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The Canaanite Within

Judges: A Modern-Day Spiral  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:21
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God’s people are often their own worst enemy. It is not the enemies outside who threaten the soul but the Canaanite within.

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Judges 20:1–3 ESV
1 Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. 2 And the chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 men on foot that drew the sword. 3 (Now the people of Benjamin heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the people of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this evil happen?”
The last two weeks we have looked at the Religious Corruption of Israel
Today we will conclude the Book of Judges by summarizing it’s last few chapters 19-21
which speaks to the real enemy “The Canaanite Within”
Perhaps the worst corruption we have been privy to up until the time of the Judges is the occurence of Sodom and Gomorrah
We will see that Israel is not that far from it’s story and we know how God judged that evil...

The Moral Degeneration of Israel (19:1-21:25)

Beginning of the outrage at Gibeah (19:1-9)

Judges 19:1–2 ESV
1 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. 2 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.
So the Levite goes out to redeem his concubine who has been unfaithful to him
there the father-in-law persuades him to stay longer, than he desires...

Nature of the outrage at Gibeah (19:10-30)

After traveling for awhile we come to verse 15...
Judges 19:15 ESV
15 and they turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibeah. And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.
This is a shocking development the social disintegration that no one would open their doors even for a fellow countrymen
The hospitality that God commands is not evident...
Finally someone inquires to their situation...
Judges 19:16–17 ESV
16 And behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening. The man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was sojourning in Gibeah. The men of the place were Benjaminites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city. And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?”
After accepting this hospitality the following corruption rears it’s ugly head...
Judges 19:22–23 ESV
22 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.” 23 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.
The host who is responsible for his guests safety offers a compromise...
Judges 19:24 ESV
24 Behold, here are 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.”
Israel has found her enemy and it is self!!!!!
Judges 19:25–26 ESV
25 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. 26 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.
This is a scene straight out of Sodom and Gomorrah, who would think that Israel herself would turn out this way...
More grotesque things happen at the death of the Levite’s concubine...
He sends a message out to all Israel by cutting up his concubine and mails her pieces out to all the land...
Our sermon text speaks to the response and outrage of the nation
Which will now culminate in civil war...

The Canaanization of Israel comes to a fitting conclusion.

First, socially this chapter illustrates the continuation and intensification of cancerous Canaanite living.
We are invited to view this revelation through the eyes of the women.
The women of Jabesh-Gilead lose their families, are dragged out of their homes, and are forced to live with cursed Benjamites.
Then during an exuberant celebration the “daughters of Shiloh” are ambushed, violently captured, removed from their families, and also forced to live with the cursed Benjamites.
No one considers their feelings about this fate.
On the contrary, all voices of protest are stifled.
The rape of an individual has multiplied into the rape of four hundred victims of war and two hundred innocent merry maidens.
Indeed, by now the Israelite landscape is full with the victims of violence:
the Levite’s concubine (19:29–30),
the women of Benjamin (20:48),
the virgins of Jabesh-Gilead (21:14),
and the dancers of Shiloh (21:23).
In the words of one commentator, “Israelite males have dismembered the corporate bodies of Israelite females.
Since they have done it to one of the least of women, they have done it unto many.”
We ought to be cautioned, however, against generalizing the problems reflected in these final chapters to all Israelite social structures, as if the system itself is fundamentally flawed.
What happens here is not expressive of normal commanded Israelite living
any more than the altar in Joash’s backyard, Gideon’s ephod, Jephthah’s vow, and Micah’s image...
The entire book portrays a nation rotting at the core.
Pointing out “The Canaanite Within”...
What would be normative biblical obedience
Is that male headship is not a position of power
but one of responsibility,
in which the leader sacrifices himself for the well-being of the led the flock...
In the Book of Judges this pattern is reversed.
Repeatedly women and children are sacrificed for males.
Second, historically, because of the actions of the elders of Israel the tribe of Benjamin is rescued, and the full complement of twelve tribes is thereby preserved.
This is not God’s orchestration it is mans...
Man was more concerned about itself than keeping the covenant of God
The covenant which should have been the very heart of Israel...
Hereafter Benjamin, sandwiched between Judah and Ephraim, will struggle to find a role in national life.
But in the providence of God, this tribe would yield some important historical figures,
most notably Saul, the experimental king,
and a thousand years later his namesake Saul/Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:1).
Like the stories of Tamar and Rahab and even Ruth, this account serves as a witness to God’s ability to turn around the wrath of human beings and reconcile it back to Himself.
2 Corinthians 5:18–19 ESV
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Israel can no longer point a judgmental finger at Sodom and Gomorrah because she is just as guilty...

Civil War threatens the survival of a people

Just like spiritual warfare threatens our existence...
We see men trying to fix a problem their way and not god’s way...
Benjamin is almost wiped out but to save her they make a Canaanite decision due to their Canaanite mindset...
Judges 21:1–2 ESV
1 Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.” 2 And the people came to Bethel and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly.
Just like Sarah attempted to help God who needed no help
We see Israel trying to help God once again through her human power and makes another decision “In Her Own Eyes”
Judges 21:5–8 ESV
5 And the people of Israel said, “Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” 6 And the people of Israel had compassion for Benjamin their brother and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. 7 What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?” 8 And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly.
Here is their solution...
Judges 21:10–14 ESV
10 So the congregation sent 12,000 of their bravest men there and commanded them, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. 11 This is what you shall do: every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the people of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon and proclaimed peace to them. 14 And Benjamin returned at that time. And they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead, but they were not enough for them.
The nation must strain so hard in the final chapter to preserve the Israelite ideal,
employing reasoning and strategies that appear to fulfill the letter of the law but at every turn violate its spirit.
The future of Benjamin depends on finding loopholes in the law.
The final rationalization (lit.), “Be gracious to them for our sakes” (v. 22) exposes the ultimate irony of the ancient event.
But in so doing it also captures the perversion of our modern world in which sympathy for the criminal so often eclipses compassion for the victims and commitment to righteousness.
To the modern ear the statement sounds so human, so sensitive, so caring;
but these people are blinded to the reality that in lavishing grace on Canaanite behaving Benjamites
they have oppressed society’s innocent and weak.
There is indeed no king in Israel.
Every man does what is right in his own eyes.
The entire nation becomes an accomplice in the defense of Canaanism.
What Benjamin did for Gibeah the nation does for Benjamin.
Judges 21:25 ESV
25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Through this final episode, as through the Book of Judges as a whole, the reader witnesses the amazing grace of God.
Yahweh does indeed permit the Israelites to pursue their foolish rationalizations, but despite their persistent expressions of Canaanite social and religious degeneracy he does not destroy them.
Because of his grace the nation of Israel does indeed emerge more or less intact from the dark days of the governors/judges.
Looking to the future Yahweh cannot allow his people to succumb totally to the Canaanite world.
But the reader must know that his work continues here and generally in human history in spite of, rather than because of, his people.
And the nation’s propensity to capitulate to Canaanite ways and attitudes will not end here.
It persists throughout her history, until in 722 and 586 b.c., after more than half a millennium, Yahweh has finally had enough.
If the reader will read on to the beginning of the next book of the Hebrew canon (1 Samuel), however, he or she will discover that while the darkness continues, the grace of Yahweh will begin to penetrate that darkness.
He will remove those who embody Canaanite values (Eli and his sons, Saul) and replace them with agents of light and grace (Samuel, David).
This book and the history of the nation that follows serve as eternal testimony to the grim reality that God’s people are often their own worst enemy.
It is not the enemies outside who threaten the soul but the Canaanite within.
At the same time this book and the ones that follow declare in most emphatic terms that God’s work will get done!
His kingdom is eternal; his covenant with this people is eternal; his promises are eternal.
Human heroes in the Book of Judges are few and far between.
The same is true in the history of the church and especially in the contemporary American evangelical church.
No book in the Old Testament offers the modern church as telling a mirror as this book.
From the jealousies of the Ephraimites to the religious pragmatism of the Danites, from the paganism of Gideon to the self-centeredness of Samson, and from the unmanliness of Barak to the violence against women by the men of Gibeah, all the marks of Canaanite degeneracy are evident in the church and its leaders today.
This book is a wake-up call for a church moribund in its own selfish pursuits.
Instead of heeding the call of truly godly leaders and letting Jesus Christ be Lord of the church, everywhere congregations and their leaders do what is right in their own eyes.
In the meantime, Yahweh, the Lord of history and the Lord of the church, remains unchanged in character and intent.
Because of his bountiful grace he continues to hear the cry of the oppressed and to deliver those who call upon him.
In his grace he reaches out to those who claim to be his own, pleading for them to return to him, to abandon their Canaanite ways, and to recommit themselves to joyful obedience to his will.
May the Lord of the church continue to lavish his mercy upon an undeserving people.
Man of recent has attempted to change God’s Plan of Salvation but it still remains the same as revealed in His book Divine

What Must I Do to be Saved?


Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.


1 Corinthians 1:21 ESV
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.


Romans 10:9–10 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.


Luke 13:3 ESV
3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Be Baptized

Acts 2:41 ESV
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Remain Faithful

Revelation 2:10 ESV
10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
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