Header 20th anniversary

Issue No. 26

29 June - 5 July 2009

Thinking Points by Mickey Chiang

The All Wrong Story (Judges Chapters 19 & 20)

Have you ever heard a true story in which everybody does something wrong? There’s one in the Holy Bible; it’s called “A Levite and His Concubine”.

The Levites were set apart by God for Himself, to do the work connected with the Tabernacle. So they were seen as holy.  This Levite living in a remote area of Ephraim had taken a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.  Taking a concubine implies that he already had a wife. Wasn’t something wrong with the Levite, or with his marriage?

Now the concubine “was unfaithful to him.  She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem” (Jud. 19:2).  So she too did wrong.

But wait a second, in those days women could not travel about alone, so who escorted her to Bethlehem?  Who but her lover?  The lover also did wrong, didn’t he?

After four months, the Levite went to her parents’ home to persuade her to return to him.  If he truly loved her, why wait four months?  Was he wrong to wait so long?
The concubine’s father “gladly welcomed him” (19:3).  But hadn’t he been wrong in not sending her back to the Levite earlier?  And wasn’t his “welcome” excessive, since he kept persuading the Levite to stay day after day after day? 

Finally the Levite left on the fifth afternoon. Because of the late start caused by the concubine’s father, he had to stop over for the night in Gibeah, in the tribal area of Benjamin. 

Actually, the Levite’s young servant had suggested they stop over in “the city of the Jebusites”, Jerusalem.  Reminding his master about the Jebusites all but guaranteed the Levite’s avoidance of Jerusalem, lest he became ceremonially defiled by the non-Jews. The Levite made the wrong assumption that it would be better to stop at Jewish Gibeah.  In Gibeah serious trouble brewed up.

The Levite had decided to sleep in the city square. An old farmer, returning from his fields that evening, offered them free board and lodging. “Only, don’t spend the night in the square.”  He did not tell them why.

That night, some wicked men surrounded the old man’s house and shouted  that the Levite be brought out so they could have sex with him.  They, obviously, were doing something wrong.

The old man refused to let them do such a vile thing to a guest under his protection.  So he offered his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine to the homosexual mob.  Was this right?  Virgin daughter aside, was the concubine not under his protection also?  What right had he to offer someone else’s concubine to be gang-raped?

After the homosexual mob persisted in their demands, the Levite sent out his concubine.  What kind of a man would send his woman out to be gang-raped, just to save himself?  If he thought she would not be sexually attractive to male homosexual males, then he thought wrong. The concubine was “raped and abused throughout the night” (19:25) 

At dawn she came back to the house and fell down at the doorway.  Hey, then someone must have observed her return.  In fact, many people must have heard the mob raping and abusing the woman, and her screams. Weren’t the people of Gibeah wrong not to have come to her rescue?

Judges 19:27 tells us, “When the master got up in the morning”; this means that he had been able to sleep!  How could he?

How did he react when he saw her sprawled at the doorway?  “Get up, let’s go,” he told her.  What?  No checking to see if she was all right?  No rushing to clean her up?  No breakfast?  Was this the right way for a man to behave?

Actually, the unfortunate concubine had died at dawn.  The Levite brought her corpse home, cut it into 12 pieces and sent the pieces to every part of Israel. The gruesome, decaying, body parts caused 400,000 Israelite fighting men to gather at Mizpah, just inside Benjamin territory. The Levite told them, “The men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me.”  Was this true?

With charges of attempted murder, rape and murder leveled against Gibeah,  the 400,000-strong Israelite army demanded the handing over of the guilty Gibeah men.  Astonishingly, the Benjaminites refused to do so and mustered 26,700 men to do battle!  Was that a right decision?  They won two battles, but in the third they were almost annihilated.

But were the other Israelites wrong to pursue the survivors so mercilessly from Mizpah, through Ephraim, West Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun to Rimnon? And to put to the sword and the torch all the Benjamin towns?

Everyone did wrong, when “everyone did as he saw fit” (20:25). What is the best alternative?

News Bits

Latest Updates for TS160 (Contemporary Theologians and Theologies)
Please note the change of dates for this course. The new dates are as follows: Jul 7, 21, Aug 4, 18, Sept 1, 15, 29, Oct 13. All sessions are held on Tuesdays and the timing remains at 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

If you are interested in the course but are hesitating to sign up for various reasons, you are most welcome to attend the first session to have a feel of what the course is about. Simply send an email to Dr Edwin Tay at taye@bgst.edu.sg to inform him of your interest.

There is no Chapel on 01 July 2009 as most of the BGST staff will be at the Inaugural Conference. On 8 July, we will have a Dedication Chapel in the evening instead of 12 noon to commit the new academic year to the Lord. There will be a time of fellowship over reception at 7pm followed by Chapel at 8pm. Dr Quek will be leading Chapel. Venue remains unchanged - 2nd floor, BGST. For catering purposes, we would appreciate if you could RSVP with Kok Wee at 62276815 ext 221 if you are coming. Hope to see you!

09 annual lectureYou are invited to join us at our BGST 2nd Annual Lecture on Contemporary Issues. This year we are privileged to have Rev Peter Harris, Founder and Director of A Rocha, to speak on “Why Creation is Waiting For The Christians”. The annual lecture will be held from 8.00-9:30pm at Zion BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13. Admission is free. Those who register online at http://www.bgst.edu.sg/
will be presented with a $5 bookshop coupon at the Reception Desk at the lecture.

BGST is also supporting an A Rocha seminar on “Climate Change, Health and Faith” at the Botany Centre from 2.30pm - 6.30 pm. Visit http://www.bgst.edu.sg/pdf/climate_change.pdf for details and http://bgst.edu.sg/climate_change to register online.

Library Hours
BGST Library will close at 6pm on Friday, 10 July 2009 to prepare for our Annual Lecture. On Saturday (11 July 2009), the Library will be opened as usual from 9am - 6pm.


Chapel Notes

Last week's chapel speaker was our alumna, Ms Alvina Ng. Alvina openly shared some of the difficult situations she had to go through in regard to her health during the past couple of years while at the same time she was also deeply engaged with her Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies at BGST. She is so grateful to the Lord for seeing her through her studies, despite those challenging circumstances. She testified of how Romans 8:28 is true - that God's timing and plans are the best, and He is the best. She then spoke on James 1:2-4. Firstly, trials can be expected to occur to all of us, as James used "whenever" instead of "if". Secondly, "trials of many kinds" mean that the call to "consider it pure joy" pertains to the whole range of difficulties we find ourselves facing. Thirdly, to "consider it pure joy" implies equating our trying circumstances to joy itself, and not complaining. It means looking ahead to the perseverance that leads to maturity of character. A mature person will be stable, faithful, honour God with integrity and not enjoy immediate benefits at the expense of jeopardising long-term good. In encouraging us to persevere, she reminded us to keep in mind that God is love, just, powerful and sovereign. She shared a favourite hymn "God Will Take Care of You" and a song "Shepherd of My Soul", with help from Christine and the audience, before introducing a scrapbook chronicling her journey.'

Courses commencing in Term 1, 2009-2010 

The Educational Ministry of the Church (ECF500/CE101, 3 cr); July 7,14, 21, 28, Aug 4, 11, 18, 25 (Tue 7.15-10.15pm); Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng

Contemporary Theologian & Theologies (TS160, 3 cr)(Video class);  Jul 7, 21, Aug 4, 18, Sept 1, 15, 29, Oct 13 (Tue 7.30 - 9.30pm); Lecturer: Dr Douglas Milne; Tutor: Dr Edwin Tay

*Preaching in the Church: Homiletics II (AT245, 1.5cr); July 9, 16, 23, 30, Aug 6 (5 sessions)(Thu 7.15-10.15pm); Lecturer: Rev Song Cheng Hock

*Counselling Skills: Dealing with Crisis Situations (CO231, 1.5cr); July 9, 23, Aug 6, 20 (Thu 7.15-10.15pm); Lecturer: Mr Yam Keng Mun

Spirituality & Ministry [Work] (MM260, 3 cr); July 13, 20, 27, Aug 3, 17, 24, 31, Sep 7 (Mon 7.15 -10.15pm); Lecturer: Mr John Chong Ser Choon

New Testament Foundations I (NT101, 3 cr); July 13, 20, 27,Aug 3, 17, 24, 31 Sep 7, 14, 28, Oct 5, 12, 19, 26; (14 sessions) (Mon 7.30 - 9.30pm); Lecturer: Dr Aquila Lee

Introduction to Evangelism & World Mission (ME101, 3 cr)(Video class); July 31, Aug 7, 14, 21, 28 (Fri 7.30– 9.30pm) Lecturer: Mr Martin Goldsmith; Tutor: Ms Irene Tay [Required for MDiv]

The Christian Mind (AT361, 1.5cr); Aug 3, 17, 24, 31 (Mon 7.15-10.15pm); Lecturer: Rev David Wong

*Biblical Hebrew (BH111, 3 cr); Aug 5, 12, 19, 26, Sep 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4, 11, 18 (Wed 7.30-9.30pm); Lecturer: Dr Augustine Pagolu

*Biblical Hebrew: Basic Research Tools (BH214, 1.5cr); Aug 5, 12, 19, 26, Sep 2, 9, 16, 23 (Wed 7.30-9.30pm); Lecturer: Dr Augustine Pagolu

Biblical Hermeneutics & Interpretation (HE101, 3 cr); Aug 26, Sep 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct 7, 14, 21, 28, Nov 4, 11, 18, 25 (Wed 7.30-9.30pm) (14 sessions); Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite

Globalization & Postmodernity: A Christian Response (MM258, 1.5 cr); Aug 26, Sep 2, 9, *15(Tue) (Wed 7.15-10.15pm); Lecturer: Mr Ben Pwee 

Old Testament Foundations I (OT101, 3 cr); Aug 28, Sep 4, 11, 18, 25, Oct 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov 6, 13, 20, Dec 4, 11, 18 (Fri  7.30-9.30pm); Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite

TENT Modules
Understanding Culture, Jun 16, 23, & Jul 7 (Tue 7.20 - 10pm) Lecturer: Dr Ng Peh Cheng

Biblical Basis for Tentmaking Mission, Jul 21, 28 (Tue 7.20 - 10pm)(2 sessions) Lecturer: Mr Andre De Winne

Religions of Asia, Aug 4, 11 & 18 (Tue 7.20-10pm) Lecturer: Dr Augustine Pagolu & Ms Irene Tay

Coping with Stress, Aug 25, Sep 1, 8 (Tue 7.20 - 10pm) Lecturer : Mr Yam Keng Mun

* Courses marked with an asterisk are not offered on audit basis. Registration is open for all courses. Visit www.bgst.edu.sg for course description and registration (under Course & Events/Course Schedules).

REMINDER: From 1st July, the fees for audit courses will be revised to $105 & $210 for 1.5 credits and 3 credits courses respectively. Please make payment before 1st July 09 to enjoy the existing course fees for audit course.

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