The book of Judges can be broken up by two distinct statements that defined much of Israel’s stormy history with the Lord. The first was “The children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.” The second was “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
There was a cycle throughout most of the book of Judges. The people would sin, commit national idolatry, and do evil in the sight of the Lord. God would lift His hand from their nation, and Israel became subject to oppression. Once they acknowledged their sin, however, and cried out to God for deliverance, God raised up judges (champions) to deliver His people, who restored them in righteousness and peace. When Israel, at least, knew they were involved with evil, there was hope for the nation.
This process was repeated until a new saying emerged, “There was no king in Israel.” Israel came to the place where there was no standard of ultimate judgment to determine truth, expose error, or protect from deception. Besides, there was always a king in Israel. It was the Lord, God Jehovah, Himself.
What was the consequence of rejecting the King of kings and the Lord of lords? Every man did what what right in their own eyes. This leads to all of us like sheep going astray and a terrible predicament where no one does good, no not one.
No longer was God and His objective truth the guidance His fallen creatures needed to negotiate through the challenges of this life. No, every man became a law and god unto himself. The latter part of Judges reveals the bitter consequences of what took place when Israel refused to believe they were doing evil and in great need of repentance. It is the most shocking, brutal, bloody and perverted part of Israel’s history.
The historical lesson is clear. When men and nations forsake the true and living God, violence, perversion, and oppression always replace Him. This is why the reformers throughout redemptive history cried obedience to God was the best defense against tyranny and oppression.
Jeremiah reminds us, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Notice two profound truths that troubled Israel that is so applicable today in our current distress. Not only did God’s people forsake Him, which led to a hosts of problems and bitter consequences, But when they suffered, instead of humbling themselves and turn back to God, they doubled down on stupid.
They tried to provide answers, lasting solutions apart from God and so their cure became worse than the disease. Is our nation making the same mistake now as we look to government, money, and the trillions of dollars of debt to bail us out of this perceived threat?
My recommendation, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).