This verse is repeated several times in Judges…the Jews had no ruler, instead everyone did what they thought was right, just, and pleasing to them. But we know the definition of “doing as one sees fit” can mean a hundred things to a hundred people. So what we see here was a form of anarchy…a absence of governmental rule and authority in the country. And what we also see was growing confusion and disorder among God’s people.
When we allow the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit to direct and guide our decisions…our decisions will be excellent ones. When we listen to that still small voice rather than blurting out the first thing that comes to mind…our words will be timely and principled. When our plans align with God’s plans for us…we can stand firm with integrity and strength, knowing we are right where God wants us…in the center of His Will.
King Josiah had ordered repair of the Temple…and during the work they came upon a lost book of the Law, (Deuteronomy). When read, the King ordered its requirements observed and then took active steps to clean up the mess in the Temple. In this Scripture, he ordered the priests and doorkeepers to round up all the foreign idols that had somehow wormed their way into the Temple. For the Godly and ungodly had been co-existing for so long… it was now considered acceptable. When false teaching infiltrates the Church it always does it in a subtle, indirect, and devious way…suggesting it’s just fine to accept.
The important part of this Scripture is not what is said, but rather the space of time between when the building of the Temple stopped and it was restarted. For it was 16 years that no work was done at the building site. How many people do you think looked at the Temple foundation year after year and considered all the work a loss? We will all have setbacks in life…times when our forward motion is hampered or even stopped for a season… and we don’t know why. This delay is not a time to declare defeat…for with God, any setback is only temporary in His timetable. And if we have faith and persevere, any delay will have success in the end.
I love how Webster’s Dictionary defines nagging…to find fault incessantly, to complain or constantly scold. That’s what this Proverb is addressing…a contentious wife who is always finding fault, clashing verbally over often petty matters, and demanding the last word. No wonder her husband is out in the garage or in his man cave hiding out. No one wants to live in that kind of environment. And elsewhere in Proverbs, we find this interesting idea that coincides, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)
Jude was warning the Church that they had allowed false teachers to infiltrate the Body of Believers. These men were called Libertines, and their corrupt doctrine suggested that Christ’s grace released them from all authority or restraint. They believed in absolute freedom without any control by God’s moral law. Their creed was, “Our souls are saved by grace, so whatever we do with our bodies, which will perish anyway, doesn’t matter! So we can do whatever we want, whenever we want to.” But Jude saw it as blaspheme and corruption both morally and spiritually…and likened them to wild animals… without conscious or control.
I’m not accusing anyone of flagrant disrespect towards the Lord…for we’d all be quick to deny it. But what I’m asking is more about the covert and secretive disrespect we show the Lord…the brashness that no one seldom knows of. The sin of omission is simply not doing what God wants us to do. It’s apathy and neglect on our part, but also thinking we know more than He does. Now we’re not brazenly telling God we refuse…we’re just quietly ignoring it…hoping it’ll just go away. But one of the most glaring signs of covert disrespect we can show God is to declare to Him, ” I can’t do that!” So as the verse asks…just who are you to talk back to God?
Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
The Apostle Paul was encouraging Timothy to stand up for himself as a Pastor, even though he was considered young for the position. Paul admonished him to behave in such an exemplary way, with integrity and confidence, that no one within the Church would question his assignment. Timothy was to lead by example…his way of life on constant display for others to imitate and follow. I would then challenge all of you who are also considered “young”…don’t think being youthful is an excuse to not set a good example. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t influence others for Christ while modeling God’s love to the world.
Praying shouldn’t be a publicity stunt for the cameras while seeking 15 minutes of fame. For it’s our personal, intimate conversation with God…and He takes prayer very seriously…and so should we. As a Believer, I’ve seen the power of prayer and witnessed how intercessory prayer can literally change the atmosphere. But we tend to think of prayer as some sweet little poem we recite at the dinner table before meals and not the authoritative commands we can speak under the power of Jesus’ blood. To paraphrase I John 4:4, Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world. And if we could but grasp a glimpse of just how powerful our prayers are…this world would be shaken, and all the evil in it. May I then be so bold as to encourage you to prayer walk around your town…around your schools…around the area you live in. For we are all asking ourselves the same question, “What can I do in the face of all this evil in the world?” The answer is prayer…bold, impassioned prayer.