As "one man," without a judge's direction, the people of Israel gathered to seek the LORD's instruction at Mizpah, which is very close to Shiloh. The decision to destroy Gibeah fulfills God's direction of how Israel is to handle an abomination like this. Deuteronomy 13:12-18 describes devoting an entire town to destruction.
What a faithful group of Israelite warriors! Setting their mind to follow God's instruction and then losing 40,000 men to the Benjaminites, had to cause some doubt among the ranks. But they faithfully consulted God and obeyed His command even to their detriment.
Interesting to note, just like Sodom and Gomorrah, Gibeah and the Benjaminite towns were all destroyed by fire.
Our God and Father, we want to know You and ourselves. Help us see ourselves in Scripture. It is easy for me when reading events in Your Word like Judges 19 to exempt myself as if that has nothing to do with me. I know I have a depraved nature just like the men of Gibeah. Thank You for protecting me all these years through Your grace and mercy. May I be as faithful to Your instruction as the Israelite warriors even to my detriment.
"So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man."
A clear conscience is essential to Paul. Is it to me?
In Scripture, we are told it is important to know how to have and keep a clear conscience. In the OT, the heart performs the function of the conscience. In Psalm 51:10, David, in confessing his sin with Bathsheba cries out, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
Paul says a great deal about his and our consciences. In Romans 2:15, Paul says our consciences bear witness either accusing or excusing us. Isn't that true? Don't you find at times your conscience screaming "This is wrong!" and other times saying "This seems okay." Unfortunately, Paul also says our consciences are not the best guide.
In Paul's first letter to Timothy, he discusses the conscience a lot. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul says the purpose of his instruction is for believers to be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, good conscience, and genuine faith. In verse 19, he says some have shipwrecked their faith by not maintaining a good conscience. In 1 Timothy 4:2 those with a seared conscience are described as liars. A person's conscience can become defiled according to Titus 1:15.
Hebrews tells us the sacrifices of the OT were unable to perfect the conscience of the worshiper (9:9, 10:1-3); the blood of Christ will purify our conscience (9:14); we can draw near to God because our hearts are clean from an evil conscience (10:19-22); and that we should pray for each other to have a clear conscience (13:18).
So, the questions seem to be "Do you know how to have a clear conscience?" and "Do you know how to keep it clear?" Unsurprisingly, the answer to both questions is the blood of Jesus.
Jesus explained it well to Peter in John 13:3-15. After Peter had refused to let Jesus wash his feet, Jesus told him: unless I wash you, you have no share in me. Peter then wanted not just his feet, but his entire body washed! In John 13:10 Jesus said, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean." We need to be washed one time with the cleansing blood of Jesus to be clean. We also need a daily washing of our conscience with the same cleansing blood to keep a clear conscience before God and man.
Jesus, thank You for shedding Your cleansing blood for one as filthy as me. Holy Spirit remind me and quicken me to come for the washing of Your Word daily. May my conscience be informed by nothing except You and Your Word.