Saturday, May 16, 2015

Devotional Thought : Judges 21:1

The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: "Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite." Judges 21:1

Why take an oath? These men had been distressed by the raped and murder of the concubine at the hands of the Benjamites, but why respond by punishing the whole tribe for years to come?

Perhaps they were trying to prove their commitment to the cause or show they were deeply distressed by what had happened. However going to such lengthens tends to have the opposite effect. The constant refrain through the book of Judges is, "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit" (24:15). Perhaps this kind of violent behaviour had become more common than they would care to admit. To make matters worse, having made the vow they insist on keeping through it murder, kidnapping and rape thus perpetuating the violence (21:5-23).

When we make our own rules about what we think is acceptable behaviour there is a tendency to keep these rules above and beyond what God has asked us to do. We lose sight of what is important to God and focus on the things we can regulate. It's a trap the Pharisees fell into many years later.

In trying to keep God's commandments the Pharisees added many more rules which had the effect of taking them further away from God's heart. Jesus pointed out: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23).

When we rigidly enforce rules we end up in further away from God than if we act with grace and compassion.

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