Judges 17-21: A parody of our times

history-When God goes, everything and anything goes or, “If it feels right, if it seems right, do it.”

Critics say that the Bible is an anachronism. I find, the more I delve into it and become genuinely familiar with its texts, just the opposite to be true. It all too often speaks unfailingly to the heart of the matter, to the heart of what’s right or what’s wrong, both of times long ago as well as the present.

I must admit that when you do study scripture that you come upon things wondrous and strange; simple and perplexing; profound and mundane.  It proved to be all of these as I wrapped up my current reading of the Book of Judges, with the last 5 chapters. (Judges 17-21)

What was this weird, whacky, and wonderful account of dysfunctional individuals and societies all about?

The chapters, instead of focusing on national issues, focus rather on the lives of individuals; the ignorant antics of an idolatrous mother & son; an errant priest who having lost his theological moorings does nothing more than sanction the misconduct that surrounds him; a religious leader whose attempts to salvage a broken marriage, unfolds a story of gang rape, murder, and mutilation, juxtaposed against a likewise dysfunctional national group with a devil-may-care attitude, determined to take matters into their own hands. These vicissitudes of lives result in the seeming insignificance of the individual rising to the national level and almost destroying the nation in the bargain. Whew! -Makes for some interesting reading.

Only we get a helpful cue card to the whole drama through the following repeating lines of scripture that run like a connect-the-dots picture throughout the text:

In those days there was no king in [the land], but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

 Today we wouldn’t use this particular phraseology; but if we substituted the current cultural meme, “If it feels right, if it seems right, do it,” no doubt, it brings our story into much clearer and nearer focus. The king here is not so much a literal figure as it is the symbol or voice of moral authority.

Here then is the parody of our times; the fruits, the crazy, weird, malevolent fruits that arise within a directionless, soulless, leaderless, godless, society. When God goes, everything and anything goes.



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