Dinah: A Lesson in Satan’s Tactics for Today
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the insidiousness of sin that describes how when we are sinned against, a seed of bitterness, resentment, hurt, and anger is planted into our hearts. And how if this seed is not rooted out, then the wrong done to us, or someone we love, can grow in our hearts until we become filled with hate and, ultimately, become like the person who wronged us.
I also pointed out how Satan’s strategy is to inspire unrighteous people to do evil, to do real wrong against innocents, and then inflame the sense of outrage in the innocent and incite them to seek to destroy the evil by using the devil’s methods – to retaliate, to punish, to destroy the one who did wrong.
In another blog, I described how the Old Testament is the story of God’s creation of humankind, humanity’s fall into sin, and God’s promise to send the Messiah, and that essentially all the rest of the OT is focused on God’s agencies working to bring the Messiah to save humanity and Satan working to obstruct God’s plan.
In this blog, I want to show how these truths are revealed in the story of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob, recorded in Genesis chapter 34, and how the lessons taught in this story have practical application for us today.
Jacob had just returned from Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan near the town of Shechem. His daughter Dinah goes out to visit the young women of the town. Shechem, the crown prince of the region (for whom the town was named), sees Dinah and sexually assaults her. But he is completely infatuated with her and wants to have her for his wife. He seeks to console and comfort Dinah, and she chooses to stay with him in the city after the assault. He then sends his father, the king, to Jacob to negotiate for her hand in marriage. Shechem himself pleads with the family, promising to do whatever they want and pay whatever bride-price they demand to gain their blessing and have Dinah for his wife. Further, Shechem’s father offers to let them live in his territory and to become part of his kingdom.
Dinah’s brothers respond “deceitfully” and tell Shechem that the only way they can allow him to take Dinah as a wife is if all the men in his city are circumcised; they will then grant permission and promise to live in peace. The king and crown prince tell the men of the city what peace-loving and kind men Dinah’s family are, so the men of Shechem agree to be circumcised. Then on the third day, when all the men were incapacitated with pain from their circumcisions, Simeon and Levi, outraged at what happened to their sister, attack and kill all the men in Shechem. They then take all their possessions, flocks, herds, women, and children for their own.
Jacob is alarmed and concerned that their actions will cause the other city-states in the region to join together to attack and destroy his family, so he moves the family away.
Do you see Satan at work here – spreading sinfulness and attempting to destroy the avenue for Messiah? Do you see his strategy of inciting people to try and right a wrong by using evil methods?
Let’s spell it out step by step:
- Shechem sexually assaults Dinah – evil is done; sin is committed.
- The sinner, however, doesn’t seek to run from his crime, but seems remorseful and seeks to comfort Dinah. Then he goes to her family, acknowledges his wrong, and seeks to give Dinah station, name, and standing as princess of the region, by making her his wife and paying whatever price her family sets. He is willing to do all in his power to heal the injury he has caused. Dinah seems to be agreeable as she stays with him in the city.
- The brothers, however, now have the evil seed of resentment planted in their hearts. That seed, unremedied, sprouts and causes them to become incensed, outraged, and offended. They do not forgive, but seek to expunge the evil – and what methods do they use?
- Deceit (breaking the 9th commandment)
- Murder (breaking the 6th commandment)
- Dishonoring their father (breaking the 5th commandment)
- Using the sign of God’s covenant for evil, thereby taking God’s name in vain (breaking the 3rd commandment)
- Stealing property (breaking the 8th and 10th commandments)
Think of all the innocents in that city who were harmed by Simeon and Levi as they sought to punish the wrongdoer, to set the wrong right, to exterminate the evil, and to change society so such problems would not happen again.
They did all of this evil in the name of justice. They did evil as a way of dealing with evil. And Satan celebrates because sin spreads – the hearts and minds of Jacob’s sons are damaged, the goodwill toward Jacob and his family is turned to fear, distrust, and perhaps hatred, and innocents, who may have come to know Jacob’s God, are killed. Jacob’s family’s reputation is tarnished – who can trust any agreements with them? – and, thereby, God’s reputation is tarnished. No doubt, Satan will attempt to inspire others in the region to work against Jacob’s family, seeking to destroy the avenue for the Messiah. How many generations of violence with Jacob’s descendants stemmed from this event? Only in heaven will we know the full extent of the damage caused by the actions of Simeon and Levi.
We can never win God’s cause by using Satan’s methods.
Do we see these same strategies being used by Satan throughout human history and today? Satan inspires the unrighteous to do evil, then uses that sin to plant the seeds of resentment and outrage into the hearts of the innocent. The seeds bear the fruit of outrage, fomenting into violence focused upon destroying the evil, punishing the wrongdoer, and changing society.
But it is all a deception – a trick, a ploy, a con – being foisted upon people by the master-deceiver. The lie is so well hidden that those reacting to the initial wrong are just like Simeon and Levi, willing to break every principle of love in order to punish those they see as wrong, all the while claiming they are acting in righteousness. If it were possible, even the very elect of God would be deceived.