Week 2 Day 4

Judges 21:25
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Paul Harvey used to host a popular radio show titled “The Rest of the Story”. In the show, he would tell little-known pieces of well-known parts of history. Toward the end of the show, he would reveal the well-known part of the story and say his iconic line, “And THAT is the rest of the story”.

You may think about the book of Judges as a collection of great human heroes in the era before the kings… until you learn “the rest of the story”. To be sure, God raised up great heroes for His people in the time of the judges. None of them, however, were exemplary leaders.

After Gideon’s great victory, he doubled back to slaughter his own people, who had refused to feed his army for fear of Midianite retaliation. Though he did say God would be the people’s leader, that shining moment was quickly overshadowed by his decision to set up a golden ephod. Gideon, his family, and the nation of Israel began to worship that golden ephod instead of the God who had delivered them from Midian. (Judges 8)

Samson was simultaneously physically strong and morally bankrupt. His God-given strength allowed Samson to push back the Philistines, but this was mostly done for the wrong reasons. Samson despised his Nazarite vow to honor the Lord. Instead, his life was characterized by hedonism. Samson did what he wanted, and no one could stop his violent tantrums. God used his reckless behavior to save Israel from Philistine oppression, but Samson was far from a model hero. It was not until the end of his life that Samson learned humility and made the greatest impact on the Philistine nation. (Judges 13-16)

Even the last judge, the great prophet Samuel, was not perfect. Samuel’s sons “took bribes and perverted justice” (1 Samuel 8:3). Throughout the time of the judges, God was the One who had appointed Israel’s leaders. Samuel, however, took it upon himself to appoint his sons to rule after his death. This ultimately led to the nation’s rejection of God as their King.

Why do the judges’ stories include an often violent, “heavy sigh”? The author of Judges sums it up well in Judges 21:25. Rather than looking to God, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”. We recognize this folly all too well in today’s world, where so many are living to follow their individual “truths”, do what feels right to them, and follow their dreams at any cost.

What can we do? We, like the judges, are in a cycle of sin, punishment, and deliverance. We need an ultimate Deliverer, a Judge who will not fail. Jesus’ death and resurrection prove He is able to deliver us, as the eternal, righteous Judge. He is the faultless Judge so many leaders have tried and failed to be. With Jesus, “the rest of the story” is an unchanging, eternal picture of the perfection of God.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

There is no sin, no failure, no fall, that is beyond Jesus’ ability to deliver. He interrupts our dark, sinful, fruitless, cycle, and brings us into Truth and eternal life. He does not fail, and He will not fail.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Reflection and Prayer

Like the judges, do you see our culture doing “what is right in their own eyes”?

Have you been guilty of this cultural rejection of Jesus as the righteous Judge?

Are you trapped in a cycle of sin? Talk to God about those specific sins and ask Him to deliver you from the grip they have on your life.

Thank You, Jesus, for being the perfect Deliverer we need. You have done what we could not do for ourselves. Thank you for saving us from the consequences of our endless downward spiral of sin. Please forgive me for looking to myself for deliverance before I look to You. Please teach me to live in the freedom You have already won for me. Amen.

Faith Bible Staff