A Study of Judges 19:1-15
In our previous study of Judges 19-21 we have seen that Judges 19 shows great resemblance to Genesis 19. But since Genesis 19 is a series of pictures of end time events, we must relate Judges 19, 20, and 21 also to end time events. These are difficult chapters to preach from. I am still struggling to work my way through this, and you must excuse me if I make small corrections on things I have said last week. Today we will see great similarities between the concubine of Judges 19 and Lot’s wife in Genesis 19. The first thing we notice is that both women have no name. And thus the title of this article is, “An Unnamed Woman”. Let us again begin at verse 1 and work our way through more carefully.
The Levite from Ephraim, “Doubly Fruitful” (Judges 19:1, Ephesians 1:3-5, Colossians 1:15, Psalm 58:3, Romans 8:1-2, 1 Samuel 2:8, Genesis 15:1, Proverbs 25:2, Ephesians 1:6-8, Leviticus 17:11)
And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
We found last week that this certain Levite represented the Lord Jesus Christ, and He was dwelling on the far side of mount Ephraim. The far side with reference to Bethlehem and Jerusalem would be the north side. The name Ephraim means “Doubly Fruitful”.
This does not mean that the Lord Jesus Christ will bestow on every saint twice as much material wealth as He does to every unsaved person, but it does indicate a double inheritance of spiritual goods for everyone who belongs to Christ.
What is that double inheritance?
Everyone who is found “in Christ” also bears His name.
Who are those who are “in Christ”?
Ephesians 1:3-5 tells us that they are those who were chosen by the Father to inherit eternal life, through the cross of Christ. Christ is called the Firstborn of every creature, according to Col 1:15, which does not refer to every creature in the absolute sense, but only to those creatures who will survive the ball of fire on the last day. And since He is called the Firstborn we are also called firstborn. But as firstborn we have the right to a double inheritance, which we indeed receive. First we receive God’s MERCY. The definition of mercy is that God is withholding what we do deserve. You can check the dictionary on this definition. From the day that we were born we sinned against God, according to Psalm 58:3, and thus the longer we live the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves in Hell. We deserve to go to Hell for our sins. And thus, if God is merciful to us He withholds that penalty of Hell from us. That is the gift of mercy. But that is only half of the inheritance we will receive. That takes us only from minus infinity to ground zero. It is already a great blessing if we do not have to pay the penalty for our sins. It means we do not have to suffer for having slapped God in the face, for Christ paid that penalty on behalf of us on the cross, according to Romans 8:1-2. But now God gives us the second half of the inheritance, and that is GRACE. The definition of grace is that God is giving us what we do not deserve. Again, you can check the dictionary on this definition. We do not deserve eternal life in the NH&NE. But this is what God gives us as the second part of our inheritance. According to 1 Samuel 2:8 God will take us from ground zero, from being the beggar on the dunghill, and God will elevate us to being sons of God, and making us inherit the throne (singular) of glory, where the throne is really His throne. God confirms this truth in Genesis 15:1, where God says, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.”
And thus if we summarize the concept of “Mercy”, we would say it is “Unmerited Pardon”, whereas if we summarize the concept of “Grace”, we would say it is “Unmerited Favor”. I am giving you all these references, because God says in Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” And thus all of you have not only the honor, but the duty to search out if my statements are correct. And thus we read in Ephesians 1:6-8 that we receive this double inheritance because Christ paid for it through His blood, that is through His life, according to Leviticus 17:11. Let us now return to Judges 19:1 and look at the concubine which the Levite chose for Himself.
The Concubine from Bethlehemjudah (Judges 19:1, Ephesians 1:22-23, 2 Timothy 2:19-21)
And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
The Levite, the Lord Jesus Christ, took to Him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
Was Christ doing something illegal here?
No! The Hebrew Interlinear explains that there are two Hebrew words left out of this verse. The Masoretic Text says, “Who took to himself a wife, a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah”. In other words, Christ took to Himself a wife, which was someone else’s concubine.
Whose concubine was she?
She was Satan’s concubine, for Satan used her because she was unsaved. But notice that God throughout this chapter speaks of her as a concubine. In other words, she remained the unsaved concubine, even after Christ chose her to be His wife. We could point to the Old Testament nation of Israel which was called the wife of Jehovah, until the cross, and we know that the nation of Israel remained for the most part still unsaved. But this story must relate to end time events, and therefore the concubine cannot refer to the nation of Israel, for Christ divorced Israel at the cross, and thus the nation of Israel does not play a dominant role at the return of Christ.
Who then does the concubine represent?
The concubine represents the church, but it is the unfaithful church, for later in this chapter she will be destroyed.
Is it certain that she represents the church?
It is certain!
Before Christ chose her she was residing in Bethlehemjudah, which is the House of Bread in Judah; in other words it is the household of the bread of life that is in Judah, which points unmistakably to the church of Christ. Christ chose her out of that church to follow Him, to evangelize the world, and that is why He chose her.
But does Christ not know that she is still unsaved?
Let us consider this. At the incarnation the man Christ Jesus and God the Son were united into one person, and thus the Lord Jesus Christ knows all things. We read in Ephesians 1:22-23,
And (God) hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
In other words, Christ has been appointed as the head of the church, and the church is called the body of Christ. But when we talk about the church, we should understand that not everyone in the church is a saved individual. A casual reading of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 quickly tells us that not everyone that calls themselves Christians do really belong to Christ. Only two of the seven churches turn out to be faithful churches, and five out of the seven churches are apostate to some degree. And this was already at the end of the first century after the cross. Today the fraction of faithful churches must be much smaller. It means that in those five churches of Revelation 2 and 3 there is a mixture of saved and unsaved individuals, just like it was in the Old Testament congregation.
Does He who is the head of the church not know who are saved and who are unsaved individuals?
We read in 2 Timothy 2:19-21,
2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
2 Timothy 2:20
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
2 Timothy 2:21
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
Here are some principles to keep in mind:
1. Christ knows them that are His.
2. Each church has vessels unto honor and vessels unto dishonor, referring to saved and unsaved individuals.
3. In order to be prepared unto every good work, each one individually must purge himself from these vessels unto dishonor, so that we are no longer unequally yoked with unbelievers. And since Christ chose all the members of His church, like He did when He chose the members of His apostolic band, so Christ chose the elect and the non-elect of His church.
Let us now apply this in Judges 19:1. When Christ, the Levite, chose to Him a wife, a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah, He knew that she would remain unsaved. He knew that the rigors of the work of evangelism would be too much for her to bear, and that she would perish in the process. But the purpose for which Christ chose her was to show to us what would become of the church near the end of the world.
Spiritually Dead for Four Months (Judges 19:2)
So far we have covered only one verse because we first carefully have to set the stage before we can continue to unravel this historical parable. We read in Judges 19:2,
And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.
This is a rather liberal translation. The words “And was there four whole months” are not at all in the Bible. The Hebrew Masoretic Text says, “And was there dead four months”. In other words, she was there, in Bethlehemjudah, spiritually dead for four months. The word “dead” has been mistranslated, because the translators did not know what to do with it. But in the spiritual sense it is perfectly logical that we call this concubine “dead” if she is engaging in sinful activities, for then she is dead in trespasses and sins. Here is another proof that we must treat this story as a historical parable. This woman was not physically dead, but spiritually dead. The Levite’s concubine, consisting of unsaved people who were called to serve Christ in works of evangelism, could not remain faithful in their work, and they resorted to spiritual harlotry. For example, they went back to their old way of drinking hard liquor during times when they needed to be sober, or they engaged in fornication instead of brotherly love, or they were stealing from the people whom they were supposed to serve, and so on. And so, they realized that their service for Christ was a farce, and they returned to the place where they came from. Perhaps the church at Bethlehemjudah made it easier for them to hide among the masses, and she was there four months.
What is the meaning of these four months?
The number “four” indicates universality. In other words, this place, Bethlehemjudah, does not refer to a single place there near Jerusalem, but it refers to a condition of apostacy worldwide. The worldwide church became a place where mostly unsaved people mingled and went through the motions of playing church. But they were not evangelizing the Gospel, for only when Christ, the Levite, called them would they be following Christ. This becomes a condition of the church worldwide, and as a result very few people are being saved. Secondly, the time period of this apostate condition is only four months, thereby indicating that this shameful period of time is a relatively short compared to the long history of the church. Nevertheless, it is a time when people have drawn away from the true Christ. It is a time when their first love for God and for Christ has given way to going through the motions. But being busy for Christ does not mean that we love Him, or that we are focusing on the things that Christ likes to be done. The things that are pleasing in the sight of God, such as Bible study and prayer, are left undone in an apostate church. Let us go on to the next verse in this chapter.
The Father in Law (Judges 19:2-9)
And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
Here we have to make one more correction on the translation. The “servant” that the Levite brought with Him was not a servant, but a “young man.” This is a word which frequently occurs in the Bible. It occurs 238 times in the Old Testament, and overwhelmingly it has been translated “young man”.
Why did the Levite bring the young man?
The concubine was a young woman.
Was it perhaps to indicate that the work of evangelizing for Christ would be carried out by a team?
We do not know exactly, for the young man does not play a big role in this story. But the purpose of the Levite was a mission of mercy. He went after her “to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again.” He was going to reinstate her into her former position. Christ came to gather His church by visiting her at her father’s house. And this He did even though He knew that she would remain unsaved, but that the work of evangelism might not disappear. “And she brought Him into her father’s house.”
What was her father’s house?
The church, symbolized by the name Bethlehemjudah was her father’s house, according to Judg 19:2. And thus the minister in charge of that apostate church was the father of the concubine and the father in law of the Levite. But the minister does not recognize Him as Christ, but as a fellow minister. And so they get along.
And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.
And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.
And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.
And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.
And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.
And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.
What do we see in this passage?
We see that the Levite lets the third day come and go without emphasizing that it was a special day. Three days would refer to the process of the atonement of Christ on the cross. But the Levite allows the third day to go as easy as the fourth day. In this we can see that forgiveness of sins is not Christ’s purpose in this parable.
A Short Journey (Judges 19:10-15, Luke 4:24, Judges 19:14-25, Genesis 19:1-11)
Let us now look at the short journey of the Levite, the young man, the young woman, and the two donkeys. We read in Judges 19:10-15,
But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.
And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.
And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.
And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.
And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.
They left Bethlehemjudah late in the afternoon, and came over against Jerusalem, but the Levite did not want to stay in a city of strangers. He would have been better treated in this city of foreigners than in a city of his own nation. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 4:24, “Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.”
He most likely gets a better reception in a foreign country than in His own country. And so, they went on until they came to Gibeah, of the tribe of Benjamin. Interestingly, Gibeah was also the birthplace of Saul, the first king in Israel, whereas David was born in Bethlehem. But since Saul relentlessly persecuted David, and since David was a type of Christ, the battle between Saul and David was a picture of the battle between Satan and Christ, where Satan tries to destroy Christ. But now the Levite and His company are entering Gibeah, of Benjamin. And here in the story from Judges 19:14-25, the storyline runs parallel to that in Genesis 19:1-11. Let us briefly summarize what similarities we found last week between those two passages. In both cases the visitors planned to spend the night in the street. In both cases an old man convinced them that they should come into his house. In both cases the old man made them a feast. In both cases their feast was interrupted by men banging on the front door. In both cases the men were homosexuals who wanted to rape the visitors. In both cases the old man went out to talk to these men. In both cases the old man offered the homosexuals two women, either Lot’s two daughters or the old man’s daughter and the Levite’s concubine. In both cases the homosexuals were struck with blindness, physical blindness in Sodom and spiritual blindness in Gibeah, for the homosexual men of Gibeah raped a woman instead of a man. And from here the two stories again diverge. Lot went to talk to his sons in law. Apparently Lot had at least two more daughters who were already married with men of Sodom, and Lot tries to tell them that the end of the world has come for the city of Sodom, and they need to flee. But he seemed as one who was joking. This is also the response we get if we say to people around us that the end of the world is near; they think that we are joking.
We are now going to switch over to Genesis 19 and follow the story of Lot’s wife.
Almost Saved (Genesis 19:15-26)
And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.
And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:
Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.
And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.
Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Lot’s wife did not enter into the picture until the angels grabbed her hand in verse 16. She did not even enter the picture when dinner was prepared in verse 3. She seemed to agree and went along with all the decisions that were made. She went along when the angels grabbed her hand and brought her outside the city. She went along with the decision to go to Zoar, instead of going all the way to the mountain. But then we read in Genesis 19:26 this BIG warning: “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” There are a number of questions we can ask at this point.
Why did she turn into a pillar of salt?
Well, this verse says that she disobeyed God’s commandment, and that is why she came under the judgment of God.
Is that really the reason?
And why salt. I have heard many preachers comment on Jesus words when He said: “Ye are the salt of the earth”.
They say that salt is good and pleasant, and that salt is a preservative, and that salt enhances the flavor of whatever is being preserved. Well, you can scrap that idea. From Genesis 19:26 we can conclude that salt represents the judgment of God.
Why did God zap her for such a minor infraction?
All she did was one last look at the place where she lived for 23 years. Through all the commotion she may not have heard God’s command not to look back.
Why was this so bad?
Was God unfair?
Was God too strict?
Why did she disobey God’s commandment in the first place?
Was she curious about the noise of fire and brimstone raining on Sodom?
There was no noise. She was walking behind Lot, on the way to Zoar, and the fire from God did not come until they would safely arrive in Zoar. Her daughters probably saw their mother being transformed in an instant, and this was a reminder to her daughters that God means what He says.
Did Lot’s wife assume that she was already safe and in the favor of God her Father, and now she could risk being just a little disobedient?
Surely, God would not mind just a little deviation from what He said. Our God is merciful. God will forgive.
Is this not how people live these days?
Just a little white lie, just a little exaggeration to drive home the point, just a little gossip, just one pen that I take home from my employer, just one floppy disk that I take home from my employer. It does not hurt anyone. God would not mind. It is for a good purpose. Have we not all committed such apparently little sins? Never assume that you have this liberty and that you are safe and secure.
Just a little deviation from what God has said in His Word would not hurt, does it?
Do we always have to be 100% correct when we explain His Word?
And so, you may hear from well meaning Bible teachers that Lot’s wife came under the judgment of God because she refused to leave Sodom.
That is a big fat lie!
Genesis 19:16 says that Lot lingered. Lot was reluctant to leave Sodom, and not a word was said that his wife was reluctant to leave Sodom. His wife went along with everything that was said and done. Her first action in this story came in verse 26.
Was she destined to be rescued with Lot and her two daughters, and did she turn her destiny around by looking back?
Is it possible that she changed the plans of God?
Think about it: Can the creature change what God the creator has determined in the first place?
Was Lot’s wife saved, and on the way to safety she ruined her relationship with God and then she became unsaved?
No, that is absolutely not possible. When God saves us, He saves our soul, and He gives us eternal life, which means life without end. We are not able to undo what God has done in our soul. Lot’s wife was very close to being saved, but her actions showed that she was never saved to begin with. God knew her heart, and God knew that she could not resist the temptation to look back. God never planned to save her, and God never planned to rescue her from the wrath of God that was coming on Sodom. God planned the future and God knows the future. If God would not know the future He would not be God. It is significant that Lot’s wife did not carry a name. This means that God is using Lot’s wife as representing a religious group of people. God used Lot’s wife as a picture of people who think that they are saved, but they are not. Lot’s wife heard the same Gospel that Lot heard. She lived in the same household as Lot did. She heard Lot speak about Jehovah every day. Just like there are people who attend a faithful church every week, and they live in a Godly home every day, and they hear God glorifying music every day, and they pray before their meals every day, but they are not saved, and they do not know that they are not saved.
What is going on?
Not only have they been deaf and blind to the principles of the Gospel, but also they are unwilling to submit themselves to the authority of the Word of God. God’s Holy Spirit has not made their hearts willing. But their judgment will be greater than for those who never heard the Gospel. All this flows from the simple statement of Genesis 19:26, “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Can we find in the Bible what went really on in her heart?
Genesis 19:26 does not really tell us what went on in her heart.
What Was in Her Heart? (Luke 17:31-32, Romans 5:5)
The Lord Jesus tells us to look at Lot’s wife and learn a lesson from that event. Jesus makes it a BIG deal when He stresses: “Remember Lot’s wife”. Of course it is a BIG deal, because it is a matter of life and death. Let us look carefully at the words of Luke 17:31-32,
In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back to the things behind.
Remember Lot’s wife.
At the end of verse 31 you should add four words: “to the things behind”. These four words are present in the Greek text. Both the Textus Receptus of 1611 has it, as well as the more modern Greek texts, such as the Revised Version of 1881. The KJV translators have omitted these four words as if they were redundant, but in our day these four words are crucial to the understanding of this verse.
Verse 31 begins with “In that day”.
What day is this?
It is comparable to the day that Lot, his wife and his two daughters were led out of Sodom on the way to safety, which was actually a picture of the day of the rapture of the believers out of this world on the Last Day. Verse 30 says it is “the day when the Son of man is revealed”.
Is Jesus saying: “On that day, when you are led to safety, do not look back like Lot’s wife did”?
Certainly, the Lord Jesus is not saying that. We know, because the Bible says that on that day we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. The next moment we will be with Christ forever. There is no long road to the mountain that we have to travel.
What then does Jesus have in view when He warns us in verse 31?
“In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back to the things behind.”
What is the focus of verse 31?
The focus is the desire for material things. Jesus is not warning us for the desire of material things on that last day, but on everyday of our life. We must be saved in this life. When the Last Day comes, it will be too late for salvation. Christ must be number one in our life. If Christ is not number one in our life, then covetousness, or the desire for material things will take the place of Christ, and that is why God says that covetousness is identical to idolatry.
What did Lot’s wife long for?
She could not let go of what was in her house. She longed for the material things she left behind in Sodom, because the love of God was not in her heart. We do not learn that from Genesis 19, but we do learn that from Luke 17:31. The focus of verse 31 is a warning not to be attached to the material things in our house, or the material things of this world. Don’t become attached to it in this life, and don’t feel sorry if it will be destroyed. It will all go up in smoke.
And how does Lot’s wife remind us of the concubine in Judges 19?
In fact, both women represent the same persons. Both women have no name. Each of these women represent churches full of people. And both in Genesis 19 as well as in Judges 19 these are people who are still unsaved. They have heard the Gospel many times, but they have remained unsaved. God the Holy Spirit has not accompanied the Gospel message when they heard them. And so, they know the technicalities of salvation. They know the requirement that we must be born again, but they do not know what it means, for they have never experienced the new birth. And so it is with many who are in churches today. Even in our church there will be people who have never experienced the new birth. They have come so very close to being saved but they are not saved. Like Lot’s wife they will come very close to being raptured, but they will not make it, because somehow the love of God has not been shed abroad into their heart by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5). Let us pray for the wisdom that comes from above, and let us pray that this wisdom leads unto salvation for everyone who is here, old and young.
By Alfred J. Chompff