Verse of the Day Devotion. Judges 21:25
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25
After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua led them into the promised land conquering as much as ninety percent of the land given to them by God, dividing it among the tribes and disbanding the great army he had assembled. Each person went back to his own tribe. The center point of Jewish life began to dissipate. Instead of one Jewish people there were twelve tribes who had a loose allegiance to each other. And when Joshua and his generation died, so did the Israelites’ knowledge of God. “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10. They began worshipping other gods, the gods of the neighboring nations. “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” Judges 2:11-12.
So the Lord handed them over to their enemies, “I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not. So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua.” Judges 2:21-23. God did not destroy the nations around them but used them in order that they may see their own response. And every time one of the judges died, Israel went astray, returning to their sinful practices and idolatry. It was a constant cycle of sin and deliverance. Israel rebels. God disciplines them. Israel repents. God delivers them.
Now, during this time, there was no king to rule over all of Israel, there were the Judges which lead the people. Yet the people would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to the LORD’s commands. Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Throughout the Book of Judges, we see a repeated pattern. Using chapter three as an example, “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.” Judges 3:7-9. Essentially, the people of Israel sinned in the sight of God, God sent a nation against them to serve them, then the people cried out to God to help them, and then the Lord raises a deliverer to save them from their enemy. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:2-3.
We need to be careful that we do not fall into the same pattern as the Israelites; when we are doing good we fall into sin, then when we cry out to God and He delivers us, then we do it all again. We must not have times where we do what we consider right in our own eyes but are sin in His. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:2-3. We must set our eyes on what God deems right, not necessarily what we deem right, for His view is far more important and accurate than ours. As the writer of Proverbs wrote, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.