This week, we ended the book of Joshua and began the book of Judges — a book that is depressing, hard to read, and at times downright disturbing. Did you have trouble with it this week?
Judges describes a very different culture and environment than Joshua, doesn’t it? Look back at one of the final statements in the book of Joshua…
The people of Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him—those who had personally experienced all that the LORD had done for Israel.
How quickly a nation falls! Can you contrast what we saw in Joshua with what we are seeing so far in Judges?
Essentially, Judges is the record of Israel’s slow descent into sin and chaos as they continually disobey and reject God and increasingly worship other gods. Israel chose to reject God and become like the Canaanites. After Joshua’s generation, you find Israel participating in idol worship, child sacrifice, and gang rape.
The repeating refrain of Judges is “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Israel no longer lived under the absolute truth of God’s Word, and instead they spiraled out of control due to their “moral relativism.” Can you describe the difference between relativism and absolute truth?
Author Oz Guinness says that “Truth is ultimately about who God is.” What does this say about the subjectivity of Absolute truth?
The culmination of Israel’s moral relativism is found in a very difficult story in Judges 19. Let’s read this shocking and sickening example of pervasive evil together.
What parts of this story did you find shocking, provoking, confusing, or disturbing?
Why do you think the author of Judges includes this violent, horrific story? What point might the author of Judges be trying to get across to his/her readers?
Where is God in this story? If you can’t find him here, how does that make you feel?
What questions does it bring up about God, Israel, human nature, or the Scripture?
Is our culture rolling down the same road? How are people choosing to “do what is right in their own eyes” in our culture today?
What have been the results of this mentality in our culture? Where do you think this is all taking us?
What about you and me? In what ways am I contributing to our national narrative? How am I choosing to “do what is right in MY own eyes?” Have I shown this pattern in my own life just this past week? What was appealing and/or tempting about these choices? What are the consequences?
Based on what the Holy Spirit brings to mind, are there any conversations you need to have, apologies you need to make, confessions you need to keep, commitments you need to make, or practices you need to implement that the Holy Spirit could be inviting you into?
As we close in prayer tonight, How can we specifically pray about this in our own lives?