This is one of those chapters that, honestly, I’d love to skip over. The story is so horrible, it makes my heart ache and my stomach churn. Why is such a disgusting, heinous account preserved in God’s Holy Word?
Because it illustrates the depths of mankind’s depravity apart from God. The account starts with a statement that is more profound than we might realize initially: “In those days when there was no king in Israel . . .”
Not only was there no established government, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes as we’re told multiple times throughout the book of Judges, but Israel did not recognize or worship God as their authority.
Consequently, as we’ve seen in the past two chapters, they began a steady slide into more widespread, and deeper sin and immorality.
But how does this relate to us today? Oh, brothers and sisters! We are all to some extent a product of the environment we live in. Do not think that sin can multiply around us and we can remain untainted by it. Like a frog in gradually heated water, we won’t realize it’s boiling until it is too late. The notion that we can be “tolerant” of sin is a deadly compromise, yet somehow we must reach out with kindness and mercy to those who are trapped in its web.
Our pastor mentioned last weekend, “we are known as a church where it’s OK to not be OK, but it’s not OK to stay there.” We must love and welcome broken people, because we are all broken. But we must not peddle the demoralizing lie that we can remain comfortably participating in things that God calls sin. “It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free!”