In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
- Judges 17:6
In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
- Judges 18:1
In those days Israel had no king. Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.
- Judges 19:1
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
- Judges 21:25
“These chapters further describe the moral deterioration that accompanies covenant unfaithfulness. They also demonstrate that moral deterioration leads to political and civil disaster. The logical order between this and chapters 17-18 is signiﬁcant. Chapters 17-18 relate the breakdown of religious life; chapters 19-21 show that the breakdown of religious life may bring further disastrous consequences, that the resulting immorality can threaten the very existence of a political unit. Society is a unity; its depravity cannot be contained within narrow, watertight compartments. Depravity and breakdown in one area of society, if uncorrected, will lead to deterioration and breakdown in other areas and, ﬁnally, even to the destruction of society itself.
“The writer of Judges maintains that these events occurred because there were no qualiﬁed leaders to effect God’s purposes. Though the judges could engineer brief periods of peace, there was no established godly leadership capable of permanently halting the evils described in these chapters. ‘Israel had no king’ expresses both the writer’s diagnosis of the disease in Israel and his indication of the cure.”
- Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible
Even in authoring the book of Judges, the people of Israel are getting the idea that they need a king, so that they can be like all these strong countries that oppress them. Yet, these countries oppress them because they have not followed God’s rules and they turn their back on God.
I have read how theocracies always end in disaster, and for the Israelites, the nation had one disaster after another. Most theocracies die because the humans that “interpret the godly oracle” is flawed or the power goes to the leader’s head. Theocracies could work if we lived our faith, and we did not have a sin nature.
But then there are four verses in the “Epilogue” to the book of Judges that state, “In those days Israel had no king.”
In 1 Samuel, the people pressure Samuel for a king, God objects. God is saying that He, God, is sufficient. When the people demand a king anyway, they get Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, one of those 600 young men who survived the civil war. And might I just say that “civil war” (Judges 20) is no more civil than any other war, it is just defined as a war where the combatants are all from within a sovereign boundary.
No, the idea that a human being as a leader can ensure a stop of the sin, oppression, repentance, and deliverance cycle is flawed in that the leader can become as depraved as the people that he/she leads. You see that time and time again in the books of 1 and 2 Kings. There were more bad kings than good kings. Not everyone can be a King David to rally the entire nation of Israel and lead them in worship, literally considering the Psalms.
But to tie the title with what has been discussed thus far, the idea is misdirection and obfuscation, that is the idea that a king was necessary (which it was for Jesus to be born into a kingly line) or prudent (not really, since the sin never slowed down at the people level). It is misdirection in that the focus is away from the sin of the people and their unrepentant hearts. It is obfuscation in that the waters are muddied, making that grass on the other side of the fence look so much more attractive, keeping covetousness near the surface at all times.
Politicians love misdirection and obfuscation as much as magicians love those two concepts.
I thought of this post while watching a news item on the wildfires across the United States. The politicians are screaming that it is climate change. So, while we are chasing climate change, the governor can allow hundreds of thousands of acres to burn, killing people, killing wildlife, destroying people’s entire lives. But the governor gets a free pass when he did not take necessary measures to prevent the wildfires from spreading.
I am not saying that the boots on the ground are not working as hard as they can. They are working far too hard and too many hours. I am not saying that some of these local government agencies do not work to prevent the fires from spreading, sometimes even before the fire starts, but we know that it takes fuel, oxygen in the air, and an ignition source to start and maintain a fire. Prevention is all about preventing the spark from causing the fire to spread by eliminating the fuel. And wildfire prevention, at least on television, was all about the people not creating the ignition source, something you simply do not see any more.
When I lived in Washington state, in the high desert, your community fined you severely if you had even a one-square-foot patch of dried grass. I know. I was given a warning. I looked and the sprinkler system was blocked by a tree trunk. I dug up the grass and made a tiny rock garden with a plastic sheet beneath the rock to prevent any weeds growing. The town fire marshal approved the modification, and they did not fine us.
Fire breaks, wide expanses with no vegetation at all, can be larger. Fire breaks beneath power lines can be wider. Power lines can be placed under ground, over time as budgets allow. But no, climate change is bigger than any of those things.
And what ever happened to Smokey the Bear? Is it just an Allan Sherman schtick?
“On Top of Old Smokey,
All covered with hair,
Of course, I’m referring
To Smokey the Bear.”
- Allan Sherman, Schticks of One, and Half a Dozen of another
No, I am talking about the bear who appeared in many public service announcements. Making it all about climate change may get environmentally friendly politicians elected, but leaves that camper who recklessly lit a huge campfire off the hook. It leaves the smoker who flicks a cigarette out the window of his car off the hook. It leaves the hunter that fires a wild shot, hitting a rock and creating a spark off the hook. There have been cars broken down on the side of the road that got the ground beneath the car dried and hot. Of course, lightning, sparks from electrical lines, and other such things could occur, but we still have arsonists that start some of these fires.
But no, misdirection and obfuscation have all the talking heads talking about climate change.
Even with more droughts and hotter weather and poorer growing season, things can be done. Smokey the Bear said, “Only you can prevent wildfires.” (or forest fires, etc.) But that message is not popular with politicians. That message does not get the politicians additional money from the federal government. That message does not get politicians elected.
“In those days Israel had no king.”
The people were looking for earthly comfort and governance, while repentance was the true answer.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.