Click here for Wisdomfest 2024 Resources! 

Play Video




Peter Hubbard


May 22, 2022


Judges, Judges 19


On Wednesday morning, I was driving to church, coming down Reid School [Road], past Taylors Elementary, and then you come to an interesting intersection. I’d love to meet the person who designed this because you’re taking a right off of Reid School, onto Edwards Mill, and, of course, while you’re taking the right, you have the right of way. But then immediately you encounter a little intersection with a yield sign, and the people who were just yielding to you when you took a right are now asking for you to yield to them. It takes a little bit of a dance there.

So, I took a right, started yielding because there was someone coming from the other side that wanted to take a left. And all of a sudden I hear someone just slamming on the horn. It wasn’t just a South Carolina tap, tap, stop texting. You know, it was a New York City. And first, I’m thinking, “Who is getting honked at?” And then I looked in the rearview mirror, and this lady behind me is doing this at me [gesture with fists in the air] and saying something, and I assume she’s not saying “Good morning.” I didn’t try to read her lips, but by this point, I could go. But as I continued driving, the thing … I know you’ll think this is weird … but the thing that hit me was how much I wanted to express my thoughts to her, or even just reach out the window and point to the yield sign that was next to us.

And so, then I started wondering why. This is what weird people do. I’m wondering why did I feel like I needed to express my thoughts to her? It was too early for loud honking. It’s like 7 a.m. in the morning. Honking should be loud later, not that early. So, that’s one thing she needs to understand. Secondly, it’s embarrassing to be honked at. So, part of you is just the pride of “stop honking.” But it felt a little unjust — I’m just trying to obey the law, you know, and get safely to church. “I’m a pastor!” No, I didn’t say that. There was none of that, none of that. “You’re going to pay for this!” But then, after working through the emotional things, I’m also thinking, there’s just something inside of us that we all realize that if we decide that laws don’t matter, it’s a rough place to live. For example, I have seen several wrecks at that intersection because of that, because someone was smoking something when they designed that intersection.

So, why is it that we all — it really doesn’t matter, agnostic, atheist, Christian — we all have that sense of wanting justice, wanting to speak out when injustice occurs. Someone needs to know that I just got honked at unjustly. Now, of course, the illustration I just shared with you is ridiculous. It’s a non-event. It didn’t change my day at all.

But the story we’re about to read is not ridiculous. It’s horrifying. But it raises the same question. Why would God include this? And, as I hope we’ll see, the message is similar. Injustice needs to be exposed. Outrageousness needs to be outed. Notice the last word in the chapter is what word? Judges 19 … last word … same in the Hebrew. What is it? “Speak! Speak!” This demands an exposure. It must be not just swept under the rug by powerful people, but it must be exposed.

And if we go back to Judges 2, near when we started back in February, the cycle that was described in Judges 2 — and we’ve seen play out throughout the first half of the book of Judges — is that they abandon the Lord, the Lord gives them over to what they thought they wanted, and then they groan or they do what? You guys are quiet today. Cry out, right? They cry out. Someone speaks. They cry out. And then the Lord raises up judges, and then the cycle continues.

You’ll notice about halfway through the book of Judges, the cycle ends. Why? You have no more crying out. There’s not another example. I think it’s after chapter 10, there’s no more crying out. So, what’s happening is the cycle is disappearing as, parts of the cycle are disappearing as the cycle turns into a spiral picking up speed. The image I have is that of a car going off a cliff and just bouncing down the cliff, and as each time it lands, pieces of the car go flying in different directions. The thing is falling apart. That’s the end of the book of Judges.

And the narrator summarizes the crisis multiple times. For example, in Judges 17:6,

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Now, that is a political statement. When there is no federal authority, you have social anarchy. For society to function, there must be certain laws, certain social norms, like yield signs, for example.

But it’s much deeper. Our need is much deeper than merely a human king because you’re going to see later, when Israel got human kings, it didn’t get a lot better. This is a theological statement at the core. A theological anarchy is occurring. God’s kingship is being rejected. And we’ve seen this the last two weeks. Think of chapters 17 and 18 we’ve looked at the last two weeks, which could be described as “worship disorder,” where Micah, as a family and then it went national … family and national opportunism. Everybody just defined worship the way they wanted to define worship. Self-defined worship is a worship disorder. And this worship disorder from chapters 17 and 18 leads to chapters 19 to 21, a moral disorder, where goodness and badness become self-defined. That’s “everyone does what is right in his own eyes.”

And that’s where we focus this week and next week. And this is not just an Israel thing. Look at Romans 1:24 describing all people.

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”

Why would he do that?

“Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

Now, notice the relationship there between “they” (second half) “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature.” So the worship disorder (second half) caused (that’s where the “because” is in the middle) caused the moral disorder — God giving them what they want and giving them over to the lusts of their hearts to impurity.

So, there is a tight relationship between what we believe, how we worship, and the way we live, our morality. But we can express this in a variety of ways. We can make a statement, or we can tell a story. Let me illustrate this from the past. For example, French 20th century atheist Sartre is known for famously saying,

“If God did not exist, everything would be permitted.”

So, here he’s making a statement (right?) about the relationship between worship and morality. When there is no worship, there is no morality. Now, his point is not that atheists can’t be nice neighbors. Of course they can, just like Christians can be nasty neighbors. But his point is there’s no basis for that niceness, and there’s no basis for distinguishing between what is good and what is bad. It’s subjective. That’s Sartre’s argument. Where you have no worship, you have no basis for morality. You have no moral certitude. And he viewed this as the very foundation of his existentialism.

But what’s interesting is to me, for today, is that he was actually quoting the Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. One of the characters, actually Ivan, we’ll see in a moment. But Dostoyevsky is wrestling with the anarchy that follows if God does not exist. For example, one of the brothers, Dmitri, who is the brother that was torn between addiction to pleasure and faith in God, said this:

“What if he doesn’t exist?” [What if God doesn’t exist?] “Then if he doesn’t exist, man is the chief of the earth, of the universe. Magnificent! Only how is he going to be good without God? That’s the question. I always come back to that. For whom is man going to love then? To whom will he be thankful? To whom will he sing the hymn?”

That is much more brilliant than you first realize because you think, well, I can sing a hymn to anything. True! You can worship anything. But you have no one really to worship who deserves worship? You have no one who can truly define what is good and what is evil, no one that can say with authority “this is right and this is wrong.”

His brother, Ivan (or in Russian “Ivan”), the atheist is even more direct. He was the one who said the words that Sartre quoted. If God is dead, everything is permitted. And as Gavin Ortlund explains, Dostoyevsky never offers a compelling argument against Ivan’s atheism in the book, the eight hundred or so pages of the book. Never argues with a compelling argument against Ivan’s atheism, but he tells a story. Listen to what Ortlund writes:

“The events of the story undermine Ivan’s words (because the character Smerdyakov justifies his murder of their father on the basis of Ivan’s philosophy)” [Ivan’s atheism]. “Ivan, in coming to terms with his indirect complicity in his own father’s murder, has a mental breakdown, while redemption in the end comes with Alyosha, through his simple love for others and faith in God. Thus the rejection of Ivan’s nihilism and despair seems to come not through argument but through the unfolding narrative.”

Now some of you are thinking right now, “what does this have to do with Judges 19?” That last sentence answers the question “why is Judges 19 in the Bible?” because you can make a statement or you can tell a story. And what, as Ortlund says,

“thus the rejection of Ivan’s nihilism…”

which is basically there is no basis for absolute truth or morality …

“rejection of Ivan’s nihilism and despair seems to come not through argument but through the unfolding narrative.”

So, what God is doing in Judges 19 — he’s outing the outrageous, not through edict or statement, but through story — is as you read the story, you’re intended to get an impression of what we’re seeing at the end of Judges, that apart from true worship, not always immediately, but ultimately, morality will descend.

So, let’s look at the story and then try to tie this together. The story is told in expanding waves, sections that move essentially … “expanding” meaning from family to community/society and then on to an entire nation. Chapter 19 begins, verse 1,

“In those days when there was no king in Israel …”

What are you expecting next there? “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.” It’s so interesting, and this is illustrative of “this is a horrible story we’re about to read,” but it is brilliant storytelling. Even at the beginning, it’s like “in those days there was no king,” and he could say “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” but he just lets the story tell you that. You’re going to come to that conclusion when you read this story.

So, first section, number one — Family Chaos, verses 1-9. As we are introduced to the main characters of this story, you will notice they are all unnamed, unimpressive, unsavory. There’s nothing about any of them that draws you toward them, and in that sense, they seem quite ordinary. Maybe the narrator wants them to be viewed as representative of the average Israelite at this time.

So, first we meet the Levite. Verse 1, the Levite “took to himself a concubine.” Now, a concubine was essentially a legal mistress or servant wife. A concubine had all the responsibilities of a wife, none of the honor, none of the benefits. It was culturally acceptable, biblically unacceptable. The Levite was supposed to be a spiritual leader in Israel, modeling what marriage, family, morality should look like. So, already, right at the beginning of the story, we’re thinking with Chaucer, “if the gold rust, what will the iron do?” What’s up with the leadership?

And then the concubine. We meet the concubine next in verse 2.

“His concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months.”

Now, “unfaithful” here probably refers to sexual unfaithfulness. Some scholars argue that because she ended up at her father’s house, maybe she was just fleeing an unsafe situation. It’s possible. Some translate the word “unfaithful” as “angry,” but it doesn’t really have a lot of textual support. There are all sorts of theories thrown out at this point, but we know that the Levite waited four months. That’s interesting. Why that? Four months. And then went, verse 3, to speak kindly to her and to bring her back.

And then we meet the third character, the father-in-law, and he may have been embarrassed by his daughter’s unfaithfulness. So, he was excited to have the Levite stay with him so he could smooth things over. For five days he hosted the Levite. Each time the guest tried to leave, he insisted that he stay and eat and drink some more. Finally, the Levite, his servant, and the concubine, resisted the smothering invitations of their host, and they left though it was late in the day, very late to start a long journey.

So, do you see lots of dysfunction here? A Levite having a concubine, concubine being unfaithful in some ways, waiting four months. Father-in-law seems far more interested in enjoying his guests than in looking out for their best interests so that they have time to get to their destination rather than leaving so late. So, lots of chaos, Family Chaos.

But now we’re going to move a little wider to Social Chaos. In verses 10-26, we move to more of a community chaos or Social Chaos. Verse 10,

“But the man would not spend the night. He rose up and departed and arrived opposite Jebus (that is [what would become] Jerusalem).”

At the time the Jebusites had retaken Jerusalem, which Israel had conquered, lost.

“He had with him a couple of saddled donkeys, and his concubine was with him. When they were near Jebus, the day was nearly over, and the servant said to his master, ‘Come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.’ And his master said to him, ‘We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah’” (which was a Jewish city).

As the sun is setting, verse 15,

“they turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibeah. And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.”

Now, a person back then would have immediately been horrified by that statement. They didn’t have hotels. Someone would take you in — serious violation of hospitality norms here. And as they’re imagining sleeping in the open square of the city, an old man who was not originally from Gibeah, was originally from Ephraim, which is not where they are, saw them and offered to take them in. Verse 20, an old man said,

“Peace be to you…” Shalom. “I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.”

Dum, dum, dum. There’s an ominous feel to that statement. Why can’t we camp in the open square? So, the old man took them in. Verse 22 … We quickly learn the answer to that question.

“As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house that we may know him.’”

And most of you probably know that expression “know him” is just not talking about getting an email address. It’s sexual immorality there.

“And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, ‘No, my brothers, do not do so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing.’”

And at this point, the reader, if you’re reading this for the first time, you’re like, “whew! finally!” The old man is Chuck Norris. Walker, Texas Ranger. He’s going to protect his guests. He’s going to do the right thing. He’s not going to do what is right in his own eyes. No! He is going to care for everyone in his household. But no! We quickly learn that the old man is a slime ball as well. Everyone in the story, pretty much, is bad. Verse 24,

“Behold…” [the old man says] “here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out to you now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.”

Does that expression “do with them what seems good to you” sound familiar? “Do what is good in your own eyes.” Who pays the price when we do what is good in our own eyes? The most vulnerable among us. And in this case, it was the concubine. Verse 25,

“But the men would not listen to him. So the man” [rather than protecting the vulnerable] “seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.”

Now, at this point, we’re feeling sick to our stomachs. This is unimaginable. And I know when I’m reading it, I’m thinking “okay, it can’t get any worse than this.” But this is where it moves from “this community is really messed up” to National Chaos. In verses 27-30 the nightmare goes nationwide. Verse 27, and this also is unthinkable.

“Her master rose up in the morning.”

It’s just impossible to take that in! He threw her out the door and went to sleep.

“And when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, and her hands were on the threshold. And he said to her, ‘Get up, let us be going.’ But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. 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. And all who saw it said, ‘Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

How do we respond to such a horrific story? Well, we know based on that last series of commands, we can’t just ignore it.

“Consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

It’s just so interesting, those three, because I know when I read this, I just want to move on. This is terrible. I don’t want to think about it. But the original readers, and by extension, we, are being told “wait, slow down, consider it, take counsel, speak.”

But we also want to remember, and I’m jumping ahead to next week a bit here, that there is a possibility, which is, I think, why we’re being called to slow down, that we can respond in a way that perpetuates injustice and just multiplies doing what is right in our own eyes, right? Somebody honks at you; you jump out; you start beating their car … just for an example. Let me pause and show you what I mean, and we’ll get into this more deeply next week.

Mari Ruti is a professor at the University of Toronto. She writes,

“Although I believe that values are socially constructed rather than God-given,”

Take that in. So, right and wrong has no universal foundation. It’s just whatever a society fabricates.

“I do not believe that gender inequality is any more defensible than racial inequality, despite repeated efforts to pass it off as culture-specific ‘custom’ rather than an instance of injustice.”

Now, I’m so confused by that. She just said that right and wrong are socially constructed. If you want to hug your neighbor or kill your neighbor, that’s just pretty much what society … Society develops a certain framework, and then you’ve got to live within that framework, but there’s no universal right and wrong. But then she picks some things, which … I’m not interested in debating the things because who wants inequality? But gender inequality and racial inequality, she says those are unjust. Well, how do you know? Well, because she said so. And maybe our society decides so. Okay.

But what if a society decides that a man is of more value than a woman? What do you get then? You get Judges 19. “Here, take my daughter.” That makes you want to vomit. “Take my concubine. I’ve got to protect the male guest.” This story is in here for a reason — so that we feel sick at that kind of inequality. But if a culture rejects the God who says that those individuals are image bearers … They’re not just sacks of chemicals. If they’re just sacks of chemicals, how can you say it’s wrong to mistreat? It’s just like a lion eating a gazelle. It’s called supper, not murder. Those are two different things. And so, how can you say any of this is wrong? Why would we feel sick? Why does anyone feel sick reading this story? And it’s true. Anyone with half a moral conscience will.

But there’s a reason. If you jettison the reason, don’t be surprised when you end up with a culture that fights injustice with injustice. So, one culture says, “Well, men are more valuable than women; so, throw the women out.” And then another culture comes along and says, “Well, women are more valuable than unborn babies; so, throw the babies out.” But we’re still doing the same thing — we’re fighting injustice with injustice.

The old man actually illustrates this horrifically with a key word he uses in verse 23. I’ll put it on the screen.

“Do not do this ‘vile’ thing.”

Verse 24 says it again. English typically translates it “outrageous.”

“Do not do this ‘outrageous’ thing.”

In the Hebrew, it’s the same word — “nebalah.” It is a gross disorder. Do not do this gross disorder. And that idea — nebalah — carries together so many interesting things, like emptiness in the sense of a foolishness, combined with senselessness and twistedness. It is a vile distortion of a vital relationship. And the old man is right on in calling what he calls “outrageous.” But then notice what he does. He does an outrageous thing in fighting an outrageous thing, like offering up your daughter or the concubine.

And this is I think one of the scariest things about this story to me, is how blind we can become in looking at something that to us appears outrageous, but it actually blinds us to the very outrageous thing we’re doing. This is why I want us to do something a little unusual here. Maybe not unusual for me, but unusual for real preachers. I want to, at the end of the message, do a word study, because I want us to see how the Bible isn’t selective in its view of what is outrageous, like we often are. If we take in the whole Bible, the hard parts, the happy parts, the parts I’m not sure I understand, the whole thing, you begin to see a vision of the justice of God that is so much bigger than any particular culture, and it sets a culture up to really flourish.

Let’s just do a quick study of the uses of this word “outrageous” that help us to be less blind to our own outrageousness and less condescending to others. So, this word is used, this form of the word is used thirteen times in the Old Testament. We won’t look at every time, but it could be summarized in four different ways.

First, it’s used of Sexual Distortion or Disorder — rape, for example in Judges 19, but also in Genesis 34:7, where Shechem defiled Dinah, Jacob’s daughter. It’s used of premarital sex in Deuteronomy 22:21. That’s interesting because our culture says that’s fine, and God says that’s outrageous. Marriage matters. It’s used of adultery in Jeremiah 29:23. Let’s look at that verse.

“Because they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and they have spoken in my name…” [So, here he’s adding another layer.] “They’ve spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. I am the one who knows and I am witness, declares the Lord.”

Do you see the combination there? First one is Sexual Distortion, but now Verbal Distortion, but specifically distorting who God is in what he says. Because we’re going to justify our moral decisions even if we have to twist God’s words to do it. That’s not wrong anymore. God’s fine with that. Let me show you a couple examples. Isaiah 32:6,

“For the fool speaks folly.” [That’s the word nebalah, outrageousness.] “And his heart is busy with iniquity.”

So, outrageous words flow from a heart bustling with iniquity. Well, what kind of iniquity? He goes on in that same verse …

“to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the Lord…”

There it is again — Verbal Distortion.

“…To leave the craving of the hungry, unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink.”

Isn’t that amazingly mundane? That is outrageous when you say things about God that are not true, and you don’t care to give thirsty people drink. It’s just so vivid! Love God, love neighbor!

Here’s another example at the end of the book of Job. Remember Job’s friends tried to explain to Job who God is and what he’s like, and God now is straightening everything up, and in [Job] 42:8, God says,

“For I will accept his prayer” [Job’s prayer] “not to deal with you according to [your outrageousness], your folly [your verbal distortion], for you have not spoken of me what is right as my servant Job has.”

Now, the next time someone says to you “theology doesn’t matter,” say “that’s outrageous!” God cares. I’m not talking about things we debate and differ on as Christians. There will always be things like that, but there are things about God that are clear in his Word, and we are not free to distort those things without God viewing that as outrageous! It matters! He has revealed himself to us, and we don’t just make up what we want God to be — worship disorder that expresses itself in Verbal Distortion.

Third example — Intellectual Distortion. In I Samuel 25:25, Nabal — His name means fool. It’s the root of the word that we’re looking at — characterized by overdrinking, betraying his friends. His wife Abigail says of him, (You never want your wife to describe you this way.) “Folly is with him.” It’s not just that he messes up every once while. Folly is with him. He is characterized by outrageousness. Why? Well, his mind is given over to it. His life is characterized by it. Romans 1:21,

“They became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

His thoughts are distorted, and his mind is so dark he doesn’t even see it.

And then finally, Financial Distortion. This is when Achan in Joshua 7:15 coveted the gold and silver and kept back what was devoted to the Lord. And the Bible says,

“He has done an outrageous thing in Israel.”

So, why is this story, this outrageous story, in the Bible? And as I mentioned, we’re going to answer that on a larger scale next week. But let’s start with a couple of observations.

Number one — to help us feel the horror of the moral chaos that follows self-defined worship. God could have just made a statement — “Reject me, and morality is going to go down the toilet.” He could have just made a statement, and he does in many places. But in Judges 19, he tells a story, which gives us a window into the danger of socially fabricated morals.

When we were reading the very end of that story, when the mob of men are smashing themselves against the door and the daughter is being offered, does that sound familiar to you? Is there another Old Testament story? Yeah, it is an intentional replication of Sodom and Gomorrah. But one thing is different. Sodom was a what-kind-of city? Pagan city. So, you expect Sodom to act that way. What is so breathtaking is, this is Israel; this is God’s people! He’s poured out his law and his grace on them. He rescued them from Egypt and gave them the Promised Land and brought them into covenant with him. And they have become the new Sodom!

And that leads us to the second observation — to help us see what we can’t see about ourselves. Remember, this story is a story about people who claim to be the people of God, and yet they’re acting just like pagan cities. Remember, there are so many ideas like that. Let’s not go to Jebus because the Jebusites are pagan. Let’s go to Gibeah because they’re the people of God. We’ll get a warm welcome there. And no! They get a treatment like none other there.

Notice all the characters are unnamed. Again, the point is this is representative not of some kind of “oh, my, those people out there, you know, those activists who are destroying our country …” Yeah, that conversation needs to be had as we look at responding next week, but before you can even go there to the bigger picture, you have to look at “this is us.” This is what people who claim to be the people of God are capable of when they distort worship to God, and the morals begin to flow from that distortion.

This is why Jesus repeatedly said things like in Matthew 7:3,

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I know there he’s primarily talking about our relationships with our brothers and sisters, but Romans 2 does the same thing with people in general. How do you look … When you read a story like Judges 19 and your first thought is the people you see in the news who are doing horrible things, you’ve missed the point of Judges 19. The first thought needs to be “God, help us see what our hearts, given the right or wrong opportunities, are capable of. Open our eyes to what we can’t see.” Do you see that as a gift, that kind of eye opening?

So, years ago, I was a youth pastor in Chicago. I was coaching a soccer team. Our team came back from the game, and our school administrator (this was a Christian school) got a call from the athletic director of the school we just played. And he was furious because one of our players had gone up to some girls on their team and made some suggestive comments about them, joking around with them. Only one problem — they were not all girls from the team. One of them was the coach’s wife, who was deeply offended. And so, as I’m driving back to that school with the player — and I’ll never forget this — he says to me, “Why do I always get caught? I have friends who do stuff like this constantly and far worse, and they never get caught. And I do one thing, and I get caught, and then I’m driving back with my youth pastor to apologize to the coach’s wife!”

And you know what I’m thinking. I’m just saying to him, “Praise God! What a gift that God loves you so much he doesn’t give you over to what could eventually spiral into horrible stuff. He’s convicting you way up here.” It is the goodness of God, the kindness of God that leads us to what? Repentance. It is the kindness of God. Thank you, God! Don’t give me over to what I want with my flesh. Do not, please! Convict me when I need conviction. I’m not talking about a false, hypersensitive conscience that just always walks around with a cloud over you. That’s not healthy. Jesus didn’t set you free for you to live under that. But I am talking about when your heart grows cold or you make unwise or unkind choices, very early … God, convict me, please, right away before I spiral to the point where I can justify handing someone over to protect myself. What is that? If I don’t think I’m capable of that, I’m ignorant of my heart’s capabilities. It is only the grace of God convicting us early and often, pouring his fueling favor, his love into our hearts, where we begin to see others as image bearers, valuable neighbors.

That is a gift of God, and that leads to the third observation we need to see from this passage. And that is, did you notice all the men are horrific in this story? And it makes us begin to wonder, where are the men protecting the vulnerable, not handing them over? And it just makes us love Jesus so much because when he had a mob knocking on his door, he didn’t hand anybody over. He handed himself over on behalf of the vulnerable and his enemies. He was abused. He was murdered. He was cut into far more than twelve pieces. His body was broken that we would be saved and brought into the family of God.

And so this horrible story ultimately points us to Jesus and what a true king is like, King of kings, who gives himself for the vulnerable! What a true Savior is like! What true manhood is! So different from any culture, anyone. Let’s pray.

Father, thank you for horrible stories like this that you have put in your Word for our benefit. We just pray that you would continue to speak to us from this story. We pray for healing for those in here hearing this message who have been harmed by the strong. Please continue to pour out your healing kindness through the grace of Christ. We pray for conviction for any of us who have or are taking advantage of the weak, using any advantage or strength or verbal ability or whatever to take advantage of people rather than to serve. Jesus, as you have done for us. So, as we cry out to you right now, we pray that you would just keep pouring out healing, transforming, fueling favor. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.