Gustav Dore, "The Levite's Concubine", 1866
ADVENT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT—DAY10
Judges 21:25 There was no king in Israel at that time. Everyone did whatever they please
Some Americans believe that paradise on earth would involve little or no government and ultimate personal freedom. But these conditions do not produce paradise. The words from Judges 21:25 come at the end of three of the most chaotic and hopeless chapters in the entire Bible. These chapters describe idolatry, violence, gang rape, hypocrisy, genocide, cynicism, and an utter lack of respect for decency—all covered by the excuse, “but we had good intentions.” Supposedly, Israel at the time was a theocracy, governed on an ad hoc basis by priests and charismatic leaders that the Lord raised up from time to time. But God did not govern where it counted—in the hearts of people. It turns out that the worst oppression of all is when “everybody does what they want.” Of course, when King Saul instituted the monarchy and King David ratified it, the changes were more external than substantial. The rule of law manages sin . . . barely. So we long for the coming of Jesus, the ruler of the Kingdom of God which is not of this world and which begins by enabling people to “be born again.”
Prayer: Dear God, in our own time we have thousands upon thousands of regulations, statutes, and law codes intended to obligate us into good behavior as individuals, as groups, and as corporations. And yet governance seems less than effective. Who governs the governors? Who limits the access of the ultra rich to power? Who can oppose the powerful special interest groups? Who can reign in the media? And how do I seek the Kingdom of God meaningfully in the midst of it all? O Lord, may your Kingdom indeed come, may your Will indeed be done—and may I be one to bring it, and may I be one to do it. In the name of the King who came to a stable. Amen.