Del Hayes Press

There was no king in Israel

In those days there was no king in Israel;

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Two statements worthy of reflection.

The first statement is the concluding verse from the Book of Judges, seventh book of the Old Testament of the Bible. When it was written, and by whom, is perhaps not known with absolute certainty, but was most likely completed after the people of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity, approximately 600 years before the birth of Christ. The poignant essence of the verse from Judges is its concluding accusation, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

The second statement was an aphorism by George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist of the early 20th century, born in Spain, but who spent most of his life in America. A better known version of Santayana’s aphorism is that attributed to Winston Churchill, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

And what do those two statements have to say for we citizens of America? Can the lament in Judges be any more appropriately said of Israel, some 26 centuries ago, than can be said of America, as the year 2022 opens? And was Santayana’s “warning” any more applicable to America in the early 20th century than it is today?

The people of Israel were the “people of the Covenant.” Yahweh would be their God, their “king,” and they would be His people. But as centuries passed, they wanted a “real” king, as other powerful nations had. So David was chosen to be their king, followed by a line of kings, who sat upon the throne.

America’s churches are closing, as the nation tends toward being less religious

But the people had forgotten the Covenant, forgotten their true King. And in those days when “Israel had no king,” the people did pretty much what they pleased. Over time, Israel was conquered by more powerful kings, and the people eventually led away into captivity. The nation of Israel was no more.

And now, in the same way, a case can be made that America has largely “forgotten God,” and no longer has a true King. Those who profess to be Christians have steadily diminished in number and percentage. We elect political leaders, but as became true for the people of Israel, it appears America “has no King.” And just as was lamented millennia ago, to an increasing extent in America this Year of our Lord, 2022, “every man does that which is right in his own eyes.”

As Winston Churchill was correct in his beliefs about Hitler, and the tyranny of Nazism, will he also be correct about America, today? As we continue down a path of ignoring history, will we be doomed to repeat it?

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