The Sword of Levi

On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and plundered.” Genesis 34:25-29

Levi was raw and impetuous early on. Fueled by righteous anger against the humiliating of his sister (and the inaction of his conflict-avoiding father), he and his brother Simeon tricked Hamor and the Hivites into getting circumcised, and, while they were still healing, exacted vicious revenge. On his death bed, his father Jacob cursed him for his violence, prophesying he would be scattered in Israel: Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.”  (Genesis 49:5-7)

Interestingly, the strain of this passion for justice and standing unabashedly for what is right coursed through the tribe of Levi, and was boldly exhibited generations later in judgment on those who had made and worshiped a golden calf. Moses said, ‘Who is on the Lord‘s side? Come to me.’ And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. And he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.”‘ And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And Moses said, ‘Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord,.. so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.’” This time, harsh justice was directed explicitly by God and measured without anger on the guilty for the purity of His people. The man of the sword, using his weapon for good, became the tribe of Levitical priests, bearers of the “sword of the Spirit, the Word of God,” scattered throughout Israel for holy ministry. (Genesis 49:5-7; Exodus 32:26-29; Numbers 35:8; Deuteronomy 10:8;18:1; Ephesians 6:17)

Waves crashing sand, rocks, Western NZ

God appoints personalities and proclivities, and through our lives, He redeems them for His good purpose. What, when untrained and immature and unsurrendered, is initially used for troublemaking or destruction, can be sanctified into an instrument for good. For us, we offer these uncultivated inclinations to God to shape; for others, we direct and discipline and pray that God correct and train in constructive usage. Ofttimes, those with the strongest personalities can be effective leaders and orators, those with creative minds keen strategists and encouragers, those with clever mischief the light and sweet humor in any gathering. When bridled, and tamed if necessary, young tendencies can develop into remarkable talents God uses greatly.

Gracious Appointer of every good and perfect gift, take and mature and employ all You have entrusted to us, for the blessing of Your church and the glory of Your name. (Romans 12:6; James 1:17)

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