Politics. I awoke this morning to hear there was a coup d’etat taking place in Mali. The military has taken over and the President resigned. Our friends to the south are slinging mud at each other in anticipation of elections in November. Here at home there has been a shake-up in the government’s cabinet and Parliament is on hold until October. Politics. It seems to be little more than the pursuit of power and influence with very little to do with the oversight of public policy for the mutual good of society.
It is wearying to watch, especially in the context of COVID-19. One would be justified in wondering, “Is anyone in charge here?”
Beginning Sunday, we will walk through the book of Judges together. The ancient people of Israel were living through similar stresses. Maybe they didn’t have COVID-19 to deal with, but they had their own set of problems. Phrases such as, “they did not worship the LORD their God,” or, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” or, “they turned away from the LORD and served other gods” are common throughout the book. Dark days.
And Judges is a dark book. The politics of their day make our own seem like playground squabbles. It is filled with stories of deceit, disloyalty, selfishness, assassination plots, and cold-blooded murder. Not nice bed-time reading. But it has been carefully crafted as a work of literature. Not only do we read of the stresses faced by God’s people, we begin to feel the stress ourselves and we empathize with them (even though it was because they had abandoned God).
But God is gracious and merciful. The people act like no one is in charge. Collectively they act as if they have no king. Over and over again - twelve times exactly - God intervenes in the lives of His people - but they slowly revert to their old habits, living as if they have no king.
You may want to interrupt me now to correct that last paragraph. “Isn’t the book of Judges about the history of Israel BEFORE Saul and David became kings?” Yes, that is correct. And that is a key part of the message of the book of Judges.
Words Matter: They did have a King. The people chose to ignore the fact that the Creator of all the earth was their King. He had revealed Himself to them through the Law and His deeds of redemption from Egypt. They acted like they had no king when in reality they did.
As do we. Here in Canada, we are not experiencing the military and political oppression of the ancient Israelites. But one would be justified to look around our own reality - politics, pandemic, and pangs of anxiety - and wonder, “Who is in charge here? Is God aware? Does God know?” (Check out Psalm 73:11.)
Yes, He does. Yes, we have a King. And He is just as faithful, gracious, and merciful to us as He was to those ancient people. Let’s commit ourselves to worship and serve Him, to live faithfully with Him, and to find our confidence in His goodness. “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear . . .” (Judges 6:10).
Enjoy a great Wednesday. There is a King!