For many weeks now, I have been intent upon editing the Disciplers study of Judges and Ruth. The editing has been mainly for typographical errors with a bit of updating since those lessons were written in 1991. If you have studied the Book of Judges, you may remember that the events took place in a time when, There was no king in Israel and, Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Besides the repeated downward spiral into sin, described in chapters one through sixteen, the ramifications included the horrific chaos, moral degeneration, spiritual immaturity, and anarchy pictured in chapters seventeen through twenty-one.
As I have read the lesson notes for Judges, reviewed the questions, and studied to confirm the accuracy of all the commentary and Scripture references, I have been increasingly struck by the similarity of the Book of Judges to our world today. Israel’s real problem was not the lack of a human king but their refusal to recognize God as their king. And so it is in today’s world. The result is that everyone does what is “right in his own eyes.” This seems to be the case more and more, not only on the level of common everyday life in the home and community, but also on the highest levels of government. Sadly, there are abuses of power which are often contrary to Biblical principals and result in nothing but problems for people, communities, and our nation. This is just as it was in Israel during the time of the judges.
This week, I began to re-read a devotional book, Growing Spiritually, by the late missionary and theologian, E. Stanley Jones. This book was written in 1953 but the introduction expresses so clearly the problem of Israel in the time of the judges and the problem in our world today. This is what Dr. Jones wrote:
“At the center of almost every acute problem -- personal, social, economic, political and international -- is moral and spiritual immaturity. The problems and the possibilities in almost every situation have outgrown the persons. We are immature persons dealing with mature problems. We have on our hands powers and possibilities for mature people, but the people who handle these powers are immature. Deficiency in our moral and spiritual growth means devastation around us. Our immaturity is costly -- increasingly so. For larger and larger powers are put more and more into the hands of people morally and spiritually too immature to handle them for the collective good. Our intellectual lives have outgrown our moral and spiritual lives. We have grown-up powers handled by half-grown persons. And that is serious. For the powers we now have are such that an irresponsible mistake by a few immature people can set the world on fire -- literally. Moral and spiritual maturity are not a luxury for the few; they are a necessity for us all."
So how do you and I respond in the face of this? Well, growth must begin with the individual, must it not? So we begin with ourselves! Moral and spiritual maturity can only come through the knowledge of God’s word and humble obedience to His will. We must read and study God’s word before we can obey it. Then, in order to obey and stand up for the truth, we need accountability. Are you a student of God’s word? Knowledge is necessary, but useless unless it is applied. That is why Disciplers Bible study lessons are designed to be studied with others -- in a group, or at least with another person. The group concept fosters clear understanding and personal growth by holding you accountable to others. As you work on your lesson every day and grow in understanding of God’s word, you will be blessed if you meet regularly with others to share what you have learned, listen to their insights, and consider what God is teaching you through His Holy Spirit. The study of God’s word, the humble desire to obey, and the encouragement of other believers will help you live as a morally and spiritually growing person. You will be eager to share how God is working in your life. You will shine as a light in the world. God will be glorified. We at Disciplers are here to fortify you, both individuals and groups, in your spiritual growth. And we are committed to grow with you. So let us grow together and let us see how God can change this world through us!
We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15 NASB)
By His grace,
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.