READ: Judges 19-21
THINK: And so ends the totally messed up and ridiculous saga that is the book of Judges. As we’ve read through it there have been terrible, horrifying, and stupid stories aplenty, but this one really tops it all off. It is, in chapter 19, reminiscent of the events of Sodom & Gomorrah in Genesis 19. And this perversion leads to Israelite civil war, which leads to the death of thousands upon thousands of people because of the pride and rebelliousness at work on both sides, which leads to an entire tribe being nearly wiped off the map, which leads to everyone deciding that the best way to make sure they weren’t wiped out is, of course, to have them kidnap some innocent girls and take them as wives. And the whole thing started because a really classy guy decided he needed a concubine in addition to his wife (or wives) and then got angry and went after her when she decided she didn’t feel very special and didn’t want to be his concubine anymore.
What do we even say about this? Seriously! What lesson can possibly be learned from this disgusting story? The answer, I think, is pretty simple. It’s summed up in the last phrase of the book, a phrase that repeats language used over and over again throughout Judges:
Everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes. – Judges 21:25b
The book of Judges is a story about what happens when everyone decides to just do whatever they feel like, when an entire group of people turn from God completely and decide to ignore all of his prescriptions for living the way he created us to live. The result is tragic! It’s tragic in every way, shape, and form. As Christians we are called by Jesus to be the salt of the earth. This means that we are intended by God to have a preserving effect on our world and our culture. Even if we are persecuted or scoffed at for living God’s way, the light we shine in the darkness wherever we are preserves something of what it means to really be human – to really be who God created us to be. If we follow the very loud cultural voice of our day however, and we decide to do whatever we feel like and ignore God then I think the book of Judges paints an accurate picture of what will happen to our world. If we don’t have the courage to be who we know God calls us to be then we, at the very least, shouldn’t act surprised when history repeats itself.