Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Feasting - Judges

This Lent I am feasting instead of fasting.  I am feasting on the Word of God.  I have chosen to read through the Bible cover to cover.  I’m following a reading plan suggested by Margaret Feinberg and hope to blog occasionally about what I am learning through the process. 

Some days I fall behind.  Other days I get ahead.  I'm grateful that the forty days of Lent are counted without including Sundays.  Each Sunday is a little pre-Easter appetizer, a weekly foretaste of the full celebration of resurrection.  Lenten observation is laid aside for the day.  No reading is scheduled for Sunday.  I use it as a makeup.  Unhurried time in the rocker by the fire with a thermos of tea have enriched my Sabbath, not detracted from it.

So far I am keeping up with my reading plan.  I'm just sputtering through the early chapters of 1 Chronicles (and sputter is about all you can do in this thick soup of genealogies).  But I'll back up just a bit for a few thoughts on the book of Judges.

The book of Judges has a refrain that is repeated four times in the last five chapter, “In those days Israel had no king.  Everyone did as they saw fit in their own eyes.”  It’s a fitting conclusion to a book that has charted the downward spiral of the nation of Israel under the leadership of judges. 

At the beginning of the book, the danger is compromising with the pagan people around them.  By the end of the book, a man who goes out of his way to avoid stopping at a city controlled by these pagans finds that the depravity in an Israelite city is even worse.  The wickedness of foreigners in Sodom and Gomorrah from the book of Genesis has become national wickedness in Gibeon as we have this horrid description of gang rape and murder in Judges 19.  The wickedness around them has become the wickedness within them. 

It highlights the fact that the problem is not that they don’t have a judge to lead them, but that they don’t have the Judge to lead them.  There are a number of "small j" judges throughout the book who live up to their calling to various degrees of success.  But there is only one "big J" Judge.  Right in the middle of the book, in Judges 11:27, "Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites."

The book as a whole is a depiction of a nation that has abandoned their God, and chosen to follow their own path.  As a result, things spin out of control. With each judge, things get progressively worse until we reach the bottom of the heap with the judgeship of Samson, probably the most famous judge, but also the worst.  Though the Spirit of God exerts occasional control, Samson is largely controlled by his own passions.  He exemplifies a man who does what is right in his own eye.  His duel passions for women and vengeance are guiding his decisions.  For most of his life, he chooses to put himself on the throne.  

And while there may be some application to the ruling of a nation, there seems to be more direct application to the ruling of my heart.  I have a small voice in who will sit on the throne of the land (or the halls of Congress, as it may be), but I have complete control over who will sit on the throne of my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Love the last line, Phil. That is the key! So excited to hear more from your readings.