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?