A Permissive Society

Bible Book: Judges  2 : 1-23
Subject: Permissiveness; Worldiness

Foot and mouth disease is the scourge of the cattle industry. Do you recall that in the year 2001, we looked at our T. V. screens in amazement as we saw cattle being destroyed, herds being decimated because of this awful scourge. When this disease hit one cattle area a few years ago the authorities clamped on a strict quarantine to isolate and control the problem. There was one farmer who was determined to save his animals. He carefully sprayed every building on his farm, every room in his house, and every vehicle on his property. He then moved all his animals into a disinfected building, padlocked the door and restricted all contact with the outside world. No visitors were allowed on his property, and he went to the point of picking up his newspaper at the front gate with sterile gloves, then baking it in the oven to kill any bacteria. Yet despite his desperate efforts, within three weeks some of his cows became ill, and the entire herd had to be wiped out. As one health officer noted, “The virus is transmitted through the air, and you can't quarantine the wind.”

In our age the winds of “The Me Generation,” is blowing a strong and deadly virus. “Doing your own thing,” has been enshrined as the national life-style. Our society is increasingly secular, increasingly pagan, and vigorously anti-Christian. If ever a verse has the ring of the 21st century about it, it’s the one that's found hanging at the backdoor of the Book of Judges, “In those days there was no King in Israel, every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”(21:25) Judges has been called one of the saddest books of the Bible. It records the story of a nation, Israel, which had once known the wonderful works of God, a nation with a glorious history, but a nation that turned away from its grand heritage to reap a grim harvest. This was a time of moral and spiritual anarchy. This was A Society without Standards. Few periods of history are so much like our own.

Homosexuality has become so widely accepted that one quarter of the population of a major American city is said to practice it, while living according to the Bible is ridiculed or dismissed as irrelevant by most popular T.V. program. Divorce rates are soaring while the practice of “living together,” becomes standard procedure among a great part of the population. No serious observers can doubt that the Western World is experiencing an enormous moral crisis. We are “A Society without Standards.” The youthful rock star who told an interviewer, “I believe absolutely nothing,” is unfortunately, speaking for a good part of his generation. But is this Permissive Society, in which we live really unprecedented? Has it never happened before? Let’s go back to a neglected O.T. book, the Book of Judges, which describes a society without standards whose life-style is captured in a thoroughly modern phrase, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”(21:25) Now there are some things that I want to say about this society in Judges, which find a parallel in our own Permissive Society today.

I. A Society without Restraint

Four times in the Book of Judges we have this significant statement, “In those days there was no King in Israel,” and twice the inevitable conclusion is added, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”(17:6 18:1 19:1 21:25) You see no-one was in control. No-one gave the orders. No- one was responsible to anyone. As a result “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Observe not that which was wrong. The tragedy is that man's idea of what is right and wrong is often opposite of God's. (1) You see there was no restraint:

A. Morally

We see something of the sin of the children of Israel in (2:11) The Hebrew text is more strongly worded, “The children of Israel did the evil.” They threw themselves into the supreme sin, the sin of all sins. (2:13) says, “They forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth.” Now Baal and Ashtaroth were false deities in the Canaanite pantheon of gods. Baal was the god of the storm and rain who rode upon the clouds and was responsible for the crop watering rains. Ashtoreth, Baal's consort was the goddess of war and fertility. Now in Canaan the fertility of the land depended upon the sexual relationship between Baal and his partner. In other words the sexual union of these gods in the heavens was to result in an abundant harvest. But the Canaanite faithful

did not sit back and say, “Let Baal do it.” Instead their watchword was, “Serve Baal with gladness all ye glands.”

Hence the Canaanite's practiced sacred prostitution as part of their worship. For instance a Canaanite man would to a Baal shrine and have sexual intercourse with one of the sacred prostitutes serving there. The man would fulfil Baal's role, the woman's Ashtoreth. The idea was that the union of the worshipper and the whore would encourage Mr. and Mrs. Baal to do their thing and thus the rain, grain, wine would flow again. My .... the Canaanites engaged in temple prostitution, fertility rites, drunken sexual orgies of the most debased variety: idolatry, snake worship, homosexuality: and even human sacrifice. Can you see now why God wanted His people to drive them out? (Deut 18:9-12 20:16)

This was a society without standards, a time without truth. Have we got Murder today, they had it in the times of the Judges? (Ch 9) Have we got Rape today? They had it in the Judges. (Ch 19) Have   we got Idolatry today? It was back there too. (2:13) What about Homosexuality? Yes, it was there also. (19:22) Have you heard what the new Archbishop of Canterbury has had to say? He does not mind marrying and appointing gays to the ministry in spite of the fact that the Word of God says “It is abomination.”(Lev 18:22) In the time of the Judges there was no restraint morally and is it any different today? In 1973 Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled, “Whatever became of Sin.” This psychiatrist sensed the loss of old fashioned morality in the unrestrained permissiveness of modern society and expressed his alarm.

My .... our society is becoming tolerant of perversion as a lifestyle. The Doctrine of Permissiveness is to be seen everywhere. Pornography, living outside of marriage, the breakdown of marriage, are all marks of the sex revolution which is sweeping the land and which is deliberately aimed at reshaping moral values. Listen to these facts. Homosexuals in New York State now have the same rights as surviving husbands and wives to take over the property on the death of their partners. (Lev 18:22)

In 1989 Denmark became the first industrial nation to allow Sodomites to marry and be registered in the same way husbands and wives are. In San Francisco parishioners of St. Francis Lutheran Church voted overwhelmingly to call a pair of lesbians as assistant pastors. Both women are graduates of Luther North-western Seminary in Minnesota. M. Luther would turn over in his grave. A Washington Post article (September 1989) stated that a Baltimore therapist concluded that after a 25 year study involving 1,000 U.S.A. R.C. priests, that 20% of them are gay. Another study set the figure higher. No restraint morally.

My …. what about you personally? Have you been caught up in this permissive society? Have you been swept along by the spirit of the age? The Lord comes to you  and says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”(Exod 20:3) Have you been caught in Idolatry? What is Idolatry? Its anything or anyone in your life that's more important to you than God. It’s anything or anyone that occupies first place in your life instead of Jesus Christ.

Now who or what is more important to you than Christ? Are you worshipping at the altar of permissiveness? Is your family more important to you than the Savior? What about your job? Girlfriend? Business? Work? Oh, there was no restraint Morally.

B. Matrimonially

God had established Israel's policy (Deut 7:1-5 20:16-18)

There was to be no peaceful coexistence with the Canaanites no peace treaties and no intermarriages. And yet here we see Israel worshipping other gods and establishing other relationships. Later in this Book of Judges Samson comes on the scene. The “He Man with a She Weakness.” And one day Samson went down to a Philistine town and there he saw a beautiful girl and it was lust at first sight. Now in that society, fellows, you did not try and get a date and chat her up and follow her home. No. You turned the whole problem over to your parents. So Samson headed home and broke the news to his parents, “Well, Mum and Dad I've seen the girl of my dreams, she looks terrific, that's the girl I want to marry so you get her for me and make all the arrangements.”

“Oh, we’re glad you've found the girl the Lord has for you, who she is?” “She's a Philistine girl from Timnath.” And with that statement Samson's parent's world fell apart.

Is not a problem that we Christian parents face? You see it’s one thing to get them saved, great to see them going on with the Lord, but the next problem in life is this, “Who are they going to marry?” For the object that attracts their attention will be the object that shapes their lives for good or bad! My .... Samson could not have had a better start. Everything was going well, until there passed by a little pretty thing, a Philistine, “Get her for me to wife.”(14:2) This was direct disobedience to the Word of God. (Deut 7:3-4) But then Samson was just reflecting the spirit of the age, “Everyone doing that was right in their own eyes.”(21:25) Young Folk, I plead with you this … watch your company. Be careful who you date. Marry in the Lord. Marry in the will of the Lord. Listen to the final authority we have on the subject. “Be ye not unequally yoked …,” (2 Cor 6:14-15)

A person who does not believe whether he be an atheist, moralist, or religionist can have no part with the Christian. Such a person is governed by different principles, passions, prospects. This rules     for ever the unequal yoke in marriage, (1 Cor 7:39) in business, (2 Chron 20:35) or any other life binding contract.

II. A Society without Respect

You see, sin unchecked in our lives has a way of taking us lower and lower and lower. It’s possible to begin brilliantly and end ignominiously. A good start does not assure a successful conclusion. And how this is vividly illustrated in the nation of Israel at this time. Here were a people who had experienced a great beginning as God worked mightily in their midst but as time went on they moved further and further away from God into the quicksand of sin. Indeed we read in (2:12) “And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers which brought them out of Egypt.

A. Cleave to the Lord

Now it was not that they were ignorant. Although (2:10) says, “they knew not the Lord.” But that’s not a reference to intellectual ignorance. They were not uninformed of the events of the Exodus or the Conquest of Canaan. They had a great deal of information about the Lord, they knew about the Lord, but they did not know Him or acknowledge Him. My ….. Is that a picture of you this ....? You know all about the facts of the Gospel. You know that you're a sinner, you know that your sin has separated you from God. You know that your sin will take you to hell. But you also know that Christ came to save you from sin and hell. That “Christ is the answer to your need.” You know about the Lord but do you really know Him? My …. Christian, have you lost touch with God? Have you forgotten how to walk in fellowship with Him? That's what happened to Israel. Instead of being filled with wonder that God had reached into Egypt and delivered His people, instead of praising God when they heard of the Canaanite Conquests, they simply yawned with boredom, “Ah we've heard all that before.” Do you know what this is? Second Generation Syndrome. It’s a lukewarmness, an apathy, a complacency about amazing Biblical truths that we heard from our childhood or teachers. It’s very much part of 21st century Christianity as we begin to leave our first love. Someone once said, “Hate is not the opposite of love apathy is.” Are you marked by apathy? “I've heard it all before.”

B. Consider the Law

God promised Joshua victory if they honored God's Word (Jos 1:7-8) and Joshua repeated this promise to the nation. (Jos 23:5-11) but (2:2) says “but ye have not obeyed my voice.” What was Central in Joshua, became Peripheral in Judges. Is God’s Word central in your life? Someone has said “the Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” Is this why you're walking at a distance from the Lord? God's Word is no longer central in your life. Have you lost your appetite for the Bible? Have you lost that desire to hear God's voice?

III. A Society without Recovery

Do you know what happens in Judges? In Judges we go round in circles. It’s the same sinful cycle that’s repeated over and over again, until we come to the concluding verse in the book “In those days .... sight.”(21:25) (3) I wonder, will your life end the way this book ends? Without your spiritual recovery? Will your life end without Christ? Will it end without your salvation? I note here that there was no recovery in spite of:

A. The Angel of the Lord

Do you know who the angel of the Lord was? The Lord Jesus. You see from time to time in the O.T. the Lord appeared to His people. And these were pre incarnation appearances of the Lord Jesus. Its interesting, the angel of the Lord did not say, “God brought you from Egypt.” No ! “I made you to go up out of Egypt .... and I swore unto your fathers.”(2:1) In other words the angel of the Lord was God Himself appearing to His people. Indeed in (2:5) the appearance of Christ is linked to sacrifice for when the Son of God reveals Himself to men He always leads them to the Cross for that's the climax of Divine Revelation. But listen, in spite of the appearance of the angel of the Lord to them there was no recovery. Is it just the same with you? Do you know what the Bible says? “But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”(Heb 9:26) My .... almost 2,000 years ago the Lord Jesus appeared. He stepped out of eternity into time. He was born Supernaturally, He lived Sinlessly, He died Vicariously, that is in the place of others.

He rose from the dead Victoriously, He lives Eternally, and He is able to save Completely. But the tragedy is that in spite of His Appearance you're not saved! Will you decide for Christ? Will you say, in the light of all He's done for you, “Christ for me?”

B. The Anger of the Lord

Do you know where sin brought Israel? Into servitude and suffering. “And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers.”(2:14) This was not the petty anger of hurt feelings, but the holy anger of a righteous God against sin. The tragedy was that after God delivered them, they went out and did it again. Back-slider, do you know what unconfessed sin does? It brings servitude and bondage into your live. Sometimes we sing that hymn,

“Come thou fount of every blessing ….,”It’s a great hymn of praise to God but there's a sad story related to it. Two strangers were riding in a coach a miserable looking man and a happy faced woman who was reading this hymn. She showed the hymn to her unknown companion and told him how much the words meant to her. The man looked at and suddenly broke down. Sobbing he said to her, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago and I would give a thousand worlds if I had them to enjoy the feeling I had then.”

Robert Robinson had drifted out of fellowship with God and he knew the awful bondage that sin brings. My …. is that where you are? Is God's disciplining hand upon you because of sin? Is it not time that you came back to the Lord?

C. The Advent of the Lord

This will be certainly true as far as Society is concerned.

We're living in A Permissive Society and the Book of Judges foreshadows the evil of this present day. But do you know why evil, lawlessness, perversion: abounds on every hand? I'll tell you, because there is no king in Israel. Sin is rampant because THE king has not come yet. But the fact that all is going so wrong down here is a sure sign that His Coming is near. You see the only true remedy for the period of the Judges was the “Coming of the King.”(David) And as it was 3,000 years ago so it is today.

My .... we are on the threshold of the glorious age of the Coming of the King, the Lord Jesus whose right it is to reign. (Jer 23:6) And do you know something? Christ's reign will be a Moral Reign.

Zechariah tells us that when the Savior returns to reign from Jerusalem “In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses Holiness unto the Lord.”

(Zech 14:20) When the King comes to reign A Permissive Society will be gone, and a Perfect Society will be here.


The King, the Lord Jesus is Coming.

“The signs all seem to say

His coming is not far away

Rejoice ye saints

He may come today

He’s bound to come.”

Tell me, is Christ coming for you? Listen, you shall never Reign with Him, unless you are Redeemed by Him.