“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Judges 17:6 & 21:25
Twice this statement is made in the book of Judges. We might think it is for emphasis but that is not the main reason for the repetition. The two statements are like the two slices of bread of a sandwich and we should have a closer inspection of what lies between.
In between are two examples of the consequences of not having a faithful spiritual leadership and departing from the Word of God. Since Cain killed Abel men have been creating gods from their imagination. Not surprisingly this is one of the main teachings Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers address. Jesus Christ alone is the way to the Father. He said, “No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Every person must make a choice whether to believe Jesus or not. The default position is that of not believing.
Micah (not the prophet) had a shrine in his home in which he placed an idol that he had made himself from his own imagination. This doesn’t seem much in all Israel but it led to the whole tribe of Dan following after the imaginary god behind the idol. Some consider that this is the reason why the tribe of Dan is not included among the twelve tribes that will evangelise the world during the seven year Tribulation to come (Revelation 7:5-8). In the place of Dan, Joseph receives the double portion through Ephraim and Manasseh. This appears to be what Jacob meant when he said “And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh … are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Genesis 48:5).
Secondly, the city of Gibeah had turned the way of Sodom. God had utterly destroyed Sodom and its surrounds because of their wickedness (Genesis 18 & 19). Gibeah was a city of the tribe of Benjamin. The circumstances surrounding this revelation in the Bible reveal that there was no godliness in Gibeah. So what? That is just one city. However the whole tribe of Benjamin supported Gibeah against the rest of Israel who had come to cleanse the nation by destroying the wickedness in Gibeah. As a result of this support almost the whole tribe of Benjamin was wiped out. The lesson to us is that we must not identify with or support ungodly groups even if they have close family ties. If we do we can expect to share in God’s enmity with them.
In the prophetical Scriptures we discover that this is a pattern that will continue until Jesus Christ returns to the earth to rule. Our world is like Israel was in those days. Indeed, everyone is doing what seems right to them, “what is right in their own eyes.”
Unless God is our King mankind will go the way of Sodom, Dan and Gibeah. This we can easily observe today “but God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s actions against ungodly people are not His final judgment but a call to repentance.