Thursday, December 30, 2010

Judges 17 -21

Map of region according to the Bible, showing ...Image via Wikipedia
Although God declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10),  sometimes the end is really the beginning.

 Initially, under Joshua's leadership, Israel heeded God's direction.  After those who knew Joshua and Caleb died, Israel began to uncomfortably co-exist with the denizens of the land.  The earlier chapters of Judges depicted the pattern of  rebellion, penitence, and then God's deliverance through a judge/military leader.  Finally Samson, a lone ranger type Judge who readily indulged his sexual appetite, perished in his last attack against the Philistines.  Sadly, Israel's last Judge didn't really lead the nation as much as he allowed God to use him in a limited capacity to deliver some Israelites from the tyranny of  Philistines.

Immediately following the account of Samson's death, the author of Judges, redirects the reader to the spiritual climate of Israel before God raised Judges to lead the people.  God's people floundered; God's Law was compromised and corrupted; Israel didn't seem to remember or know what Moses taught them.

The author of Judges summarized the situation by writing:

"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." Judges 17: 6

Since Israel no longer looked to God for direction on how to live, each person did whatever he thought was right or appropriate.  Unfortunately, this statement rings true of contemporary Western society.  Many people familiar with  Judeo-Christian teachings, with the Bible, have drifted away from the immediacy of God's Word.  God, the self-proclaimed true King and Creator of the Universe, has been marginalized and regarded as irrelevant, inappropriate, and even embarrassing.

When God is not perceived to be King and Creator, people appoint themselves as kings over their own lives forgetting that neither birth nor death are within their control.  People then proceed to live their lives indulging every desire without considering the spiritual ramifications of their decisions.  God gave man the Law which is the measuring rod against which we are to evaluate ourselves.   Of course mankind can only always fall short of satisfying God's requirement for Holiness, but that is where God's Grace is so amazing. When Israel repented of sin, God delivered Israel from the oppression of the Philistines.  In the same way, when a believer sees that he is in trouble, that he has sinned against God, and then repents, God will deliver him from the oppression of sin by forgiving the penitent sinner.

People who don't know God, can easily believe themselves to be gods.  Unfortunately, when the oppression of sin becomes unbearable, these people won't be able to deliver themselves from its power.  Only God, the creator and King of this Universe, can deliver us so that we can rest in His Peace.

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