Missing the Forest for the Trees

 In Catalyst

Everyone who saw it said, “Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?”” (Judges 19:30, NLT)

Last week we saw that political anarchy doesn’t begin in a vacuum. When a people reject God, it naturally leads to moral degeneration. Judges 19 tells of one such story…and the response of the people is the shock we read above. How could this happen? How did we get here? How can government fix it?

Sound familiar? I find myself asking similar questions at least once a week. This week as I read about a woman who brought her “therapy pony” onto a plane.  A horse! Obviously, that’s not immoral…but it’s pretty weird – and funny. And I think – “Man, where’s this nation headed?”

There’s an old saying I’m sure you’ve heard: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is the idea that when you’re so involved in the details (the trees), you tend to miss the big picture (the forest). That was Israel’s problem, and perhaps ours as well.

The details of political anarchy were all-consuming. They were fighting to survive as a nation. Invasion, warfare, bad economy, famine. But they never were able to step back and see the big picture. The real problem wasn’t the Philistines and the Canaanites, it was their rejection of God…which led to immorality…which led to political problems.  This week we’ll read about immorality on display on a scale never-before-seen in Israel. Israel is rightly incensed! They will demand justice. They will exact revenge.

But they’ll miss the forest. They’ll never ask: “How did we get here?” They will look for human solutions to their political problems (sound familiar?), but will never repent and turn back to God.  The author ends the book with: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25, NLT)

It won’t be long (1 Sam. 8) before Israel will demand a king…never realizing that their real problems were spiritual, not political.

I hope you’ll join us Sunday for our final sermon in our study of Judges.

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