Gaining Victory over sin is costly

Judges 21


Jerry A Collins



v     Are oaths ever a good idea to make?

v     Can our sin make innocent people suffer?

v     Can we trust God’s promises without making oaths?


Someone once said that the problem we have with sin is that it is extensive and not only intensive. In other words it impacts every dimension of our humanity. Sin impacts our emotion, our intellect, our willpower, our relationships, our dreams and ambitions, our priorities, our health, our families, our desires, our decisions, and our passions. There is no escape—nowhere to turn to get a reprieve. So sin is extensive as it weaves its influencethroughout our lives. It is not that we are as bad as we can be—it is not intensive. Yes we are sinners condemned and alienated from God but we often do not act on our sinful impulses. By nature we are children of wrath and so by nature we deserve the wrath of God upon us. Only in Jesus Christ can any of us have hope of deliverance and freedom from this condemnation. The nature of sin is to grow until it consumes everybody in its path. As we began the book of Judges the struggle was against a common enemy—the Canaanites. But the book ends in a struggle against each other and against God, their true King. As the book progressed, what should have happened was the nation being driven to their knees in repentance. Instead their hearts are hardened and their motivation for revenge increases instead of the desire for righteousness. The whole book is the story of how sin multiplies and grows until everyone is impacted and consumed by it’s influence. The outcome is the real painful and harsh consequences unleashed. The developing refusal to rebuke evil—as the Gibeonites had and Benjamin—shows up in individuals like Samson for instance. Our society today has become like this. We are preoccupied with eliminating the consequences of sin refusing to rebuke it. Unfortunately, the church has been caught up in this and often refuses to rebuke sin as well with oddities like love the sinner and hate the sin or judge not lest you be judged or love wins! Victory over sin is costly.


1. Notice that the story of this closing chapter is borne along by oaths. An oath had been taken at Mizpah (20:1) in 21:1 just after they had heard about the terrible events concerning the Levite’s concubine. The atrocity at Gibeah had been punished by the death of the Benjamites but they became aware of another painful problem complicated by this oath—21:7 and 21:18—that they not give their daughters in marriage to the Benjamites. Benjamin was in danger of extinction and the rest of the tribes were bound by this oath and could not directly help even now as they had wanted. Matters are more complicated now.

2. But another oath had also been taken at Mizpah 21:5 the putting to death any Israelite who had failed to attend the assembly at Mizpah when decisions were to be made about the Benjamite problem. All of this led to a time of lament particularly for the questionable future of Benjamin as they expressed their sorrow for all that had happened to them 21:6 and 21:15. Here they sat before God until evening, raised their voices and wept bitter tears. They offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings too. The lament over Benjamin is significant because we are our brother’s keeper. We do have responsibility for the personal and spiritual benefit and welfare of one another. We do not have to make oaths to do that since we already know what we must do. The oaths made here complicated things. The easy answer was for them to provide wives from their own tribes but they knew that they had made an oath to God. Making oaths is a bad idea. Jesus said ‘make no oath at all’ Mt 5:34, ‘but let your statement be yes, yes or no, no, anything beyond this is evil’, vs 37. A definitive yes or no is sufficient. The problem with an oath is circumstances beyond your control may force you to break it. Then you become a liar before God. So just say yes or no and not yes I promise. The conflict resulting from keeping these 2 oaths is going to cause more violence and bloodshed. When they discover that Jabesh-Gilead had not come to the assembly at Mizpah 21:8-9, they fulfill their vow sending 12000 soldiers to exterminate the city and only spare all the virgins you can find to give to Benjamins male survivors and 400 were found 21:10-12. PT: So they used another bad oath to get out of the consequences of the original bad oath in 21:1. In order to not suffer the consequences of their original oath they multiplied the consequences by killing even more—in this case innocent women and littleones they had specifically targetedas expendable. Oaths are a bad idea because they make you a slave to circumstances. Oaths destroy a hierarchy of values because something more valuable may have to be sacrificed because of the oath. Evil may even have to be performed in order to keep the oath or something not known at the time the oath was taken. Don’t plan against sin by taking oaths. It may only compound sin. Instead confront your sin with knowledge of God’s Word and go from there to treat it.


he problem is still not solved. They are 200 short of the need vs 14. After proclaiming peace with Benjamin vs 13, they conceived a plan based on a loophole in their oath. The oath had stated that they could not ‘give’ their daughters to Benjamin but it said nothing about their daughters being ‘taken’ 21:19-20. It was a convenient plan in that this yearly feast was soon to take place and not too far away either. Again, it was their oath making that had made them come up with this creative alternative according to vs 18. Their oath had actually made it harder for them to fulfill the will of God for the tribes. At least this solution would not cause more bloodshed though it would take 200 women into an unplanned, uprooted, unprepared for, and possibly unwanted future for the rest of their lives. So the men of Benjamin hid themselves, watch things unfold, and then each catch a wife for himself and return home. And that is what they did. When their fathers or brothers catch wind of what has happened the elders of Israel would have an explanationvs 22-23. Noone would be guilty of breaking the oath—the Benjamites took wives no one gave them wives. Then the book closes with this observation—in those days there was no king, God was not ruling in the land, so everyone did what was right in his own eyes (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). If God is not king, people exist only to be used by other people who are more powerful, favored or wealthy. God was king but they would not have him as king 1 Sam 7.

1. If we begin by taking sin as seriously as God does, we can avoid the deplorable spiral that’s leads to only more consequences. When you suffer consequences from your freedom to sin don’t ask God why you’re suffering.

2. Sin usually makes innocent people suffer and inevitably the younger people will suffer for the sins of the older people. Sin can destroy your life & even ruin others.

3. Nearly everyday, nearly every problem we deal with, is because of someone’s sin they refused to deal with.