I tend to approach Christian books about our society with a lot of scepticism because they tend to grandstand about how sinful and wicked that our society is and that unless we repent of our sins then we are all going to be destroyed. My concern with these types of books is that they tend to only be read by Christians, who then look at society around them and say 'gee, I am glad I am not like them.' Granted, some non-Christians might read these books and be convicted and that is good. The second thing is that I think our society has to sink a lot deeper to even equate to what life was like back in the days of the judges. Yes, we do live in a permissive society, and yes, we are a greedy and lustful lot, but then there is still a lot about our society that stands out from the societies of the ancient world. As we discussed in Bible study tonight, we have a belief that as long as we are not hurting anybody then what we are doing is okay. Reading the book of Judges suggests that not even that restraint was apparent in that world.
Granted, this book did open up with some grandstanding about the failures of our society, but then the author was right. When we stop disciplining children and stop failing them and making them all feel that they are successful then nobody learns anything. If we do not punish a child for doing wrong then the child does not learn of any difference between right a wrong, and this, Hunter suggests, is the problem with our society.
However, he then goes on to explore the many stories of the book of Judges. Now Judges is a very entertaining, and in the same breath, a very disturbing book of the Bible. It is the book that contains the famous stories of Sampson and Gideon, but it is also laced with some very disturbing events such as the gang rape of a concubine and then her being cut up and distributed across the land. This story then goes on to where one of the Israelite tribes is given permission to kidnap a group of unmarried women so that they might marry them.
The constant theme through this book, and the book of Judges, is that during this time there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. This, as can be seen from the book, especially the climatic last chapter, turned out to be disastrous. Now, it wasn't that there was no human king in Israel (there wasn't) but it was that God was supposed to be their king and they were supposed to live according to the law that he had established. That seemed to be the case initially but the Israelites quickly turned away. The book then goes into a spiral of rebellion, punishment, repentance, and rescue. However the cycle, as it is called, is not really a cycle because the situation get progressively worse. In the story of Samson we note that there wasn't any repentance, the Israelites had accepted their lot as being the slaves to the Philistines.
If there is one thing that I can say I learned from this book it is about having a heart for the Lord. While it is always good to have a heart for the Lord, we have to let that heart grow with the rest of us. It may be all well and good to get a heart for the Lord when we are a child, but if we do not let our heart grow with ourselves then we will be adults but our heart will be that of a child. This is different to being innocent like a child. It is letting our heart for God grow as we grow and to continue to fill us. If we don't then our faith will stagnate and die.