The Word for today:
Yesterday, we said that the theme of Judges is found in the book’s last verse:
In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
It is very important that we do not misread this verse. It does not say that every one was running around with absolute disregard for morality. Quite the contrary, it says that every one was doing the right thing!
But the right they were doing was “what was right in their own eyes.” Biblically, there is a big difference between doing what is right and doing what is right in my own eyes.
It is hard for us to fathom this, but God is not interested in what we think is right. God is not interested in good intentions, either.
Most of the sins that beset our nation are not the result of people disregarding right and wrong. No, most of our besetting sin comes from defining right and wrong for ourselves.
Consider abortion, which is a great moral evil that, in God’s eyes (the only eyes that count) might place the USA in a lower rung of hell than the Third Reich. The proponents of abortion have convinced themselves that they are champions of choice. They value both freedom and life, but they have decided that when push comes to shove their access to choice trumps another person’s access to life.
Certainly they would rather that such a difficult decision need never be made. Certainly they understand that the whole business is rather untidy. But that doesn’t stop them from doing what is right in their own eyes.
Such moral decay is actually only a symptom. The cause is found in the first half of Judges’ theme verse:
In those days there was no king in Israel.
Our national premise is a slight variation on the same theme. Let me adjust the verse to describe us:
In those days everyone was his own king; so everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.
God bestowed his image upon his. He gave us dominion over his natural creation in the Garden. But he never relinquished his dominion over right and wrong, or over life and death.
He never relinquished the throne of the moral dimension. He’s not interested in my definition of right and wrong. And he sees right through our “good intentions” to the self-centeredness and self-deification which lie hidden at their core.
The serpent whispered to Eve, “You can be like God, knowing good and evil.” We are still falling for the same old line.