Righteous in their own eyes

“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

Several times in the book of Judges you see this statement. It describes this time in the history of Israel. At the end of this time God called a prophet – it was a time of transition and God needed a prophet who would walk in His ways. The leaders and the people were doing what was right in their own eyes, but God had a plan that would bring them back. I Samuel chapter 2 tells of a man who comes to Eli and prophesies that God is about to cut off his house, but that he will raise up another.

“And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.” I Samual 2:35

This was Samuel. God raised him up in a very low point in Israel’s history. The people were in a spiritual crisis. God often raises up faithful leaders in a time of crisis to help His people and transition to a new day.

“Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” I Samuel 3:1

“And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.” I Samuel 3:21-4:1

What we can draw from this is that when God’s people choose to do what is right in their own eyes and not listen to God, there is no word or revelation from Him. Before God called Samuel the word and vision were rare, but after God had established him as a prophet, God appears and His word comes forth.

Even so, as Samuel was the first prophet to Israel, they still did not listen and obey. When Samuel is old the leaders ask for a king so they can be like other nations. Even after Samuel painstakingly tells them what will a happen. The leaders refuse and must have their king. They had rejected God as their king (I Sam. 8:7-8). It makes you wonder why they have not learned their lesson, even after 400 years of judges.

Let’s fast forward to the time of Jeremiah. Jeremiah prophesied about and lived through the Babylonian capture and exile of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was dealing with a people who would not listen as well, but also something that is very prevalent in our own day.

“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?” Jeremiah 7:8-10

“But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:23-24

Time and time again God came to His people, but they refused to listen. The continued to sin and even worse, they came before Him in His house proclaiming, “We are delivered”.  Can you image going out and offering sacrifices to other gods and then going to church and pretending everything is fine? Will God not judge you and I for such behavior. He judged Israel – he punished them, destroyed their land, scattered them. Are we to think that today is any different? Will God continue to put up with a generation of people claiming everything is great – just be happy, God loves you. Are we that thick-headed? Are some of the behaviors in Christian culture today that different than what the Jews did? Will we learn from them?

Yes, I know you are thinking that “Well, I do not worship foreign gods. I have not murdered my brother.” Well, the focus might better be on what do you love more than God. Who have you spoken to harshly. Do you show love more than anger? We really need to get very personal with God and dig down deep and allow Him to purge our soul.

It has become very popular in our culture to just come as you are with no requirements to live a holy life (which God clearly requires). When I was growing up, it was no uncommon to hear what you would call a fire and brimstone sermon. You would never hear that today. I am not saying everyone should be condemned. But I do think there has been a big cultural shift – everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 This is an extraordinary verse – we are not condemned if we are in Christ. But have we as a culture shifted into the idea that we are delivered no matter what we do. Does the Bible teach that? No, it absolutely teaches the opposite. Are we truly in Christ if all we ever do is make excuses and say “you cannot judge me”. When will we learn? In Christ there is no condemnation, but there surely better be repentance. It all starts with repentance. Does God discipline those who are repentant? No, he disciplines those who refuse to listen and obey.

We need to peel back the veil of our heart and honestly show God all of what we are. He already knows, but we have to come to Him in honesty and say this is who I am, please change me. My heart is yours. Look at the very depths of your soul – the darkest part of who you are and examine them before God. Yes, it is scary. But frankly, God’s judgment is far more deadly.

I pray Lord Jesus that I would give you my heart, every part of it. The deepest, darkest and most hidden part of me that no one sees; take it and purge me. Clean out my heart and soul. Remove from me any blemishes; remove anything that is not of you. I only want you in my soul, only you, Lord Jesus, only you. Give me a soft, obedient heart, full of your faithfulness and righteousness.

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