The following is a Russian parable. A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. When about to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft, soothing voice, "Isn't it better to talk than to shoot? What do you want? Let us negotiate the matter.
Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, "I want a fur coat." "Good," said the bear, "that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise. "
They sat down to negotiate, and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat.
Compromises rarely satisfy both sides in equal measure.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him. (CSB)
This summary makes clear that the period of the Judges was characterized by a rejection of God as the sovereign of the nation. Everyone consulted only himself in determining what was right.
When Joshua died there were none left who were willing to bow the knee to the sovereignty of God and give all their heart to him. There were none who responded to the claim of His lordship on their life without reservation. That is why the words Joshua addressed to the Israelites at the end of his life were so important:
But if it doesn’t, please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” (CSB)
When everyone does what is right in his own eyes, there is no standard. Lies and truth, righteousness and evil are indistinguishable from each other. Everything starts with me: What do I want to do? What is to my advantage? What promotes me and my interest? That alone is the measure by which I will live my life. In that time everyone did what was right in his own eyes, and the book of Judges records the horrible results.
The descent into lawlessness and anarchy, as Judges illustrates, begins with compromise. It is selling out at minor points along the way, which leads to more selling out, which eventually leads to decay. Now, think for a moment about the world we live in. Think about how this story is being lived out everywhere in our culture. Time after time we learn of political, business, and religious leaders whose impressive public image is a mark for private unrighteousness.
The mission that we have been called to as God’s children living in a crooked and perverse world is impossible. If we are to live as lights in a shadowy world, we need someone or something greater than ourselves. We need the power of the Holy Spirit which indwells us. We need to be filled or controlled by His gracious enabling empowerment. Enabling us to be true to Him from the heart so that we can offer hope to a sad and decaying world. There are people all around us who are tragically lost because they do not have a personal relationship with Christ. We can be the people who have the light in which to illumine the way to go. Won’t you become that person who will give those who are lost the way to go? Won’t you continue to be that light of hope and salvation?