How Could Such an Evil Thing Happen?
By Dianne Neal Matthews
Just how low can a society sink when the people reject God’s truth and try to live by their own standards? The book of Judges leads us through a dark period in Israel’s history. (Read Judges 20:1-14) When Joshua and the elder generation died, the Israelites had no appointed leader to rule over them. Just as Joshua had feared, the people let themselves be influenced by the Canaanites they had allowed to remain in the land. The Israelites intermarried with the pagan people around them and worshiped their gods, breaking the covenant vows they had sworn to uphold. The last two chapters of Judges especially show the disastrous results of each person doing whatever seems right to them.
A Levite traveling to his home in Ephraim stopped for the night in Gibeah, accepting hospitality from an old man. That night some of the local men surrounded the house and demanded that the Levite come out and have sex with them. When they refused to leave, the Levite gave them his concubine; they abused her all night until she died. The next morning, the Levite cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout Israel.
At a special gathering, the Levite told his story (conveniently leaving out the fact that he pushed his concubine out the door to save his own skin). As immoral and sin-hardened as the nation of Israel had become, the news of this crime outraged the people. Men were sent to confront the tribe of Benjamin. “How could such an evil thing happen among you?” they asked. “Now hand over those worthless men in Gibeah.” The men of Benjamin refused to listen to the men of Israel. The Benjamites’ refusal to hand over the guilty men led to civil war and their tribe’s near annihilation.
When people reject God’s standards, they begin a downward spiral into sin and degradation. This process may be gradual and go unnoticed at first, but one compromise with the truth leads to another. Eventually, the culture becomes so hardened to sin that it takes something horrific to shock people and make them ask, “How could such an evil thing happen among us?”
The book of Judges paints a sad picture of what can happen when a culture rebels against God’s authority. As people reject his standards of right and wrong, gross immorality and chaos result. Judges explains much of what we see happening around us in the world today. It also serves as a personal warning of how our mind can become darkened when we substitute our own personal ideas of morality for God’s clear-cut instructions in the Bible.
It’s dangerous to rely on our own reasoning and judgment rather than God’s Word. Our minds and emotions are easily deceived. Our thinking can become so distorted that we have a hard time recognizing evil. How much better our life—and our country—will be if we choose to be ruled by God rather than by our deceitful mind.
In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NLT)
The human mind is the most deceitful of all things. Jeremiah 17:9 (GW)
Ask God to reveal any area of your life where you’ve drifted away from his standards of right and wrong.
This Devotion is adapted from Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture with permission. (Baker Books) © 2010 Dianne Neal Matthews
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Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. Her newest release is Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books). Visit her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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