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This morning my wife awoke with these words ringing in her head: “It will not be the evil things that will stun you in 2023.” It was a revelation from God that gives us hope in the face of great uncertainty and fear in the world.
I gave her my interpretation: “In the year 2023 you will be stunning.”
Of course, there are more layers of meaning that we should consider. Later in the morning, John, Bradley, and I had an appointment in the divine court to remove certain evils in the world. We were led to go back to the origins of three evils in particular and to reverse (redeem) these for the Kingdom.
One of these originated in Judges 21:1, during Israel’s civil war:
1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.”
After the war, they regretted their rash vow, saying in Judges 21:7,
7 “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”
Again, we read in Judges 22:17, 18, [sorry, the link doesn't match]
17 They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18 But we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin.”
Their “solution” to the problem was first to destroy the town of Jabesh-gilead for not participating in the civil war against Benjamin. They spared 400 of the young girls and gave them as wives to the surviving men of Benjamin. But there were 600 men of Benjamin, so the 400 girls were not enough. So they told the men of Benjamin to kidnap the dancing girls at the feast that was being held in Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant had been set up.
In both scenarios, the Israelites unleashed the spirit of the wolf, according to the blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49:27,
27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.
Hence, the men of Benjamin took their wives as a wolf takes his prey. The real solution, of course, was for the tribe of Benjamin to hunger for righteousness, as Jesus said in Matthew 5:6,
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
We ought to be wolves when it comes to a hunger for righteousness. Unfortunately, in the incident at Gibeah, which sparked this civil war, the tribe of Benjamin supported the ungodly men of the city. (See Judges 19.)
It is not that the other tribes were any more righteous—nor even the Levite whose concubine had been abused and killed. None of them had the mind of Christ. The Levite divided the spoil, as it were, by cutting up the dead concubine and sending her body parts to each of the tribes. This provoked the civil war.
The tribes themselves, by their own testimony, regretted destroying the tribe of Benjamin. They realized too late that war was not the godly solution. The main problem was that they concluded the trial after hearing only the testimony of the Levite (Judges 20:12, 13). They did not solicit any testimony from the tribe of Benjamin, nor did they come with humility. Their attitude seemed to threaten the entire tribe, and so they acted in self-defense.
So there were three main battles that took place. The men of Israel lost 22,000 men in the first battle and 18,000 in the second—even though they had acted according to God’s instructions. The problem was that they asked God the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Shall we make war on the tribe of Benjamin?” their question was: “Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?” (Judges 20:18).
In other words, the Israelites had already decided to make war against Benjamin, so they asked God who was to lead the charge. God answered their question: “Judah shall go up first.” God intended to judge the accusers first, and 40,000 Israelites died in battle before God gave them victory over Benjamin.
Finally, the men of Israel asked the right question. They went to Bethel, where the Ark of the Covenant was located at that time (Judges 20:26, 27), and asked, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” (Judges 20:28). Having been humbled by two defeats in battle, they now referred to their adversary as “my brother Benjamin,”
Only then did God give the Israelites victory over Benjamin.
The clear lesson here is that before we condemn others for the piece of sawdust in their eye, we ought first to remove the log in our own eye (Matthew 7:3-5).
The Lord has also revealed to us that the tribe (leadership) of Ephraim was jealous of Benjamin and used this incident to put Benjamin in its place. Recall that Joseph had given Benjamin five times as much grain as the other brothers had been given (Genesis 43:34). Furthermore, he returned Benjamin’s money, so essentially, the grain was given free of charge. That is the nature of grace. Five is the biblical number of grace.
Benjamin enjoyed favor, not only from Jacob but from God Himself. Benjamin means “son of my right hand,” indicating a position of favor and authority. In the same way, Jesus Himself was favored in that He was seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).
In those days, Ephraim was the leading tribe of Israel, having been given the birthright as Joseph’s heir (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2). The tribe of Benjamin was situated on the southern border of Ephraim and stood between Ephraim and Judah. Isaiah 11:13 prophesies,
13 Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, and those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim.
It is clear that there was jealousy and rivalry among the tribes long before the time of the Divided Kingdom. Benjamin stood between Ephraim and Judah and therefore could not help but feel caught in between many disputes. I suspect that one motive for the civil war was that both Judah and Ephraim had their eye on the territory of Benjamin, each hoping to devour as much of it as each one could.
Yet the fact that Benjamin ultimately joined with the house of Judah instead of Ephraim suggests that there was greater friction was between Benjamin and Ephraim. Our revelation says that Ephraim had been bullying Benjamin. We were led to repent on behalf of Ephraim for this.
We also rescinded the vow of Israel that prevented men of Benjamin from marrying the daughters of the other tribes. Somehow this curse still stood to this day and was having an effect upon Bradley’s ability to find a wife. By extension, it has also affected in some way the bride of Christ.