“I want to do what I want when I want with whomever I want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.”
This sentiment has been described as kind of the underbelly of the American dream. But, eventually, if that’s your mantra; you believe it and live that way long enough, someone is going to get hurt.
It may be a parent, a child, a friend or other loved one or it may even be you, but someone is ultimately going to get hurt.
While it may change a little bit as we age, desiring to do what we want, when we want, with whomever we want fits right in with our current culture of independence and present lone-wolf mentality; our rugged individualism and our demand for autonomy.
The Biblical book of Judges speaks to this and provides a great backdrop for our teaching lesson at this week’s Singles’ Gathering (Saturday, April 17 from 4:30 – 6pm at the Vista campus).
If you haven’t yet registered for this Saturday’s Gathering and/or would like more information, please click on this link. You may also register on-site.
Judges is an Old Testament book with a ton of application for New Testament Christians. It takes place right after Moses was able to get the Israelites out of Egypt and freed from the tyranny of slavery under Pharaoh.
Joshua had succeeded Moses after he’d passed and was taking the people into the Promised Land. Things went well as long as Joshua was alive. Rather than being ruled by kings and live under the king’s law as the people had done previously, Moses had introduced them to the laws of God. Joshua was leading the people to live under this Mosaic Law where God gave the law and the people were to live under it – without a king. But this was unheard of at the time and upon Joshua’s death, the next generation of Israelites ultimately abandoned the idea. The prior generation apparently neglected to teach their children (their descendants) in these ways. God intended for parents to pass his laws and moral values on to the next generation and to live by them. But gradually, influenced more strongly by the surrounding paganism and despite the angel of the Lord’s explicit warning, the Israelites surrendered to the prevailing culture and social values.
Angered by their spiritual and physical infidelity, God handed the Israelites over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies who they were no longer able to resist. (Judges 2: 14-15)
They willingly walked away from God and found themselves in a place where they could not freely go back. They were doing what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it, with whomever they wanted to do it but came to learn that it wasn’t working and they did not like it. But they were too entrenched to be able to quit. They had traded one King for another. Yet God remained faithful.
Verse 16 continues,
16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Other judges and leaders continued to be raised up by the Lord but the Israelites went through a period of about 300 years under this model where the people would cycle through a pattern of disobedience which would ultimately lead to a disaster, after which the people would cry out to God who would then deliver them.
My study Bible describes Judges as being “filled with sensational stories, which are as exciting as any of today’s headlines. For sheer melodrama – gruesome murders, sexual exploits, superhuman feats of strength, a bizarre mutilation – no tabloid can offer you more. But within the sensational stories are eternal truths you’ll never find in any tabloid. The book of Judges shows what happens when a society slides into moral anarchy, and it also shows God’s merciful deliverance when people cry out to Him in repentance.”
Our study of Judges will reveal the repeated cycle of Israel’s relationship with God: (1) God’s blessing followed by (2) Israel’s spiritual complacency, (3) sin (especially idolatry), (4) suffering at the hands of enemies (5) their cry for help and (6) God’s deliverance through one of the judges. It’s a study of the tension that exists between our human tendency toward sin and God’s unrelenting love.
It is interesting that this took place so long ago yet has such application to our world today, especially in that the next time this idea was attempted to be put into practice was at the founding of the United States of America.
The book of Judges ends with the following statement:
25In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
– Judges: 21:25
Like it or not, we were created to be ruled over. We simply were not built for total autonomy. And saying “no” to one king means saying “yes” to another. And no matter how independent and self-ruling we may think we want to be; to do what we want, when we want, with whomever we want as long as no one gets hurt, very often we eventually find ourselves in a place we do not want to be but cannot, by ourselves get out of. As you think about your family history, where can you identify generational dysfunction caused by people doing what they thought right in their own eyes?
Consider some of the “little kings” we trade out for in our lives:
|· Appetite||· Lust|
|· Insecurity||· Greed|
|· Fear||· Consumption|
|· Comparison||· Family History|
Why is it easier for us to say no to God than to say no to the things we’re willing to substitute for God?
This is the backdrop and these are just a few of the questions we’ll consider and discuss during this week’s video teaching time with Andy Stanley; author, speaker, founder and Senior Pastor of North Point Ministries of North Metro Atlanta.
It’s a very interesting, entertaining, yet extremely thought-provoking look into the word of God that was written about a people from a bygone era that has huge application to us today. You won’t want to miss it and I look forward to seeing you there.
Right there with you,