In the Days When the Judges Ruled
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it wasthe epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, itwas the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, wewere all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way
What do we know about the days of the Judges?This was a low point of Jewish history. Israel, overall, was in a state of apostasy spiritual and moral corruption wascommonplace. The Jewish people were "Canaanized" for the most part, reflecting the pagan lifestyle of the people aroundthem.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Jdg 17:6, 21:25Why was there no king? God was to be their king. But, the people rejected God's kingship. When you have nospiritual king, no moral leadership, you're left with a situation like in the book of Judges - everyone does what's right intheir own eyes. I become my own king, my own judge, my own God. That sounds pretty modern. It sounds just like our day.But, keep in mind, "everyone was doing what
in his own eyes." It's not like they didn't care about their decisions. They were trying to do the right thing. But, without God, they had no grounding. I think we live in a time likethat. It's not like people are purposely trying to do wrong. They try to do the right thing. But they tend to do what's right intheir own eyes. "You can't judge me. How can you say what I do is wrong? What makes you think your morality issuperior to mine?" And they'd be right
there is no moral authority. One person's morality would be as good as the next.
A Famine in the Land
So, in the midst of this atmosphere, came a famine. Here is our first instance of irony. There was a famine in Bethlehem.Do you know what the word "Bethlehem" means? Literally, it's "the house of bread." Bethlehem was Israel's bread basket.And yet, there's no food in the house of bread.Why was there a famine? Well, we're not told, exactly. The writer doesn't comment and there's no record of famine inJudges. But, we do know that Israel is a covenant community. Moses explained that there would be great blessings whenthe people kept the covenant and obeyed God's law. But, conversely there would be severe judgment when they strayed.God sent famine to Israel when she would turn her back on Yahweh. Given the times, I don't think it's a stretch to say thatwas the case here.So there was a famine... a severe food shortage in Israel. So what do you do? Well, for the Israelites, famine was meant to be a "warning light" like your "check engine" light. A signal that there's a problem. What do you do when the yellow lightcomes on? You need to get the car checked out, find out what's wrong & fix it. There's another way you could handle it.You could ignore it or run away from the problem.That's what one family decided to do. There was a man named Elimelech, which (irony #2) means "My God is king." In atime when there was no king in the land because God isn't recognized as king, we're introduced to Mr. My God Is King.Did he pay attention to the warning light? Did he bow to God's sovereignty and adjust his ways? No. He said "Well, if there's no food here, I'll go to where there is plenty to eat." Seems like a reasonable solution. What else is a guy to do? Itmakes a certain amount of sense. Doing what's right in your own eyes is usually justifiable as long as God's word is leftout of the equation.