"Right In Whose Eyes?"  (November 2011)

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6;21:25)  If you noticed this verse was repeated twice in the Book of Judges.  Each time it starts off, “In those days”.  To me it could easily read, “In these days”, because this verse sounds like it is talking about our modern day society- especially in the Western world.  Have you noticed that it seems like people nowadays are being led by what they deem as "right"?  They are following their own lusts, feelings and emotions.  They are led by selfishness, greed and their own understanding.  “If it feels good do it” is no longer a modern day saying, but it has become the philosophy by which many live their lives.  We see it in every area of society.  Parents and children are doing what is right in their own eyes.  Employers are treating their employees by what seems right to them, and not by principles.  Our nation’s leaders are doing what is right in their own eyes.  They cater more to self and personal interest instead of what is best for the people.  Even judges pervert the law and do not uphold it because instead of following the laws they make decisions based on personal preference or what they think is right.  There is no regard- or very little- for the laws of the land.  And why would there be when people have the idea that “laws are meant to be broken”.

I guess we should expect people who are not following the Lord to live after their own judgments and doing what is right in their own eyes.  Man by nature, without Christ, is sinful and wicked to the core.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)  We are selfish and self-centered, wanting what we want, when we want it and at the expense of anyone and everything else. 

The verse above says that there was no king in Israel during those days.  When I looked up the word “king” in the Hebrew, it meant two things.  It was used when talking about an earthly king and when talking about God being king.  We know that there was no earthly king during the time of the judges sitting on the throne of Israel ruling and reigning.  King Saul, the first king of Israel, was not crowned king until the Book of Samuel.  The second way the word king was used was to represent God- the word king was often applied to Jehovah.  We know that in First Samuel the people of Israel came to Samuel and wanted a king.  When Samuel inquired of God, what did God tell him?  “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:6,7)  At that time Samuel was the prophet and judge in Israel.  He was their “leader”.  So when he prayed to God about the matter of a king in Israel, God told him that the people weren’t rejecting his “leadership” over them, but they were rejecting “Me/God”.  “But they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”  (They don’t want Me ruling over them.  They don’t want Me to be their King.)  If the people had rejected God as their “King” then there was no king in Israel in those days.  They had rejected God from being their King so now they demanded an earthly king to lead them.  

How did they reject God?  God had given Moses laws while they were in the wilderness for the nation of Israel to follow.  The laws were God’s will, rules and governing agent for them but they did not follow them.  They ignored them and had no regard for them.  Back to our verses above.  They did what was right in their own eyes instead of what was right in God’s eyes-- following His commands.  They served other gods.  They committed immoral acts.  They made themselves idols.  They lived in hypocrisy.  Committed murder, theft and took the law into their own hands.  They rejected God by rejecting His laws.

Why did they reject Him?  There are many reasons but one reason that really sticks out to me is found in First Samuel when they made their request for a king.  “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:1-5)  The people begin by talking about what poor and dishonest leaders Samuel’s sons were, but I don’t believe the real reason is revealed until we get to the end of verse five- because the people themselves were just as wicked and perverted as Samuel’s sons were.  “... now make us a king to judge us like all the nations”. 

The main reason was because they wanted to be like all the other nations.  Look with me for a moment at this.  When God gave the Israelites His law, it wasn’t just to keep them in line.  It was a sign that they were His people.  “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8, NIV)  Having and keeping the laws was a testimony to the other nations that they were the people of the Lord God Jehovah- the only true and living God.  They rejected God and following His laws which is what set them apart from all the other nations.  By doing so they were not only saying that they wanted to do what they thought was right and live by their own rules, but they were also saying that they did not want to be identified with God.  They wanted to be like everyone else.

Again, we shouldn’t think that it is strange for the world to act like this.  But this wasn’t the world or a heathen nation.  This was God’s own people- including the priests and Levities.  They were the “spiritual leaders” but they weren’t following the laws and commandments either.  They were doing like everyone else- “what was right in their own eyes”.  (Take a moment when you can and read the last few chapters of Judges- namely 17-21.  It deals with the wickedness of the priests and Levities.)

When I said that the verses could have read, “in these days”, the whole verses and all that we have talked about could relate to today- especially the part about this referring to God’s own people.  Sadly, this mentality- of doing what is right in your own eyes- isn’t just reflected in the “world”, it seems to be pretty prevalent in the present day church as well.  It seems to be no different among those who profession to be His people (Christians) and the world that doesn’t.  How so?

We already said that in the period of time in which the verses above were written there was no regard for the commandments and law of God.  Have you noticed how little regard there is for God's word among professing believers?  They attend church, but they don't live their lives after the guidelines of God's word.  They are doing what is right in their own eyes.  Many in the church are living in adultery and immorality- which is contrary to God's word, but it is right in their own eyes.  They see nothing wrong with it.  I am alarmed that “living together” outside of the bounds of marriage is the accepted norm even in the church.  Each week many “couples” sit in church together who are living like married people but aren’t.  They share not only the house but also the bed together (that God said was reserved for marriage).  “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)  They think that it is all right because this is the way of our society now.  “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27,28)

There are those who profess to be Christian and are in the church every time the doors open who see nothing wrong with cheating, lying, cursing, getting drunk, watching pornography, etc., and they justify it by saying, "For me it isn't wrong".  One question-- why isn't it?  If God's word says it is wrong then why isn't it wrong for you?  God's word is the determining factor as to what is right and what is wrong; what we should be involved in and what we shouldn't; how we should conduct our lives and how we shouldn't; what we should participate in and what we should avoid.  There is one thing we seem to forget about God-- He doesn’t change.  Society may change; culture may change; the patterns of the world may change; opinions may change but God does not.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He does not change and He does not change His word.  It will always remain the same.  It will never pass away.  He will not alter it for you or for anyone else.  He will not make any exceptions in your case.  If He says it is wrong, then you are the one who needs to do the altering, because He will not.  “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)  “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Psalm 89:34)  “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)  “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:24,25)

The defense of many is that we are under grace now, not the law.  Grace is not a license to sin.  “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Romans 6:15)  And lest you forget, Jesus did not come to do away with the Law- He fulfilled it.  “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17,18)

In the Book of 2 Kings it is recorded that during some repair on the house of the Lord that one of the books of the law was found hidden.  “And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.” (2 Kings 22:8,10,11)  I can’t help but wonder if this is a spiritual parallel of our day and time.  Is the word of God being hidden in our churches?  Are we replacing it with philosophies, stories that amuse and tickle our ears, with man’s understanding, humanistic wisdom, jokes, watered down, compromised, warmed up leftovers or a feel good gospel?  The Bible does warn that a time would come when this would happen.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)  Could it be we are living in those days?  When the true word of God is preached, are people hearing it?  The sign that they are is application.  When you really hear what the word of God is saying, you will apply its teachings to your life.  You will follow its precepts and you will pattern your daily affairs after its guidelines. 

One true sign that the word of God is being rejected is when you are accused of using the “God card”.  You know what that is.  It is when you repeat what God’s word and what it says to correct a matter.  It is when you bring His word into the situation.  If the person on the “receiving end” does not want to hear it, they will accuse you of using the “God card”.  By that they are saying that you are being judgmental, holier than thou, not with it and just trying to cause a problem.  The fact of the matter is-- they just don’t want to hear what God has to say about it.  They want to do “what is right in their own eyes”.  In essence, they are rejecting God’s word.

God’s word always has been and always will be the standard that He has determined for His children to live by- whether it is the Israelites or Christians.  When the Israelites rejected God’s word, they were rejecting Him also.  We may not like to think about it, but when we reject His word, we too are rejecting Him.  When we desire to do what is right in our own eyes above what He says is right in His word, then we have crowned another king over our lives- self.  He is not the King.  Like them, when we reject God’s laws and commands, it not only says that we want to do what we think is right and we want to rule our own lives; but it also says that we don’t want to be identified with God.  We don’t want to be “singled out”- we want to be like everyone else and “fit in”.

The truth of the matter is, beloved Christian brother or sister, we are not like everyone else.  We are different.  We are set apart.  We are the people of the Most High God.  We are to be holy unto the Lord.  We don’t march to the same beat as the world does.  We were once in darkness but now we are children of light.  We are not to be conformed to this world.  We are pilgrims and wanderers in this earth.  This is not our home.  We are no longer “dead men walking”.  We have life- everlasting life.  We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9,10)  “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:1,7,8)  “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)

In Israel during this time, as I said earlier, even the priests and Levities were guilty of doing what was right in their eyes instead of following after and holding God's word up as the only true standard of living.  It is clear that these religious leaders weren't following God.  So whoever you are- pastor, evangelist, church leader or lay person- if you are doing what is right in your own eyes and ignoring God's word as your guideline, then you aren't following Him either.

As long as we are doing what is right in our own eyes we are not following the Lord.  And if we aren't following Him, then we are going in the opposite direction.  When we are going in the opposite direction, we will get further and further away from Him and find ourselves on a way that leads to destruction or death.  “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)  We must repent and turn back to following Him and doing what is "right in His eyes".  The true sign that you are following Him and that He is the King of your life is that you are not rejecting His word by doing what is right in your own eyes.