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Back to Judges 19-21

Back to Judges 19-21
by Pastor David

Here’s one final suggestion for understanding the purpose of Judges 19-21: ask the Holy Spirit what we’re supposed to apply from this story. In the two previous pastoral words on this passage, I suggested that we first look for clues in the text and context, then ask “how does this fit into the story of redemption”? A final clue to any passages’ purpose, however, is to ask how it should be applied. Behind any ability to grasp the application of Judges 19-21 are two fundamental convictions. First, we need the Holy Spirit’s help and second, He wrote it for a teaching purpose.

John 15:26 teaches us that the Spirit will bear witness about Christ. Part of the Spirit’s work is to bring truth to light in our minds. Because of sin’s corrosive influence, we cannot understand spiritual reality without help. The Holy Spirit is that help. 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 points out that spiritual wisdom is secret and hidden. The greatest minds are unable to grasp it. In fact, no human eye could see, no ear hear, and no mind imagine the great depths of truth if left unassisted. The Holy Spirit is to the mind of man what a seeing-eye dog is to a blind person. God gives the Spirit so humans can understand what He has to say. So to grasp Judges 19-21, we must rely on the Spirit, pray for the Spirit’s help, and allow the Spirit to direct our thoughts through other passages and believers. Don’t shortcut or short-sell the work of the Spirit in your Bible study. Jesus gave Him to us to teach us!

Secondly, however, we need to be convinced that Judges 19-21 does have a teaching purpose. When Paul told Timothy that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” it was the Old Testament that he was primarily referring to. Judges 19-21 is good to teach you, reprove you, correct you, and train you in righteousness. In 1 Cor. 10:11, Paul says explicitly that what happened to the Israelites was for “our instruction.” God wrote Judges 19-21 to you, for you. Other ways to ask “what is the Spirit’s teaching purpose” is “what is the timeless principle here” or “what truth goes beyond the immediate culture or people of the story”? “If you’re a Levite, don’t have a concubine or trade her life for yours” is not exactly a timeless principle. “When every man does what is right in his own eyes, horrific sin and shocking lawlessness results” is a little closer to a principle that transcends any one particular culture or time period.

To sum up, Judges 19-21 shows us what happens when every man does what is right in his own eyes. It leaves us longing for a king, but even more so for the perfect King. It reminds us of the sinfulness of our sin natures, stirs in us a holy hatred for sin, and ultimately takes us one step closer to realizing the rule and reign of King Jesus. No doubt it does more than that too, so why not ask the Holy Spirit for help and dive into studying your OT yourself? Rich food awaits for you, from Genesis to Revelation.


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