Remember To Thank God

In those days Israel had no king. – Judges 19:1

Thanksgiving is a time people often use to remind themselves what they’re thankful for. When I think about things I’m thankful for, I think about Judges 19. This is one of the most problematic chapters in the Bible because of how horrific, and seemingly godless the account is. And that’s the point, right at the beginning of the chapter it’s spelled out for us that Israel had no king. Neither God nor a man was ruler of Israel, for they had rejected everything good sent to them. So what does this have to do with thanksgiving? Consider it a vision of what our lives would be like had Jesus never come to seek and save the lost, because even though Judges 19 says there was no king, Jesus is still in the message as plain as day.

Make sure to read Judges 19 in its entirety in order to get the whole picture. Many commentaries make the connection between this story and the story of Sodom and Gamorrah. Both involve a wicked city (Sodom and Gibeah), travellers who stay the night (Angels and the Levite), a woman who dies (Lot’s wife and the Concubine), and the final destruction of the cities. But there’s details given that should turn your attention towards something else. Notice the similarities between the Levite and Jesus, not the Levite and Lot:

After the unfaithfulness of the woman, the Levite’s story of bringing her back begins in Bethlehem:

She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem, Judah. – Judges 19:2

After the unfaithfulness of Israel, Jesus’ story of bringing us back begins in Bethlehem:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. – Micah 5:2

After accomplishing his mission, the man returns to the house of the Lord as is his Levite duty:

“We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord.” – Judges 19:18

Jesus also returns to God in the wilderness to escape the Pharisees, for his appointed time to die had not yet come:

Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. – John 11:54

The result of the Levite giving up the woman is her death, and he gives her body to the twelve tribes of Israel to remember Gibeah’s wickedness:

When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. – Judges 19:29

Instead of giving up his bride to the wicked, Jesus gives himself up and sends his own body to the twelve disciples:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. – Luke 22:19-20

Israel is betrayed, and the betrayers will be destroyed:

The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you? Now turn those wicked men of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.” But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites. From their towns they came together at Gibeah to fight against the Israelites. – Judges 20:12-14

Jesus is betrayed, and his betrayer will be destroyed:

But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” – Luke 22:21-22

These similarities are clearly not showing that Jesus and the Levite are equals, but opposites in the same situation. For thanksgiving, remember to thank God for sending his son to die for us. We have the gift of salvation because Jesus did not send his bride out to the wicked crowd, but himself. It was his body that was broken for us, not ours. The Levite in Judges 19 gave up the woman so that he could live, which is something a groom should never do. Jesus will never give us up to the crowd, we’ll never be abandoned. But he will come for us in Bethlehem whenever we fail. For thanksgiving, as we enjoy a meal, let us do what Jesus did and give thanks to God for all that was given for us, including the life that was sacrificed so that we might live:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: