Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cabbages and Kings

On Judges chap. 17-21

"In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did what was right in their own eyes." Judges 21:25

You gave Israel judges, not kings; you gave them judges who You commissioned to transmit your word and will, who You commissioned to turn the nation from sin. But Israel was stiff-necked. Left to themselves, they floundered. Accustomed too long to advice from men, they did not turn their ears to You. Dependent too long on kingly proclamation, they lost the glory of seeking You themselves. They never grew up. They crawled--first into sin, and then back to You--but they never raised their eyes, never reached to grasp the promise You made them so long ago: a share in You.

Micah, an Ephraim Jew, fell into theft and idolatry. A priest from Bethlehem joined him. Moses' grandson Jonathan captured Michah's idols and he and his people worshiped them. Benjamite Jews raped and killed woman. Israel nearly slaughtered all the tribe of Benjamin in retaliation. In doing these things, Your people ignored or misinterpreted Your laws because they tried to reason through them rather than simply ask You. Blind men led blinder ones, but none let You restore their sight. Only when they prostrated themselves before You, acknowledging their sin, did You restore them. So it is for us.

This is the danger of rulers, leaders, prophets, judges, and kings. You put them in place to bind the untaught and unruly, but they are not You. The young in faith and those ignorant of righteousness need leading, but You have more. The Israelites freshly migrated into the Promised Land knew the covenant, but never saw its fulfillment.

You made Christ both everlasting King and High Priest. He tore open the temple and exposed Your glory. Let us look at it! Yes, You still put men in positions of authority, but they, like the kings and judges of old, function primarily as conduit to You for those too weak to gaze into the Holy themselves. You made the Tree of Life available in Eden because you want us to have it. You are the Tree: You are the Life.

For those who know You, You commissioned shepherds when you told Peter three times to feed Your sheep. For those who do not, you still commission rulers. May You bless rulers who properly wield their swords. May You bless shepherds who gather in Your sheep with love.

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