We should not suppose that the story found in Judges 19 – 21 happened at the end of the period of the Judges. In fact, there are ample reasons for believing it occurred near the beginning. Notice that Phinehas, the grandson Aaron is the High Priest in the story and the Tabernacle has not yet moved to Shiloh but is rather still in Bethel. It is as if the writer is saying: “Israel didn’t get progressively worse. She started out bad.”
There are some similarities between this story and the first chapter of Judges. In both stories, there is an inquiring of the Lord and in both cases, Judah was to go into battle first. There is mention of people with special characteristics. In chapter 1, it involves seventy kings with missing thumbs and big toes. In chapter 20, it is an army of seven hundred (notice the use of “7″) left-handed sling-throwers. One group cannot shoot an arrow or go into battle. In the other, the left handed sling-throwers are surprisingly adept in battle.
But there is a big difference. In the story that ends Judges, the point is made that Israel is no longer focused on the conflict with her enemies, but has rather turned on herself and is in danger of wiping one of their own tribes off the map.
There is a lesson here for the Church.
Like the tribes of Israel, it sometimes takes great tragedy to see precisely how far we are from God. Then, in an effort to return to faithfulness, we turn on one another, hoping to root out the cancer. In the end, we decimate ourselves.
What should we do?
We should cultivate an awareness of where we stand with God based on the Word of God and our success at doing His will. If we are not successful, we should ask why success has not come. Then, having realized the problem, work within the church to heal those infected by the world. Finally, we should never lose sight of the fact that the real enemy is not us, but Satan and the world He controls. Christians often lose sight of this fact and rather than stick with the “hypocrites” they perceive make up the Church, leave the Church in favor of a world where hypocrisy does not abound – because it has given itself wholesale to do evil.