by Peter Ditzel
Judges 17:6 and 21:25 concern the era in Israel’s history known as the time or period of the judges. These verses have significance for us today: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Preachers almost always quote these verses as indicating how terribly bad things were at the time of the judges and use them as examples of how we must work to avoid being that way today. The assumption is that the Bible is here being critical of the idea of people doing what is right in their own eyes. There’s a problem with this interpretation. The Bible not only doesn’t back it up; it directly contradicts it. In this article, I’m going to show you where the Bible disagrees with what many commentators say about these verses, in what way the time of the judges is a shadow of the assembly Jesus’ founded, and how the time of the judges can be a significant lesson for Christians and even illustrate a valuable political principle for everyone.