Judges: When There Was No King

Sermon by Cory Brock on July 26

Judges 19:1-21:25

Download Audio

Well we’re reading from Judges 19 to 21 tonight, a few different sections. There’s a good chance that even if you’ve been in church your entire life you’ve never heard somebody so foolish as to try to preach on Judges 19! No, John Calvin never preached on it. Charles Spurgeon never preached on it. Martyn Lloyd-Jones never preached on it. John Piper hasn’t preached on it yet. There aren’t very many who have. And one of the reasons for that is because when you work through the book of Judges the first sixteen chapters feels kind of like you’re reading a comic book. There are heroes, there are villains, there are saviors, and then in 17 and 18 it gets pretty strange and difficult to understand, and then in 19, well, what one commentator says is, “19 is the premiere horror story of the Bible.” It’s sexual assault, brutal murder, and civil war. And it’s really difficult to read. The Hebrew text actually is even more stark than the English. There’s very few words. It’s just bleak.

And one of the things you notice really quickly when you read it is what’s missing, because every story, the twelve great stories that we’ve read about in the book of Judges, what’s not here is there’s no judge in this passage. Nobody comes to save. There is no hope at the end of this story in Judges 19 to 21. There’s only evil, there’s only sadness, there’s only sin – all the way down, top to bottom. The Bible, unlike many of the other great religious texts of history, is so gritty and so realistic. And if this was a legend, if the Bible was about a fabled god in a fabled land and Israel was trying to get people to believe in something that they made up, you would never put this story in here. It’s so exceedingly terrible because it has to be true, it has to be real, it has to have happened – that’s the only way it makes it into a book like this. And while it’s historical, at the same time one of the things we’ll see tonight is it’s incredibly, it’s written with so much finesse, it’s a masterpiece in some ways of literary style. It is very highly crafted. The whole book of Judges is this way. This story happens actually very early on in the history of Judges. We learn that by the time we get to 21. The narrators put this here at the end for a reason, and it’s literarily very, very highly stylistic. And when you look at the style, you look at the finesse, you look at the way the story is structured, that actually points us toward the reason it’s here in the Bible. That actually points us toward much of its meaning.

So let’s pray together and then we’ll read it. Let’s pray.

Our God, we come tonight asking for immense help from the Holy Spirit. Lord, we pray as we read and go through this text that for those who have experienced the types of sins and horrors and evils that we’re going to read about, that You would come tonight and be the God of all comfort, the God who brings the little ones under His wings for healing. And we pray for all of us who read this text and feel the weight of sin in their lives. And we pray that You would bring every person, every person into Your throne room, Lord, through the Holy Spirit we ask, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

So we’re going to read a little bit differently tonight than usual. I’m just going to read the preface of the story, 19:1-4, and then in each point we’ll read the next section. I think it will be easier to understand if we do it that way. So we’re going to read right now, chapter 19 verses 1 to 4. This is God’s holy Word:

“In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. And his concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of donkeys. And she brought him into her father’s house. And when the girl’s father saw him, he came with joy to meet him. And his father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay, and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and spent the night there.”

Okay, so the literary finesse points to a number of idioms, expressions, symbols, metaphors in here that unveil the meaning of the text. We’re going to look at the fact that God chases, Israel lingers, Sodom grows, and Rachel weeps.

God Chases

So first, “God chases.” We just read the preface of this story and I want to say that the preface of the story is actually about the love of God. It’s about the greatest attribute – that God, in Himself, is love. And you say, “I just read it with you. I don’t see it in the text!” But look at verse 1. It says first, “There was no king in Israel.” And that’s not primarily a reference to the fact that there is no human monarch in Israel at the time. What it’s suggesting is in those days, no Israelite, no person looked to God as King. They had abandoned the King. They had left the King behind. And that phrase is a bookended phrase in 19:1 and 21:25 at the very end of the passage. And it’s something we’re being called to keep in mind the whole time. So keep that in the back of your mind. In those days, they didn’t recognize God as their King.

And so at the end of verse 1 it says a Levite, a priest, “took for himself” and literally – this is very important – it says “took for himself a wife,” an “isha.” The ESV says “concubine,” but he doesn’t begin to call her a concubine until later in the story. In this verse, she’s actually, literally called, his wife. He took for himself a wife. And it says that his wife, literally in Hebrew, “played the harlot.” And that means she committed adultery against him, she cheated on him, and she runs away to her father’s house. Now any Israelite reader of these first two verses would have known that in the Torah, in the first five books of the Law, the Law says that adultery is a capital crime. And who is it that is supposed to judge and execute a capital crime? The Levites. The priests. They are at this time the judges, if you will, of Israel; like the courtroom. So the Israelite reader hears that this woman has, as the text tells us, “played the harlot and run away to her father’s house.” They’re expecting the priest, the judge, to go down to her father’s house and to get her and to take her to trial, to take her to court, and to sentence her for a capital crime. And instead what we get in verse 3 is that it says he went down, he saddled up his donkey, he brought an extra one for her, he brought a servant with him, and literally it says, “He went to speak to her heart and bring her home.”

And look, the first point is simply that so far in the passage the Levite, he looks like the character of God so far. The character of God is to be gentle and relentless in going after His bride. Over and over again throughout the Bible we see that God places Himself in the metaphorical position of the groom, the husband that will go to the ends of the earth to get His bride and bring her home again, no matter what she’s done. You have the love of God. C.S. Lewis talks about it like this. “He is the consuming fire in which we see the love that made the world, persistent as an artist’s love for his work, and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous and inexorable, exacting as the love of a husband for a wife.” What we’re seeing here is a metaphor of God’s love expressed in grace, as it often is throughout the Bible. God is a jealous husband and He goes and He chases after His bride, over and over again. That’s why in the Old Testament we have the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs breathes theology about God the Husband of His people.

And in God’s providence, we’re sitting here with the whole Bible in front of us as many an Israelite reader would have had in later generations. Those first four verses are beckoning us to think of the Hosea and Gomer story in the book of Hosea. You remember God said, “Hosea, the prophet, you go and marry a prostitute and when she cheats on you show love to those that continually reject Me. I am a husband whose wife is always unfaithful. I am father whose children have continually run away, and I’m out to go get them and bring them home again.” You can think of Jesus in Luke 13, Luke 15 – the prodigal son, Luke 13. Jesus is standing over the brim of Jerusalem and looking on the city before He enters the city and it says that He longs, He longs, He weeps, He wants His children, the people, to come to Him. He is going to go into this city and go get them. He wants them. And if we don’t understand that God, over and over again, says, “I am a Husband in jealous pursuit of His bride, I am a father in unquenchable desire for My children, no matter how far they’ve run away,” then we haven’t seen yet the love of God, even for the vilest perpetrator, even for the vilest perpetrator.

Look, one of the reasons for making this point is it’s really significant that when you get to the book of Hosea, Hosea cites Judges 19 three times, referring to it as the “abomination of Gibeah.” In other words, Hosea is saying in the first four verses this Levite looks like God, he looks like Hosea, but boy, keep reading. In other words, Hosea is saying this story is the anti-Hosea. But so far, it looks as if the priest has the character of God.

Lot Lingers

Now that leads us secondly to the second little story here. I’m calling it, “Lot lingers.” And we have a situation in the second part where they’ve gone in with her father, his father in law, and they’ve stayed for three days, which is what was customary. But it becomes time to leave, and let’s pick up in verse 7 and 8 to just get a flavor of what happens here:

“And when the man rose up,” that’s the Levite, “to go,” to take his wife, “his father-in-law pressed him, till he spent the night there again. And on the fifth day he arose early in the morning to depart. And the girl’s father said, ‘Strengthen your heart and wait until the day declines.’ So they ate, both of them.”

And it happens again and again, where every time they rise up to leave, the father says, “It’s late in the day. Stick around. Spend the night again.” Now look, in the midst of Judges 19 and what we’re about to get to, what in the world is this doing in here? Why is God including this story of the simple fact that his father-in-law just said, “I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay home. Stay with me,” over and over again. And one of the keys to getting it, I think, is to remember that the text is incredibly highly crafted. It’s trying to conjure up for us symbols and stories that have already happened or will happen one day in the Bible.

And if you look down at verse 8, the ESV chose a specific translation but it could be said another way. Literally, the father says, “Linger until the day declines.” And then it says, “And they lingered and they ate, both of them.” And the word “linger” happens a couple more times in that little section. And I think what’s happening here is this moment is reminding the Israelite reader of all the moments so far in the Bible where people have lingered. There are a number of linger narratives that happen, but the principle among them is in Genesis 19 verse 5 when Lot is in Sodom and God comes down to destroy Sodom. He says – what does He say? He says, “Sodom, get your wife out of the city!” Just like here – “Get! Take your wife and get out!” But instead it says, “But Lot lingered.” And any Israelite reading this – it’s the same verb that pops up there in 19:5 as here, multiple times. And this is conjuring up – you know, as much as the priest looked like the character of God, the love of God chasing after His bride in 1 to 4 in the preface, when you get to the center, he’s starting to look like Lot. He’s starting to look like all of Israel in all the moments where Israel lingered, when God said, “In three days I’m going to take you up out of Egypt” – and when He did, they turned their heads and looked back and said, “I want to get back there.” This is meant to suggest in him as a symbol of all of Israel that Abraham has gone back to Babylon, that Moses has gone back to Egypt, that Joshua has sat down at the table with the Canaanites.

Judges is all about the Canaanization of Israel. And what’s happening here is that the Levite is serving as a symbol of ultimate Canaanization. He looked like God in the beginning, but he stayed too long. He lingered too long and now he’s beginning to look like a Canaanite. That’s why, at the beginning of 19, it says “In those days there was no king.” And in the end of Judges 21, it says, “In the days when there was no king, everybody did what was right in their own eyes.” What does it mean? What does it mean to be Canaanized? That’s really the point of the book of Judges. Israel is fully Canaanized through the symbol of the priest. It means for all of us humans to face up with what’s wrong with us. That’s what it means.

In the next section, we’re about to see that humans can do a whole lot of awful things, horrible things, and a lot of times in the modern world people will say, in examining people who have criminal pasts doing horrible things, things like we’re about to read about, they’ll say, “Well look, how were they raised? What was their home life like? Were they loved well when they were growing up?” And criminal psychology of the 20th century has come in, in the past two to three decades, and shown us, “Those are valid questions, but sometimes people who are loved really well growing up do horrible things too.” And look, in other words, this passage is here to tell us why, what’s about to happen, the horrible things that are about to take place, happened. What’s wrong with us humans. It’s here to say that secondary circumstances do not cause evil; they magnify evil.

But what causes evil? And the cause of evil is that human beings linger. The priest lingered here. Israel lingered when it left Egypt. Lot lingered in the face of Sodom. Adam and Eve lingered. They stood there with Satan too long. Do you know what it means to linger? It means to say, “I’m not sure that God really has my best interest at heart. And you know, I don’t know, I think I may need to do this myself. I think I might not need to be God’s subject. I might need to be the king!” And at the end of this story, we’re told in the days when there was no king, when nobody acknowledged God as King, the problem was everybody just does what’s right in their own eyes. In other words, it’s saying the cause of evil is ultimately not circumstantial, but religious. It’s a basic antipathy for the God who is King. That’s what this book is about.

Sinclair Ferguson – one of our many, many favorite Scottish ministers – we love them all! He tells a story to try to get this across. He says imagine it’s Christmastime and a man has a little boy and he takes the little boy to the toy superstore, the Toys R Us. And he walks through with the little boy and they walk down an aisle and he says, “Hey son, do you see that toy?” And the son says, “Oh yes. I see that toy!” And his dad says, “Do you want it?” And he says, “Oh dad, you know I want that!” It’s probably a beyblade. If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about! And he takes him to the next aisle and he says, “Son, do you want this toy?” And he says, “Oh yes, dad. I want it!” And he goes through every aisle of the toy store and he gets to the very end and he kneels down and he looks his son in the eye and he says, “Let me tell you why I brought you here, son. I brought you here to let you know you’re not going to get any of this. You’re not going to get any of it. I’m not going to give you anything for Christmas.” And Sinclair says this is what we all believe in our heart of hearts about the God of creation – that unbelief says, at the core, “I don’t think He has my interest, I don’t think He cares. I think I need to do this my way. I think I need to go through this life and do it my way.” The core, the core of lingering, of unbelief, of evil, is religious. It’s a rejection of God the King. That’s what this is here telling us before we step into the true horror story.

Sodom Grows

So let’s do that. Thirdly, “Sodom grows.” Sodom grows. They leave, finally leave their father’s house, and they go to a land called Gibeah or right next to Ramah. And there’s nobody there that will take them in, in Gibeah, so an old man, late at night, takes them into his home. So let’s pick up in verse 20 and read to verse 30:

“And the old man said, ‘Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.’ So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys feed. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.’ And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, ‘No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.’ But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up, let us be going.’ But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And all who saw it said, ‘Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.’”

There are three great evils, at least, in this horrible section. The writer, actually, is focusing our attention on the way he, with finesse, crafts the details on especially the third evil. The first is the most obvious and that’s the rape, the sexual assault. And in the context of being a woman in the Ancient Near East in this time, women were ordinarily abused. You have something like in the book of Ruth when Boaz has to tell Ruth specific instructions to protect her because he expects the men to rape her. Oftentimes, little girls would be aborted by being left for dead in the fields. This was very common. And to be a widow in the Ancient Near East, to be without a man in the Ancient Near East was to be poor, and it was usually to die quickly. And as you read through this section, the language shifts from this is his wife, isha, to his mistress, his concubine, one of his many wives, as he puts it. And what you start to realize, the way that the old man talks about her, is that she is chattel. She is property. She is not wife, in any sense of the word. She is a piece of property.

And what I want to say about this, and we can’t focus entirely on this at all, but is that in the midst of this Ancient Near Eastern context, in the way it was for women in these centuries, the Bible and the God of the Bible comes in, in Genesis chapter 2, which was written by Moses – not too long before these events – to say in Genesis 2 that women are everything. It’s to say, as Paul puts it in the New Testament, that Eve, the woman, women, are the crown and glory of all creation, of man. The Bible comes into a world that brutalizes and abuses women constantly. Women are everything. The Bible is so different, and cuts across the Ancient Near Eastern beliefs about men and women just as much as it does in many ways the 20th century views of men and women. Paul said that Eve was the crown of creation, created to be the ultimate glory of Adam. Just think about this. When God, in the beginning, says that the best of all creation is woman, and then the greatest image of the church under the domain of salvation is the church as the bride – you see, what we would say is the protological woman. The beginning is about the ultimate pinnacle of God’s work, the woman. In the end, creation is imaged in the saving of the woman, the bride. And at the center of history you’ve got the great mother Mary, the mother of God. The Bible does something so different than every other culture in history has done when it comes to the relation between genders. The Gospel is a new Adam, has come for the new Eve, the bride of Jesus Christ. That’s the church.

And so when we come to a story like this in the midst of the whole of the Bible, it’s being put here to say, “God hates this. God hates this.” And we are being asked to weep as we read it and thinking about the beginning, middle, and end of history, to think about Eve and Mary and the bride of Christ Himself, the church. She stands here. It’s not a coincidence in God’s providence that she is the woman, the young girls as the text puts it, of Bethlehem, the Judahite.

And the literary craft – the literary craft, it doesn’t tell you what to think about it. It doesn’t focus down on any of the gory details. The only details we’re given are just the sad notes, the conclusions. One commentator says, “If ever a human being endured a night of utter horror, it was she. That night must have seemed as dark as the pit of hell itself. And as she was pushed out, slammed behind her. And she crawled in the end and groped for the doorway, seeking refuge, and there she died. And let me just say that this must have been, as the commentator just noted, a pain experienced in her heart and body like the pit of hell. And you know, does God care? And Hebrews 4:12 comes in and says there is a Priest who is very different from this priest. There is a Priest who sympathizes with us in all of our suffering. And the word “sympathize” in English is not enough for what Hebrews 4 really is saying. The word “sympathize” in English has been made little of, but in Greek, “sympathize” is “sympathos” – it means “one who suffers with the sufferer.” What it’s saying is, Jesus Christ who is God is invincible in His divinity, unchanging. And as man, He in His heart feels the pain of her heart all the way down in the dark night of the soul that she experienced.

The second great evil here, of course, is murder. And we’re not going to focus a ton on that, but let me just say that throughout the early pages of Genesis, from Genesis 3, the Fall, on, what we see highlighted in each chapter is one of these two sins – sexual violence or murder. Cain and Abel, Genesis 6, sexual violence, the nakedness of Noah, sexual violence. In other words, God is saying this is what evil looks like. This is what the Fall looks like. This is what the Fall works out to be.

But the third – and this is where the center of the passage is, and the focus. The narrator is trying to draw our attention to one particular evil in addition to the rest, and part of that’s because there are no details about the woman. There’s no gory detail; there’s no detail about what happened that night. The priest is the main character in this story. And what we’re being – Sodom grows. This is a Sodom and Gomorrah parallel all the way down. Just like in Sodom, the men of the city, the Benjaminites, come to rape not the woman but the man, the priest. And just like in Sodom, he is pulled back in; he’s not allowed to go out. And this is where the narrator pulls us down, wants us to all draw our attention. He wants us to see that when this old man takes a man of God, the Levite’s wife, and he kicks her out of the door to be raped and murdered all night long, that the priest, the priest stands there and does absolutely nothing. They came for him, and he lets another man kick his wife out of the front door to be murdered and raped.

And you see what the passage is asking us to see and to ask? What should the priest have done? What do we want? This is Judges. Where is Samson with a jawbone? Where’s Gideon and his army coming to slay these Benjaminites and save this woman? Who is going to stand up for the wife who stands in here for all of Israel? She is Israel. She is the bride of God. She is to be symbolized and seen in that way. Who is going to come in and rescue her? They came for the man of God and he kicked his wife out of the door. That’s the horror of the passage. And we say, “What should he have done?” And all of us say, “Anything but let another man push your wife out of the door to be raped! Anything!” What should the priest have done? This man does not look like God. He is anti-Christ and anti-God in this moment. God, God would have come down and entered into the pit of hell for His bride. God would have come down and walked through the doorway. The true Priest would walk through the doorway of death and go down to the pit of hell in the darkest night of the soul for His bride. And praise be to God we have a Priest like that when we read stories like this.

The next day, he has no compassion. He goes out the front door, and literally in Hebrew it’s only three little words. It says, “up we go.” But there’s another Priest who is “sympathos” – so full of compassion with sufferers who suffers in His heart as a man with every sufferer. He’s a Priest that’s completely unlike this. In the center of the story, the narrator is trying to create in us an immense longing, an immense longing for a Priest who would give Himself to death for the sake of His bride, a better Priest. And in the center of history, a mob came for Him too and He went down to death for His bride, for us.

Rachel Weeps

Now fourthly and finally, just very briefly. The fourth great symbol, I think, of the narrative is that “Rachel weeps.” And not only is this a clear parallel to Sodom and Gomorrah but there’s also a very clear parallel to the story of Rachel and Jacob throughout this text. Do you remember the story of Rachel and Jacob are at their father-in-law’s house, Laban, and they’re something of slaves to Laban. But then they run away, just like the Levite and his wife run away from their father-in-law. And when the Levite passes through Jerusalem, he says, “We’re going to stop in Gibeah or Ramah,” which are parallel joint towns. And Rachel and Jacob, previously in Genesis, where do they go? They go to Ramah, next to Gibeah, in the story. And Rachel, when she gets to Ramah she gives birth to Benjamin. She’s the mother of Benjamin. And she dies that night in childbirth. But this new Rachel, who’s run from her father and reached Ramah, just like the old Rachel, instead of a night of giving birth to a son, is murdered by the son of Rachel, Benjamin.

And in God’s providence that brings up Jeremiah. Remember the famous verse, Jeremiah 31:15? Matthew 2:18 quotes it – “A voice is heard in Ramah from the grave, Rachel mourning and weeping, weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” This is where Rachel begins to cry because what the writer is saying is that her son, Benjamin, is lost. And the priest takes his wife, his concubine’s body, cuts it into twelve pieces and sends it out to all of Israel. And what’s happening here? Rachel weeps because the children of Israel are lost. He cuts the body into twelve pieces. What’s it saying? It’s saying that all twelve tribes of Israel are destroyed in this moment. All twelve tribes of Israel are fractured. That’s why he cuts it into twelve pieces. They are complete individuals; they’re fractured. They are no longer one people; they are no longer the people of God.

And that brings us, that is climaxing – and the real point, the final point of this passage – and you see it in chapter 20, verse 20 to 25. And I’ll just summarize it for you because we’re running out of time. In 20 to 25, Israel goes to war against Benjamin and Israel thinks, “You know, God’s going to give us victory. The Benjaminites won’t give up the people that have done this.” And Israel goes to battle against Benjamin and it says on the first night, 26,000 of their men are slaughtered. They’re defeated. And then they go back to God and they say, “Is this not a just war against these Benjaminites who have murdered one of the daughters of Israel and raped? Is this not just?” And He says, “Go to war.” And they go again the next night and 18,000 more are slaughtered and Israel loses again.

You see, Rachel weeps, Rachel weeps for all of her children. He cuts her into twelve pieces because all twelve tribes are lost. And when we get to the civil war, Israel loses twice before they ever get victory. God is saying to you, “Oh boy, you, you Israel think you’re coming in to fight against evil, as the good? This is all of you! You are all totally Canaanized.” In other words, “You are Benjamin. All of you. Every single tribe is thoroughly Canaanized.” There was no king in Israel and everybody, every tribe, did what was right in their own eyes.

You know, we’ll close. The banality of evil. The point is, the banality of evil. And this has been brought of previously. David Felker mentioned this in an earlier sermon but it comes up again and again in the book of Judges. The author is drawing the reader to recognize the banality of evil. He’s trying to get us to say when we read this, “I am capable. I am capable of so much that is so wrong.” And we know the life of our minds, the life of our hearts – we’re humans. And a lot of times we think about humans across a spectrum of good, normal, and really bad. We think there are basically most of us, the normal people who are kind of a mixed bag of good and bad. And we think, they are, on the one hand there’s Brister Ware – the really good ones! And in the middle, there’s the rest of us who are kind of a mixed bag. And then there’s the evil geniuses, the diabolical people.

Hannah Arendt, in the middle of the 20th century, wrote this essay on the banality of evil. And she wrote it after she was at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who was often known as “the Nazi butcher,” a man who is thought to have killed more people or responsible for more people’s deaths in World War II than anyone in the genocide. And she was shocked by what she found when she watched the Eichmann trial and she wrote an essay called “The Banality of Evil.” Banality means – she is saying evil is basically run of the mill; it’s actually quite normal. It’s not very special and Eichmann wasn’t very special. And twenty-two years later there was an interview between Mike Wallace – this is, I think, what Felker had mentioned – Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” in 1983 with Yehiel De-Nur who was one of the victims; his family was murdered by Eichmann and he barely survived. And Mike Wallace showed De-Nur a clip of when De-Nur stepped into the courtroom with Eichmann in the middle of the 20th century. And De-Nur passed out; he collapsed when he saw Eichmann. And Wallace is asking him, “Why did you collapse? Was it fear? Was it hatred? What was it that caused you to struggle so much in the face of such a monster?” And De-Nur shocked the world because on “60 Minutes” he said, “No, no, no. It was none of that. Here’s what overwhelmed me. I came in and I looked at Eichmann and I realized this is not a demon. This is not a superman. This is someone just like me and if he’s capable of doing this, so am I.” That’s what De-Nur said. He goes on and says, “Eichmann is in all of us. That’s what I realized. That’s what made me collapse.” He faced himself. He faced his heart, his own heart.

And this passage – the question – “Have you faced yourself? Do you know what’s in your heart? Do you know what you’re capable of? Do we know what we’re capable of? What do we do about it?” Christianity does not offer a philosophy, it does not offer a therapy; it offers a person – God who became man, the God who chases after His bride all the way to walking through the doorway in the dark night to the point of death in the pit of hell for us. That’s what Christianity has to offer. The priest – and this is literally the last thing – the priest would not stop when he was traveling. He would not stop and take rest in the city called Jebus. The narrator tells us Jebus would later be called Jerusalem. He refused to stop in Jerusalem. It’s not safe in Jerusalem so he goes on to Gibeah and Ramah. But one day, one day in Jebus, in Jerusalem, the Light of the world will go to the pit of hell for His bride, for us, and no matter what we’ve done, no matter what has been done to us, there is eternal hope in the Priest who stopped in Jerusalem and faced the door of death for us. There is healing in His wings for both victims and perpetrators.

Let’s pray.

Our Lord, we ask that You would take a passage like this and in some way use it to comfort our hearts. You are the God of all comfort, and so we ask You to come and to heal many hearts that may be broken by evil things and to also heal hearts who are guilty and overwhelmed with the weight of shame and sin. We ask for both, Lord. Come, O Christ, we ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.

This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.

Print This Post