I’m not into overt government control, but anarchy doesn’t appeal to me either; I’m much, MUCH too familiar with human nature to rely on our own ability to play nice together. That’s why this statement from the Old Testament book of Judges is really quite chilling—
“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”
No king, including Yahweh God anymore, evidently. What used to be a theocracy was no longer, so do-your-own-thing was the rule of the day. Here are just a few examples:
“I now dedicate these silver coins to the Lord. In honor of my son, I will have an image carved and an idol cast.”
This is “spiritual double-dipping”, but I believe the more sophisticated term is theological syncretism. The people had blatantly broken their covenant with God and religious syncretism was rampant. It was a smorgasbord of “idol de jour”. Whereas the Lord God had expressly commanded Him and Him only, the Israelites wanted to hedge their bets by spreading the love.
“Then they set up the carved image, and they appointed Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, as their priest. This family continued as priests…until the Exile.”
There’s idolatry again, and the priest the appointed was from the wrong family line, since only sons of Aaron (Moses’ brother) were supposed to be priests. Oops again! (BTW, that phrase “until the Exile” is quite telling.)
So here again, the phrase is repeated:
“Now in those days Israel had no king.”
And in some cases, you’d be better off to find a cave and go hide, as this next story, one of the most gruesome incidents of injustice in the Bible, exemplifies:
“There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine. But she became angry with him and returned to her father’s home in Bethlehem.”
As if being a concubine, not a “real” wife, wasn’t hard enough on a girl’s self esteem, something must have happened because, as we found out later, this wasn’t the kind of guy you’d want your daughter to go on date with, much less marry. He follows her back to her folks’ house, where Dad tries to keep her there as long as he can, but she ends up heading out with the man again.
Before they get home, they stop over night at another guy’s house, evidently not in a good neighborhood, as this transpires:
“While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, ‘Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.’”
So this is the best strategy the host and his guest can come up with?
“No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. Here, take my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don’t do such a shameful thing to this man.”
Thanks a lot, buddy. A definite disconnect somewhere.
I could stop here and make a huge case for modern feminism as it relates to the Bible, why did God allow such injustice, does God hate women, all that, because I’m afraid some people do just that. Which is horribly unfortunate, since the next part of the story is inextricably tied to this one. (That tomorrow’s post!)
Until then, I close with words: syncretism, compromise, and results of “doing our own thing”.
Judges 17,18 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.