Monday, March 21, 2011

New Year: Jdg 18-21 for Mar 17

Instead of saying "civil war in Israel was bad," Judges describes them (e.g., Judges 20:18ff). The conclusion is obvious enough.

What then can be said of seeking the Lord's guidance about and during civil war? The surprise to the reader is not that the sons of Israel "inquired of God" (20:18) about going to battle against Benjamin, nor that God answered, but that the answers brought defeat to the inquirers. And then, that they did so again (20:27), and again (20:28). Is the lesson from that some kind of "be specific in your prayers," the way we might teach a grade-schooler (cf. 20:18,23)? It is not that the Israelites were not specific enough in their prayers ... God is not a machine. It is that God was working out His will in the two initial defeats: perhaps it coalesced Israel, so that they actually would battle against Benjamin more fiercely (20:37,48).

Again, like so much in Judges, the moral of this story is hidden behind its narrative statements. Israel was interested in justice for the guilty party at the beginning, not civil war (20:13). But there was desire for civil war in Benjamin (20:13-14).

But who was really behind this conflict? Looking at 20:35, this is more than a slogan for the victor. Other cultures may say, after the fact, that God was behind their victory, but we have seen this pattern over and over from Exodus onward, that God wants it to be clear, because that's the way the wars He enters go, that He does the striking in front of the side He's on, against the side He's against (20:35).

No comments:


Blog Archive