“Everyone Did As They Saw Fit…”

I’ve been making a pretty sorry attempt to read through the Bible this year. Today I finished the book of Judges. I’ll admit these last few books have been difficult for me to get through. Today I listened to the last 5 chapters of Judges, and I was honestly a little shocked by what I heard. I think we sometimes have this view of the Bible as always presenting what’s “good and admirable and right” Let me just say, Judges 20 tells a story that is anything but “right.”  Basically, Israel is in disarray with no King, no direction, and they have fallen apart from God and each other. This particular passage tells the story of a woman who was attacked by her fellow Israelites, raped by many men, and then left for dead in a doorway. Now these men are Israelites, her own people, just a different tribe. (Maybe similar to people from a different state in the U.S.A.) The rest of Israel seeks justice for this unfathomable crime and goes after the Benjamites. It then turns into mass chaos with brother against brother. Murder, rape, kidnappings, greed, pride, lust, death pervade these chapters.

This was all a little mind blowing to read. But we have to remember, the Bible is a life book,  and also  history book. It recorded what happened. It doesn’t condone the actions. Perhaps it would be similar to a news reporter recording the horrific terrorism events of ISIS. Many times I hear people pull these stories out of context and say the Bible is full of murder, rape, discrimination, terror etc. etc. as an argument of why to dismiss the Bible, or why they don’t read or “like” it. Well…yes it does tell what happened, but it isn’t saying those things are right. Similarly, a news reporter isn’t evil for simply reporting the evil that happens around the world.  But that isn’t my point. Actually, as I read these awful things, I found myself asking, “What’s the point?”

I didn’t really “get it” until the very last verse of the book of Judges. This one verse explains “the point” to a T. “In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 21:25 (emphasis mine). Those words. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Israel had no leader, no king, no direction, no guidelines. Chaos. Anarchy. The definition of anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of persons or single person which does not recognize authority.” When authority isn’t present, everyone does what they think is fit, right, correct, moral. Isn’t that where we are today? Society has ignored the King. Sure we have a government, but who in the world are they answering to? They make their own rules. Even those who believe ignore His teachings, his word, his rules. And therefore, everyone does what he or she thinks is “right.” What happens when everyone does what is right according to himself? What are the effects of ignoring the King, and making up your own “right?” Well…read Judges 20-21. It’s a great history lesson. Rape, murder, hatred, riots, chaos, hypocrisy.  It kind of sounds all too familiar actually. The problem with everyone doing as he or she sees fit is that we all have a different definition of “right.” Right and wrong were already defined a long time ago, by the One who wrote the rules.