“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25)
This last verse of Judges pretty much sums it up. The people set the rules. Though Israel’s drift away from God had already begun, by the time of the judges, their turning away was pretty well complete. The book of Judges was written around 1043 B.C. just after Saul, Israel’s first king, began his reign and spans a period of about 350 years. It is one of the twelve “historical books” books of the Bible. Though its author is unknown, they are thought to be a loyal supporter of David.
“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the site of the LORD…” These words are written numerous times in the book of Judges (2:11; 3:7; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1). Israel was in both a moral and spiritual decline. Their disobedience was rampant. They refused to drive their enemies from the land, they committed idolatry, they refused to listen to the advice of the “judges” and they turned away from God after the particular judge’s death. The result of their disobedience was conflict and turmoil. God, however, was gracious, and when Israel expressed their desperation and acknowledged their sinfulness, He would send another judge to deliver them. This pattern played itself out over and over again during this period.
Too often we want to do what is right in our own eyes without proper concern for God’s will. This never gets us very far and it is only when we reap what we have sown that we acknowledge our sinfulness. The truth is we are not too different from Israel in that regard. But thankfully, our God is different and in the book of Judges we see His character on full display. Yes, God is righteous, wrathful and just. There were consequences that resulted from Israel’s disobedience. There are consequences that result from our disobedience as well. But our God is also a loving God. He is merciful and gracious, and just as He heard Israel’s cry, He also hears ours. And just as He delivered them from their failures time and time again, He stands ready to deliver us from ours. We will spend our lives learning more and more about God’s character. As we do, let us call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us lead lives in submission to God’s will. Let us do what is right in His eyes only.