“Instead, the children of Benjamin gathered together from their cities to Gibeah, to go to battle against the children of Israel.”
The book of Judges ends on a tragic note. Personal immorality, social chaos, and civil war mark the close of the book. This was certainly one of the darkest times in the history of the people of God. The rape and murder of a young woman led to a heated battle between the tribes of Israel. Instead of facing their true enemies, Israel was caught up in civil infighting that cost the lives of some of their most gifted men. When all is recorded, we find they were simply fighting all the wrong battles.
Instead of devoting herself to the Lord, the young woman who lost her life, spent her days in adulterous affairs. The Levite who reported the crime, was himself guilty of immorality. He was in a relationship with a woman with whom he was not married . She was his concubine, a practice acquired, not from the Word, but from the world. The night of the crime against his concubine, he was partying within the house. His drunkenness no doubt influenced his decision making. We read he is the one who sent her out to the mob of men, who eventually raped and murdered her. It is interesting to note, when he reports the crime, there is no mention of his own misdeeds, no repentance for his action, no mourning, no sackcloth, and no confession of sin.
As the story continues, the nation of Israel gathers for war, to avenge the crimes against this man and his concubine. The tribe of Benjamin, instead of realizing the immorality that was rampant within their tribe, stood up for the actions of these men, who raped and murdered the woman. Perhaps a spirit of freedom prevailed, and those who committed these deeds were only expressing their natural sexual inclinations. Whatever the case, Benjamin, instead of addressing a prevailing national sin, turned their anger against their brethren, and war broke out.
The lesson is clear. It is possible to spend a great deal of effort fighting the wrong battles. Instead of fighting to justify our own sins, or defending the sinful actions of others, we should be fighting for personal holiness and national righteousness. Because the people wandered from God, the nation lost sight of the holiness of God, and immorality spread like cancer throughout the land.