Even in despair and adversity, trust in Him without ceasing.
”…They sat there before God and fasted that night until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings…” Judges 20:26
The children of Israel with about 400,000 foot soldiers went out to war against their brothers, the Benjamites with about 26, 000 foot soldiers.
One day, a Levite had reason to spend the night with his concubine in Gibeah, which belonged to the Benjamites of Israel. In the cause of the night, some men of the city surrounded the house where they were being accommodated and demanded to have a sexual relationship with the Levite. All pleas by both the Levite and his host fell on deaf ears as the men of the land insisted on having their way. And eventually, the Levite gave his concubine to the men who abused her sexually all through the night. As expected, she died.
This caused great pain to the Levite who in turn cut his concubine into 12 pieces and divided them amongst the 12 tribes of Israel. This action was to express his desire for justice, thus, a call to all Israel to assemble to determine a possible line of action against the culprits.
Following the town hall meeting, a decision was taken and men were sent to the Benjamites to ask for the release of the perpetrators. But the men of Benjamin would not! Instead of repenting and immediately releasing those responsible they began to prepare for war. Israel in turn sought God’s face to determine further actions. They were permitted to go and the house of Judah was to take the lead.
Against all expectations, Israel lost no fewer than 26,000 men of war on the first day of battle to Benjamin. Again they sought God’s face and again they were directed to go, yet again they were slaughter. Israel lost about 18, 000 men on the second day. But come to think of it; did God really ask them to go to war?
In view of this, they humbled themselves: ”Then all the children of Israel, that is all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening; and the offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.”
Note that they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Why did they do this? The burnt offering was the most common offering in Israel, which was offered twice daily and it atoned for sins and made fellowship with God possible. The peace offering was an expression of gratitude for God’s providence.
In other words, though they were permitted by God to go to war, they recognized that sin in their midst could be an impediment, thus, the need to make atonement, which will pave the way for fellowship with God, while expressing their thankfulness or gratitude to God for His providence.
Once this was done, Israel came out strong in the LORD and the men of Benjamin were roundly defeated the next day.
Many a times, God instructs us to do certain things, but things don’t always work out as expected. It is not that God is not faithful or that His word is no more effective. It could actually be that we need to re-examine our lives as the people of Israel did. It could also be that our method is wrong. Whatever the case may be, we must seek God’s face again and again to get a clear word from Him.
They offered burnt and peace offerings — they confessed their sins, allowed God to consume them as the fire consume the burnt offerings (they surrendered to God’s way), and told God, ‘Thank You LORD.’
May be we also need to confess some weak areas in our lives, allow God through His Spirit to consume us (surrender to Him), then, tell Him, ‘Thank You.’
If we can do this, every battle in our lives will be won, His calling and tasks for us will be perfected. Challenges will come, but if God has indeed said it, He will surely perfect it in His way. Stop doing it your way.
Do not ever give up in times of adversity especially when you are sure God has spoken. Whenever God is silent or you are facing times like this, God might be telling you to seek Him, He wants to fellowship with you first, and probably confessing some weak areas. Also, He might be telling you to change your strategy.