************ Sermon on Judges 21:25 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 7, 2000
"Who is in Charge?"
In "The Banner" Allan Dykstra tells us what happened to him during a hospital stay:
Subtopic: Rule of
Title: Who's in charge here, anyway?
My doctor ordered a certain diet for me, but the head nurse decided that a particular exercise program would be better. The assistant assigned to me felt that the exercise program was useless and suggested that I request medication instead. I really wanted the diet, so I went back to the doctor and asked him the question: "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
I The Breakdown of Israel
A "Who's in charge here, anyway?" We cannot help but ask that question when we read Judges chapter 2. This chapter summarizes almost two entire centuries of Israel's history. It tells us that during the period of the Judges Israel kept sinking to new lows of sin and depravity. As the faithful few looked at this they must have asked themselves, "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
B Our text tells us that "everyone did as he (or she) saw fit." Do you know what this means? It means that each person saw themselves as being in charge. "Who's in charge here, anyway?" "I am," said each person. "I am in charge. It is my life. It is my decision. I am the boss. I am in control."
The last five chapters of Judges tells us four things that happened in Israel – four things which show that everyone did as he (or she) saw fit, four things that lead us to ask, "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
The first incident concerns Micah (Judges 17). Micah stole some silver from his mother. When he returned it, his mother was so happy that she had it melted down and made into a carved image and a cast idol that Micah set up in his own shrine – even though this was a violation of both the first and second commandments (no other gods, no images). Then Micah made an ephod and some more idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. Do you know why Micah did all this? He did this in order to worship the Lord. Micah and his family did what was right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
The second incident concerns the tribe of Dan (Judges 18). They were unable to conquer their allotted portion of the Promised Land. So they forsook what the Lord had promised to them. They went far outside the boundaries of their inheritance and destroyed a quiet and unsuspecting city and moved in. Not only did they forsake their portion in the land, they also took Micah's image and set it up for their own worship. They also did what was right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
The third incident concerns a Levite who had a concubine (Judges 19). The concubine ran away. When he was bringing her back home they had to stop overnight because of the length of the journey. They had a choice between a Jebusite city or the Benjamite city of Gibeah. They chose Gibeah because it was, supposedly, safer. The men of Gibeah, however, wanted to engage in homosexual acts with the Levite. To protect himself he gave them his concubine. She was ganged raped over and over again and by morning was dead from the abuse she had suffered. The Levite, his host, and the men of Gibeah all did what was right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
The fourth incident concerns the same Levite (Judges 20). He cut up the body of his concubine and sent part of it to each of the twelve tribes. The men of Israel came together in outrage and demanded to know what had happened. When Micah explained what happened they demanded that the tribe of Benjamin hand over the men of Gibeah to be punished. Instead, Benjamin fought with Israel and almost every grown man in that tribe was killed in the battle. Once more we see people doing what was right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
II God Not Acknowledged as King
How come Israel sank so low? How come that almost every man was doing what was right in his own eyes?
Four times the book of Judges gets to the heart of Israel's problem. Four times we are told, "In those days Israel had no king" (Judges 21:25; cf Judges 17:6 18:1 19:1). Israel may not have had an earthly king, a king like those of the heathen nations, but she did have a king – the Lord God Almighty. Israel, however, lived like she had no king. She lived like there was no one to whom she was responsible.
That was the problem. That was the reason why everyone did what was right in his or her own eyes. God was not acknowledged as King. He was not served as King. He was not worshiped as King. He was not obeyed as King. In fact, our reading from Judges 2 tells us that the children of Israel
(Judg 2:12) ... forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.Israel lived like she had no king.
The sin and decline that we see in the book of Judges is the direct result of what happens when the one only true God is not worshiped and obeyed. Where there is no knowledge of God and love for God and obedience to God, the result is anarchy, depravity, family breakdown, and a disintegration of society.
III The Situation Today
A As we look at the world in which we live, many of us might be tempted to ask "Who's in charge here, anyway?" Individuals have become a law unto themselves, each one demanding the right to do as he or she pleases.
Two months ago California voters approved Proposition 22; this proposition states "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." I praise God that this proposition passed. However, this proposition should not have been necessary to start with. For Christians it is an oxymoron to define marriage as being between anyone but a man and a woman. We all know that in the beginning God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve; God Himself defined the family unit. Yet, a couple of weeks ago the State of Vermont adopted a bill recognizing gay and lesbian unions. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
Relatives of a man who Dr. Jack Kevorkian helped to commit suicide accepted a $50,000 humanitarian award at the beginning of April on behalf of the doctor, who is in prison after being convicted in the man's death. Melody and Terrence Youk accepted the Gleitsman Foundation's Citizen Activist Award for Humanitarianism. How humanitarian is it to kill someone and then be rewarded for it? How can family members possibly condone this? Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
The San Joaquin valley is known for agriculture. Each year the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner releases statistics on the dollar value of the agriculture products produced in our county. We all know how milk, oranges, grapes, nuts, cotton, and so on contribute to our economy. Did you know one of the county's main crops – dollar wise – is never listed. I am talking about marijuana. Another big industry, though it is not a crop, are the many area meth labs. Our valley is a Mecca for illegal drugs. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
I always check out the birth and death announcements in the newspaper. Like Mark Twain, I am always relieved when I do not see my name there. Did you know that around 50% of the births at Kaweah Delta Hospital are born to single moms? An increasing number of teenagers are sexually active and getting pregnant. Kids are having kids. Everyone here, I dare say, has heard about birth-control being given to teenagers without their parents' consent or knowledge. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
We can be thankful that the abortion rate is decreasing. We can also be thankful that a number of states have banned partial-birth abortions. Yet, we can never be satisfied until the day no more abortions are being performed. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
I came across a clipping in my files this past week. There is no date on it but it happened sometime within the last decade in Chicago:
Topic: WorksEveryone does what is right in their own eyes. We ask again, "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
An 18-year-old girl was stripped and sexually abused by a gang of youths in a theater aisle during a rock concert, but hundreds of people in the audience ignored her pleas for help, police said.
A 17-year-old girlfriend of the victim said she begged a security guard at the International Amphitheater on the city's South Side for help, but he refused and went back to listening to music.
"They were just like animals. Everybody was smoking marijuana," she told the Chicago Tribune. "It's like when you have three dogs and put one piece of meat there and they all went after it."
About two dozen youths were involved in the attack on the woman and her two companions, who were also beaten and robbed.
Police said the 18-year-old victim was stripped naked, robbed of jewelry, beaten and abused sexually as other concert-goers in the theater looked on. The soul music band on stage continued playing as the woman was assaulted.
"Nobody did anything," the 17-year-old girl said.
There appears to be very little moral authority left in America. Very few people, even within the church, regard the Ten Commandments as being relevant and meaningful to their lives today. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
B The fabric of our life and culture appears to be disintegrating. And, I think we all know why, don't we? We can say about our society what the author of Judges says about Israelite society: "In those days America had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."
As was the case with Israel, however, we do have a king – King Jesus. But He is not obeyed, He is not feared, He is not loved, He is not worshiped and served by the vast majority of people.
The breakdown of society is the direct result of what happens when the one only true God is not worshiped and obeyed. Where there is no knowledge of God and love for God and obedience to God, the result is anarchy, depravity, family breakdown, and a disintegration of society. "Who's in charge here, anyway?"
C You and I know the truth. We know who is in charge. We know that men and women, nations and states, families and clans, must turn unto the Lord. But it does the world no good, it does our country no good, it does our state no good, and it does our city no good if we keep this to ourselves. In other words, we need to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
So we have two obligations.
First, our home-life, our family relationships, our marriages, should be shining examples of what happens when Jesus is served as King. People should be able to look at us and see that we are different and holy, that we have things together. People should be able to look at us and say, "I want to be like them." In your life, then, let all see that you serve a King – King Jesus. Let all see that Jesus is in charge in your life.
Second, we need to tell people about King Jesus. We need to tell people to have faith in Him. We need to tell people to submit to Him, to obey Him and fear Him and serve Him. We need to tell people that those who serve King Jesus no longer strive to do as they see fit. But we also need to warn people.
Let me explain this. Jesus is king. The kings we have today are all mere figureheads. They have no authority and power. But the men and women of the ancient world knew that kings had the power of life and death in their hands. They knew that before the king your either bowed or you perished. They knew that you either obeyed the king or you lost your head.
Look at Israel. When she failed to repent, when she failed to bow before Him, what did the Lord do? He sent an enemy to punish Israel and to conquer her.
Jesus is king. And before Him we either bow or we perish. "Repent," says Jesus, "for the kingdom of God is at hand." So we must call all men and women, nations and states, families and clans to repent and to turn unto the Lord. We must call all men and women, nations and states, families and clans to recognize that King Jesus is in charge. That is the only solution to family and society breakdown. That is the only answer to the problems of our land and this world.
"Who's in charge here, anyway?" If Jesus is not in charge, if His rule is not recognized, the result is anarchy. But if Jesus is acknowledged and worshiped as king, then we have taken the first to improving our family, our city, our state, our country, and our world.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page