Devastating compromise

“And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening. And they inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?’ And the Lord said, ‘Go up against them’” Judges 20:23.

It had come to this. When God’s people had first entered the Promised Land with Joshua so many years before, they were God’s instrument for justice against the pagan nations about whom His longsuffering had run out. The Israelites shrank back from obeying God and eventually blended in with the cultures around them until they were indistinguishable and the Sodom-like scenario of the previous chapter occurred.

Thus, the corrupt-but-slightly-better eleven tribes went to war against the worst one. After just one day, the losses were staggering, but God, who had promised Abraham that his descendants would number like the stars and sand, in His justice had them fight a second and then third day.

Sin has devastating consequences, and God is constantly refining His people as silver through the fire. Not all Israel is Israel, and not all the Lord’s church is His church.

If you compromise with our culture, will you withstand God’s refining?

Doug Kashorek

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#dougkashorek #compromise #Judges

Worshiping idols but sure of God’s blessing

“Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest’” Judges 17:13.

Two wrongs don’t make a right—yet this is what Micah and most of the world believes today. Micah stole some money from his mother and restored it to her with a confession. This bright spot in the tale dims quickly as his mother dedicates the money to the Lord by having a carved metal idol made with it. Micah then puts it in a shrine in his house along with an ephod and household gods and installs his sons as priests.

How could straying so far from God’s commands be pleasing to God? The text explains that, like today, everyone did what was right in his own eyes. It was a ‘tolerant’ society in which each sets up his own standard for life and God’s standard, if not forgotten, is just a loose guideline. This is clear when Micah finds a Levite as the Law demands to minister, not at the tabernacle but before his idol, and then proclaims that he’s certain that God will now prosper him.

If we do not return to God’s Word for our faith, life, and worship in our very ‘tolerant’ society, we are just like Micah—worshiping our idols but sure in our minds of God’s blessing.

Are you Micah?

Doug Kashorek

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#dougkashorek #devotional #Judges

Left to test: Judges 3.4

“They were left to test Israel, so the Lord would know if his people would obey the commands he gave their ancestors through Moses.”

Judges 3.4

God tested Israel by leaving some pagan nations in the land. Unfortunately, they failed the test, permitting themselves to be influenced to commit idolatry and immorality.

Every test ought to be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate faithfulness to God. He desires to see us pass tests with flying colors.

#votd #Judges #tests

If the Lord is with us: Judges 6.13

“Gideon said to him, ‘Pardon me, but if the Lord is with us, why has such disaster overtaken us? Where are all his miraculous deeds our ancestors told us about? They said, “Did the Lord not bring us up from Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to Midian.’”

Judges 6.13

Gideon had difficulty in reconciling Israel’s situation and the Lord’s promise of blessing for his people. A common expectation is that God only blesses.

In the new covenant, the Lord’s blessing is spiritual, not material. Suffering is part of the work we do. Especially today such questions as Gideon’s are inappropriate.

#votd #Judges #suffering

Please stay here awhile: Judges 13.15

“Manoah said to the Lord’s angel, ‘Please stay here awhile, so we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.’”

Judges 13.15

Man wants to detain God and his representatives. Something in his nature senses his need for the divine presence. If the angel brought good news, what else might he do, how else might he bless his house?

God’s presence with us is his promise, and our prayer for ourselves and others. “… the God of love and peace will be with you” 2 Cor 13.11. It is the focus of all our efforts.

#votd #Judges #presence-of-God

New generation: Judges 2.10 VOTD

“That entire generation passed away; a new generation grew up that had not personally experienced the Lord’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel.”

Israel remained faithful to God until Joshua and the elders of his time passed away. Then the people began to worship idols and follow other gods.

How can each new generation in the body of Christ learn to put their faith in God and be devoted with all their heart to the Lord?

#Judges #faith #VOTD

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(#210) The Proverbs of Solomon 31:8-9-Listen to Your Mama About Words

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-29:27 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. Proverbs 30-31 were added and preserved by the Holy Spirit. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 31:8-9: “Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Step up and speak up for those who are less fortunate, specifically those who have: no voice, no parent, no justice, or no necessities of life. It is emphatic and an action of mercy to help the helpless. All leaders of government should admit that: “Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne” (Proverbs 20:28). God has always required this of His people: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15); “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16-17); “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

The “speechless” are those who have no voice or ability to defend themselves. They are easily victimized by all who would misrepresent their case;

Those “appointed to die” are people without possessions or permanence. According to the Hebrew expression, these may be strangers just passing through or orphans who cannot support themselves. God is mindful of such and required this of Israelites (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Solomon wisely ruled: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13). Never was this clearer than when Israelites were taken from their Promised Land because: “The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger” (Ezekiel 22:29);

“Judge righteously” should be the outcry of all of God’s people. All judges and legal personnel should hear this command. Jesus has said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24), for “in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5);

“Plead the cause of the poor and needy,” for they cannot afford their own defense. The “poor and needy” are NOT those who demand their “right” to have the same possessions as those who have worked for what they have! The essentials of food and clothing are NOT in the same category as video games, big screen TV’s, cable, Internet, cars, or brand-name clothes!

No nation or people will stand when citizens have little or no recourse for their grievances!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #government, #judge-righteously, #judges, #mercy, #poor-and-needy, #proverbs, #truth, #wisdom

Bible verse and lesson outline from Judges: quickly turned aside

judges-israelJudges 2.17 will be a major passage that I’ll work with this weekend at the northeast lectureship, as a I teach on the NT church as The Way:

But they did not obey their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned aside from the path their ancestors had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not.

Some of the points are: Continue reading

#church-of-christ, #judges, #sermon-outline, #the-way

IMPOVERISHED

     For a period of about seven years the Israelites had to serve the Midianites (Judges 6:1-10). The reason for this servitude was the result of the evil the children of Israel engaged; actions that were contrary to the Lord’s purpose for them as a nation and as a people. The evil is not really identified, but the context includes the idea of choosing to worship another god along side of the Lord God. It seems that the Israelites failed to remember that the Lord will brook no compromise with anyone (cf. Exodus 20:1-3).

The Midianites were rather severe in the implementation of their “lordship” over Israel. So much so the children of Israel became impoverished as a result of this exactitude in service that was required.

Reflect for a moment on this impoverishment. The Scripture says there would be nothing left after Midian came in to this one particular area. You are a parent with four hungry children to feed; whatever crop you plant is not allowed to come to fruit, and if it does you have to do what you can to hide it (if you don’t you will lose it). You have hardly any earthly possessions, your clothes are ragged, the home in which you live is run down, and your family has been struck with seasonal sickness. It is enough to overwhelm a person.

The experience, the Lord said, was because of disobedience to His will and purpose for the nation’s life (Judges 6:8-10). As I sit here writing this I can’t help but to think of a wife and the children having to suffer because of the male leadership in the home not doing what was required of the Lord. When the man (husband/father) does not lead there is an impoverishment in the area where he fails. With regard to spiritual matters, the Lord will do with male exactly as He called Adam in the long ago (Genesis 3:9). RT

#impoverished, #judges, #midianites

Those Who Outlived

     The Scriptures reads, “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7, NKJV).

     Reflect upon this for a moment and consider a few points. First, the nation of Israel had a great leader in Joshua. He was a fortunate man who had a direct line of communication to the Lord; this was much different than that which any other had. With this fortunate avenue, however, came great responsibility. To him the Lord gave the responsibility of taking the nation into the promised land and executing the Lord’s will. To have failed the Lord would have been disastrous for him and the nation.

Second, Joshua was not a man who could carry this burden all on his own. Whatever strength of character he had, he was still just a man. He needed others to help him and on whom which he could lean. The leadership of Joshua and men who were devoted to the Lord’s way brought much success to Israel. No matter what their failing might have been in the respective lives, because they were devoted to the Lord they had success.

Third, the failings that did actually reside within the nation of Israel did eventually began to show its ugly head when Israel’s great leadership died (Judges 2:1-2).

Why did this happen? I would like to suggest the following possibilities. First, the teaching that was supposed to be done may not have been accomplished to the degree that it should have been. It is important to remember that what the children are taught stays with them the remainder of their days.

Second, it may have been that the leaders taught thoroughly and with much effort, but the children did not take the lessons learned to heart like they should have. That is always a possibility and one to not forget. Ultimately, whatever a person does, whether as a child or as an adult, it is the responsibility of the doer. I can well imagine some of the elders thinking and saying to their peers, “I am very comfortable with the next generation and the leadership they will be exerting. They have demonstrated themselves well as we have tried to lead and teach them.” This could be said with humility, but once the generation of the elders passed on, that which did not take root can (and did) manifest itself in an ugly way.

Third, the teaching may have taken root and things may have started off well enough, but something occurred that distracted the faithful from the path set for them by the Lord. The distractions could have been any number of things; it really matters not what they were. Anything that distracts actually knocks us off track. When one is knocked off track he is bound to do nothing but crash.

It is crucial that we, as parents and leaders in the congregation, instill within others the Lord’s way by the life we live and by the words we use to communicate. We must do this. Then, when they move up and take our place they will be in better position to move the Lord’s way forward and in accordance with His revealed will.

In Judges 2:7-10, we read of a very sad occasion resting with a the following generation; let that not happen with us. RT

#children, #judges, #leadership, #responibility

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Psalm 82

Vs. 1 gives the order of Judges and God is over all;

Vs. 2-5 list abuses of Judges who have left God;

Vs. 6-7 appeal for human Judges to change;

Vs. 8 reminds all of the Supreme Judge.

Asaph was “the seer” (prophet), and with David’s words (2 Chronicles 29:30), wrote 12 Psalms (50, 73-83). When Israel was restored to their land, they were reminded of these Psalms (Nehemiah 12:46).

Verse1: Defines the order of Judges: God amidst the “gods” (or those designated to “judge” among men, but should be guided by God’s Will). This follows other references to this under Moses’ Law. “”You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28). King Jehoshaphat “set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, ‘Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment’” (2 Chronicles 19:5-6). “If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them” (Ecclesiastes 5:8). Calling “judges” “gods” simply meant they were ordained to pass judgments on citizen behavior based upon God’s Holy Bible. Would that Judges today followed God’s Law, rather than man’s rules.

Verses 2-5: Lists direct violations of God’s Law these Judges had made in their judgments: (verse 2) “unjustly,” “show partiality to the wicked”(Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; Proverbs 18:5); (verse 3) uneven judgments involving “poor and needy,” or “afflicted and needy” (Exodus 22:21-22; 23:6); (verse 4) “poor and needy” delivered from the “hands of the wicked” (Psalm 37:14); (verse 5) Judges lacked knowledge of God’s Law, lacked judgment standards, and were reckless as if in the dark, which shakes the very foundation of a just society! This pathetic description of minds making decisions without God’s Word is used by Paul to show how pathetic people are in the world who refuse to follow the Bible (Ephesians 4:17-32) in obeying Jesus Christ. Every civil Judge today, regardless of rank or court, should be humbled and tremble before God with the seriousness of God’s expectations, and His final disposition of their opinions!

Verses 6-7: They are reminded in verse 6 that, though they represented God’s judgments, they were still but “children of the Most High,” therefore subject to Him. Their elevated position would not keep them from dying “like men,” probably as despised dictators (verse 7).

Jesus Christ quoted Psalm 82:6 to show that the term “gods” (Hebrew, Elohim) simply referred to “Judges,” and they were “children of the Most High.” If therefore, God called them “gods” how could anyone question Jesus referring to Himself as “The Son of God?” “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36)

Verse 8: The appeal is for the Highest Judge of all to exercise His righteous, just, and holy judgment upon all, including the unjust Judges. This is the promise of the New Testament (Acts 17:30-31).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #god, #injustice, #judges, #judgments, #sin

Reconciliation with Benjamin (JUDGES 21)

The final chapter of Judges is about reconciliation with Benjamin and about solving a problem that had been created by an oath Israel had made previously. “Now the men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, saying, ‘None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife.’ Then the people came to the house of God, and remained there before God till evening. They lifted up their voices and wept bitterly, and said, ‘O LORD God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel that today there should be one tribe missing in Israel?'” (21:1-3). Although they defeated Benjamin, no one is happy. These are fellow Israelites they had slain in this civil war, and they grieved over the loss (and rightfully so; cf. Ezek. 33:11). Since they had pledged not to give any wives to Benjamin, the 600 men who remained would have no way to perpetuate their tribe (without sinning by marrying foreigners). What could be done? Israel had punished Benjamin but did not want the tribe to become extinct.

A solution is arrived at, and it is connected to another oath they had made at Mizpah. If any city in Israel was not represented in their meeting against Benjamin, that city would be destroyed. The nation had expected complete support from all the tribes against the terrible deed that had been done at Gibeah. Being lethargic or not wanting to get involved was deemed unacceptable and punishable! They learn that no one from Jabesh Gilead had supported the cause. “So the congregation sent out there twelve thousand of their most valiant men, and commanded them, saying, ‘Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, including the women and children. And this is the thing that you shall do: You shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has known a man intimately.’ So they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known a man intimately; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan” (21:10-12).

Although they could have completely destroyed all inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, they spare the virgins in order to give them to the Benjamites. Israel announces peace with Benjamin and the 600 men return to their territory. They receive the 400 virgins as wives, but there remained 200 men of Benjamin who did not have a wife.

“Then the elders of the congregation said, ‘What shall we do for wives for those who remain, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?’ And they said, ‘There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe may not be destroyed from Israel. However, we cannot give them wives from our daughters, for the children of Israel have sworn an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the one who gives a wife to Benjamin.’ Then they said, ‘In fact, there is a yearly feast of the LORD in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.’ Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, ‘Go, lie in wait in vineyards, and watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin. Then it shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to us to complain, that we will say to them, ‘Be kind to them for our sakes, because we did not take a wife for any of them in the war; for it is not as though you have given the women to them at this time, making yourselves guilty of your oath'” (21:16-22).

Although this solution may strike a chord of humor with us, it worked for them and the 200 men of Benjamin followed instructions and caught wives for themselves (i.e., they stole by consent)! The men of Benjamin then returned home and rebuilt their cities. The name of Benjamin was not extinguished in Israel! When reflecting upon Judges 19-21, it is incredible to contemplate that the immoral behavior of a small group of men led ultimately to a civil war where over 65,000 perished! Friends, our actions have consequences. Even behavior that we may deem to be small or insignificant in the scheme of things may have a dramatic impact in ways we cannot calculate. May we always seek to do what is right by God’s standard and trust Him to take care of us! Right always triumphs in the end!

The book closes with a sentiment we have seen previously – “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). If only God had truly been their king! That is what He desired; and His leadership is exactly what the nation needed!

#judges

War Against Benjamin (JUDGES 20)

The Levite’s concubine had essentially been raped to death by perverted men from the tribe of Benjamin. He carried her corpse home with him on his donkey for a special reason. “When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And so it was that all who saw it said, ‘No such deed has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt, until this day. Consider it, confer, and speak up!'” (Jud. 19:29,30). The Levite used her corpse to send an important message to the twelve tribes of Israel. A great injustice had been committed and action needed to be taken! The tribes realize this is not an insignificant matter, so they assemble “as one man before the LORD at Mizpah” (20:1). Some 400,000 soldiers gather and ask for more information from the Levite. He spoke of the lewdness committed by the men of Gibeah (of the tribe of Benjamin). Their actions were outrageous and the nation was in agreement as to their response:

“‘None of us will go to his tent, nor will any turn back to his house; but now this is the thing we will do to Gibeah: We will go up against it by lot. We will take ten men out of every hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, a hundred out of every thousand, and a thousand out of every ten thousand, to make provisions for the people, that when they come to Gibeah in Benjamin, they may repay all the vileness that they have done in Israel.’ So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man” (20:8-11).

“Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What is this wickedness that has occurred among you? Now therefore, deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!’ But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel. Instead, the children of Benjamin gathered together from their cities to Gibeah, to go to battle against the children of Israel” (20:12-14). The nation has taken appropriate action here against Benjamin. They expect the wicked men who committed this crime to be turned over for execution. Such was in keeping with the Mosaic law. The tribe of Benjamin, however, instead of doing the right thing, protects the perverts and is willing to fight and die for them. How foolish! Friends, even if our own flesh and blood does wrong, we cannot defend and fight for family against the law of righteousness! It is a mistake to love family more than God and His ways (cf. Matt. 10:37).

One would think a battle of 400,000 men versus 26,000 would not last long. However, Israel did not send up all of these men to fight at one time. “Then the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of God to inquire of God. They said, ‘Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin?’ The LORD said, ‘Judah first!’ So the children of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah” (20:18,19). The first day of battle was disastrous for Israel! They lost 22,000 men and Benjamin lost less than 1000! But how can this be? After all, Israel is trying to execute justice, and they had consulted God regarding how to attack Benjamin! Why did they lose the first day? No answer is given in the text, but here is a reasonable suggestion: Israel was punished severely for their indirect role in the wickedness that had been committed at Gibeah. Had the Israelites driven out the foreigners completely to start with, then this problem of sexual immorality probably wouldn’t have happened! No doubt it was the corrupting influence of the Canaanite people where the men of Gibeah had learned their perverted behavior. Even though the nation is trying to do the right thing here, their behavior overall has been far from perfect (e.g., idolatry) and God may be using this as an occasion to discipline all of the tribes. There is a lesson here even for us: Success is not always guaranteed, even when we do the right thing! God may discipline us for illicit behavior on whatever time frame He sees fit. So, ultimately, do not allow physical success or failure to guide you; do what is right in God’s eyes and don’t quit–no matter what happens!

“And the people, that is, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and again formed the battle line at the place where they had put themselves in array on the first day. Then the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I again draw near for battle against the children of my brother Benjamin?’ And the LORD said, ‘Go up against him'” (20:22,23). So, at God’s direction, they fight a second day. The results are not much different than the first! Benjamin suffers minimal losses and Israel loses another 18,000 men! Israel fasts and offers sacrifices to the LORD. Then they ask yet again if they should continue battling against Benjamin. “And the LORD said, ‘Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand'” (20:28).

The third day of battle looked about the same as the others at the start, but Israel had an ambush for Benjamin and enjoyed a great victory by the end of the day. The ambush was similar to what had been effectively employed against the Canaanite city of Ai (cf. Josh. 8). “The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel. And the children of Israel destroyed that day twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamites; all these drew the sword” (20:35). “And the men of Israel turned back against the children of Benjamin, and struck them down with the edge of the sword–from every city, men and beasts, all who were found. They also set fire to all the cities they came to” (20:48). In all, only 600 men of the tribe of Benjamin survived! That’s less than 3% of all their warriors! These 600 men fled to the wilderness for safety and remained there four months. All women and children of Benjamin perished when their cities were destroyed.

#judges

Micah’s Idolatry Spreads (JUDGES 18)

Although Micah had made his own god and priest, things do not go well for him as he expected. Judges 18 records the loss of his idols and priest to the tribe of Dan.

The Danites were “seeking an inheritance” for themselves (cf. Josh. 19:47,48). In other words, they still had not inhabited the full portion of land that was to be theirs in Canaan; there was more conquering to be done. Five men of Dan are sent out as spies and they happened to lodge with Micah in route. They are impressed with Micah’s priest, recognized him as a Levite by his speech, and asked counsel of him: Would their current mission be prosperous? Micah’s priest replied – “Go in peace. The presence of the LORD be with you on your way” (Jud. 18:6). His advice turned out to be good, which shows us that even false prophets get it right some of the time (cf. Deut. 13:1-5). As a side note, even today people can recognize us by our speech–whether it be good or bad. Let us always take heed to our speech (cf. Matt. 12:36,37; Col. 4:6).

The spies from Dan depart and determine that the territory they desire to conquer is both good and easy to claim. The current inhabitants lacked treaties and would not be able to withstand an attack from the tribe of Dan, the spies believed. After the spies return, 600 men from Dan take up weapons and begin the journey to Laish to conquer it. On their way the group stopped at Micah’s house. They greeted him and proceeded to take “the carved images, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image” (Jud. 18:17). The priest objected, but they replied – “Be quiet, put your hand over your mouth, and come with us; be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” (18:19). This pleased the priest and he doesn’t mind stealing from Micah in order to accept this promotion! Some preachers today are only interested in personal gain; they have more in common with this Levite than they do the Lord! “The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (John 10:13).

“Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods in front of them” (18:21). This was a tactical move; they evidently expect Micah to gather some resistance against them and try to attack them from the rear. Micah does try to organize such a party but it is small and weak compared to the Danites.

“And they called out to the children of Dan. So they turned around and said to Micah, ‘What ails you, that you have gathered such a company?’ So he said, ‘You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, “What ails you?”‘ And the children of Dan said to him, ‘Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry men fall upon you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household!’ Then the children of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house” (18:23-26).

What a sad day for Micah the idolater! After being robbed and now threatened by this large force of men, he realizes this is a lost cause and gives up. Evidently his gods weren’t worth dying for (but the true God is!). When there is no ruler in the land, the strongest do as they please and get away with it (in the temporal realm anyway). One can only wonder if Micah went home and made some more useless gods for himself!

It would have been one thing for the men of Dan to take away the items of false worship in order to destroy them, but unfortunately that was not their intent. They, after successfully conquering Laish, “set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh” (18:30,31). Like leaven, the sins of one man (if unchecked) spread to a larger group of people. The captivity referenced here is certainly not the Babylonian captivity but one of the periods of captivity prior to the reign of King David (e.g., I Sam. 13:19,20).

#judges

Micah’s Idolatry (JUDGES 17)

Judges 17 is the beginning of the closing section of the book of Judges. The book contains no further record of the judges of Israel or of deliverance from enemy oppression. However, these final chapters do give us a better sense of a phrase we have seen repeatedly throughout the book – “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2:11; 3:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1). There was widespread religious corruption among the Israelites. They were not remaining true to God and His word, and it shows in these final five chapters.

“Now there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. And he said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying it in my ears–here is the silver with me; I took it.’ And his mother said, ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!’ So when he had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, ‘I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you.’ Thus he returned the silver to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the silversmith, and he made it into a carved image and a molded image; and they were in the house of Micah. The man Micah had a shrine and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:1-6).

Micah had stolen a large sum of money from his mother but then restored it since he feared her curse. She desired to make images that Micah could put in his shrine. There are numerous problems with Micah’s behavior when measured against the standard of the Mosaic law. Besides the sin of stealing, he had no right to possess household idols (his mother had no right to commission them), nor was there a need to create a shrine, an ephod, or one’s own priesthood! Indeed, Micah’s actions here are tragic indeed, but he wasn’t alone in this type of behavior. Since the nation lacked a leader (or, more accurately, weren’t following God as their true leader) the people did whatever they thought was right and good, but sometimes what they believed to be good was far from it. Being guided by one’s own opinions is always dangerous (cf. Prov. 14:12). The Israelites should have been sacrificing at the tabernacle only by means of the Levitical priests God appointed. Also, creating idols was wrong–even if they were only intended to be representations of Jehovah and not some pagan deity (cf. Exo. 20:4-6; e.g., Exo. 32:4; I Kings 12:28). Micah is inventing his own worship and religion, and God is not pleased!

“Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and was staying there. The man departed from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. And Micah said to him, ‘Where do you come from?’ So he said to him, ‘I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to find a place to stay.’ Micah said to him, ‘Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.’ So the Levite went in. Then the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man became like one of his sons to him. So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!'” (17:7-13).

Under the Mosaic law, the Levites were to be provided for indirectly, primarily through the sacrifices and offerings of the nation. Why is this young man out looking for work and a place to stay? The most likely answer is that much of the nation was not following the pattern of true worship God had set forth, and the young man’s needs are not being met. If true, this conveys much about the widespread nature of Israel’s spiritual decay. Micah invites this man to be a priest for him and a spiritual father. Micah will take care of him if he would be willing to worship as Micah prescribes. Evidently the young man lacked conviction for truth since he gladly agrees. Micah “consecrated” the man as a priest, not by God’s authority but by his own! He deceives himself into a false sense of security by thinking that now God will be pleased with him since he has a Levite for a priest. Micah evidently realizes that there is a pattern, and he wants to imitate it to the extent that it is convenient for him. He believed that rituals and forms of religion would bring him blessings, but he was mistaken (cf. I Sam. 15:22). This is tragically quite similar to the behavior of many today who want to live for themselves yet have a dose of Christianity on the side. It just doesn’t work that way, friends (cf. Matt. 6:33; 16:24)! God expects complete submission to His will!

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