Judges 20-21

Doing What Is Right In Our Own Eyes.

“In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” ­– Judges 21:25 NLT

The book of Judges ends with civil war. This sad snapshot of life in the land of Israel during those days is not a pretty one. It paints a picture of moral decay and degeneracy, self-sufficiency and idol worship, sexual promiscuity and moral compromise. The people of God had failed to honor God. They did not want Him as their sovereign Lord and king. Yet they lacked real leadership among their own. And when God did raise up a leader, they refused to listen or follow. They had walked away from God and the spiral of moral decay ended in a bloody civil war with more than 65,000 Israelites dead.

Daniel I. Block describes the book of Judges in sobering tones. “No book in the Old Testament offers the modern church as telling a mirror as this book. From the jealousies of the Ephraimites to the religious pragmatism of the Danites, from the paganism of Gideon to the self-centeredness of Samson, and from the unmanliness of Barak to the violence against women by the men of Gibeah, all of the marks of Canaanite degeneracy are evident in the church and its leaders today. This book is a wake-up call for a church moribund in its own selfish pursuits. Instead of heeding the call of truly godly leaders and letting Jesus Christ be Lord of the church, everywhere congregations and their leaders do what is right in their own eyes.”

Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Yet self-rule always leads to self-delusion. In the case of the Israelites, it led to further and further failure morally, corporately, and spiritually. As the people of God they had long ago lost their significance for God. They were no longer agents of change and influence for Yahweh, but had become compromised – living more like the nations around them than like a people set apart by God. They justified their sins, rationalized their idolatry, excused their behavior, ignored their failures, and embraced the culture around them. Much like we do today. That the people of God should sink so low that they would end up fighting with and killing one another is amazing. One minute they’re seeking God’s counsel, then the next minute they’re making rash vows and coming up with their own plans to clean up the mess they make. While they feign outrage at the actions of the men of Gibeah, you never see any real signs of repentance. They’re appalled at the wickedness of others – “What is this wickedness that has taken place among you?” (Judges 20:12b NASB) – but they fail to see the countless cases of their own wickedness and sin. Because they have refused to view God as their king, they have made themselves king. They are self-ruled, self-obsessed, self-centered, and self-destructive. They are destroying themselves from within.

This is indeed a wake-up call to the church of Christ today. The apostle Paul continues to issue the same wake-up call to us from his letter to the Ephesians: “For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds. This is why it is said, ‘Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” (Ephesians 5:9-19 NLT).

So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.

Father, wake up Your church. Open our eyes to the reality that we are just as self-ruled and self-destructive at times as the people of Israel were. We live too often as fools, acting as if You don’t even exist and refusing to seek Your wisdom and obey Your will. We have compromised with the world and are suffering as a result. We have lost our saltiness and dimmed our light by our constant refusal to live for You. But You continue to shower us with Your grace. Don’t let us take Your grace for granted. Wake us up! Make us great again. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

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