No king in Israel

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day seven)

“In those days, there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”–17: 6

Most scholars think that Samuel wrote the book of Judges.  Years later, he was the historian who reflected on the lessons of this unproductive chapter and recorded them as a warning.

Authority is good.  (The Spirit, government, parents, pastors–see Romans 13).  Samuel will later struggle with the idea of a human king for Israel (see 1 Samuel 8) , but even he concedes that unrestrained personal freedom is an unworkable system.

Haven’t we come to the same place?  Headed there?  Challenging any authority outside of self?  Don’t we (apart from the influence of Christ) resist leadership too?

“I am a man under authority” said the Centurion who so impressed Jesus.  (Matthew 8:9) For Jesus, submission is a virtue.  Like Samuel, He warns those who recognize no king but self and its thoughts, “You are on an unwise path”.

Our Own Image

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day six)

And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” Judges 17:3

The Israelites committed two grave evils: idolatry and casting the LORD in their own image. They were quick to adopt the lifestyle of pagan worship, and even when they did get the name right (the LORD) they believed things about him or worshiped him in ways that he did not prescribe at all, not even close. Judges 17 is a keen reminder of this reality in the ancient Israelites…and us. We can make God into our own image. We can be guilty of getting His name right, but ascribing things to Him that He has not revealed. This only ever happens when we choose to listen to ourselves, others, or culture over God; or we interpret what God has revealed to us through the lens of our own choosing.

Sadly, the result is the same, chaos and subtle (and not-so-subtle) destruction. How do we ensure we are actually listening to God’s voice? Two connected ways. One, by faithfully
and regularly reading the Bible. The Holy Spirit teaches us, which means that consistent reading of God’s Word has a self-correcting affect on us; the Holy Spirit won’t let us continue casting God in our own image. Two, faithful fellowship with other Christians. When we do fellowship right, we can gently nudge each other the moment we begin to make God in our own image.

So, Christian do both faithfully! God desires that you know Him!

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

Default Setting

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day five)

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

It seems like this was the “default setting” for the Israelites- When there was no King (voice of God), they selfishly turned inward to find guidance and understanding.

Thousands of years later, we see that we are the same.  Sadly, this inward and selfish bent has been the default setting for the human heart throughout history. Apart from a relationship with God through Christ, we are left with our own (man-made) wisdom and understanding to guide and govern us.

The good news of the Gospel, is that God has made a way to speak to the human heart that will trust and follow Him.  Even in relationship with God, there is still the struggle against this “default setting”.

How can we resist?  What can we do?  Start with these:

Accountability-  Hebrews 10:23-25

Discipline- 1 Timothy 4:7

Humility- Psalm 139:23-24


Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day four)

Micah’s mother meant well.  She was pleased to find what happened to her silver and she dedicated it to the Lord.  Where she failed though was in her application.  Instead of worshipping the Lord in the way He had prescribed, she did it in her own way.  She disobeyed God’s direct command to make no graven images.  She sought to worship God according to her own sinful heart.

Are we guilty of ignoring God’s commands and doing things our own way?  Have we placed idols before God?  Maybe we had good intentions, but we failed to base our actions in Scripture.  Have we lost sight of the Truth in Scripture…saying that it was good for the ancients, but it is no longer valid for today?   Ask the Lord to search your heart and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.  God’s Truth never changes…it applies today just as it did thousands of years ago.


Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day three)

“I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah.”  What does a priest of Yahweh bring to the mix?  Power, baby.  This is the new economy–bringing together an individual who wants to protect what’s his, and a holy man looking for the highest bidder.  What could go wrong?  Apparently nothing–and that’s the problem.  Such an arrangement works because it conforms to fallen human desire.  And religion that works for us–that’s certainly attractive.  It’s spirituality as personal protection.  But if all you’ve got is a security system, pretty soon everybody’s an intruder.  Including the Lord.  Now, seriously, what do you suppose would happen if God had access to your life?

It Doesn’t Make Sense

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day two) …and his mother said, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son to make a graven image and a molten image”…vs. 17:3

No matter how many times you reread that verse it still sounds ridiculous. How could anyone think that the best way to dedicate something to the Lord would be to make an idol? You’re right it just doesn’t make sense. How could anyone ever get to that point in their discernment to allow such an incongruity to happen?

It seems like a blatant affront to the ten commandments, but are we so far removed from Micah? We may not be making graven images, but I am sure there are things that we are consciously putting in front of God. How often do we decide to take a Sunday off? What about our time alone with the Lord. Do we value our sleep our personal time, more than what he has asked from us?

If someone were to write our story would they react the way we do when we read about Micah?

No king in Israel

Re:Verse reading–Judges 17:1-6; 18:1; 19:1; 20:1-7; 21:25 (day one)

“In those days there was no King in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”–17:6

Sad and instructive chapters.  We watch as Israeli society disintegrates.

Every decision seems worse than the preceding.  A Israeli man has an idol (17).  The tribe of Dan steals it and sets the idol up for their whole tribe (18)  (Dan eventually became a center for idolatry in Israel).  The gang rape of an concubine (19). Inter-tribal war to vindicate her death (20)  A rash decision, followed by a worse one. (21)

Amazed and helpless we watch this tragedy unfold and fear that we are living in a similar moment. Over and over the diagnostic sentence is repeated.  NO King in Israel (not God, no governor). Unrestricted and unchallenged personal choice.  Chaos results.

It isn’t inevitable.  The book of Ruth tells of people in the same period who lived with faith and humility under the Government of God.  Very different outcomes.

May the Lord give us ears.


Best day

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day seven) 

“The dead that he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life”–16:30

It was the best day of his entire life.  Like the thief of the cross, clarity came to Samson with just minutes left on the clock.  Maybe physical blindness helped him realize that he had been spiritually so.  Maybe iron chains helped him know that he had long been chained to himself and his desires.

If so, he is not alone.  God often meets us in adversity.  “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” says Psalm 119:67.

At the end of his life, Samson returned to God and found grace.  He was never better or wiser or more useful.

Same with us on the day we die to self.  The end of the old man is often the beginning of the new man.  It will be our best day too!


Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day six) 

But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. He would not have shown us all these things, or have spoken to us like this just now.” Judges 13:23

A very astute argument from Monoah’s wife, “If God wanted us dead, He wouldn’t have accepted our offering or SPOKEN to us at all.” This truth is clothed in glory! Consider the ways that God speaks to us. He speaks to us through His creation (Psalm 19:2), He speaks historically and presently to us through the Word, Jesus (John 1:1-4), and He speaks through his written Word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). As of 2014 the Bible has been translated into 531 languages and counting, with over 2000 other languages having a portion translated. This is in stark contrast to any other “holy” book; the Qur’an, for example, is technically forbidden to be translated from the Arabic, although translations exist. Not only has God spoken, but he is sovereignly making His revelation known to all peoples and nations. He is casting a wide net; He desires that every tribe and tongue hear His voice. Why?

We must come to the same joyous conclusion, as did Monoah’s wife, God speaks because he wants us to have life and purpose. He wants us to live! Jesus said it like this in John 17:13, “I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves.” By knowing that God speaks, we can also know that He desires for us life, purpose, and eternal joy! What glorious news!

God’s Presence

Re:Verse reading–Judges 13:1-5, 14:1-9, 16:1-30 (day five) 

Judges 16:20- “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him”.

Questions that come to mind are: 1) I thought God was omnipresent, How can He leave someone? 2) Hasn’t God promised He would never leave us?

We must distinguish between is the Omnipresence of God, the Covenant Presence of God, and the Manifest Presence of God.

The omnipresence of God never changes. He is present and therefore near to everyone and everything for all of time.

The covenant presence of God never changes, for those who have a covenant relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. God is faithful to His Covenant promises to never leave or abandon His children.

God does withdraw is His sweet fellowship (Manifest Presence), which is accompanied by a conscious sense of His power and nearness. Often (as is the case with Samson, Israel, and us), the cause is sin and rebellion against God.

So maybe the Prayer of David in Psalm 51 helps us understand, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”