Judges 20:19-28

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 14, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The next morning the Israelites got up and pitched camp near Gibeah. The Israelites went out to fight the Benjamites and took up battle positions against them at Gibeah. The Benjamites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day. But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until evening, and they inquired of the Lord. They said, 'Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?'
The Lord answered, 'Go up against them.'
Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day. This time, when the Benjamites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites, all of them armed with swords. Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. And the Israelites inquired of the Lord. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, 'Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?'
The Lord responded, 'Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.'” (Judges 20:19-28)

For the context of what’s going on here, I encourage you to read last week’s post here. The nation of Israel is at war with itself, specifically the tribe of Benjamin. Israel had 400,000 soldiers up against Benjamin’s 26,000. The reason for the war was that the city of Gibeah (in Benjamin) was evil and needed to be taken care of. Israel had asked God how to proceed before rushing into battle, so going in they were confident of victory.

But on the first day, Benjamin slaughters 22,000 Israelites! Remember that Benjamin had some extremely skilled warriors. But on that day, they killed almost as many men as they had in their army.

So Israel asks God again if they should continue to go against their fellow tribe. God says yes. They want to make sure they’re doing the right thing and didn’t misinterpret what God told them initially. They were probably second guessing themselves after this initial defeat, but God gives them the assurance that they are to move forward.

On the second day, Benjamin slaughters another 18,000 Israelites! This is less than the first day, but now they’ve lost a total of 40,000 from their army - a full 10% of what they started out with.

Again, Israel feels defeat instead of the victory they were expecting, so they ask God for further confirmation. This time they also fasted and made sacrifices to show their loyalty, devotion, and commitment to God. Israel was ready to give up, especially since they were fighting against and being killed by their own men. But God assures them that victory is coming.

God was teaching Israel that the victory doesn’t depend on the size of the army, but on their trust in Him. He wanted them to keep coming to Him and showing their trust, and to not give up when things got a little hard.

Have you lived that out in your life? Maybe you expect something to be an easy win, but then it ends up being a lot harder than you expected. Do you give up? Or do you keep turning to God? Are you focused on your preparation and your skills, or are you focused on what God is doing? Victory may not always be ours, but victory is always because of God.

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