Rev. Joseph Bianco
*Warning – These chapters contain graphic imagery and sexual assault
The chapters that close Judges have echoes of prior stories. It seems that the author wrote this account in such a way as to intentionally bring these former stories to mind. The first story is the epoch of Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot is given hospitality only to find similar men pounding the door asking to “know him” (Gen. 19:5). The verb “to know” in Hebrew is used to denote sexual relations. The second story is from Gen. 4 where Cain murders his brother Abel. One can’t help but notice that the civil war going on in Israel is not just a war between tribes, but a war between brothers (21:6). The point is this: Israel has returned to the debauched days that existed during the early years of the book of Genesis. Not only is there great immorality (rape, murder, sex trafficking), but the nation of Israel has destroyed one of their own brothers, Benjamin. The refrain that we read throughout the book of Judges, “In those day there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” concludes the book (17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25). This is the overarching lesson of Judges, that when everyone does what is right in their own eyes, the result will be self-destruction, the oppression of the weak and vulnerable (women and children), the denigration of society, and not least, abandoning the LORD. It’s a sad end to the story of Judges, but it is not left without hope. The lack of a king makes room for the future king David to come into power. What is obvious however, is that the Lord ought to be their king, the Sovereign over their lives. In Jesus we see the God-king.
Reflect: As you have now finished Judges and find yourself at the bottom of the pit, the resounding statement, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” deserves reflection. It is easy to look at society as a whole and blame the problems of our day on those doing what is right in their own eyes. While this is true for secular society, it is also true for Christians. Christians are daily tempted to do what is right in their own eyes and not in the eyes of the LORD. Take some time and write out the ways that you think God is wrong in his judgements and commandments. Then go to the Lord in prayer and ask him to reorient your heart, that your eyes and his may be set on the same horizon. Pray for forgiveness and faith. Then take some time to rest in the king of kings and the Lord of Lords.
Connect: Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.