Friday, May 3, 2013

The Decline and Resurrection of a Nation

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, May 3, 2013:  Judges 17:1-18:31

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.  Judges 17:6 (NKJV)

In those days there was no king in Israel....  Judges 18:1a (NKJV)

The recurring theme of the last chapters of the Book of Judges the slide of Israel into a lawless society. Four times we read, "In those days there was no king in Israel" (Jud. 17:6. 18:1, 19:1, and 21:25). Twice the phrase is added, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Jud. 17:6 and 21:25). 

There are many parallels between Israel under the Judges and the present condition of our nation.  Like the United States, the nation of Israel had powerful beginnings in the hands of godly Founding Fathers: Moses, Joshua, and Caleb.  The United States was given a rule of law based on the Constitution.  Israel's legal system was based on the Ten Commandments.  Then came a slow but steady degeneration.

By the end of Judges, we read of seven ways this long, slow decay had shown itself.

1.  Man-made religion.

In Judges 17, we read about a man named Micah who built a shrine and hired a Levite.  He created
his own way of worshipping God.  No longer were the instructions of Scripture followed, but instead he built that which "was right in his own eyes." 

2.  Professionalism in the priesthood.

The Levite of chapter 17 sold his services to the highest bidder.  Micah recognized the gifting of this young man and hired him.  But then the children of Dan passed through the territory.  They were building their own shrine so they made the Levite an offer he couldn't refuse.

3.  Sexual promiscuity.

In Judges 19:2 we read an interesting statement: "But his concubine played the harlot."  This one little sentence gives a glimpse of a society that is morally bankrupt.  It was practices such as these about which Moses had repeatedly warned Israel.  As for America, we have entered a period in which sexual conduct, morality, and the definition of marriage is no longer a matter of divine instruction, but instead everyone does "what is right in his own eyes."

4.  An aggressive homosexual agenda.

In Judges 19:22-25, we read a story quite similar to Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.  A man was traveling through the land of Israel and lodged in the town of Gibeah.  Wicked men (NKJV calls them "perverted men") surrounded the house seeking the stranger in order to have homosexual relations with him.  Apart from the way in which they dealt with these men, the reality is that an aggressive homosexual culture existed in Gibeah that wanted to "indoctrinate" all who visited their town.  They were not satisfied with a "live and let live" policy.  They wanted far more than acceptance.  They wanted approval, sanction, and participation.  That is the essence of the aggressive homosexual agenda in our day, too.

5.  Public devaluing of human life.

If you read these last chapters of Judges, it seems the depravity only grows deeper.  The unnamed Levite finds that his concubine has not only been violently raped and abused, but she is also now dead.  The callous way in which he deals with these events shows a shocking lack of appeciation for the value of human life.  He dismembers her corpse and sends the parts to the other tribes of Israel! 

6.  Fracturing of national unity.

Because of the gross offenses throughout Israel, one tribe turned against another.  When no centralized government exists, each local tribe turns on each other.  Because of a lack of authority, every man becomes an authority unto himself.  In Judges Chapter 20, Israel finds itself on the brink of civil war.  Why?  Because the foundational unity has been destroyed.  Similarly, the United States or any other nation, will come apart if there is no unifying, foundation of morality and law.

7.  Massive, accepted idolatry.

Psalm 33:12 says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance."  All people and all nations set up SOMETHING to worship.  Any nation who sets God as its center will be blessed!  That is a fact of history.  However, in the place of God Almighty many IDOLS have been erected.  In Judges 18:30, we read that in the land of the tribe of Dan a "carved image" was set up.  What idols have been set up in our nation?  What does our nation worship?

The depravity of the book of Judges is a set up for the rise of godly leadership in I Samuel.  Man's way always produces devastation and destruction.  But God will raise up a king who will reign in righteousness.  Within a few years, Samuel will anoint the head of a young man named David.  He will usher in a period of peace and blessing.  In like fashion, we await the one king who can restore our nation.  His Name is Jesus.  Our prayer is for the coming of His Kingdom.  "May You, O Lord, reign over us.  For truly, we have no other king but God.  And His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom.  May it come now!"

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