Why are we studying the Old Testament book of Judges? What relevance does it have to us in this modern day and age of 2015? These are good questions to ask as we embark on our new adventure into this rather confronting and somewhat disturbing part of the Bible. Many years ago I read a very helpful book titled ‘Out of the Saltshaker’ by Rebecca Manley Pippert. It was required reading in the attended beach mission. In fact, we have a copy of this book in the church library and it is well worth a read. The author wrote, “Whatever controls us really is our god… the person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our life.” This is ever so true!
We would be naive and stupid if we do not learn from the mistakes of history. I know that sometimes I am a very slow learner. I make a poor choice and there are normally harmful consequences often only to myself but on some occasions to others. But incredibly I make that same poor choice over and over again! When will I learn and change my behaviour? A person who doesn’t learn from his or her mistakes lacks wisdom and as a result is hindered in their spiritual growth. This was the repeated story of the Israelites – they were incredibly slow learners. But they are not alone as we can witness by the behaviour of our society and world today. We live in a society here in Sydney that has a great variety of gods. Of course, there are the plethora of other gods of different faiths. But that is not the only gods we see in all their glory surrounding us. There are the gods of wealth, sport, leisure and pleasure, ideology and the constant push for achievement and acceptance. How then can we stay focused and live a life that is honoring and pleasing to God?
Judges should impress upon us that God is serious about half-hearted commitment to Him. The Israelites were exactly this – half-hearted – they had a foot in both camps. As a result He was very angry with them. In fact, it is recorded that ‘they did evil in the eyes of the Lord’. Tragically, they thought that they could do ‘what was right in their own eyes’. Wrong! We live in a society that champions this point of view – ‘do what you think is right in your own eyes and all will be good!’ There is a great danger in this as we merely play lip service to the teachings, directions and commands of God. We are on a collision course that has serious ramifications. God’s eyes and our eyes see things very differently… and is God’s eyes that matter in the end. Let us learn from the behaviour of the Israelites. Let us enjoy the incredible blessings that God promises us as we allow Him to lead our lives and as we walk this path of life together as the family of God!