Apostasy Both Then and Now

Judges 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

When it comes to authority, in the most basic sense there are two options.

One, authority is external, in people like parents, police officers, pastors, teachers, and laws. Both God and His Word are supposed to be the external authorities to which His people submit, as He also works through appointed leadership in the home, at work, in the church, and in government.

Two, authority is internal, based solely on such things as your personal thoughts, feelings, urges, desires, and ideas. This is a radical rejection of the way God intends our world to be run and our lives to be lived – an act of sinful treason against God and a declaration of spiritual war that opens us to the flesh and demonic forces at work in and around us.

God had clearly warned His people in the external authority of His Word not to fall into the demonic deception that they were the highest authority in their life. In Deuteronomy 12:8, God said, “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes[.]” In the closing line of Judges, (21:25), we read the summary of generation after generation: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The people in Judges acted a lot like those in our day – doing whatever they want, not seeking God’s will, yet claiming to be believers. Therefore, the backdrop of Judges and our own day is apostasy:

“A public denial of a previously held religious belief and a distancing from the community that holds to it. The term is almost always applied pejoratively, carrying connotations of rebellion, betrayal, treachery, or faithlessness. The Greek terms ἀπόστασις (apostasis) and ἀποστασία (apostasia), from which “apostasy” derives, typically appear in a political or military context. “Apostasy” is also related to the term ἀφίστημι (aphistēmi). Ancient literature presents two prevalent senses for the terms …

1. rebellion in the sense of disobedience to a king or superior

2. defection during a conflict”. (1)

Apostasy is precisely the condition of the people in Judges. Sometimes, the pain and distress that people experience is reaping what they have sown through sin. These people are not victims; they are villains. They are rebelling against God as King and defecting from the faith during an invasion from enemies and surrendering to demonic forces of temptation and rebellion. In our day, the equivalent would be woke progressive “Christians” who support abortion, transgenderism, and socialism with a tolerance that welcomes everyone but God and everything but God’s Word.

In Judges, we also witness a death blow to the progressive evolutionary myth that people are basically good, human progress is inevitable, and, given more time, people and their cultures and nations will consistently improve. Judges 2:19-20 reports the exact opposite of progressivism:

“[T]hey turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel…”

A major theme throughout Judges is that, unless God intervenes, sin is like gravity that pulls everyone and everything down toward Hell without exception. Our only hope is not time, evolution, or government but deliverance from God alone, who not only saves us from Hell but also saves us from ourselves!

Take some time to pray for those in your life who are not walking with the Lord. Pray that God would turn their hearts back to Him. 

  1. Ian W. K. Koiter, “Apostasy,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

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