I’m reading through the book of Judges… a mess of sin, sex, slayings,
slashings, sick-sacrifices, selfishness. It is a sad book, where even
the heroes are fallen. Six times the book says that Israel did evil in
the eyes of the Lord. God’s people are judged as prostitutes and adulterers… giving themselves over to sex and fertility gods, among other things. Samson is a dolt-headed dufus who trades in God’s unequaled blessing for a squandered life. Jepthah is a deluded dufus who thinks that God would actually be pleased to have him sacrifice his daughter. Ehud and Jael use deception, Gideon is slow to faith in the beginning and quick to self-grandeur in the end. Deborah calls the people to faithful service to God, and they hesitate… someone else needs to go first. Who in all of Israel has the courage to actually live for God? Who has the guts to get up on any given day and say, "I will follow God and serve him today."
Why are we drawn to things that hurt us? Why are we attracted to detrimental people or activities? Why do we dream and secretly adore things that leave us empty, unfulfilled, and worse off? Why do we enjoy perversion? Why do we look for empty pleasure? Why do we like immediacy so much? Why do we think that selfishness is justified?
That is the sad story of Judges. A people that once experienced God in spectacular, personal ways became a people far from God, not knowing his presence, not following his patterns. Each generation grew more disgusting, more degrading, more depraved than the one before. Each generation grew more and more removed from God, less and less aware of right and wrong, more and more confused, less and less secure, more and more shallow, less and less happy.