In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)
Imagine a world where nobody cared what God or anyone else thought. Imagine a place where everyone did whatever they wanted and whatever they thought was right. People took what they wanted and only looked out for themselves. This is the time of the judges.
Its in that place and time that the Bible gives us a brief story of a man named Adoni-Bezek (actually, that's more like his title meaning lord/king of Bezek). He was the ruler of a pagan city that God's people had conquered. Here is what happened...
When I read that recently, I immediately stopped reading and started jotting down notes. Let me share my notes with you. "Judges 1:6 -- For real!? They cut his thumbs and big toes off? Why!? That seems harsh. How could this possibly be righteous or just?" When I was done thinking about it, I kept reading. The very next verse hit me hard.
And Adoni-bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me." And they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there. -- Judges 1:7
The Israelites didn't just cut his thumbs and big toes off to torture him and be cruel. They did it as justice. This king, Adoni-Bezek, had been conquering other cities for many years. When a city stood defeated, how did this ruler treat the defeated and their kings? He gave them a fate worse than death. He cut their thumbs and big toes off to both humiliate and cripple them. He then amplified their humiliation by making them his servants and forcing them to eat the scraps that fell from his table.
There is something sobering about this story to me. When God finally had enough of this wicked man, He didn't just stop him. God repaid him for what he had done. God doesn't always do this sort of thing, but He does it sometimes and that's enough to concern me.
It got me thinking of the way that I treat others. What have I done to others that I would be afraid to be repaid for? Over the years, I've been a jerk to people. I've deceived, humiliated, accused, belittled, and hurt many. I can't imagine being repaid for the ways I've treated others.
I'm incredibly grateful that I don't have to fear the condemnation of God because Jesus Christ has saved all those who trust in Him. Check out Romans 8:1. But still, God does discipline Christians as a father disciplines his children because He loves us and wants us to grow. After reading that passage, it was a stern reminder to treat others well, before God decides its time to teach me a lesson.
- Who do I treat badly and how?
- What are some typical ways I treat others poorly?
- If God repaid me for my misdeeds, what might that look like?
- Have I trusted in Jesus to save me from my sins so that God can give me eternal life rather than punishment? If not, do so today and let a Christian friend, pastor, or me know!
- Thank Jesus that God isn't looking to condemn you for your mistakes.
- How can I begin treating the people I named in the first question well this week?
- Vote for the next Apparent Contradiction at the top right of the site!