God doing, “What was right in their own eyes,” the perception of what was evil was so blurred, God’s children seemed oblivious to how far they had sunk. In this vacuum, where there was no clear perception of right and wrong, evil began to be seen as inconsequential – you could get away with anything.
As we reflect on the early chapters of Judges, we find two extremely critical situations developing that should awaken the heart of every woman especially, for these two breakdowns in the social community inevitably led to a total unraveling of the “Israelite” society.
First, beginning with some of God’s most prominent leaders in Judges, men like Gideon and Gilead and Ibzan and Abdon, all Judges in Israel, we find these men had absolutely no respect for marriage. Wives were cheap labor and baby factories. There was no reverence given to marriage vows. If one wife was good, ten were better. From this dishonorable view of marriage also came an increase in family infighting – which seems natural. Rather than two or three stepchildren, we are talking about situations where there were fifty or more children who had different mothers, all trying to live in one family. This was nothing but a recipe for disaster. As we saw the way many of these family squabbles were settled, it was to resort to violence – yes, even murder within the walls of a family.
This brings us to the second disastrous undermining of “Israelite” society. First, marriage was turned into a joke and then violence was left to run unchecked. Those who were to be the leaders in stemming the tide of violence became as violent as those they deemed evil.
Recently, my husband, Jim, was reading an autobiography about an undercover agent who honestly admitted that after associating every minute of every day with those whose only goal was to do evil, he, at times, found he couldn’t distinguish himself from the people he was charged with bringing to justice.
This is what we see happening throughout the book of Judges. Talk about a societal meltdown. And don’t forget, the unraveling portrayed in Judges doesn’t focus on the Canaanites. This happened within the tribes of Israel, among God’s children. Disrespect of marriage vows. Violence in order to settle disputes. Abuse of God’s daughters by God’s sons. While I wish I could say the same wasn’t the case today, unfortunately, the entire book of Judges is packed from beginning to end with lessons that apply and describe our contemporary Christian world as marriage is treated, even by God’s children, as an inconvenience that hinders me from “doing my own thing.” Violence in a home is tolerated and even condoned by some who misquote the Apostle Paul to excuse the abusive behavior of men against women.
Of all the things that have shocked me the most here at Transformation Garden over the last two years, it is the daily increasing number of prayer requests and emails I receive from God’s precious daughters who have been treated like verbal, emotional and physical punching bags by the men who at one point in their lives promised to love and cherish them.
When the abuse, violence and tyranny in Israel reached the unthinkable level that one of God’s daughters had been raped all night long and left for dead on the threshold of her husband’s door, finally somebody said, “Enough is enough!” What moral failure. Evil out of control. All the people finally asked, “How could this happen?”
When everyone decided to do what was right in their own eyes, there was no way of knowing where the path of destruction would lead and how far, evil contained in the hearts and minds of God’s children, would take them. If you and I allow the poison of evil to corrode the life force of heaven in our own hearts, we’ll be no better off than God’s children in Judges. As Sigrid Undset so aptly noted, “Aye, have you not heard that all evil drags a long tail behind it?”
Thankfully, our Father in heaven didn’t forget His girl, lying on the doorstep with outstretched hands, calling out to be remembered. God had a better plan for His precious girls and I urge you to come back to the garden over the next few days to study the plan God had, to put back the broken pieces of His daughter’s lives, and with His gentle hands of love, heal the wounds and apply the balm of His compassion to His bruised and battered girls.
“But unto you who revere and worship My name shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in His wings and you shall be released and leap for joy.”
Malachi 4: 2
“One Who speaks To Us In Our Brokenness”
“One who speaks to us in our brokenness, in taking the role of Victim, You join all who suffer abuse, and You share our pain. Open us to our own woundedness: that, released by Your strength we may find the courage to seek justice for ourselves and others through Your redeeming love of the afflicted. Be our compassionate healer. Amen.”
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal.
If you would like to purchase When A Woman Meets Jesus at a 30%-50% quantity discount for your Women’s Ministry Program or for Bible Study Groups, please visit: www.direct2church.com or email [email protected].
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.