Finishing the book of Judges, I am always a bit depressed by how it ends. There are great stories of heroic faith (Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Samson) but also great stories of epic failure (Abimelech, Dan's idolatry, the war against Benjamin). Israel has come through the Exodus, divided and in part conquered the promised land, but the great leaders like Moses and Joshua have passed away and now there is this constant ebb and flow of forgetting Yahweh God, rebelling, being punished and temporarily turning back to Him. When it is all said and done, the account of the era of the Judges of Israel ends with this verse...
"In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted." (Judges 21:25)
We as human beings, if we are persistent enough, usually wind up getting what we wanted. Or should I correct myself and say that we get what we think we want.
Israel had been called and set apart as God's chosen people. They were blessed above all other nations. They had received God's Law (torhaw) and His special favor to be His light unto the nations. He was to be their supreme King and Ruler. They were to walk in a covenant relationship with Him showing the way to other nations.
But they kept choosing their own way over God's. They followed worthless idols instead of the God who delivered them from bondage and became worthless themselves. They bowed down to the gods of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivitews and Jebusites instead of the One True Yahweh. They basically said to God, "We choose our own way. We know better than You. We will do what we want."
I have found that in our lives, God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, allows us to choose our own ways. No matter how painful it is to Him that His children reject His ways, He allows us to decide, choose and pursue our own courses. He lays out before us life and death, blessings and curses, His way and the world's way; but in the end, He gives us the right and responsibility to choose.
So sad too few of us choose His way and His ways. Even those of us who have pledged to "love the Lord God with all our hearts" are susceptible to falling into the carnal trap of choosing our own ways when the choices get real.
Would it be said of us as a people or even of me as a person that this was someone who truly chose the Way of God. Wouldn't it be honoring to our King to have said of us that we were people who walked after the heart of God and not only followed but delighted in His laws, His ways?
One of my greatest fears is that God will let me do what I want, what is right in my own eyes and I will miss His way, His plan and His purpose for my life. I desire that the last statement about me will not be, "he did whatever he wanted" but rather "he did what His God wanted."