People can justify anything. Civil war had broken out in Israel for some of the most horrific sins imaginable. The battle leaves Benjamin with 600 men ONLY. The people of Israel vow not to give their daughter to them and would therefore end this tribe as they knew it.
As you might already know, no one from the camp of Jabesh-gilead had come up to worship the LORD at Mizpah. So, they went and struck them all done except 400 virgin daughters. So, they give Benjamin these 400 realizing they will lack 200 wives for the men.
Since they had vowed not to give their daughters to them, this debacle at Jabesh-gilead wasn’t technically giving their daughters away because…well…the 400 virgins’ fathers were dead. They didn’t really give them away then, did they?
But how about the last 200? Well, every year a feast was held at Shiloh. There would be virgin daughters there so they instructed the remaining men of Benjamin to abduct the remaining number from that feast. And, by the way, they didn’t give them away and break their vow but they did tell them to lie in wait and catch the one of your choosing.
Listen to this: (Jdg. 21:22) And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously to us, because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.'”
Guilty? Just because you didn’t break your vow means you are not guilty? Abduct their daughters but we will not break our vow.
(Jdg. 21:25-1:1) In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
That who we are, right there, by nature. Jesus, have mercy on us! He saves people everyday like this. Indeed, is there any other? Repent and believe in Christ Jesus. And by faith alone, you will be forgiven and counted righteous!
Here was the Order of Worship at Union Hill Baptist Church:
Order of Service—Revelation and Response
Welcome and Pastoral Prayer
(The scripture readings will follow the story of Joseph because the plot to kill Jesus follows this similar story. Who would have thought that the evil plot of Joseph’s brothers would end up saving them? What the brothers [or religious leaders in our story] meant for evil, God meant for good.)
(This first reading and song acknowledge that God was at work long beforehand in the birth of Joseph and that He most often works in ways that we would never expect. Rachel was barren but the Lord heard the pleas of Rachel and opened her womb.)
Scripture Reading—(Gen. 30:1-2) When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Gen. 30:22-2422 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!”
Song—Hymn # 56 “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”
(This song responds to the scripture reading in a way that says, no matter how things seem and though God is invisible, He is at work behind the scenes and God only wise is at work in His perfect wisdom for good.)
Prayer of Confession and Hope
12 [We] thank him who has given [us] strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged [us] faithful, appointing [us] to his service, 13 though formerly [we] were a blasphemers, persecutors, and insolent opponents. But [we] received mercy because [we] had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for [us] with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom [we] am the foremost. 16 But [we] received mercy for this reason, that in [us], as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:12-17)
(This next reading continues the story of Joseph. We hear the brothers’ [compared to the chief priests in our story] hatred of Joseph. He had this dream or vision that he would rule over them. So, coupled with their father loving Joseph more than all his brothers and this vision that he would someday rule over them, they plotted to kill him [it will sound very similar to our story]. As the story continues, we see an opportunity for the brothers to get rid of Joseph. So, they throw him into a pit but end up selling him off as a slave.)
Scripture Reading—(Gen. 37:4-8) 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: 7 Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
(Gen. 37:17-27) So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. 18 They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”– that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. 24 And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.
(The next song affirms, that just like Joseph’s brothers, we are wretches in need of amazing grace. His brothers were blind but now they see. Their fear, we hope, was grounded in this amazing grace that taught them to fear. God’s good promises always come to pass no matter how crazy it looks. He used the plot to kill Joseph which turned into selling him as a slave to save those who got rid of him. They were responsible for their evil deed but God used their evil deed to save them. In the next reading, Joseph comforts and provides for his brothers which ties into the line “He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.”)
Song—Hymn # 104 “Amazing Grace”
(This finishes the story. We finally hear those famous words, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”)
Scripture Reading—(Gen. 50:17-21)7 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
(This next song most closely fits the outcome of our text. It asks the obvious question, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died he for me who caused his pain? And concludes that it was “amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God should die for me?” After seeing the story of Joseph and we compare that to our story this morning, we see very well why we should be asking this question and rejoicing that we have gained salvation like this.)
Song—Hymn #250 “And Can It Be”
(We end with the clear understanding that this plot to kill Jesus ends up, like Joseph’s story, saving we children of weakness and changing our leprous spots and melting our stone hearts. Indeed, Jesus paid it all and all to him I owe.)
Song—Hymn #249 “Jesus Paid it All”
Benediction: (1 Pet. 2:24-25) 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Psalms 88:3 For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. NASB
For sure, take a moment to read all 18 verses of Psalm 88 but take note of the brutal honesty of the psalmist. “My soul has had enough troubles.”
I’ve struggled, maybe wondered, if I can talk to the Lord like this for a long time. I’ve picked up the church words (and that certainly can be a good thing) that is overly guarded and lacking full honesty.
The psalm doesn’t end with any resolution. As far as we know, it may not have come. But I think this psalm teaches us to speak very openly to the Lord about our pain.
I get the reverence. I understand being careful with our words. I find myself saying something in prayer then trying to explain why I said it that way.
At the end of the day, if we are in Christ then God is our Father, a real person, who really loves us. Pray honestly. He can handle it.
(Ps. 87:1-7) On the holy mount stands the city he founded; 2 the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. 3 Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah 4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush– “This one was born there,” they say. 5 And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her. 6 The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah 7 Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
(Ps. 107:35-38) 35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; 37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.
I just received 8 of these today! I bought a copy for each of our deacons to have. What are some options for consuming the content? Individually reading and group follow up? Slowly read it when we meet and discuss? Thoughts?
(This reading is intended to remind us that God created us and what he created was good. He breathed life into mankind and it is only because of Him that we have life at all.)
Song—Hymn # 1 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
(In light of the fact that God is our Creator, He is almighty, He is King of Creation, He is our health and salvation…may we hear be drawn to His Temple and praise him).
Reading—Romans 5:12; John 11:25-26
Prayer of Confession and Hope
(After Reading Romans 5:12 and John 11:25-26)
Almighty God and Creator…You are perfect in holiness and You created all things good. (Ps. 36:5-6) “Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep.”
Yet, we, your creation, rebelled against You. Indeed, sin entered through one man and death through sin. Death spread to all of us because we have all sinned. But…(Ps. 130:2-5) “Lord, hear [our] voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of [our] supplications. If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. [We] wait for the LORD, [our] soul does wait, And in His word do [we] hope.”
But what is our hope? Is it not that You loved us by sending Your Son into the world that whoever believes in him might be saved? Yes, You have loved us in this way. He is the One of Your own choosing and he has won the battle. And even still, the enemy lurks in the shadows and presents himself as light but he is nothing but darkness and death. He threatens to undo us but we know his doom is sure.
May we trust that this truth, Your truth, remains as we just read when…(Jn. 11:25-26) Jesus said…, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” May we let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also because we shall live forever in Christ, who is our life.
In the name of Christ we pray, amen.
Song—Hymn #664 “A Mighty Fortress is our God”
(This song of response in praise for His might in light of the resurrection of Lazarus. The battle over death will be won by the man of God’s own choosing which is Christ Jesus (it is he!) I incorporated the scripture readings and this song into the prayer of confession and hope. This song intends to demonstrate that God is our rock, my fortress, and my deliverer from 2 Sam. 22:2-3. I think it is very fitting and filled with much hope.)
(I chose this text because it seems clear that Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord in the context of the death of King Uzziah. Similarly, the people see the glory of God in the context of the death of Lazarus.)
Song—Hymn # 664 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
(This song is meant for us to think about that God’s ways are different than ours. He uses such things as death, suffering, and pain for good purposes. His ways are mysterious (not in the sense that we cannot know them) but that He works differently than we would. This song also acknowledges the fact that it is painful (frowning providence) and good (smiling face). “The clouds you so much dread, are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head”—wow!)
Message—John 11:38-46 (Jason)
Song—Hymn #448 “Before the Throne of God Above”
(This song is fitting to end with in that we have the same Jesus though resurrected himself as our strong and perfect PLEA as Lazarus had. And if we are in Christ, no tongue can bid me thence depart and my life is hid with Christ on high. In other words, my life is in his hands.)
Old Testament: Isaiah 59–62 Isaiah 59–62 (Listen) Evil and Oppression 59 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.3 For your hands are defiled wi […]