I very briefly touched on Judges 21:25 during last Sunday's message, and the significance of the point being made there has really hit me these last few days. The second half of that verse is often quoted: "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." We see a relativistic, God-rejecting, me-centered culture around us and cite this verse as an apt description of our own world. And it is. But more is going on here.
The first half of the verse tells us why , and the reason is surprising to modern ears: "In those days there was no King in Israel," This is what explains the statement about everyone being their own boss. The people were not faithful to God because there was no king.
There Is No "I" In "Follower"
But this seems strange! It would make more sense to say something like, the people did what was right in their own eyes because:
- they were selfish
- they misunderstood God
- they suffered from inappropriate pride
The Royal Repairman
The "king" mentioned in Judges is the Messiah - the one whom God said would crush evil, reverse the Curse of Genesis 3, and transform the human heart from rebellion to faithfulness. Humanity's problems began with a "we'll be our own God" mentality, and that mentality can never change itself completely. The solution to the problem isn't inside us. "They" is the wrong place to start looking for a fix.
Enter the King. The Messiah is the one whom the Bible says will repair the "we'll be our own God" mentality. He'll do it for us, from outside of us. He'll give us a "heart of flesh" toward God instead of a "heart of stone," as God puts it in Ezekiel 36:25-27. It is the Messiah who will enable us to follow God rightly, enjoy his benefits, and worship him. He is the Worship Giver.
Not Very Postmodern!
Which brings us back to Judges 21:25. The reason everyone did what was right in his own eyes is because there was not yet a king. Only when The King came could God's people have a new heart that would stay faithful to him. They could not fix this problem themselves. We are completely dependent it seems on God; not only to worship him, but to even want to worship him.
This runs contrary to our current postmodern tendency to think that we are our own best gauges of right and wrong. It also undermines the idea that if I as a Christian detect residual rebellion in my heart, I need to redouble my efforts to eradicate it. As if I could remove the things in myself that impede full worship. Messiah is the Worship Giver.
Arrival Of The Worship Giver
And that makes this forthcoming Christmas season a significant event. As I head toward the holidays this year I find myself reflecting on the bleak picture of Judges 21:25, and knowing that I am in that boat apart from God's promised King. As we approach the celebration of Jesus' birth, I find myself thinking not just about worshiping him for what he's done or even for who he is, but worshiping him for enabling me to worship him.
This year I worship the one who gives me the heart to worship in the first place.