Lessons from Judges 17-21
17:1-18:13 - Things are not going well - ‘every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (17:6). People were doing what suited themselves. Micah was trying to ‘get the best of both worlds’. He was worshipping idols (17:4-5). He was trying to keep on the right side of the Lord - ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite priest’ (13). Micah’s priest was a ‘Yes’ man. He told Micah what he wanted to hear. Many people ‘refuse to listen to the truth’. They prefer to listen to those who ‘tell them what they want to hear’ (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Many are ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (2 Timothy 3:4). We must not fall into the trap of ‘trying to please all the people all the time’. Seek to be like Jesus - ‘I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me’ (John 5:30).
18:14-19:30 - ‘Keep quiet’ - There is a guilty silence which comes from disobedience (18:18-20). When God’s people remain silent, things go from bad to worse - ‘Where there is no prophecy the people cast off restraint’. We must not be ‘disobedient to the heavenly vision’ (18:30; Proverbs 29:18; Acts 26:19). Chapter 19 warns us: Sin brings judgment. God cannot stand sin. He punishes sin (Habakkuk 1:13; Numbers 32:23). Sin must be taken seriously. God takes it seriously (Hebrews 10:29-31). It is not easy to see the hand of God in the sinful and shameful events of chapter 19. We must keep on believing that He is present, even when He is ‘most invisible’ (Church Hymnary, 670). Sometimes, He is present as our Judge. Judgment is not always immediate. There may be ‘peace’ before the storm. ‘Consider’ - and learn (19:20, 30)!
20:1-28 - God uses a sinful and shameful situation - ‘Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day’ (19:30) - to call His people back to Himself - ‘all the people of Israel... assembled as one man to the Lord’ (1). God’s call was clear - ‘Put away evil from Israel’. ‘The Benjaminites would not listen’ to this call for holiness among God’s people (13). This was a serious situation. It was not to be taken lightly. This was no mere difference of opinion, something that would soon be forgotten. ‘The Benjaminites came together... to go out to war against the people of Israel’ (14). Three times, God called His people to ‘go up’ against the Benjaminites (18,23,28). Victory comes from the Lord: ‘I will give them into your hand’ (28).
20:29-21:25 - Judges ends on such a sad note: ‘every man did what was right in his own eyes’ (21:25). This situation is not merely political - ‘no king’. It is moral and spiritual. The people had no regard for the authority of God and His Word. In Romans 5:20, we have Good News: ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’. Here, we have bad news: ‘where grace increased, sin abounded all the more’. Reading Judges, we become acutely awareof the need for revival in our own day. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we see the way to revival: ‘If my people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’. Read of human ‘compassion’ (6,15). Rejoice: God ‘will again have compassion upon us’ (Micah 7:19).