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What Is Right in Your Eyes?

The book of Judges was probably written during the monarchy, perhaps by Samuel, to show the Israelites how tragic life is when God’s people refuse to acknowledge His sovereignty; when they instead do “what is right in his own eyes.” When Joshua died, God did not appoint another man to succeed him as the military leader of the nation. Instead, each tribe was to conquer and occupy its allotted territory. 


Judges were not a new office to Israel. In every Israelite town, Moses had established judges who were to hear civil disputes and assure justice for the people (Deuteronomy 16:18). God endowed judges with certain qualities that identified them as leaders to His people. Sometimes they were military commanders in their respective regions. The judges were divinely noted as military leaders raised up by God to rescue Israel from their enemies. It was absolutely essential that the Canaanite inhabitants be eradicated from the Land in order to protect the spiritual fidelity of Israel. God had made that abundantly clear to His people through both Moses and Joshua. After all, God had redeemed Israel from the world and redeemed them for holiness.


Unfortunately, many of the pagan tribes remained the land because Israel had not fully obeyed God’s command to remove them. God graciously called this people to covenant relationship with Himself. This relationship is priceless; when the recipients of grace spurn the Giver of grace, He is rightfully angry. The believer cannot serve God and other gods at the same time. When Israel embraced their enemies, God sovereignly allowed their enemies to dominate them. 


Israel’s covenantal disobedience had disastrous results. The nation that had been chosen to bear God’s image became the spitting image of Canaanites. The nation that God wanted to use to reach the Gentiles was instead reached by the Gentiles. The Israelites slowly became indistinguishable from their neighbors. What was the difference between Canaanites and Israelites? The Israelites had God’s revelation; they should have known better.


The book of Judges does not record the ministries of all the judges. But those who are recorded reveal a downward trajectory of disobedience even among the leaders, let alone the populace. We are stunned to find bargaining Barak, gutless Gideon, self-indulgent Samson, and injudicious Jephthah listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11:32-34. Their lives illustrate the great theological truth that the work of the Lord depends not on human means but on divine enablement. How comforting it is to know that God triumphs despite us if not through us!


Believers today need opportunities to learn to live out their faith in the world. Are you learning? Are you living it? Have a great week.

You are loved.

Ray Reynolds, PhD

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