“When they were near Jebus, it was late, and the servant said to his master, ‘Come I pray, and let us turn into this Jebusite city and lodge in it.’ His master said to him, ‘We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners where there are no Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.’ And he said to his servant, ‘Come and let us go to one of these places and spend the night in Gibeah or in Ramah.’ So they passed on and went their way, and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. And they turned aside there to go in and lodge at Gibeah. And the Levite went in and sat down in the open square of the city, for no man took them into his house to spend the night.”
Judges 19: 11-15
“Preferring One’s Own Kind”
“It is natural anywhere that people like their own kind, but it is not necessarily natural that their fondness for their own kind should lead them to the subjection of whole groups of other people not like themselves.” Pearl S. Buck
Has there been a time when I looked down upon another person because they weren’t part of my “club” or “group?”
How can I learn to be a “bridge-builder” among individuals I may not understand?
“If prejudices belonged to the vegetable world they would be described under the general heading of: ‘Hardy Perennials’: will grow in any soil, and bloom without ceasing; require no cultivation; will do better when left alone.”
Nellie L. McClung
“Strangers…are just your friends that you don’t know yet.”
Margaret Lee Runbeck
Let’s say for discussion’s sake that after church this weekend, you see three people standing outside your facility, alone and seemingly with no place to go. How would you react to these individuals? Would you walk by them, maybe even looking the other way as you passed? Or would you stop and at least say, “Nice day, isn’t it?” What exactly would be your response and mine?
If we closely examine the passage in Judges 19: 11-15, our texts for today, we observe that after leaving his father-in-law’s house and traveling toward home for awhile, it began to get dark and so the Levite, along with his concubine and servant, decided to find a place to stay for the night.
The servant suggested they stay in a city under the control of the Jebusites. But the Levite didn’t want to stay in a place that was not under the control of his extended family – the Israelites. His assessment that the “heathen” wouldn’t be hospitable may well have cost him the life of his wife as we’ll find out tomorrow.
Thinking they would find hospitality among their fellow Israelites, the weary travelers made their way to Gibeah, land controlled by the tribe of Benjamin. At this point in our story, we would hope to hear that hands of kindness were extended to “some of their own.” But unfortunately, the Bible tells us that, “no man took them into his house to spend the night” (Judges 19: 15). Let’s not forget, it was Moses, who was commanded by God, to instruct all the children of Israel that the Levites were never to be “forsaken or neglected as long as you live in your land” (Deuteronomy 12: 19). How soon this instruction, repeatedly given by God to Moses and then to all God’s children, was ignored and forgotten. To the point, where no one even cared to take in the Levite and his fellow travelers, except we are told in Judges 19: 16, “An old man who was coming from his work in the field at evening.” He was really from the hill country of Ephraim but was temporarily living in Gibeah. This kindly gentleman had mercy on the out-of-towners and said to them, “Peace be to you, but leave all your wants to me: only do not lodge in the street” (Judges 19: 20). I can only say that I think this dear man knew something about the people in the tribe of Benjamin and it wasn’t good. Not at all! As Gertrude Atherton so pointedly wrote, “No loose fish enters our bay.” In the case of the Levite, his wife and servant, the city of Gibeah was not a safe harbor to enter, for it was territory where the inhabitants didn’t consider visitors, even other Israelites, “one of their own.” Even though, they were all part of the 12 tribes; even though, they were all Israelites; and even though, God had personally told them to take care of the Levites and their families.
In her book of poems entitled, A Foreign Country, Josephine Miles penned these truly descriptive words which correctly serve as a portrait of the way the Benjamities of Gibeah treated their own family from Ephraim in the hill country:
“We are pledged to be blind
By a totality of mind
Which has said: we shall
Learn what we already believe,
Study what we like,
Behoove what we approve,
Read our own creed.”
This is certainly not an open-minded viewpoint of others by any stretch!
Several years ago, a friend related an experience about her daughter who transferred to a Christian college. Not long after arriving, a group of girls in her dormitory invited her to their prayer group. Upon finding out the new girl was a different church denomination than they were, my friend’s daughter was abruptly “uninvited.” It didn’t matter the young girl was a devout Christian. All that concerned the other girls was that she wasn’t “one of them.” Like the Ephriamites and Benjamities, who were all God’s children – the Israelites – and should have been living and working in unity among the Canaanites, may you and I as Christians never become so exclusive in our little walled-in groups we don’t have the open arms of Jesus who drew ALL unto Himself. No one was on the outside looking in with Jesus. No one was turned away by Jesus because they weren’t, “One of us!”
May our daily prayer be that we will build bridges that connect rather than walls that divide.
“I am glad You made my
neighbor different from me;
a different colored skin,
a different shaped face;
a different response to You.
I need my neighbor to
teach me about You;
she knows all the things
I don’t know.”
“To love is the transfiguring thing.”
“There are times in life when we are called to be bridges, not a great monument spanning a distance and carrying loads of heavy traffic, but a simple bridge to help one person from here to there over some difficulty such as pain, grief, fear, loneliness, a bridge which opens the way for ongoing journey.
When I become a bridge for another, I bring upon myself a blessing, for I escape from the small prison of self and exist for a wider world, breaking out to be a larger being who can enter another’s pain and rejoice in another’s triumph.
I know of only one greater blessing in this life, and that is, to allow someone else to be a bridge for me.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.comand purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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