(Continued from yesterday)
Second, the sons of Israel inquired of God three times, each time before they battle against the sons of Benjamin:
• Judg 20:18 Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, “Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?” Then the LORD said, “Judah shall go up first.”
• Judg 20:23 The sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Go up against him.”
• Judg 20:27-28 The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”
But note that they had already decided what to do before they inquired of God:
• Judg 20:8 Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house.”
• Judg 20:10 that when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may punish them for all the disgraceful acts that they have committed in Israel.
• Judg 20:12 that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel.
To punish the perpetrators of Gibeah was not wrong, but Israel had determined what to do before bothering to ask God. Their first inquiry was not what they should do, but “who shall go up first“.
Even after God gave them victory on the third day, they swore rash oaths before consulting the Lord:
• Judg 21:1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.”
• Judg 21:5 Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.”
So while they inquired of God and even wept before Him, their hearts, as betrayed by their actions, were bent on calling the shots themselves and not following Him as Lord.
(To be continued)