Levite + Concubine (Text of Terror)

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Painting by Mario Moore (2009)

I am currently making my way through the Old Testament and have landed on Judges 19.  I’ve been reflecting and simmering over this text for some time, trying to make sense of the horror of this story.  The conclusion I’ve came up with is sin sucks.  It sucks really bad, and inevitably leads to destruction and death.

Here’s the recap…

Israel had no king (Judges 19:1):  Right away the story is letting us know that the people (Israelites) have no one in authority to follow or be accountable too.  No king = free for all.  Do whatever you want.  What happens when a parent lets their kids do whatever they want?  Or a boss who lets their employees work whenever and however they want?  No leadership, especially godly leadership, is no bueno.  *insert thumbs down*

A Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine.. (Judges 19:1):  A Levite is from the tribe of Levi and they are the ones who worked in the temple with the priests (i.e. Levites were the ones who played worship music, handled security, etc.).  Even though the practice of taking concubines (ie. legal mistress) is prevalent throughout the Bible, is it right?  Especially for a Levite to do so?  Levites are supposed to be ambassadors of God’s holy temple.  Even in today’s times, just because something is “legal” doesn’t make it right.

She (the concubine) was unfaithful.  She left and went back to her parent’s house (Judges 19:2).  The concubine cheated on the Levite.  This is somewhat ironic, because technically the Levite was “cheating” on his wife by taking a concubine in the first place.  Then she left him and went back to her parents house, which shows that her father still had authority over her instead of her pseudo-husband.  Once again the cultural context must be taken into consideration, however, the situation just doesn’t seem ideal.

In Judges 19:3-9, the text states that the Levite went to the concubine’s house to persuade her to come back to him.  Her father welcomed the Levite with hospitality and kept persuading him with food and drink to stay.  Scripture also refers to this man as a “father-in-law” and the Levite is referred to as a “son-in-law,” which makes no sense because they weren’t technically married.  Perhaps the father wanted the Levite to present an offering for his daughter?  A bride price?

So then the Levite, his servant and concubine finally left together and started heading back to the temple.  Along the way, the Levite did not want to stop in any cities whose people were not Israelites. “He said, ‘come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places'” (Judges 19: 13), even though his servant who he was traveling with suggested otherwise.  When they reached the town of Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin, they “stopped to spend the night.  They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night” (Judges 19:15).  

Finally, an old man came and offered them to stay at his house for the evening.  This is where the story gets really twisted.  The Levite, concubine and servant all end up staying the night at this old man’s house.  However, “some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house.  Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”  (Judges 19:22).  Once again the irony is thick, because the Levite originally did not want to stop at a city that didn’t inhabit Israelites, assuming that Israelite towns were better.  Apparently this is not the case, because “wicked men” were residing in Gibeah.  Also, it’s ironic because the Levite technically did this to the concubine when he went to her father’s house.  He basically knocked on her father’s door, asking her to come out of the house and come back with him so she can continue to be his “mistress” aka sex slave.

The story ends up getting worse, as the old man refused to give up the Levite, but instead offered his virgin daughter and concubine to be raped and abused all night.  “When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.  He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.”  But there was no answer.  Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.”  (Judges 19:27-28).  We now see a shift in the text.  The Levite is no longer referred to as the concubine’s “husband.”  He is now referred to as her “master.”  Also, we don’t know if she is confirmed dead on the doorway or still alive.  We do know that there is no weeping, no sadness, no nothing.

And just when you think things can’t get worse, it does.  When the Levite returned home, “he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.”  (Judges 19:29).  It all seems to be straight out of a horror film, but no, it’s straight from the Bible.  Why did the Levite send her body parts to the 12 tribes?  To start a war amongst the tribes?  Because how dare someone do something to “his property.”  Throughout the remainder of the book of Judges, war and punishment ensue and at the end it is once again stated, “in those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”  (Judges 21:25).

Left to our own devices, we too have the capacity to become murderers, adulterers, rapists, lustful, prideful creatures who treat others like objects.  All praises and glory to our King Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, so we don’t have to be like this!  We don’t have to be a nameless concubine, a nameless servant, or a nameless Levite.  God has given each and every one of us a name to sit alongside Him in the throne room one day.  Do you want God to be the King of your life?  Or do you want to do whatever you see fit with no oversight or accountability?

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#JustSayNoToSelfies

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What is happening to this world that we live in?  Modern day America is going downhill.  Everywhere you turn, people have their faces planted in their phones (or digital device).  Phones aren’t even phones anymore because half the time, people don’t even talk to people on the phone, they are texting, emailing or video chatting instead.  Phones are now mini handheld computers that conveniently fit in your pocket.

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This is a phone.  (*ring ring* “hello?” initiate conversation)

 

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This is not a phone!  (*insert favorite song* beep, buzz, vibrate, a million different sounds, lights flashing, images popping up and down, endless possibilities, overstimulation, collapse, fingers moving too fast leading to carpal tunnel syndrome, radiation pouring into my head, eyes getting dry and red from light emission, I forgot what I was doing, so I’ll just google something instead, where am I going, GPS, attention deficit disorder, multi-tasking, addiction, stunting your kids’ brain development, time for a selfie, check my profile, check email, send a text, don’t make eye contact with anyone, just bury my face in my phone, because I have no self control and can’t put my device down and be a real person, battery dying, must charge phone before I have a meltdown).

Why?

With phones turning into mini computers, the rise of social media outlets is also just as astonishing.  Why do people have to have so many online profiles?

#WAKEUP  #GETALIFE

Why do we need to “advertise” our lives?  I don’t get it!  Do I really need a billboard of myself?  You can call me a hypocrite for having this blog and for having an email address, however, I deleted my facebook and twitter back in 2014 and haven’t turned back since.  It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to be free from these time-wasting vesicles.  It was like giving up on drugs.  I went through withdrawals for a few weeks, didn’t think I could do it, thought about re-instating my profiles, felt so disconnected and “alone.”  Until the veil was lifted, my brain re-aligned itself and I began to see clearly again!  I could see the trees around me for the first time.  I could smell the flowers blooming in the air.  I could hear the birds chirping from their nests.  My brain wasn’t bogged down anymore with online media pollution.  The best part was when I met people and at the end of our conversation, they asked me what my facebook was.  I loved people’s reaction when I told them I didn’t have a facebook profile.  The moment of awkwardness or astonishment in their face was priceless.  How this could be?  You mean I actually have to make a real connection with you?  So does this mean we have to exchange phone numbers now because I actually don’t really ever want to call you.  I really just wanted to be your “friend” online and then engage in mutual voyeurism of each other’s profiles..

During my first year of psychology graduate school, one of the professors stated to a room full of future therapists that we are going to have to deal with a whole new set of issues, problems and disorders that has never been around in the history of time. Technology, media consumption, and online social worlds are shaping people, their behaviors, and their brains like never before.  It’s even going as far as re-defining what it means to be human.  I stand with a Biblical worldview in that we, the people, (creation)’s identity is defined by our relationship with our Creator.  No amount of technology can ever take that away.  However, whether you believe in God or not, whether you are following Jesus or not, maybe it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the use of your time.  One of the first issues we discussed in my class was “gaze aversion” and how it is destroying our relationships.   What are you looking at?  Is it really that important?  Are you looking up or down?  Is your gaze towards the almighty God who created the heavens and the earth?  Or are you gazing down at your 50th selfie?

#JustSayNoToSelfies

Church Home?

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(Image borrowed from clipart-library.com)

I’ve been going to church since 2013.  When I first started going, I don’t even know why I was there.  I was not a Christian.  I was just somehow sitting in the back of a church listening to what the pastor had to say and then took a “new believers” class.  Prior to this, I was deeply involved in the new age meditation, eastern medicine/mysticism scene.  And before that, I was on drugs.  I somehow traded in drugs for gluten-free juicing.  How?  I don’t know.  Obviously God was protecting me because I honestly could have died so many times.  So many dangerous situations with so many sketchy people.

After everything all came crumbling down leaving me empty and lost, I began searching for answers through Christianity.  That’s when Jesus came.  He came strong and hard, and I haven’t turned back since.  I gave my life to the Lord and got baptized. Then I started dating my now husband and God gave us marriage mentors (praise the Lord!).  We then finally settled in North Seattle where the Holy Spirit smacked us in the face with trumpets, worship was unbelievably passionate and the pastors were strictly Bible-believing, unapologetic and not afraid to call out sin.  We were deeply committed and involved, serving in capacities we didn’t know we could do. God was moving so mightily in our lives and using us in ways that we never thought possible!  I thought, this was it!  We’ve arrived at our home (church)!!

But I was wrong… 😦

God had other plans.  He moved us to Auburn.

What??  What’s in Auburn?  Why?  Really??  We were perplexed.  But we obeyed and bought our first starter home in Auburn, WA.  And now I am in a church where I am struggling to find my way.  The pastors are on point, preaching the Bible, but doing it in a very harsh, militant-style way.  Where’s the love?  Where’s the patience and compassion?  Does God hate sin?  YES of course he does.  Will He not hesitate to flood the entire Earth and start over?  You bet He did.  Does He rebuke evil?  All the time.  Does He order men to kill kings and impale their bodies on poles?  Yes, absolutely.

But God also says, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8).  He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).  

In regards to sin, brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently (Galatians 6:1-2).

If we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins (Hebrews 10:26).  This is bad.  Real bad.

If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9).  This is good.  Praise the Lord!

Brothers and sisters, please stop tearing each other down from the pulpit!  Yes, expose sin, speak the truth, be real and tell it like it is.  However, God already died on the cross for our sins, He took the ultimate beating, shame and death for us.  Stop beating up, whipping and shaming your fellow brothers and sisters. Restore them gently and lead them to prayer and God’s word.  Stop bragging about how much you spank your kids (I have no problem spanking my kids as a last resort option), however, boasting about it and doing it all the time is not okay, and may actually become ineffective and potentially lead to abuse.  Please don’t pridefully justify abuse through Proverbs 13:24.  A shepherd uses his rod and staff to protect, guide and lead his flock, not to pound and batter them with it.  In Numbers 22, Balaam, the diviner, beat his donkey to try to get it to do what he wanted, but it didn’t work.  The donkey ended up being able to talk back  to him, asking him why he was being mis-treated.  Stop power-tripping.  Stop doubting other people’s salvation.  It’s not up to you!  It’s up to God!!  God has anointed some with specific gifts and others with other gifts.  Encourage one another.  God loves us!  If He didn’t, He would have never sent His son Jesus.  All honor, praises and glory to Him!

Take the Plunge

I did it!  I took the plunge.  🙂

Here’s the cliff-note story…

I got saved and baptized on March 2013.  Here’s a picture.  On this day, I walked up to the front of All Souls Church in West Seattle, shared my testimony to the entire congregation, then the pastor sprinkled water on my head and we all had cake afterwards.  Good times.  My life since then has never been the same, as I turned my back away from a sinful lifestyle and realized that much of my entire life up until then had been a lie.  I turned towards Jesus, stuck my nose in the Bible, and got deeply involved in church.  

Fast forward 6 years later.  It is now February 2019.  I’m still loving Jesus and walking on the path, however, after I left All Souls, I never saw another pastor sprinkle water on anyone’s head ever again.  I kept seeing church websites talking about baptism by “immersion.”  Every time I visited churches and they were doing baptisms, everyone I saw got fully submerged, dripping wet in a body of water.  I even saw people getting dunked in the freezing cold waters of the Puget Sound.  Hmm.. interesting.  I thought it was semantics and just kept carrying on.  

Until the Holy Spirit kept nudging me.  Once God’s voice became clear, there was no question what I needed to do.  I realized that I didn’t just want a sprinkle of Jesus in my life, I want Him all.  I never doubted my conversion and salvation 6 years ago, but figure, if God says to take the plunge, then so be it.  A few months ago, I saw a trailer for a movie about an ex-gangster who was in prison, and then came to Jesus.  He was so on fire for God and took Matthew 28:19 so seriously (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit), that he bought a hot tub, put it in the back of his pick-up truck, and would drive through gang neighborhoods and invite people to be baptized right then and there on the streets.  I secretly wished that a truck would come driving through my neighborhood, or that I’d be at some random place, like the grocery store, and there would be a tub in the parking lot, or I’d be hiking somewhere and there would happen to be a priest baptizing people in a river.  However, nonetheless, it happened in the Faith and Victory Church parking lot in Auburn, WA.  The good times continue.  😀

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Blessings via Jacob & Esau

jacob-esau.jpg(Image courtesy of freebibleimages.org)

If you’re a Christian, you have probably heard the story of Jacob & Esau. There are many Bible cartoons portraying Jacob as the younger brother with smooth skin and Esau as the older brother with hairy skin. The story goes that their father was very sick and could not see very well. He requested a meal and was ready to give a blessing to his oldest son Esau. However, Jacob’s mom did not want Esau to have the blessing, so she told Jacob to gather food for the meal, put hairy animal skin on his arm and pretend that he was Esau so he could inherit the blessing. Jacob questioned his mother, but then did what he was told. He thus entered his father’s room and stole his brother’s blessing.

At first glance, one may look at Jacob and say “what a liar! what a thief! how unfair to steal from his brother!”

However, there is more to the story.

Genesis 26:34 states, “when Esau was 40 years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”

Esau chose to dishonor his parents by marrying two women from Hittite. Hittite women are from the land of Canaan and do not follow God. Thus the “source of grief.”

Later, after Esau learned that Jacob took his blessing…

“he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘Bless me–me too, my father!'” (Gen 27:34)

“This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing! Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?” (Gen 27:36). The “second time” Esau is referring to is when Esau gave up his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of stew.  You can read about this in Genesis 25:27-34.

“Esau said to his father, ‘Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!’ Then Esau wept aloud.” (Gen 27:38)

“Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’ “ (Gen 27:41).

Eeek!

The story ends with Esau still trying to get a blessing…

“Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman, and that Jacob obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.” (Gen 28:6-9)

So yes, it was wrong of Jacob to lie to his father to inherit the blessing, however, he was actually being obedient to his mother. Esau’s heart was not right with God from the very start.. marrying not one, but two ungodly women from Hittite (Canaan), being filled with fury and anger, crying and whining over not receiving any blessings, holding a grudge, plotting to kill his brother, then later marrying a godly woman in order to receive blessings, even though he already had two wives.

Esau does not have a heart after God. He seems to only be concerned with his own selfish wants and desires. There appears to be no repentance or forgiveness. He only wants to please his father, if there is something (potential blessings) he can get from it. There is no desire to please his father for the sake of honor, righteousness and obedience.

Are you after the heart of God or only desiring blessings? Do you make choices to please your Heavenly Father because you love Him, or only because you are hoping to get something from Him?

Best Sippy Cup

When my son was 6 months old, I started him on the Miracle 360 Spoutless Trainer cup. Highly recommended! It is easy to grip with the handles and the spoutless design doesn’t affect the teeth. It is not 100% spill-proof (aka if it gets thrown on the ground, water will spill).. but hey, that’s real life. 🙂 Overall rating: one thumbs up 👍

Next up, we tried the Miracle 360 Deco cup. Since our first try with the Miracle 360 trainer was a success, I decided to stick with the same brand. This time I chose one without the handles to emulate a real cup and opted for a cute design for fun. However, this cup does not receive the same rave reviews as it’s baby brother trainer cup. On an outing, I had given this cup to my son to drink water in his car seat. When I went to pick him up, the entire cup of water was empty. It leaked everywhere and my son was entirely soaked. Due to this, I give this cup one thumbs down 👎.

Finally, the next cup we tried was the Nuk Magic 360. The package stated that it was ” leak proof, spill proof guaranteed.” I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. So far, my son has dropped it on the ground over and over, and has also placed the cup upside down on his lap in the car seat for extended travel times, and to my surprise, the packaging is correct.. not a single leak, drop or spill! Coupled with the fact that it also has the spoutless rim which is safe for teeth and is super easy to clean (only 3 parts) makes this the winner in my book so far. Overall rating: two thumbs up 👍👍

Seeds, Sales and… Poof Balls?

I recently went on a shopping trip to Goodwill, a local secondhand thrift shop. I usually buy clothes from thrift or consignment stores. For me, it’s fun and incites a sense of victory when I stumble upon a “good deal.” On the rare moments I do buy brand new, it is most often an item on sale. Not because I’m cheap. It’s because I’m practical. Buying a brand name shirt or purse for hundreds of dollars just isn’t a priority or something I seek.

As I approached the check out line to pay for the items in my Goodwill shopping cart, I approached a wall full of seeds. There were all kinds of various flowers and vegetables to choose from. I thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be fun to plant some flowers?” Spring is upon us, so why not. So I chose two $.59 cent packets and threw them into my cart. After I checked out, I unloaded the Goodwill bags into my van and noticed that the seed packets were sitting in the cart. I thought to myself, “did I pay for those seeds?” I did not remember the cashier ringing up the seeds. At that moment, I hurriedly threw the seed packets into a bag, closed the van, and walked next door to our local pharmacy, with my 10 month old son still sitting in the shopping cart. When we began strolling down the pharmacy, my son started to appear bored and restless, so I grabbed a poof ball sponge [see picture below] from a nearby shelf and let him play with it. After I grabbed everything I needed, I once again made my way to the check out line and waited patiently for my turn.

I finally got everything checked out, and off I went to unload the pharmacy bag in our van, and drive home. When I placed the bag in the trunk, I noticed that the doggie poof ball was sitting in the cart, hidden from view. I did not pay for this doggie poof ball. I merely used it as a distraction for my son, and had every intention of leaving it at the store, yet there it was in plain sight outside of the store, in my hands, unpaid for. So, what did I do? I hurriedly threw it in a bag, closed the van door, got inside and drove away.

[FAIL]

[EPIC FAIL]

As I was driving home, I couldn’t believe that I had in essence stolen two $.59 cent seed packets and a $2.99 doggie poof ball. Is this the woman I had become? What happened? I began to reason with myself that it wasn’t a big deal, and that it was too much of an “inconvenience” for me to carry a heavy baby back in to two stores, wait in line, and pay for or return the items. They were less than $5 anyway, so who cares? I began to reason that I was hungry, sleep-deprived, and that God would understand that I didn’t “mean to.” It was all an accident, my “intentions were good,” and I was sorry. So no worries, right?

[WRONG]

I felt horrible. I knew that I had made the wrong choice. And the worst part is that I did it not only once.. but TWICE! I was basically given the same test two times, back-to-back, within the same hour, and both times I chose to steal, because in my mind, I was justified because it was “too hard” for me to walk back inside the store with my two working legs and feet. UNBELIEVABLE.

As soon as my husband came home from work, I immediately confessed what I had done. He told me that I needed to go back to the store to either return the items or purchase them, and that it was imperative for me to NOT PLANT THE STOLEN SEEDS. I agreed! So the next day, I drove back to Goodwill, and returned the seeds. The cashier was surprised and thanked me. Next, I walked back into the pharmacy, and this time, I purchased the doggie poof ball. Once again, the cashier was surprised and thanked me. However, I’m not the one who should be thanked. I chose the wrong thing, and attempted to come up with a myriad of reasons why it was okay. So it is thanks be to God that He gave me the Holy Spirit to convict me.

This entire situation leads me to Proverbs 12 and Mark 4.

Proverbs 12:22 (NIV) states, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

Even though I did not physically tell a lie, by not going back inside the store and telling the truth that I mistakenly took an unpaid item is a lie.  Then to afterwards justify my choice and actions, is also a lie!

In Mark 4:1-8 (NIV),  “Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge.He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said:“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

I knew that if I planted stolen seeds, that it would not turn out good for me.  I was already heading down the path of self-justification, theft and deceitfulness.  Perhaps the seeds would have sprung up, however, the roots of the seeds were not grounded in purity and honesty.  What kind of fruit would that bear?

Is there any time in your life, that you made a faulty choice and then immediately began to justify it?

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