Israel Had No King | Judges 18-21

Fighters from ISIS march in Raqqa, Syria
(Associate Press file photo)
Welcome to Real Life. Who am I following? Who am I leading?

Iraq and Syria, lacking stable leadership, have been overrun by ISIS. Lawlessness reigns. It took a horrific act—the beheading of two journalists and an aid worker—for the world to take action to stop the Islamic State.

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 17:6 and 21:25

Also in the Middle East, some 3000 years ago, during the time of the judges, the nation of Israel was degenerating into a state of lawlessness. Israel had no king. For, God himself was to be their king.[1] However, theocracy can’t work if God’s people walk away from him and his laws and create their own rules. As with ISIS, it took a horrific act to rally the nation of Israel to action.

Judges 18 The tribe of Dan abandons their appointed inheritance. They attack the peaceful, unsuspecting people of Laish, burn the city, and settle there. They steal a man’s pagan idols to set up their own worship center, disregarding the house of God in Shiloh.

Judges 19 A Levite and his concubine are journeying home. They spend the night in Gibeah (a Benjamite city). An old man takes them in. Wicked townsmen surround his house, demanding he surrender the Levite to them so they can rape him. In cowardly selfishness, the Levite offers his concubine instead. The next morning, they find her dead in the doorway. The Levite cuts her body into 12 pieces and sends them throughout Israel with the message: “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!”[2]

Judges 20 The horrendous act rallies the nation. Israel’s leaders assemble before the Lord in Mizpah. When the Benjamites won’t surrender the perpetrators of the crime, Israel attacks. The Lord gives them victory. They burn and decimate the Benjamite cities. Only 600 men escape and survive.

Judges 21 The nation gathers before the Lord to grieve the loss of their brothers, the Benjamites. They decide to provide wives for the 600 remaining men so the tribe will not die out. All the tribes return to their allotted inheritance lands. The book of Judges ends on a note of hopelessness:

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 21:25

A leadership vacuum can be dangerous. If godly people refuse to lead, ungodly people will. We all lead and follow in some capacity. Am I willing to step up and lead when needed? Am I leading others closer to the Lord or further from him? Am I following men and women of integrity?

More importantly, am I following the King? My highest allegiance is to God Himself. Or, have I descended into spiritual lawlessness—creating my own image of God and how to follow him rather than heeding the precepts laid out in his Word?

Jesus, you are my King! 
Lead me on and I will follow you.

Take it further:
  • Pray for peace in the Middle East.
  • Hello, my name is … child of the one true King” by Matthew West.  
  • You cannot follow a God you don’t know. Visit www.needhim.org or call (888) NEED-HIM.
[1] Judges 8:23 and 1 Samuel 8:7
[2] Judges 19:30

Image: Fighters from ISIS march in Raqqa, Syria, in this file photo. The U.S. and its partners began launching air strikes against ISIS in Syria, a Pentagon official said Monday. (Associated Press file photo)

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