Judges 19-21: What an ending!

So I was going to do a post encapsulating Sunday and Monday’s readings, but came to realize that both the readings deserve their own post, so we’ll start with Judges 19-21. Let me begin by reiterating the title of this entry: What an ending! And not in a good way either. It sort of ends OK with provision being made for the Benjaminites to have wives, but what a story of human depravity. Notice the bookends of the story as well. Chapter 19:1 and chapter 21:25 give the explanation for these events: “In those day there was no king in Israel and everyone did whatever he wanted.” No guiding force in the nation, no one to keep them on track. Don’t ask me where the priesthood was in the midst of all of this, if you noticed they are oddly absent from almost the whole book of Judges. The only account in the whole book involving a Levite is in chapters 17-18.

The nation was adrift, carried along by the whims of the individual. Not common accountability, no one giving direction, no one ordained by God to give long term guidance. The judges were appointed to fill a void, but they were not God’s ultimate solution. There was no pressure to change their behaviour because God was removed from the picture.

Jeffrey Dahmer, the famous murderer and sadist, said in an interview that he had no reason to change his behaviour because if there was no God, there were no universal morals and there was no accountability in an afterlife. It is interesting that in the same interview (February 1994) Dahmer confessed faith in Jesus Christ and admitted that he would stand before Jesus and be held accountable for his actions. (Holman OT Commentary: Judges, Ruth; pg 292). Really that is what the book of Judges boils down to. When you remove God from the equation, you throw the idea of any universal morality or accountability out the window and then humanity is free to act in whatever way they want.

That is why the New Testament spends so much time talking about the change faith in Jesus should bring to our inner self. Jesus talks about cleaning the inside of the cup in Matthew 23. Paul talks about the death of the old self and the new life in Christ in Romans 6 and 2 Corinthians 5. This why in Ephesians 4, Philippians 1 and Colossians 1 Paul pleads with us to live lives worthy of the calling we have in Christ Jesus. First because it is part of our testimony and brings glory to God, but also because we are under a new morality in Christ, a new standard.

So when scripture talks about Jesus as King and Lord, consider this closing account from Judges and remember what happens when we live our lives without a king.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ruth 1-4

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