As part of reading through the Bible, the portion that I read on Thursday morning was Judges 17-21. It is a sad section of scripture which I would like to consider for this week’s Sabbath Thought.
Chapter 17 begins with the theft and return of a significant amount of money. When the money is returned, a portion of the money “was dedicated to the Lord” and was used to pay a craftsman to make a carved image and a molded image. The thief, Micah, then sets up a shrine containing the carved and molded images, household gods, an ephod, possibly a garment placed on one of the images, and the setting apart of one of Micah’s sons as family priest. What is described in the first five verses of the chapter is wrong on many levels.
The next statement says everything that needs to be said about what has happened so far. Judges 17:6 tells us, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Why would what happens in the first five verses of the chapter be summarized in this fashion?
During the time of the judges in Israel, there was no physical king in Israel. But Israel did have a king ruling over them whether they knew it or not. The king that was to rule in the nation was God. The judges that God raised up were not kings. Instead they were viceroys ruling over Israel as God determined. As judges, they were always to look to God, the King, for how to proceed.
As one considers the terrible events of Judges 17 through 21, we find idolatry established in a household, a man setting up his own priesthood, the tribe of Dan establishing their own idolatrous religion, sexual perversion, murder, and vicious warfare causing the death of thousands and the near extinction of the tribe of Benjamin.
What we are being told is that there are serious consequences that unfold as people live as if there is no “king”. The King who rules heaven and earth is always on His throne and to live as if He does not exist is a path that only ends on disaster.
When an individual or a nation lives as if there is no king, to whom they are accountable, the only path left for them to follow is that of doing “what was right in their own eyes.” Judges 17-21 was written to illustrate for us the outcome of living in that way. Clearly, living by what is right in our own eyes only leads to disaster.
As we assess our world today, we are following the very same path. Spiritually speaking, is the God of Bible the King to whom everyone looks for how to live? Can we expect anything but the same result as that which happened in the time of the Judges?
God does not want His people to live as if He did not exist. He does exist and wants us always to walk humbly before Him (Isaiah 66:1-2).
To help us to stay on the right path, God established the Sabbath day. Note what God tells His people in Exodus 31, "Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. . . .Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'" (Exodus 31:13, 16-17).
The Sabbath is essential to our living in acknowledgement of God as our King and our avoiding “doing that which is right in our own eyes.”
Have a pleasant Sabbath,