The reason that Judges is written is to portray the dark days in the history of Israel as an example really for Israel in their future not to repeat the same mistakes. The mistake was that they rejected God and they turned to the idols and fertility religions of the Canaanites, and in the process deteriorated spiritually and in every other way as a nation. The spiritual decline, the apostasy, is the root cause of all the other problems in the nation. You can look at the breakdown of all of the divine institutions as merely the symptom of the cause. The cause is spiritual. It always begins with a spiritual malaise, a spiritual rejection of doctrine, and a substitution of something in the creation for the worship of God. The same thing is true for us today. We can look out on the scene of our national history and see all of the social problems that we have and whatever you look at they are the problems of one basic cause, and that is a rejection of doctrine in the nation. The only solution is going to be positive volition and acceptance of doctrine. Apart from that the only way that order can be restored is through some kind of human viewpoint, autonomous executive power. Ultimately, always what happens in history is that when a nation declines and people allow their sin natures to run amuck the nation loses any sense of absolutes, and then everybody does what is right in their own eyes, which is the theme of Judges. When everybody is doing their own thing the result is fragmentation. The result of fragmentation is internal collapse and anarchy. The only way to restore any semblance of stability when there is anarchy is to have somebody who comes as a dictator or absolute authority in the land. Apart from the return to doctrine as the center point of our national culture and society the only solution to this continuous deterioration that we see is that there will be an ongoing loss of individual freedom and more and more power is accumulated through a central authority, a federal authority.
In verse 14 we have seen that the group had traveled to Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. The writer makes a point again and again of indicating that the problem here is in the tribe of Benjamin. They apparently have become most apostate at this time and se we see the danger that they fall into by going into apostate Benjamin. There they see the contrast between the hospitality of the father-in-law and the inhospitality of Gibeah. There is one exception in verse 16, and old man who is not a Benjamite. "But the men of the place were Benjamites" – the writer really wants us to realize this man is not a native Benjamite, so he is not a part of the problem. The old man warns them not to sleep outside in the street because he knows what the problem is. The problem is not outside the walls, the problem is not the Canaanites oin Jerusalem, the problem is Israel inside the walls. And what we are seeing here is the greatest problem for Israel is not the enemy outside but the enemy inside. And the same is true for us in the spiritual life. The greatest enemy, if we put it into the context of the angelic conflict, isn't necessarily Satan or the demons, the problem is our sin nature. Our sin nature is so evil that it is capable of the most hideous sins, and this is what we are seeing in Judges. The writer of Judges is portraying this collapse and all that is going on in this episode is a product of the sin nature of Israel and the false religion. The false religion is demonic, they have succumbed to the doctrines of demons, but the solution is not going out and engaging the demons in some sort of one on one combat, the solution is submission to the authority of God, applying the law and being positive to doctrine. So what we have here is emphasizing the danger within Israel itself.
Verse 22 introduces us to the main problem in Gibeah and that is that they have succumbed to the same sin as the Sodomites in Sodom. The writer uses parallel vocabulary and terminology here in order to bring to our minds that horrible situation in Genesis when the two angels came to warn Lot. And when the two visitors to the city go into Lot's house the perverts of the city knock on the door demanding that they have sexual relationships with these men. In this particular passage in Judges 16 words, almost one-fourth of the key words in this section, occur in the same form in Genesis. In addition there are another 24 expressions in Genesis which find an extremely close counterpart in Judges, the variations are only a little bit stylistic and grammatical due to tense forms or something like that. So the point is that the writer wants us to think that Israel now is as degraded as Sodom was. He doesn't want us to miss that point, that what has happened is because Israel has rejected God and rejected doctrine and the consequence of that is that they have succumbed to the same sexual perversions as Sodom and they have become as bad as Sodom and Gomorah and the five cities of the plain.
We need to pay attention to the dynamics of what causes this in a nation. We see the hint of this problem is the description of these men in verse 22: "certain worthless fellows" [NASB]. But this is not the same kind of phrase that we have in Judges 11 describing the brigands who surrounded Jephthah. These are called "the sons of Belial." In order to understand the significance of that term we need to turn to Deuteronomy chapter thirteen which describes how Israel is to deal with the influence of idolatry in the nation. Starting in verse 12 we see how they are to handle this. V.13, "worthless men" is the phrase "sons of Belial" again. This verse 13 defines the core meaning of the sons of Belial as those who are seducing the nation to follow after other gods. The term "Belial" comes from a negative particle in the Hebrew which means "without" and yaal which means "profit or "benefit," and it came to describe a host of people. But the core meaning is those who lead into idolatry, because, once again we need to remember that it is spiritual apostasy that always precedes moral collapse. So as a result of spiritual adultery and apostasy this term comes to characterize a number of people who are letting their sin natures run rampant—murderers, rapists, false witnesses, corrupt priests, and Sodomites, as well as those who lead others into idolatry. By the time we get into the New Testament he term "Belial" becomes virtually a synonym for Satan, recognizing that behind all of this lies the Satanic system. What we have to realize is that Satan works indirectly through the human race through thought—cosmic thinking. It is related to the thinking of demons and also to natural or soulish thinking, that is, the thinking of all human viewpoint has its origin in Satan because it reflects two basic characteristics of all Satanic thought which are, first of all arrogance, and antagonism—arrogance towards self and antagonism towards God. These are the two characteristics of all human viewpoint thinking. In Deuteronomy 13 we see that in the term "sons of Belial" the root concept has to do with those who substitute idolatry for the worship of God.
In Romans chapter one we have one of the most clear statements on the pathology of idolatry and its consequent judgment. Verse 18 talks about the judgment of God in human history. This is not an eschatological judgment, this is the historical judgment of God on nations, specifically Gentile nations. It is being addressed to men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, i.e. those who are in negative volition. V. 19, there is no excuse. Every human being knows God exists. God has made it evident externally and internally. The external witness is described in verse 20 and no one on the planet has an excuse. Anyone who is a certain age is aware that God exists—God conscious. From that age on they are accountable. And explanation of the judgment of those who are negative begins in verse 21—"…even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God." This is the pathology that we are seeing in Judges 19. Israel knew God but they are not honoring Him as God. They are substituting the worship of idolatry for God, the worship of the creature for the creator; "they became empty in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." This is the process of reversionism where you go through MATAIOTES] mataiwthj which is a vacuum in the soul which produces scar tissue. That vacuum sucks uop all kinds of false teaching, false doctrine, and the result of that is that the heart becomes darkened, and then it becomes hardened with scar tissue. The divine comment is in v. 22, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." From v.24 are three series of judgments. First, God gives them over to their lust. The restraint is removed so that they can begin to see the damaging consequences of their sin nature and their idolatry—sexual perversion and immorality. The second stage is in v. 26, "God gave them over to degrading passions." So here we see a rise of Sodomy, sexual perversion and same-sex union as being part of a divine judgment on a culture. It is the result of negative volition. It is the result of exchanging the worship of the creator for the worship of the creature, and once that happens these other things happen as a consequence of that original negative volition.
Six points in the doctrine of Sodomy
1) The correct terminology is sodomy, it is not homosexual. The term "homosexual" was not coined until the 1890s and it did not begin to go into every-day use until the early 1900s, about the time of World War I. The context of it was to come up with a neutral word that didn't sound nearly as offensive as sodomy in order to give legitimacy to the idea that people really had an option in their sexual orientation. We must use the term "sodomy" because if we use the term "homosexual" we are buying into the agenda of the homosexual that this is a legitimate option.
2) The sodomite agenda is to make same sex unions to appear to be no different from opposite-sex union.
3) The means to their agenda is to desensitize people to the reality and the perverseness of same-sex unions.
4) Sodomy, as we have seen in Romans 1:22, is a judgment of God on a nation. (That doesn't mean that we should be hostile to the sinner) So is any form of immorality.
5) We must realize, then, that sodomy is the perversion generated by the sin nature and is therefore at some level no different from any other sin.
6) There is a genetic tendency in each of us for some particular sin. Some have tendencies toward sexual lust with the opposite sex and others have a tendency toward sexual lust toward the same sex, but like any other sin it can be conquered and controlled by Bible doctrine and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
One application in terms of the local church: No one who is a practicing adulterer, a practicing homosexual, should be allowed to be in a position where they are teaching Sunday school, be a deacon or officer in the church, or a pastor. If someone has a tendency towards being one way or the other and if they have that under control by God the Holy Spirit and by applying doctrine, then there is not a problem with that person being ordained or functioning in the pastorate—because he has his sin nature under control. But if he can't control it he should be out of the pastorate, there is no place for ordaining a practicing sodomite who makes that an issue in their life.
In Judges 19 this is the problem that the Levite faces, that these perverts, the Sodomites in the town, have gathered together and want to sodomize the man all night long, they want to have a gang rape on the man. It is a horrible situation. The man who is the host is offended because his honor is at stake as a host. V. 23, he goes out to argue with them not to do this thing. He pleads with them. He uses two words in describing this. The first word is zemah, translated "wickedly" which has to do with any kind of sexual sin, and murder is sometimes described as zemah. The second word is nebalah which has to do with any act of foolishness, any act that is contrary to doctrine. That is translated "folly," it has to do with any kind of unwise act which is completely contrary to the Word of God and to doctrine. Usually it includes some sort of immorality but it would also encompass intellectual stupidity. So, "Don't do this stupid act" is literally what he is saying.
But then he begins to bargain with his own daughter, v. 24. This is the same kind of thing that occurred in Sodom with Lot. The host was going to offer Lot's two daughters, but there was an angelic intervention at that point and it wasn't carried out. But here it was carried out. "Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them [rape them], and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing." The Holy Spirit is simply telling us what went on, and one thing that is happening here is the complete callousness to the effect this has on the women. They are just treated as objects here and it doesn't really matter what happens to them. The picture here is that these women don't really matter at all to the men in the house. V. 25, this isn't the host, it is the man. He brings his concubine out to them. She is completely passive to this whole decision and he seems to be completely uncaring. There is no indication that he has any affection for her as a person. Then we are told that they raped her and abused her all night and they released her at the approach of dawn. At this point she is still alive, but barely. V. 26, the picture is that she finally gets away and crawls and drags herself to the house, seeking some kind of protection, and just as she reaches the house she stretches out her hand to begin to scratch or knock on the door for someone to give her aid, and she collapses. The implication is that she dies. But notice how the man, the Levite, reacts. Notice his coldness, lack of compassion or concern.
Verse 27, the writer wants us to pay attention. This man is going in his way. The theme of this whole time period is that everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes, everybody is self-absorbed, doing their own thing and it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. Throughout this whole episode the man and the host are concerned about their own lives, their own agendas and are completely unconcerned about this poor woman. "And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place." He was completely unconcerned about what had happened to her overnight. There is no concern for her welfare, he is more concerned about how his honor has been challenged, his lost respect in this town, than for what happened to her. He then butchers her body into twelve pieces and then sent her throughout the territory of Israel.
Notice that the writer hasn't told us that she is dead yet. The implication is that possibly he killed her. The text is strangely silent on this, whether she died as a result of the gang rape or whether she died as a result of his butchering her we don't know. That is left hanging. The implication of this butchering, and it seems to be a typical Canaanite or near eastern practice, of a call to arms and a warning. See 1 Samuel chapter eleven, verse seven. This is in the context of Saul having brought the people together for war. In order to call them to war, v.6. One of the amazing things absent from Judges 19 & 20 is that there is no mention of God. The man was doing what he did out of his own reaction to the situation. But in 1 Samuel: "And the spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen." In other words, it is a warning. He warned the nation that if they didn't respond to this call to arms and go into battle with us then this is what is going to happen to you. It almost seems when you read this as if they are chopped up into pieces and then each piece is sent to a different tribe. That is not what is said. Back in Judges 19 the concubine is butchered into twelve pieces and all twelve pieces are taken by a messenger around the nation. This is a grotesque image, but they are taking the pieces around to demonstrate to all the tribes that there has been such a deterioration within the nation itself, such an increase in criminality and perversion, that if this isn't stopped now this is what is going to happen to your women.
Judges 19:30, "And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds."
Then in Judges 20:1, "Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh." This is the first time the phrase "from Dan to Beersheba" is used and it indicates the unity of the nation. From here we will see the reaction of the nation and the devastating consequences of this one episode on the future of Israel and the future of Benjamin. Remember that all of this began from just a domestic spat between the Levite and his concubine and now it is developing into a major event in Israel's history that threatens the continued existence of the tribe of Benjamin and threatens the complete fragmentation of the nation as a whole. What the writer is showing is that when we have unrestrained carnality in our lives as individuals that threatens the nation as a whole. As goes the believer, so goes the nation. But when the believers are positive and there are a large number of believers so that they can function as the salt of the nation and preservation of the nation and blessing by association to the nation, then these things will not take place. So ultimately what we are being told is that the problems in our nation are not somebody else's problem. The failures of the nation is because they have rejected doctrine, they have rejected truth, and as a result of that there is divine judgment. And because there are fewer and fewer believers left in the remnant in this nation we can expect these kinds of things to increase in our nation. And the reaction of government is to always try to come back and to manufacture law after law after law, and that doesn't solve the problem, it just creates even more problems, it will bring about the loss of freedom and the increase in tyranny.