Chamberlain returned to London declaring "peace in our time." He was hailed as a hero by a country that thought that he had averted war. But one man was not fooled. Winston Churchill rose in the House of Commons to speak these profound and prophetic words:
Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war...And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden times.Churchill recognized something that most of his countryman did not-- you simply cannot compromise with evil. Such compromise is defeat. When we compromise with evil, we are inevitably led down a path of decline and decay. History proved Churchill to be right.
In Judges 9, Israel is once again plunged into chaos and conflict, but this time it is not from a marauding band of invaders. The chaos this time was caused by the man who would be king. He name was Abimelech, the son of Gideon. Abimelech murdered the seventy sons of Gideon to remove any other claim to the throne, a throne that did not exist. He then plunged the country into a civil war in an effort to consolidate his power. Thousands died in the conflict, and many more would have had not Abimelech been killed by the old "throw-the-millstone-out-the-tower-window" trick. Judges is a book that chronicles many dark times in Israel's past, and the reign of Abimelech was one of the darkest.
The conflict of Abimelech that nearly destroyed the land began when his father Gideon made one of those Chamberlain "peace in our time" pronouncements. In Judges 8, Gideon receives payments in gold for his great service in leading Israel to freedom. He fashioned the gold into a golden ephod, a breastplate worn by the priest to symbolize their authority. So this golden ephod represented his authority, but very quickly it became a object of veneration and even worship. Gideon, the judge who began his career by destroying images of Baal in effect himself sets up an idol for Israel to worship. Shortly after his death, Israel completed the apostasy by setting up images of Baal. By making peace with idolatry, Gideon set the stage for the conflict that would destroy his sons and the peace in Israel he fought so hard to maintain.
We are today in a spiritual battle that has eternal consequences. When we make subtle (or not so subtle) compromises with the values and standards of the world around us, then we set the stage for same kind of spiritual compromise and failure precipitated by Gideon. When we blindly accept the ideas and ideals of the culture around us, we make peace with the world-- a peace that cannot last. There is no peace in our time except the peace that passes understanding that comes from a life that is hidden with Christ. May God give us the courage to stand for Him in an age that stands for everything else... and thus falls for anything.