Judges 17QUESTION: It’s All Relative - 1ANSWER:Judges 17 – Part 1
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
Nathan Shepherd walked to the front of the warehouse that served as the home to the Dive Chapel in Candle Key, Florida. The band had just finished a particularly worshipful set that concluded with the song, “The Wonderful Cross”.
“Thanks guys. That rocked.” The congregation gave an enthusiastic round of applause.
“We are back examining the same old circle of behavior that the Israelites of old and the Candle Key-ites of today continually face. It’s that seven-step program we’ve been talking about for months and it’s not good. The top of the circle is us joyfully serving God. Then, we’re tempted, we have decisions to make and we tend to go off-road. Third, we succumb to sin. I do it. You do it, too. Fourth, we find ourselves enslaved to sin. Then, like the prodigal son, we find ourselves sorry about our sin and especially its consequences. So, at the sixth way point of the circle, we repent and the Lord delivers us from our sin. And we are back at the top of the circle – where we ought to be – joyfully serving God.
“The reason we are caught up in this cycle is that we, like the Israelites in the O.T., did not eradicate all of our Canaanites when we entered the land of our salvation. In verses one through twelve, we see the children of Israel in a quickview of the seven-step cycle. Way back in Judges chapter 3, verse 6, it says ‘they took the Canaanites’ daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to the Canaanites’ sons; and served the Canaanite gods.’
“Therein lies the whole problem. That is how we deal with the Canaanites of sin in our lives today. We do not detest them. We cohabit with them and it brings us down in the eyes of God. We’ve now come to the place where the nation of Israel has totally walked around behind God’s back. The LORD did not turn his back on Israel, the children of Israel decided to be without God. They show this by their actions, just as we do. God loves diligence, sincere worship of Him, caring about others. Starting in chapter 17 of Judges, we see a people who do whatever they want, when they want, how they want. It’s nasty.
“I got popped via email again this week with the accusation that my theology rests too heavily on Psalm 40, the book of Malachi, and Luke 4:17-19. That’s in Luke where Jesus takes the scroll of Isaiah 61 and declares that He’s all about helping the poor, the brokenhearted, prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, and proclaiming what is acceptable to the LORD. My answer is, okay, but I hope you are selling me short. There’s a whole lot of good theology in those three places. Coincidentally, we’re going look at the book of Malachi today.
“Starting with Judges 17, we enter the last five chapters of the book. These five ‘accounts’ are enough different from the rest of Judges that they could be a book of the Bible unto themselves. ‘Second Judges’? More like ‘Man’s Arrogance One’! This whole section can be summed up by Judges 17, verse 6, ‘In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’ This little phrase is repeated four times in these five chapters. And I’ll submit to you that it is the condition America – including the American church – is living under today. Self-interpretation, slovenly convenience, look out for number one, ‘I’ll do it MY way’.
“As a little background, remember who the bums of Israel always seem to be? The Ephraimites. Well, here we are in the hills of Ephraim, dealing with a man named Micah. This is definitely not the prophet that we encounter later in the Old Testament!
“As we pick up the story, Micah has stolen 1,100 shekels of silver from his mother. Because she has uttered a curse upon whoever stole her savings, he freaks out and returns the money. Now, the average annual wage in Israel at that time was 10 shekels of silver per year. In fact, later in this chapter, Micah pays a man that amount plus room and board to work for him. That means he stole about 3-point-3 million dollars, in today’s terms, from his mom. Happy Mother’s Day, right? What a guy.Judges 17 – Read Part 2!