Everyone Did Right In Their Own Eyes…maybe we need to look in a mirror

Posted: January 31, 2020 in Christian
Tags: , , , , ,

I was raised in a denomination that believes in replacement theology and also believe because the Israeli religious authority were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ that Israel blew their chance at the brass ring and that the church is the “new Israel”. They also believe the old testament was a great collection of stories that really have no bearing on our salvation and because of these factors, Israel didn’t hold a lot of significance to me for other than being the genetic ancestors of Christ. Therefore some of the more ‘boring’ books of the Old Testament (which there were many back then) just got glossed over to fulfill the ‘reading the scripture’ requirement that my mother enforced on me while growing up.

In January 15, 2010, the Lord saved me from myself and I started on a marvelous journey of discovery that has taken me all through the ancient history of God’s people. I quickly discovered that the bible has more than twenty seven important books and that the other forty nine books are much, much more than a bunch of filler, as I was taught as a child. Now that I have realized that the significant part of the word of God starts in Genesis and ends in Revelation and that every fact entered into the scripture by the Holy Spirit has been placed there for our learning, if we are willing to pay attention to detail. It also reveals to us throughout its marvelous pages that it is a continuous web that is woven into a cohesive structure, designed to stand up to the forces throughout the ages that have been, and still are, trying to destroy the veracity of the word of our Lord. Once those facts sunk into my head, then those ‘boring’ books became exponentially less boring and I began pouring through these wonderfully educational and eye-opening books.

Judges was one of those ‘boring’ books to me growing up. Other than the story of Sampson and Delilah, I knew almost nothing about the book. Now that I have actually sat down and read the book with my new understanding, it seems quite interesting and lays out a four hundred year decline from an appreciative, worshipful people into a nation that continually turns its back on The Lord. One of the curiosities of Judges is the opening; everyone did what was right in their own eyes. The author (which many commentators believe is Samuel) used this phrase to open a couple of different chapters to explain the attitude of the Israelites throughout this four hundred year period of the history of the Lord’s chosen. This is not a pleasant comment, rather it’s a judgment stating that they had turned away from following the statutes laid out in Deuteronomy 12:8 when the Lord warned them of doing just this before they crossed the Jordan to possess the land. While this topic isn’t a synopsis of the book of Judges, this opening statement written during this dismal period of Israel’s history and contained within the pages of Judges, should be a warning to us all. So, what does it mean and why should we care?

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

This is a scathing indictment against Israel’s attitude. The Lord chose the Jews to be his people. He brought them out of Egypt using supernatural powers that scared the wits out of the leader of the world. He guided them throughout their wanderings in the Midian wilderness and protected them with a special cloud that was unmistakable in it’s unnaturalness during the day and an obvious cloud of fire at night, preparing them to come together as a nation so they could defeat the Satanic kingdoms in Canaan, and what happens…they lose faith in the Lord at the last minute, even though they have all this extraterrestrial stuff going on around them. He punishes them for ‘doing right in their own eyes’ by causing all the unfaithful adults to die in the wilderness, while protecting them with more of the supernatural stuff for thirty eight more years and do they learn their lesson? No. Within a couple of generations, they revert back to ‘doing right in their own eyes’ again.

In first Samuel, the Lord is explaining the Israelites rejection of the Him as their king, to Samuel.

I Samuel 8:7-20 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. “According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. “Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. “He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. “He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. “And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. “He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. “And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. “He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, “that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (NKJV)

The book of Judges is a dismal account of the continued breakdown of faith and the patterned slide into a self-reliance spiral of failure that can be explained in a nutshell in the above scripture when the Lord tells Samuel they have totally rejected Him. This passage is sort of a companion to the book of Judges and helps enlighten us to the meaning behind the indicting phrase: “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”

The Lord ended up granting their wish for an earthly king and we find that Moses in Deuteronomy explained about the roles of a future king and the rules he was expected to follow. God knew they wouldn’t stay with it, but gave them the statutes to follow anyway. One of the statutes was a commandment for each King to write out his own copy of the Torah. It sounds like a time-consuming process, and I’m sure it was, but it was designed to burn the Mosaic Law into the brain of the King by the time he had finished this massive project. One look at the history of the kings of Israel and Judah tells us that very few bothered to give more than a cursory nod to the statutes laid out by the Lord. The priests all had intimate knowledge of the Torah, but that doesn’t mean every Jew did. Handwritten copies of the law would have been rare and expensive and also required the ability to be able to read. The practice of having the king write their own copy of the pentateuch was designed to make sure the King intimately knew the law and would deny him an excuse when he would ultimately break it. The Lord may have put it into place for the same reason as the rest of the Mosaic Law, to expose the weak and sinful nature of the Jews which were a small insignificant nation of people chosen to represent the Lord, hand-picked from a sinful, broken human race.

Just because the Lord allows us to do things, doesn’t mean that is what he would have us do. The Lord wanted the Jews to accept him as their ruler, their King to rule from the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies, but as He told Samuel, they rejected him. In fact the whole history of the Jews is a history fraught with rejection and disobedience spattered with small periods of time of faithfulness and trust and love. The book of Judges as well as the books of the prophets are written records of failure to follow the Lord, time after time. We have a compressed history of the Israelite nation to look back on and shake our heads in dismay as we read of their apparent lack of faith in their deliverer, savior, guide and father, but we need to be conscious of the time periods we are dealing with. We are looking at a history of thousands of years this record has recorded. By perspective, we have just a little over two hundred years under our belts and look how far the United States has slipped from a country founded on freedom of religion and principles based on the bible and faith in our Lord to one that wholly rejects God and anything associated with Christ, Christianity or support of Israel in it’s short history. Comparatively, Israel is the shining example of faith and redemption and loyalty, because overall, they were faithful for much longer at a time before sliding into self righteousness.

The bigger problem though, is that it is simply a reflective attitude of all of us humans. People have to make a concerted effort to rely on the Lord and not their own inflated and contorted views of their own abilities to manage their own lives and the lives of others around them. Unfortunately we as a modern people do no better than the Jews of the time of the judges and we have their failed examples to learn from and to fall back on.

God Bless, Jim
rewritten and expanded 1-31-20

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