Reading on we see that a group of Danites (men from the tribe of Dan) come around finally ready to take their inheritance! Now how many years have past since Joshua led the people into the promised land to seize their inheritance? (see my previous post about waiting around) Anyway, they find the Levite and convince him into going with them to be their priest. He agrees and he takes Micah's idols with him. So here we see yet again Israelites doing their own thing, or as it says over and over in Judges: "everyone did as he saw fit".
If you continue reading here, you'll see that men have become exceedingly wicked and depraved. In chapter 19 it is recorded that a Levite and his concubine are traveling on their way to Bethlehem. They decide to stay the night in Gibeah. As is custom, they go to the square and wait for someone to invite them to stay the night, but no one does. It's late when an old man returns from work and sees them waiting in the square. He ends up inviting them to stay the night with him. Well, a group of men show up and demand that the old man hand over the visiting MAN so they can have sex with him. The man refuses them, begging them not to do such a "vile thing" and instead offers the visitor's concubine! Unfortunately the concubine is raped so much by these men that she ends up dying. Needless to say, the Levite is angry. He takes his dead concubine home with him, cuts her up into 12 pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel. This shocks the Israelites out of their complacency! Finally the people gather together to seek the LORD as to what to do. Again, referring back to Ecclesiastes, we see that today it still takes tragedy to turn us back to God. I won't go into all of the details, you can read it for yourself (see above link). But what I want to point out is that once the people realized how bad things had gotten and that so many people had died, they raised their voices and "weeping bitterly" they cried out to God, "WHY?! WHY has this happened to us?!" Isn't that always the case? People turn away from God, reject Him and His ways, then people behave and live debased lives because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Immorality is rampant and tragic things happen. Then people cry out to God, "WHY?! WHY did this happen to us?!"
It never ceases to amaze me when I read about the Israelites and how time and time again they turn away from God after all He did for them. But what amazes me even more, is how time and time again God hears their cries and answers them! In fact, in Judges 2 it says: "for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them" (verse 18b). God is so gracious, merciful and kind. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)!
The other day I was reading through an old journal of mine. Sadly, I saw how I am so similar to the Israelites in that I would live for God, turn away from God, cry out to God, repent and repeat. I can't very well point my finger at the Israelites with a clear conscious. I am reminded of the words to the the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing":
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
But I am also reminded of the song "Great is Thy Faithfulness".