The Book of Judges is well-known as a time of chaos, characterized by the refrain “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. Yet, the failures pictured in the time of the judges are also reflective of the failures characterized in the end times. The Book of Judges concentrates upon the failure of personal responsibility. The refrain “there was no king” means there was no human king, and the lack of this restraint coupled with the lack of personal restraint led to repeated patterns of sin, leading to slavery, suffering leading to repentance and afterwards salvation.
The irony is that they had a king, and that king was God. God was and still is sovereign over all. However, He was also the hands-on God Whom brought them up from the land of Egypt. They were set free from slavery, but they still could not escape the slavery of sin in their hearts. God gave them rules and laws to live by, but they instead disobeyed and did whatever they pleased. They acknowledged God’s existence, but, like Adam and Eve, they did not actually believe God. It is similar to the situation in postmodern Christianity today.
The irony is that mankind still today in general seems to believe that if everyone just did whatever they wanted when they wanted that people will be happy. Philosophers tell everyone to follow their hearts, but Jeremiah says our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful (Jer 17:9).
While not explicitly drawn attention to in the Book of Judges, one has to wonder why the priesthood was unable to stop much of the chaos and confusion. Perhaps the reason is that people were basically ignoring God in those days. However, the last two stories of the book also point to a view of God that borders on superstition. This same view is evident in the beginning chapters of 1 Samuel as well. However, unlike 1 Samuel, the Book of Judges does not show an utter failure of the priesthood. Perhaps, though, that is only because of the concentration upon personal accountability and how there was a need for external restraint.