Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 60 years, you know that the rate of immorality has grown exponentially. Immorality has existed since the fall of mankind into sin. The difference is the acceptance of immorality in society. The acceptance of immorality is a process. It culminates in the acceptance and promotion of homosexuality. Paul explains this downward spiral in Romans 1. Paul did not invent this explanation. It is actually found in the Old Testament. Paul is an Old Testament scholar. Let’s take a look at what Paul probably used as his text. There is a portion of Scripture in the book of Judges runs parallel with Paul’s description in Romans 1. Let’s take a look at the story. In Judges 1, we see the end of a period of strong leadership. When the leaders walked with God, the people honored God in their daily lives. As leadership began to decline, the people’s walk with the Lord suffered. This happened gradually. For a while, the people still gave lip service to God but their actions began to show that they were far from God’s presence. Does this pattern seem familiar? You can trace this same pattern in the history of the USA. It get’s worse. The younger generations picked up on the hypocrisy and superficiality of the older generation and they rejected the Lord completely. This threw the nation into a downward spiral into the cycle of sin. Each generation began to get worse and worse. This downward spiral culminates in immorality seen in chapters 17-21. In these chapters, we discover a nation enslaved to idolatry, greed, aggression, sexual immorality, and ultimately civil war. The priests are up for hire. They no longer lead people into a personal relationship with God. In fact, the priests are cohabitating and the parents of the children cohabitating do not say anything about it. Violence is rampant. Murder is second nature. Homosexuality is promoted and practiced openly. This ultimately leads the people to civil war, fighting against each other instead of fighting against their enemies. I would like to examine this situation and see what God offers as a solution to the people of Israel and to us as well.
I. Exaggerated sexuality
In Judges 19, we find a society saturated with sexuality. It was a time very similar to our own. Here are some of the facts/results of living in a society infatuated with sexuality. The priest is a Levite and as a Levite, he is only to marry a virgin and should not have a concubine. When a man wanted the pleasure of sex but not take responsibility for being a husband or father, he would take a concubine. She was basically a woman objectified to the point of being a pleasure outlet for a man and nothing else. This is what we call cohabitation today. So, the spiritual leader of society was breaking God’s law on several levels. He is influenced by the inundation of sex in society. He is setting the example, a negative one, for the rest of society. The priest and his concubine knew the depravity of society. They knew that they could not just stay anywhere that they wanted. They had to assure their safety. The people also knew of the dangers of the society. There was an old man who wanted to help them. Actually, he wanted to rescue them from the fate that awaited them if they were caught by the inhabitants of the town. Immorality and its consequences were well known to all. The old man offers shelter for the travelers. The men of the city get word that there is a new man in town. Immorality was so wide spread that homosexuality was practiced, and done so openly. The men of the city surround the house and want to have sexual relations with the visitor (not the concubine). Immorality had so negatively influenced the society that the owner of the house was ready to offer up his virgin daughter to these wicked men. The priest offers up his concubine and the priest and his host sleep peacefully as the wicked men rape the concubine all night long. People are so caught up in sin that they only see their own pleasure and do not value human life anymore. They had no problem raping a woman. They were ready to rape a man. Abuse was common. Unbridled lust leads to lack of value of human life, that leads to unbridled violence.
II. Unbridled violence
This unbridled violence leads people to civil war. The people of Israel hear the news of just how bad things have gotten. They decide to take action against the people who caused this grave injustice. This all takes place in Judges 20. All together, 400,000 men of Israel came together to right the wrongs done. On the first day of battle, the Israelites lost 22,000. On the second day of battle, the Israelites lost 18,000. After two devastating defeats, the men of Israel are afraid and confused. They go to God and ask what to do. He responds with the fact that they will be victorious the next day. 25,100 men of Benjamin were killed on the 3rd day. All but 600 men of Benjamin were killed. 65,000 people died in 3 days in Israel because of unbridled lust and violence.
The order of the tribes going out to fight is important. God sends Judah out first. They lost 26,000 men. I believe that these defeats were punishment from God on the tribes that were closest to Benjamin, knowing what was happening there and doing nothing about it. They were indifferent to the sin of Benjamin and it cost them. The defeat on the second day is also the Lord’s punishment on the indifference of Israel. Sin should have been confronted much sooner but it was not. It was allowed to flourish. As a result, many innocent people had to suffer.
We have seen this same pattern in the USA. Sin has not been confronted over the last 50 years and has been allowed to flourish. As a result, many innocent people are suffering. There are serious consequences to being indifferent to sin and those who practice and promote it. I fear for the future because I know there are some consequences to reap.
In Judges 21, God has a solution to rebuild society. The people destroyed themselves with immorality. God wants to help them rebuild. Here is what recovery looks like.
- Mourning over the loss (1-4)
- Accept punishment for indifference (4-12) Jabesh-gilead did not come to punish sin and they paid a price.
- The leaders are forgiven and restored (13-15)
- The recovery of those who were forgiven (16-25) They integrated back into society with wives and children.
IV. Lessons to be learned
- Steps to the destruction of a nation
- The attitude and actions of God
- My part
What about you my dear friend, are you indifferent to the immorality that is going on around you? Do you tolerate, promote, or participate in immoral acts? God punishes all of these the same way. Are you being salt and light, standing against sin with the message of the Gospel? What is the state of your nation? What is happening to the family? What are you doing to stand against immorality? How are you strengthening the family? Are you ready to stand and fight or pay the price of indifference? May the Lord help us restore our nation.