Last year, I noticed a little pimple-like bump on my leg. I thought little of it, slathered some pimple cream, and hoped it would heal. Unfortunately, last year was also highly stressful as I prepared to study overseas. What started out as a minor skin infection grew into a pus-filled abscess that looked like a palm-sized bruise. The infection had caused my flesh to “melt” away. It responded to antibiotics, but worsened once I stopped. Plus, I forgot to take my meds some days.
The staff nurse on my campus clinic finally stopped the medicine, saying that my body would heal itself – or the doctor would have to cut it out. I was in such pain that I wish it would have just gone away. And I guess my body concurred because one fine morning, it burst. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say the blood and pus would not stop flowing for days. Today, the wound has closed – on the surface – but the abscess remains as a reminder of the months of healing, recurring pus build-ups and more bursting.
This long, agonizing recovery reminds me of the book of Judges – yes, the one with stories about Deborah, Gideon and Samson.
When I was a little girl, we would shout out “Joshua, Judges, Ruth!”, a little joke while reciting the books of the bible. When I was an undergraduate, I saw how the human judges were foreshadows of Jesus the Messiah. The book of Judges was still a pretty bright place to be, seeing how it points to Jesus.
A decade later, I re-read the book of Judges properly, and… the stories aren’t exactly PG-rated. They might not even make it to NC-16. The book starts out pretty innocently, with God’s people kinda sorta wanting to obey Him, but just not doing it. So their neighbours fought them, they lost because they were sinning, then they cried out to God, and God raised a judge who – like a tribal chief – led them to victory. Sounds like Jesus winning the biggest fight of all – over death. Except, the pattern repeats and the narrative gets dreadfully wrong. The author of Judges explains it in Judges 17:6, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And ICYMI, he ends the book with it. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25).
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”Judges 21:25
There was no king, and people were making arbitrary decisions about war and taking justice into their own hands. They had let sin fester in their lives, and it was eating them up. Their hearts were empty, melted down by the infectious rot of sin. It was a time of darkness, bleakness, unsettledness.
Today, we know that a king would eventually come, and his name would be Jesus. But suspend that for a moment, and feel the ache of the people for a king. Let us feel their desperation. How they clutched at anything that made them feel better and normal, anything to fill that void. And recognise that we have that same longing for Jesus to return and make all things right. And how we fill our lives with things, people and activities to distract us from that ache. And how, in Jesus, that dark void is filled with light. Because we are people of the light, drawn to the Light of the world (John 8:12, 9:39).