“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 17:6 and 21:25
I am in the book of Judges in my Bible reading plan and I don’t want to be. I can’t stand the book of Judges. The stories are so dark and disgusting. There’s the story of Samson who is about the dumbest man there ever was and ends up having his eyes gouged out because of his lustful gullibility with a woman. There is the story of Jael who pounds a tent spike through a man’s head while he is sleeping. That’s just two of the stories. But, the worst story, in my opinion, is the one of the priest and his concubine in chapter 19. Such a horrible, disgusting tale. I knew it was coming and I’ve been dreading it.
This is the morning that I came to that chapter. As expected, I was thoroughly disgusted and repulsed by the story and by the behavior that was revealed in it. “How disgusting!” “How repulsive!” My thoughts were on the degradation of Israel and the degradation of the Levite and the degradation of women. I hated it. Then, God showed me that, lest I think we’re better than them, their sin is no different than our sin.
Look at our nation and the sin that we are guilty of. We offer up our children on the altar of fear and freedom and inconvenience. Look at the Church and the sin that we are guilty of. We are no different than those who are not followers of Jesus, we worship the same gods they do every other day of the week. Look at my sin and the sin I am guilty of. So full of greed and pride. I don’t love my enemy; I hate my enemy. I don’t love my neighbor as I should. I care about me and mine. I worship idols like money and comfort and security. And on and on I could go. We look like they did in the book of Judges. Dark, disgusting, doing what is right in our own eyes.
There is no King here!
Jesus told the crowd that had gathered “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I Am He you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24) The Bible is a book full of stories of sin that are written to warn us of what Jesus is saying here. We are every bit as despicable sinners as they were in the book of Judges. But we have a Savior who is He, the I AM, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who came to take all of those disgusting, reviling, putrid sins of ours, upon Himself, so that we do not have to die in our sin.
I understand now that the book of Judges is in the Bible as a gift of kindness and mercy to us. Those stories and all the rest of the stories that show the sinful nature of man since he was expelled from the garden are there for us to recognize the horrible ugliness of sin. And to recognize the amazing glory of the gift that the Lord Jesus Christ came to give us; the gift of salvation through His death on the cross.