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chaos April 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Judges 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; 1Chronicles 6:4b-15

Note: April 1 we started the book of Judges, reading chapters 1:1–3:6. Today we jump forward to Judges 17–21 before we go back to Judges 3:7–4:24. We do this because the book of Judges was written thematically but not always chronologically (more…). Studying the Bible chronologically improves our understanding of the Scriptures. Warning to parents or other leaders of children: The material in this Bible study is true but very graphic and may not be suitable for young children.

Curing Chaos

When there is chaos in our life we become frenzied, and the stress of it can cause us to have major headaches. In such circumstances most of us lose patience, get angry, become disillusioned, quit or at least get away. Today's Bible study will help us rid chaos from our lives.

Israel is in chaos because she has no king (Judges 17:6). The LORD, who should've been their king, is not their king because every man is doing what is right in his own eyes. What happens when we have no laws or moral guides to follow? Chaos. Has this happened in our lives? Were we not following God our king? Had we gotten away from regular times of Bible reading, prayer, worship at church, and gone our own way? Personal chaos is caused when we are not following the disciplined life the LORD intends for us. If we do follow a disciplined life of obedience to God, we are more likely to succeed and have peace (at least within us).

Judges 17–21 record events in Israel which are shocking, to say the least. Why they are included in the book of Judges is uncertain, but perhaps they are recorded to show the depths to which the Israelites have fallen and why God allows other nations to oppress and punish them.

A man named Micah from the tribe of Ephraim steals silver from his mother, confesses it and receives forgiveness. Then, as a reward for his repentance, his mother takes the recovered silver and hires a silversmith to make idols from it. Afterwards, she gives it to her son to worship with it.

We may ask, why does she indulge her son in evil behavior which she should have known is wrong? Obviously, although she knows the name of God and even praises him, she does not know him . A whole generation has passed since Joshua and the second generation of elders, who were delivered out of Egypt, died. The leaders, priests, and parents failed to share their faith in the Holy and All-Powerful God of Israel; they failed to share the history of how he delivered them from bondage in Egypt; they failed to share his great miracles in providing for them and protecting them in the wilderness; they failed to share the great victories the LORD gave them over their enemies; they failed to share the consequences of sin and disobedience; and they failed to instruct their children in the Law of the LORD (Judges 2:10-12). Furthermore, instead of driving out the Canaanites in the land, they allowed them to become their servants or to co-exist with them. Then they adopted their culture and idolatry.

Micah follows his mother's instruction and then installs one of his own sons to be a priest for the family. When a young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah happens to come by his house, Micah entices him to be his family priest. The Levite should have rebuked Micah for his idolatry but instead perceives an opportunity for profit. The Levite uses Micah's fashioned ephod (a crafted copy of part of the vestment a priest wears) and their families' household gods, the carved idol and cast idol (borrowed from nations not completely driven out of Israel's new territories). The young Levite lends himself out to be a priest for this single family until he is later offered a better deal to be a priest for the whole tribe of Dan. Five Danite spies take Micah's priest and his gods. The Levite, whose tribal family is dedicated to the worship of God, does not lead in the worship of the LORD but in idolatry. What about us? Will we as Christian parents or leaders instruct our children or others about God and his ways, or will we let things deteriorate into a state of chaos?

Israel's lack of a moral compass leads to deviant and extreme wickedness. In Judges 19–21 there is dreadful story of yet another Levite. He has a concubine (a secondary wife), but she is unfaithful and leaves him. When he hears she has returned to her father's house, the Levite goes there to take her home. After being delayed by his father-in-law for almost a week, he sets out with his concubine, although it is soon night and unsafe to travel in their region. He wants, therefore, to stay in Gibeah, a Benjamite town in Israel. He thinks they will be safe there. Israel should have been a place of peace and safety. Instead, it is a place of idolatry, sexual immorality, and even homosexuality. It is not safe to spend the night in the city square, so an old man invites them to his home. The men in Gibeah are not safe. They come to the man's house demanding he bring the Levite out so they might have homosexual relations with him. The owner of the house attempts to make a compromise with these dangerous men to protect his guest. It is deplorable, for he offers his own virgin daughter and the Levites' concubine to satisfy their sexual appetites. He then sends out the Levites' concubine (but not his virgin daughter) to fulfill their desires. They rape her and abuse her all night, and she dies on the doorstep. The Levite is irate at the extreme wickedness of these people, and so he cuts her up into twelve pieces and sends her body parts throughout Israel. The tribes are horrified at such wickedness in Israel. When they inquire about the matter, they demand that the guilty men be turned over to them, but the tribe of Benjamin defends them. After two very costly attempts to defeat Benjamin in a civil war of retribution, finally the LORD gives them victory. The victory, however, costs the lives of 38,000 Israelites and over 25,000 of their Benjamite brothers and their families. They lose a lot of valiant warriors. Perhaps it is this chaos, idolatry, and immorality which causes God to exercise judgment on his people. It takes oppression by their enemies to finally prompt Israel to repent and cry out to the LORD for a deliverer.

Will we listen or must we be punished? Chaos and sin in families can sometimes cause division and almost irreparable damage. If we do not wish chaos and sin to devastate us or our families, we need to learn to live in the fear of the LORD. That means we are to live to please the LORD and to reject the sinful ways of the world. Do you know him? He can give you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life. (more...). He can help you cure a life of chaos.

Lessons to Live By

• Personal chaos is caused when we are not following the disciplined life God intends for us. If we do follow a disciplined life of obedience to God, we are more likely to succeed and have peace (at least within us).

• Parents should not indulge their children (of whatever age) in sinful behavior. They should teach them to fear the LORD and walk in his ways.

• Christian leaders and parents must instruct children in who God is, what he has done, and what he requires of us, so our families and society do not deteriorate into a state of chaos.

• If we do not wish chaos and sin to devastate us or our families, we need to learn to live in the fear of the LORD. That means we are to live to please him and to reject the sinful ways of the world.

Focus Verses

Hebrews 12:10-11 (NIV) “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: Chaos requires leadership to Step Up to the Plate to stop oppression and end the chaos (at least temporarily). Find out more about how this is done in our Next Lesson.

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