I finish up Judges wondering why. (Judges 19-21) I see the traveling man and wife, the group from Benjamin’s tribe who wanted to rape that man, and the man who offered them his wife to rape instead. I see the wife raped and abused, dying on the doorstep and the man who didn’t bother to find his wife there until the next morning. I see the war done in vengeance for that crime with no blame to the man who saw no need to protect his wife. I see the tens of thousands of Israelites that died in that war before it was finally won, and the 25,000 + Benjaminites and their families that died for the crime of a few. I see the virgins from Jabesh-gilead whose entire tribe and families were killed, so they could be given, whether they liked it or not, to be wives to the Benjaminites who were left alive. And I see the daughters of Shiloh who were kidnapped for the same purpose. I read it all and I am bothered. Because, really, its hard to read that, especially in God’s own Word, about God’s own people Israel, and see the God of this story as a God of Love. And I finish my reading talking to God in frustration, asking Him why this would happen, why this would be in His Word, and how this applies to my life at all?
And He bids me slow down and chew on these words of His a little longer. And maybe it’s partly for the bother I feel over not being able to see God’s Love easily that God had me read this now. Maybe He wanted me to feel that bother to prompt me to go searching for what the Bible says is the only proof I’ll ever need of God’s Love. Because that is what it made me do. To look through the lens of the truth I’m given in the rest of Scripture. To know that He is a just God as the story attests when He commands the Israelites to war with Benjamin. He is just and sovereign, but He is also Love itself. (1 Jn 4:16) He Loves the world and He cares for its individuals. Just as He sees the sparrow (Mt. 10:29-31) and just as He saw the mother of the people who would become the enemy of His own people, (Gen. 16:13) He saw with Love and cared for each person involved in this story. He cared deeply for that woman dying on the doorstep, for the virgins taken from their families, and for the uncaring husband. And, even though, in that story I do not see them experiencing God’s Love, because of the words of 1 John, I know that each one of them was promised the only true proof of God’s Love whether they accepted it or not.
From the bother I felt over this story, these words in 1 John that I’ve read time and time again speak volumes:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:9-10, 13-17)
God’s Love may not be shown to us in the circumstances we experience in life, but the circumstances we go through have nothing to do with the one true demonstration of God’s Love. The only proof necessary for us to have surety in God’s Love is the truth in 1 John 4:9:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
It was through this one thing that God did all He needed to show us He truly Loved us, through sending His Son to give us life. He showed me that truth when He died for me, and He showed those Old Testament people that truth in His promise from the beginning (Gen. 3:15) that the Savior was coming. If I can cling to this truth that He died so I could live than nothing else matters. This alone fills life with Love.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” (1 Jn. 4:16) I am given all I need to rest here: He Loves me. And every life, no matter how sinful, no matter how battered, has been extended welcome by the God of Love who offered us grace and life.
Blessings to you from me. Would be delighted if you’d give a visit to the blogs of these sweet people at the Five-Minute Friday community writing on the word welcome this week.