My kids are at the stage of life where scaring people is funny. They have these “scaring battles” going on. They are constantly sneaking up on each other and hiding on each other.
The best one by far was when we were living at my in laws for a few months. All three kids had to share one room. So Kelly and I had gotten them all in bed and we were sitting with them while they were trying to fall asleep. Once the lights were out Landan crawled out of bed and hid under it. None of us had a clue. So Cade called for Landan. No answer. He called for him again. No answer. So Cade jumped out of his bed and went over to see what was up and Landan dove out from under his bed and screamed and Cade went flying back into a pile on the floor.
They absolutely love these scaring battles.
In the last two blogs we’ve been talking about how often it feels like our culture and Christianity are battling. We battle over morality, abortion and whether or not all roads lead to heaven. We battle over whether there is objective truth or if everything is subjective.
As a result of these battles, some people think we should water down our Christianity. Others think we should give up on culture.
In blogs one and two we talked about how instead of watering down our Christianity or giving up on culture we need to:
1. Humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.
2. Obey God rather than men.
After our last blog some of you may have been wondering, “ok, so we must obey God rather than men…but why? Why must we obey God rather than men? Why is it so important for us as Christians to make a stand and say – ‘I’m not going to do it culture’s way, I’m going to do it God’s way?'”
“Why can’t we all just do what seems best? Why do there have to be absolutes? Why does God get to tell us what is right and what isn’t? Can’t we just all kind of figure that out for ourselves? Can’t we all just do what feels good and feels right? Can’t right and wrong be subjective? God just makes it all seem so black and white! Can’t there be grey? Why can’t I just do what seems right in my own eyes?”
In this blog we are going to answer those questions by looking at what happens when everyone does what feels right to them. Just to warn you, the content in this story is really graphic. I promise it will all boil down to a really simple, powerful thought. So just stick with me.
Let’s look together at the book of Judges. We find a really powerful statement in chapter 17.
6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
So here we are. This is the definition of subjective. Everyone just did what seemed right to them. There were no absolutes! That’s something our culture seems to be wanting more and more every day. But I want you to see how dangerous that is!
A few chapters later in Judges 19 we find a story that I will partly summarize and partly lead us through the scriptures.
A Levite man was traveling with his concubine. This was a problem because a Levite was supposed to have been set apart as holy but he was doing what everyone else was doing – what was right in his own eyes. So he had taken this concubine and was traveling from her dad’s house and they needed somewhere to stay. They came across an old man who was working in the field. He offered them a place to stay in Gibeah. As they were in the house, some men of the city surrounded the house and began beating on the doors saying, “send the man out that is visiting. We want to have sex with him.” The man who had opened up his house to them said, “no! Instead I’ll give you my daughter and the man’s concubine and you can do what you want to them.”
The men from the town wouldn’t listen to him so the Levite took his concubine and made her go out to the men. They raped her all night. When the night ended she went back to the house and fell down at the door.
When the Levite went out to get her she was dead.
Are you seeing what happens when everyone does what is right in his own eyes? The Levite said to himself, “I’m supposed to be a godly person, but I felt like taking a concubine so I took a concubine.” The men of Gibeah said to themselves, “we felt like raping this man so we surrounded the house and tried to get him to come out.” The Levite said to himself, “I didn’t want to be raped so it seemed right to send out my concubine.” The men of Gibeah wanted the man but they could only get the woman so they raped the woman. Why not? It seemed right to them. If she died because of it – oh well.
That’s a snap shot of what things eventually become when we obey men rather than God – when we stop worrying about God’s standards and look to our own. This is what happens when we all do what seems right in our own eyes.
Unfortunately it’s not over yet! Let’s read some verses in Judges 19.
28 Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”
At that point Israelites from all different tribes gathered and said how did this happen?
We see what happens next in Judges 20.
4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. 5 And the leaders of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house against me by night. They meant to kill me, and they violated my concubine, and she is dead. 6 So I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel, for they have committed abomination and outrage in Israel.”
So Israel gathered their troops together and went to Gibeah to deal with the men who did this. Gibeah was in the tribe of Benjamin and so the other tribes of Israel said to the tribe of Benjamin, “give up the men who did this.” It would be like all the states in America coming to New York and saying “give us the people that we’re looking for from Smithtown.” They tried to settle the conflict peacefully. The tribe of Benjamin refused so the tribes of Israel went to war with the tribe of Benjamin.
A few days later tens of thousands of Israelites were dead and Gibeah and Benjamin were defeated. The towns within the Benjamite areas were all burned.
Right now you’re thinking, “Gee Doug thanks for such an encouraging, uplifting message. I’m so glad I’m spending my spare time in such a joyful way.”
Are you seeing what happens when everyone does what is right in his own eyes?
Unfortunately we’re not done yet! Now the Israelites are thinking about what just happened and they feel sorry for the remaining men from the tribe of Benjamin. There were some Benjamite men that had survived and ran away from the battle. So the Israelite leaders have another brilliant idea. They say, “no one came from this certain area when we went to war against Benjamin. That wasn’t really right. So let’s go kill the men and women in that area that aren’t virgins and give the women who are virgins to the men from Benjamin.” That’s exactly what they do. But they don’t have enough! So they have to come up with another plan too!
Rather than seeking God and looking to what He would have them do, the Israelites decide to kidnap women from an area called Shiloh. They would then take these women and give them to the remaining man from the tribe of Benjamin.
So you have murder, kidnapping, forced marriage and essentially rape going on because people were just doing what seemed right!
And then look how the book of Judges closes in chapter 21.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Everyone did what they felt was right.
Some of you may be objecting, “this is why I don’t like God and the Bible – Because of crazy messed up stories like this!” Well here’s what I need you to know. This story and others like it aren’t in there because God wants us to act like that. They are in there to teach us NOT to act like that.
We have to learn the difference between prescriptive stories and descriptive stories.
Prescriptive stories are saying, “hey do this!” Like a doctor would prescribe medicine that would be good for us, we have examples in the Bible that are prescriptive – they are good for us to see so that we do what they did.
Descriptive stories are saying, “Here’s what happened. Learn from this story what NOT to do.” These stories describes the event and try to help people not make the same mistakes the people in the story made.
Sometimes I’ll tell my kids a story that is descriptive and the point is – don’t do this! I’ll tell them about the
time I rode my big wheels down a flight of stairs. I did that just just a few years ago. No I was like 2 years old and took off down the stairs! I’ll tell them the time I burned my hand touching a kerosine heater. The reason I tell them is so that they won’t do what I did!
The reason the Bible contains Descriptive stories like this is so that we learn what NOT to do!
What God is trying to do with a story like this is to describe to us what happens when everyone does what is right in their own eyes. He’s not prescribing rape and cutting people in pieces. He’s showing us – this is what happens when we remove a compass from our lives. This is what happens when people do what they think is right in their own eyes.
So let’s get back to the question that we started the blog with. Why should we obey God rather than men? Well here is the one sentence I hope you walk away with from this blog:
Obeying God rather than man protects us from the brokenness that comes from doing what is right in our own eyes.
You may be saying, “well Doug this works for you because you can stand there and point out all the things that are wrong with everyone else and they just happen to be things you don’t struggle with.” That is 100% not true. There are things that I’m drawn to and every Christian is drawn to that are wrong.
I’m not pointing out a few sins that I don’t struggle with and making them their own category. I’m saying – anything outside of what God has for us is broken. That means things I may struggle with and things you may struggle with. There are things that I’m drawn to that God says are wrong. So what do I do with that? I submit those areas of my life to God and ask Him for the strength to do things His way!! I ask for forgiveness when I mess up. But this message applies to me as much as it does anyone else!
When I cross over the line and do the things that God says are wrong they always lead to brokenness. That’s why it’s so important that we obey God rather than men! If we do, we will avoid so much brokenness and I think our culture has hope!
So don’t get drawn into doing what seems right in your own eyes! It will always disappoint! Instead realize the truth that obeying God rather than man protects us from the brokenness that comes from doing what is right in our own eyes.