Thursday, 27 August 2015


There are times when life gets tough. John was a solo farmer. While ploughing, his tractor hit something which threw him off and left him with a broken pelvis. Despite his cries for help, none came. After several hours of struggle he managed to crawl up to the roadside where an ambulance was then called. But just after the ambulance arrived and set off for the hospital, a P-Plate driver came speeding around the corner and clipped the back of the ambulance causing it to lose control and roll over off the road. This resulted in John's leg being shattered. When he eventually got to the hospital, John's leg and pelvis were attended to but he then contracted golden staph. Disappointments, heart-aches, setbacks, injuries, illnesses, loss - can all shake their fist in our face and demand that we quit. Retreating can often then look pretty inviting unless you make a tough discovery about yourself. 
for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

Proverbs 24:16


It is a wonderful moment in a person's life when they discover not only who God has made them but how God has made them. God has made you tough! Chances are you don't yet know just how tough you really are. I don't mean the pathetic school-bully kind of tough, I mean the kind of tough needed to hang in there in the midst of challenges and setbacks. The kind of tough that Charles Simeon displayed. In 1782, November 10, at the age of 23, Charles was appointed the vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge despite the protests of its members. They not only refused to attend whenever he was preaching, but because they 'rented' their pews (which had lockable gates attached to them), they locked their pews and prevented new attenders from sitting during the services. Charles Simeon was mocked, ridiculed, and slandered by the members of his own congregation! He wrote, "I was an object of much contempt and derision in the university". He had to endure this mocking and derision for years. Yet each Sunday he stood at his pulpit and declared Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. He faithfully served God and endured all this hardship at Holy Trinity Cambridge for 52 years!
Holy Trinity Cambridge
In April, 1831, Charles Simeon was 71 years old. He had been the pastor of Trinity Church, Cambridge, England, for 49 years. He was asked one afternoon by his friend, Joseph Gurney, how he had surmounted persecution and outlasted all the great prejudice against him in his 49-year ministry. He said to Gurney, "My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ's sake. When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the pricking of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumphed over death. Let us follow Him patiently; we shall soon be partakers of His victory." 

H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon, London: InterVarsity, 1948, 155f.
God has made us tough. You are made tougher than you realise! Yet, we all need to be reminded from God's Word to endure hardship because we are made to!
but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities ... in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
Our Enemy wants to delude us into believing that we are soft and weak. But you are a child of The King! You are called to be strong, summoned to endure, and empowered to persevere! In other words, God has made you tough! You have a divinely planted strength deep within you that is activated in your neediest times. In those moments when it feels all too much, God can empower you to endure and get back up. When we are battered by disappointment and criticism and feel weak, hurt, and hopeless, we have a promise from God that can enable us to withstand this storm and come out the other side stronger, taller, and wiser (2Cor. 12:10). Some virtues, such as these, are only attainable through the dark tunnel of endurance.
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Second Timothy 2:3
I really admire people who just hang in there. I know what it's like to feel punch-drunk from life's disappointments. I have had seasons when things just had not gone the way I had hoped. In fact, the feeling of being punch-drunk comes not merely from unmet expectations, but from suffering set-back after set-back. When I arrived to pastor Legana back in 1995, we had 17 members. We grew quickly in the first couple of years. I expected that this would continue. We moved into our new building on August 31st 1996. Things were looking up. But then some people began to find fault and grumble. People began leaving our church. In 1997 about half of those who started out with us that year had left by the end of that year. While I didn't understand what God was doing, I knew one thing for sure: God had called us to plant our lives here and had called me to be a shepherd of His sheep. From Christ's words in John 10 it was obvious to me that the main difference between a false-shepherd (a "hireling") and a true-shepherd was: only a true shepherd endures and perseveres attacks and hardships. Any Pastor who loves God, and those God calls them to love, can tell you, pastoring requires perseverance. 
The second thing the church did was to lock the pew doors on Sunday mornings. The pewholders refused to come and refused to let others sit in their personal pews. Simeon set up seats in the aisles and nooks and corners at his own expense. But the churchwardens took them out and threw them in the churchyard. When he tried to visit from house to house, hardly a door would open to him. This situation lasted at least ten years. The records show that in 1792 Simeon got a legal decision that the pewholders could not lock their pews and stay away indefinitely. But he didn't use it. He let his steady, relentless ministry of the word and prayer and community witness gradually overcome the resistance.
But it's not just pastoring. It's elite sport. It's business. It's parenting. It's marriage. The most rewarding things in life can only be the most rewarding things in life if we persevere through the necessary hardships and trials they afford. It's personally heart-breaking when I see a pastor leave his pastorate because things have become tough (it's even more heart-breaking when a God-called pastor quits the ministry), or when someone wants out of their marriage, or when children become estranged from their parents. If following Christ teaches us anything, it should inform His followers that the greatest things in life require the greatest perseverance.
...and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22
To my shame, I have not always endured well. And shame upon shame, I have not always celebrated the victories of other when I myself have been reeling from defeat. And while I don't understand why God has not granted me my heart's desire to see more of our community come to know Christ and be added to our church, I have painfully learned a few lessons about the broader aspects of enduring. 
1. Things such difficulties and trials come to pass not to stay. Most of the time simply staying in the saddle during these times is enough to help you ride on through. 
2. Not everybody around you will endure. Enduring is often an individual and, dare I say it, lonely activity. 
3. Progress is progress. Sometimes the weight and ferocity of adversity only begrudges us a baby-step of progress toward our goal.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Ephesians 6:13
Bust of Charles Simeon in Holy Trinity Cambridge
If I may sum up all three lessons about enduring into one word, that word would be "plod". If I have learned anything about advancing under pressure, persecution, and problems galore, it's: when the going gets tough, the tough keep plodding. You may not feel tough, but if you are plodding, you are tough. As I look at each of the photos below, I see a church full of tough people! I see dozens of people who have come on a wonderful journey with me and others along the pathway of endurance. It is quite remarkable just how many people in our church have joined our church and endured. You have to be a special kind of tough to do that. Thank you for the past twenty years or so together. And while others may look at us and think we are each tough, perhaps only we will know how incredibly weak we truly are and just how difficult it is at times to keep plodding. But if we keep plodding, we will continue to advance Christ's cause in our city, community, homes, families, businesses and church. The church that Jesus has called us to be is a tough church, or put in even tough language- a church that just keeps plodding.

By the way, John the farmer recovered but lost his farm due to his long stint in hospital. But during this time he regularly visited the Children's Cancer Ward and changed his perspective about his situation. And Charles Simeon eventually out-lived all of his opponents and became a hero among the Cambridge University students. The pews were opened up to the visitors and new attenders who flocked to hear him in his latter years. He inspired hundreds and hundreds of young men to enter the ministry and hundreds more to become missionaries in the far flung parts of the world. He established the "Simeon Fund" which paid the salaries of many of these young men and enabled the Gospel to preached in previously unevangelised parishes and regions.

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 21 August 2015


The Law of Influence By Association first hit me in an uncomfortable way when I saw something that initially looked cute. It was when my firstborn as a toddler face-palmed and let out an exasperated sigh to show his disappointment at something rather trivial. Cute pretty soon turned to disturbing when I realised where he had learned this mannerism!
¶ Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 3:17
Spend enough time with someone whom you enjoy being with and you're likely to be influenced by them. We have some delightful nextdoor neighbours who happen to have children about the same age as our youngest child. They come over to play very regularly. Lately I've been noticing that our Ruby has changed the way she now speaks. She is imitating the way the older of the two girls speaks (which is fortunately very cultured and proper). 
I urge you, then, nbe imitators of me. 
First Corinthians 4:16
It was said of the first disciples that the people could tell 'they had been with Jesus'. It was evident in the way they spoke, they way they reasoned, they they treated people,  and from their depth of their knowledge of the Scriptures.
¶ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13
How would we be different from how we are now if we spent more time in the presence of Jesus? What if I could take you back to the time of Christ in the flesh on earth for just one day in which you could just watch Him, listen to Him, see Him talk to women, children, and the elderly - would that day make any difference to the rest of your days?

Hallstat, AustriaWhen the great Medical Missionary, David Livingstone, set off to explore the "Dark Continent" of Africa with two express aims of stopping the Slave Trade and discovering the source of the Nile, his colleagues at the Royal Geographical Society, in London, feared the worst when Livingstone (who had been appointed as the Queen's Consul For The East Coast of Africa) because by around 1870 he had not been heard from or sighted for quite some time. A New York Herald reporter, Henry Morton Stanley (pictured right), was told to go find Livingstone who had by this become internationally famous as an explorer. As Stanley made his way into the interior of Africa, the evidence of Livingstone's past activities were undeniable. Whole villages had been won to Christ at his preaching and hymns of the Church of Scotland were being heard sung around the camps in the dialects of the tribes-people.

Livingstone had long suffered the lingering effects of malaria. He had just exhausted his scant supplies of precious medicine to combat this dreaded virus. By the time Stanley eventually tracked him down, Livingstone had been urgently praying for a miracle. His prayers would soon be answered when Stanley and his expedition approached the village of Ujiji on the shore of Lake Tanganyika on November 10, 1871: 
"We push on rapidly. We halt at a little brook, then ascend the long slope of a naked ridge, the very last of the myriads we have crossed. We arrive at the summit, travel across, and arrive at its western rim, and Ujiji is below us, embowered in the palms, only five hundred yards from us! At this grand moment we do not think of the hundreds of miles we have marched, of the hundreds of hills that we have ascended and descended, of the many forests we have traversed, of the jungles and thickets that annoyed us, of the fervid salt plains that blistered our feet, of the hot suns that scorched us, nor the dangers and difficulties now happily surmounted. Our hearts and our feelings are with our eyes, as we peer into the palms and try to make out in which hut or house lives the white man with the gray beard we heard about on the Malagarazi. 
We are now about three hundred yards from the village of Ujiji, and the crowds are dense about me. Suddenly I hear a voice on my right say, 'Good morning, sir!' 
Startled at hearing this greeting in the midst of such a crowd of black people, I turn sharply around in search of the man, and see him at my side, with the blackest of faces, but animated and joyous, - a man dressed in a long white shirt, with a turban of American sheeting around his woolly head, and I ask, 'Who the mischief are you?'
'I am Susi, the servant of Dr. Livingstone,' said he, smiling, and showing a gleaming row of teeth. 
'What! Is Dr. Livingstone here?' 
'Yes, Sir.'
Stanley's Route 'In this village?'
'Yes, Sir' 'Are you sure?'
'Sure, sure, Sir. Why, I leave him just now.' 
In the meantime the head of the expedition had halted, and Selim said to me: 'I see the Doctor, Sir. Oh, what an old man! He has got a white beard.' My heart beats fast, but I must not let my face betray my emotions, lest it shall detract from the dignity of a white man appearing under such extraordinary circumstances. 
So I did that which I thought was most dignified. I pushed back the crowds, and, passing from the rear, walked down a living avenue of people until I came in front of the semicircle of Arabs, in the front of which stood the white man with the gray beard. As I advanced slowly toward him I noticed he was pale, looked wearied, had a gray beard, wore a bluish cap with a faded gold band round it, had on a red-sleeved waistcoat and a pair of gray tweed trousers. I would have run to him, only I was a coward in the presence of such a mob, - would have embraced him, only, he being an Englishman, I did not know how he would receive me; so I did what cowardice and false pride suggested was the best thing, - walked deliberately to him, took off my hat, and said, 'Dr. Livingstone, I presume?'."
Henry Morton Stanley, "How I Found Livingstone", The New York Herald, 1872
Stanley took copies of Livingstone's maps with him to England before returning to the United States. Presenting them to the Royal Geographic Society, he was accused of fraud and having fabricated his supposed encounters with Dr Livingstone. Dejected by their response, he was met by Livingstone's daughter who had travelled down to London to meet him before he left. As they talked and he retold her of his accounts of meeting her father she looked him in the eye and said, "I believe you. I believe that you have indeed met with my father!" She went on to explain that she could see some of her father's mannerisms in Stanley and hear some of his expressions in his voice. Influence by association. 
¶ Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,"
Second Timothy 2:8
Paul told Timothy not to forget Jesus. "Remember Jesus!" I guess this involves thinking about how Christ is revealed in the Scriptures. It is here that we meet Jesus. It is here that we get a front row position to watch how He treats the outcast, the despised, the religious, women, children, and His disciples. It is here we get to hear Him pray. It is hear we watch Him when He is alone. We see how He looks at people. 
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
Luke 22:19
When we remember Jesus we are struck by Someone who literally had the weight of the world's sin on His shoulders. He knew He was born to die. Yet He still cared for others. In this, He establishes the preeminent example of godly maturity. The thing that sets the mature apart from the spiritually weak is their ability to demonstrate compassion, care, and concern for others with their relatively small problems, when they themselves are having to deal with seemingly all-consuming problems. When you see Jesus doing this time and time again - and especially doing it as He came closer and closer to the time of His execution, you can't help but be impressed!

It's a challenge to remember Jesus when we are under pressure - when we are absorbed by our difficulties - and someone is telling us about the pressure they are under from what sounds almost trivial in comparison.

When we remember Jesus we recall that He showed care when He didn't have to and could have easily been excused for not doing so. Who can forget what He did for Malchus (Jn. 18:10) in the Garden of Gethsemane? If you look closely at Jesus you can't look at others the same again. As you remember Jesus, ask Him to help you to see people as He sees them. You'll be amazed at what will happen in your own heart when you do. And maybe The Example might use you as an example because the world desperately needs examples of those who have truly been with Christ.
They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened."
Matthew 20:33
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 14 August 2015


From a young age we are conditioned to look to someone for approval. A young girl looks up to see if her mother's eyes approve or disapprove. A young boy looks across to his dad on the bench looking his father's encouragement or disappointment. A player eyes his coach looking back at him yelling his delight in his protegé. A bride gives her daddy a glance in the church as he sits in the front row wiping a tear from his eye. The boy-turned-into-a-man walks up to the front door in his first suit and falls into the eyes of the only girl in the universe after seeing the initial sparkle cause her eyes to light up at the sight of him - on what would become the day they would never forget. Whose eyes matter to you?
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Genesis 6:8
When a daughter doesn't get the attention of her father, she will look another man's eyes. There are many women who are still just little girls longing for their father's approval. They look for the paternal eyes that uniquely affirm. 
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. 
Second Chronicles 16:9
Whose approval do you look for?

Hallstat, AustriaThe story is told of the veteran maestro who retired to a small Austrian village. Many parents brought their reluctant children to him to be taught the violin. But then there was one young boy who didn't share his villagers' reluctance to learn the violin. The maestro was quite taken by the boy's keeness to learn the violin that had once been his grandfather's. It soon became apparent that this boy had a gift. The maestro helped him to hone this gift. It wasn't long before he caught the eye of a visiting conductor from Vienna. After all the years that the Maestro spent mentoring his protegé, the reward came when he was given an opportunity to move to Vienna and concentrate on his craft. As further years went by the young boy was now a grown man who was one of the world's most accomplished violinists. He was in demand around the world and filled major concert halls wherever he performed. The village was abuzz as the news of his return to homeland spread. He was to perfom in the Vienna!
Vienna Concert Hall
The villagers organised a bus to take them to see their home-town hero perform. Among them was the now agêd maestro.
The concert hall was filled to capacity. The lights dimmed, the spotlight came on, and the curtains rose. Onto the stage walked the Violinist. He stood there before the hushed audience. With eyes closed he lifted his Stradivarius and began to play. He moved the thousands before him with his masterful artistry and brought his piece to a magnificent crescendo. The audience leapt to their feet and applauded. The Violinist stood there unmoved by their applause for several minutes. His now open eyes scanned the Hall. Eventually he saw an old man seated in the balcony and locked eyes with his. The old man struggled to his feet and composed himself, then began to clap. At this, the Violinist bowed and acknowledged his mentor's approval. 
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he has mercy upon us. 

Psalm 123:2
But sadly, some people are influenced by the wrong eyes. The eyes always have it. A young person craving acceptance looks for the approving eyes of those they want to be identified with. But what they have to do to earn that approval and acceptance causes them to compromise and cross certain moral lines they would never have dared cross. 

I wonder how many people in the public square are drawing their cues from the eyes of the Media? They know that if they speak in mindless motto-isms, and use nonsensical sloganeering, they will be promoted favourably in the Media. It's hard for the rest of us hearthis kind of drivel-dressed-up-as-deliberations for what it actually is: drivel. "Two people who love each other should be allowed to marry!" (even though this is not the current condition for marriage now, and no-one has explained how this will be tested.) "We are for marriage equality!" (But no-one seems to be asking 'Equal to what?') Those who dare disagree with the Mainstream Media have the often daunting task of being stared down by their glaring eyes of disapproval which result in unfavourable journalism at best, and hurtful maliciousness at worst. 
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

First Peter 3:12 

They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!
Second Peter 2:14 
"The Eyes are the window to your soul."
William Shakespeare
Jesus had a bit to say about eyes. It seems He inspired Shakespear's famous line, The Eyes are the window to your soul, when He said - 
¶ "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light."
Matthew 6:22
He described certains eyes as 'bad' (Matt. 6:23) and other eyes that cause someone to sin (Matt. 5:29). He challenged the judgmental to have a closer look into their own eyes to see their own eye-planks rather than focussing on their brother's eye-speck (Matt. 7:3). He also had to battle with the glares and the frowns of from the eyes of the religious. But just like the mentored Violinist, Jesus wasn't swayed by the opinions of the crowd - let alone the religious. Rather, His eyes were on His Father's eyes. 
I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
John 8:38
Whose eyes sway you? If you are currently more concerned with the opinions and glares of others than you are about what God thinks, you are looking at the wrong eyes! God is looking for people who will look to Him. It is my prayer that my eyes will be opened to see the Lord and His eyes. I want my approval to come from Him. I don't want to be swayed by the disapproving looks of others who object to me obeying God rather than joining them. And I pray that your eyes will opened to see His eyes too so that we will not intimidated by the scowls of this disapproving world.
They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened."
Matthew 20:33
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 7 August 2015

You Wouldn't Think THIS Would Be In The Bible! (Part 2)

You Wouldn't Think This Would Be In The Bible,Part 2
It was Israel's first darkest hour. The Biblical account of this darkness is confronting, shocking, and very uncomfortable. The last four chapters of Judges serve a monumental truth about the constitution of the Bible: the Scriptures do not always endorse what they describe. This passage of the Sacred Writ is disturbing because it exposes our pat answers and puerile formulas for reducing God to an imbecilic genie. Yet, Paul declares in Romans that this passage has been recorded for our encouragement. Consider this.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4
The Book of Judges traces Israel's spiral into apostasy. Within one generation of what was arguably the most faithful and godly Israelite generation ever, they had rebelled from God and His ways and were openly practising the very things He drove out the previous inhabitants of the Promised for doing. The predominant theme of Judges is leadership. Whenever Israel lacked a courageous leader they went into moral decadence. God had already ordained for the priests to give moral leadership to the nation and Tribal Elders to give civil leadership - but neither were fulfilling their ordained roles, and the ruinous seeds of compromise were being planted for the next generation's demise.  
¶ Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely. 
Judges 1:27-28
The temporary solution was when God raised up Judges who gave Israel leadership against their foes. But it was a temporary measure. The permanent solution had already been prescribed in God's Word. The evil that was now at work in every human heart was meant to be curbed by the work of three divinely conceived Institutions: 1. The family; 2. The 'Church' (the Priesthood); and, 3. Civil Government (Tribal Elders). Woe betide any nation where all three Institutions are dysfunctional. The consequences of such dysfunctionality occurs in the last four chapters of the Book of Judges.
Israel's battle with the Benjaminites


The word concubine is a disgraceful word. This word occurs more in the Book of Judges than any other Biblical book. It was never God's intention for any woman to be a concubine. After Jesus restored the God-intended dignity of women, the concept of concubinage was equated to depravity, sexual immorality, and adultery in the New Testament. A concubine was a wife without rights. She could own nothing, bequeath nothing, and lay claim to nothing - including her own children. Whenever marriage is demeaned, women suffer.
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. Judges 19:25
Whenever God's ordained means of curbing evil is dysfunctional through neglect or disobedience, men will always be inconsiderate of women and treat them like objects to be used and abused.
Women being abused by ISISWhen God is rejected, women are always abused
What the Levite did to his concubine in the book of Judges was deplorable. But what the men of the city of Gibeah wanted to do to the Levite was odiously reprehensible! 
¶ They were having a good time, when suddenly some men of the city, some good-for-nothings, surrounded the house and kept beating on the door. They said to the old man who owned the house, "Send out the man who came to visit you so we can have sex with him."
Judges 19:22 NET
When the foundation of human identity is denied (that we are created to worship Someone other than ourselves who is worthy of our worship) idolatry results and sexual perversion is inevitably how it is expressed (since God has designed our bodies to be sexual within the bounds that He has established as a picture to mankind of what the Triune God eternally enjoys - unity with another). Idolatry rejects the notion that we are to worship another and craves to worship something the same as the worshiper.
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
¶ For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:25-27 

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 17:6 
After the men of Gibeah committed the most atrocious and unnatural sexual abuse of this Levite's concubine, she was left for dead. With her desperate fingers vainly attempting to reach the door of the house, where the one who should have been her protector was ignoring her anguished cries for help, she mercifully died in that pathetic posture. 
The Levite's Concubine¶ And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, "Get up, let us be going." But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel."
Judges 19:27-30
Whenever a society has sunk to the kinds of moral depravity that Israel had during the last days of the Judges, the road to recovery cannot be instant. Woe unto society where the godly - especially those charged by God to show leadership - fathers, pastors, politicians - fail to call evil evil or fail to promote the right and the good either for fear of the crowd or due to the ignorant idea that morality can be privatised ("Who are you to impose your morals on me!?"). 

In many respects, how Israel responded to the heinous crimes of their Benjaminite cousins was too little too late. It also shows just how far they had sunk. 
Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel."
Judges 20:13
What follows this tragic saga is equally pathetic. Israel was just as guilty as the Benjaminites. Idolatry was rife and consequently women and children were horribly abused and men were depraved. Yet they approach God as if He was like the concept of 'god' that the surrounding pagan nations held. If we do this "_", God must do this "_". That's how religious people attempt to treat God. They are forever doing deals with Him. The remaining tribes of Israel make a rash vow to God (note how many times the Book of Judges exposes the peril of making a rash vow). When Israel mustered 400,000 men of war to attack the men of Gibeah, they asked God for direction. 
¶ The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, "Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Judah shall go up first."Judges 20:18
This shouldn't have been a surprise to Israel. God had already commanded that Judah set out first (Numbers 2:9). When God repeated this to Israel during the time of the Judges, they probably assumed that God had said, Do this and you will be successful. As the story unfolds, they did what God told them and failed horribly! In fact, 22,000 of their choicest soldiers were slaughtered by the wicked Benjaminites! 

We don't do right because that is how we will be successful. We do right because it's the right thing to do!
And the people of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until the evening. And they inquired of the LORD, "Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Go up against them."
Judges 20:23
After their shocking defeat, they again seek the Lord and ask another question they didn't need to ask- Shall we attack again?

When we have neglected to maintain what is good, right and virtuous, we will have to battle to restore truth and righteousness and even though we may lose certain battles, it does not mean that our cause is not right or just.

Again Israel is defeated. This time, 18,000 men are destroyed (Judges 20:25). Not until Phinehas, the High Priest (the one God had ordained to show some leadership on behalf of the nation) stepped up and showed some leadership, did Israel find success in their quest to deal with the wickedness in their society. 

If God has appointed you to have a position of leadership within His Institutions of the family, the church, or government, then you have a divine duty to show the necessary courage and exercise godly leadership!

Of the 26,000 men of Benjamin who came against Israel, 25,600 were slaughtered (Judges 20:46). What a handful of men did in seeking their own selfish pleasure, resulted in 45,600 dying! The justifying adage, I'm not hurting anyone else is often used by the cheating spouse hoping not to be caught, or the teen in the shop taking what they cannot afford, or the official in the businessman's parked car who feels they should be paid more anyway, or the man who consumes internet porn because it's harmless and fun. These are all cases of what a gross misunderstanding of  "hurt" is. 

This horrible section of Scripture highlights several things for the follower of Christ-
1. The Old Testament sometimes describes what it deplores.
2. Idolatry is at the root of all sin - especially sexual sin.
3. How any individual behaves has a bearing on the whole of society.
4. Those God has called to lead within the Institutions He has ordained need to do so courageously.
5. Sometimes doing the right thing will not bring the desired result, and persistence will be required.
May God help us to draw the kind of encouragement that often obscure passages like this one present so that we can be the kind parents, witnesses, workers and volunteers that we need to be.

Ps. Andrew