I read the last few chapters in Judges today. How sad! The people were not following God, and had nothing to govern their lives but themselves so everyone did as they saw fit. What a mess they made of things!
Always when I read the Bible I ask myself "What can I learn?" and "How is this relevant to today?" So today when I flipped open to Judges and read one account after another of the atrocities happening among God's chosen people, it was very disturbing. In fact, I will let you just read it and see for yourselves since I don't know how to narrow the violence and bizarre behaviors down to a few sentences.
How do I begin to see what God was doing during that time? And more importantly, how do I make these chapters relevant to my life?
The key is in the text around each account: In those days Israel had no king. In fact, they did not even have a casual relationship with God. A lot of counterfeits for God, one guy had the great idea to make an idol out of some silver coins he found and then hired a runaway Levite to be his "High Priest" (see Judges 17-18).
Here is the relevant bit. There is a thought in this world that we do not need God, or even a list of "Do's and Don'ts." That we can do what we feel is best, and as long as we don't hurt anyone and keep to our own business everyone can be happy. The problem with this is given to our own devices we don't stay in our own business, and we especially have a hard time not hurting anyone else. We may not kill anyone, but we are terribly self-centered and that ends up wounding others' souls.
The world is not spinning into a better place on its' own. Always we have the tendency to spin into chaos rather than into peace, love and harmony. Peace, love and harmony are hard work and do not come easily. When we (personally and in a cultural sense) deny the existence of God who has a plan for us and expect ourselves to just "be good" we end up miserable.
This problem isn't just something that happened in 500 BC. Every day we see on the news examples of people and nations who have "no king." The King of Kings who has the world in His hands desires to help us be in control and to be good. We can't expect anyone to become in control and "good" on their own and we cannot expect sinners to not sin.
Our responsibility to ourselves is to be obedient to Christ's call on our lives and press into Him as the world tries to ignore it and fix problems in their own way. Our responsibility to our children is to teach them to discern right and wrong, and introduce them to the One who loves them better than we do. Our responsibility to our community is to be the best representation of our faith. This is especially difficult in areas that busyness and self-promotion is the driving force (but that's for another time).
We only have a little while to serve our King. Let's make the most of it and pray for opportunities to change lives around us. Oh, and crack open Judges and be amazed!