Questions to Consider
1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?
2. Chapter 20 is a continuation of the story that began in chapter 19. Briefly review lesson 15 (link above) to refresh your memory.
3. Read 1-6. What does it mean that the men of Israel assembled “to the Lord”? (1) Why had the Levite dismembered his concubine and sent her body parts to each of the tribes of Israel?
No doubt what the men of Gibeah did to the concubine was heinous (5), but how did they have access to her in the first place? (Notice the Levite leaves out that part of the story.) What has the Levite’s sin of using his concubine – someone vulnerable and weaker than himself, someone he should have been protecting – as a piece of expendable property to protect himself led to? Trace this story back to its roots: explain how this entire story would have turned out differently if the Levite had played the man and defended and protected the concubine. Go even further back: would this story have even taken place if the Levite had followed God’s plan for marriage and was the husband of one wife instead of committing adultery with the concubine? How does this demonstrate the principle that sin begets sin?
Contrast the way the Levite treated this woman with a) the way God loves and values women and b) the way God wants men, especially husbands, to treat, love, and value women / their wives.
4. Read 8-17. Consider all the evil and sin we’ve seen one or more of God’s people commit in the book of Judges thus far. Has it been mostly “vertical” (directly against God) sin or mostly “horizontal” (directly against other people) sin? Which is worse? We’ve reached the climax of the book of Judges. Israel at long last sees the depravity of sin and is moved to action. What sin finally moves them – their own vertical sin of idolatry or someone else’s horizontal sin against the concubine, the Levite, and the community? Why is it easier to see and rightly respond to someone else’s sin rather than our own sin? Why do we often see horizontal sin as worse than vertical sin? How did the Israelites not see that their outrage and grief over the men of Gibeah’s sin was nothing compared to God’s outrage and grief over their sin of idolatry? How is it God’s grace to us to show us our sin against Him by letting us see one person’s sin against another?
Did Israel immediately go in and destroy the whole tribe of Benjamin? What was Israel’s initial demand? (13a) What was Benjamin’s response? (13b) What happened – how did things escalate – as a result of Benjamin’s covering for the men of Gibeah’s sin, refusing to hold the men accountable, and refusing to deal with sin in the camp in a biblical way? How does this compare to church discipline situations today? What effect does it have on a church when sin in the camp is ignored, covered up, and not dealt with in a biblical way? In what ways do we often put practical concerns ahead of doing things God’s way in situations like these?
5. Read 18-28. How many times did Israel inquire of the Lord in this passage? Compare their first (18), second (23), and third (26-28) inquiries. Why and how did each inquiry intensify? Were they demonstrating a worldly sorrow or a godly sorrow over their sin? Does this scenario remind you of this passage? How?
Verse 18 is the first place we’ve seen God present (see question 4 in lesson 15, link above) with His people in quite a long time. What has been standing between Israel and God, and what is the first thing He deals with when He “shows up”? Explain why sin is always the first thing that has to be dealt with and biblically resolved in any church’s or individual’s relationship with God.
Consider what happens to Israel in 18-28 in light of what Hebrews 12:5-11 says about discipline. How did God apply painful discipline to Israel in 18-28? Were they “trained by it,” and did this discipline “yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness” for them?
6. Read 29-48. Revisit the second part of question 4. What did Benjamin lose – practically / temporally and spiritually – by covering for the men of Gibeah’s sin, refusing to hold the men accountable, and refusing to deal with sin in the camp in a biblical way? Who actually defeated Benjamin? (35)
7. What did this chapter teach you about sin, sinners, and the nature and character of God?
Think about the most outrageous sin someone has committed against you or that you’ve seen committed against another person. Now compare that sin, and your grief and outrage over it to your own sin against God. How is it God’s grace to us to show us our sin against Him by letting us see or experience one person’s sin against another? How is our sin against God exponentially worse than one person’s sin against another? List three ways this should inform how you think about your own sin against God, and three ways this should inform how you think about others’ sin against you. Is there any way you’ve been sinning against God that you need to repent of? Is there anyone you need to forgive for sinning against you?