Judges 17 – Part 2QUESTION: It’s All Relative - 2ANSWER:Judges 17 – Part 2
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
“Let’s take a look at this theft in terms of the way it might represent the culture, the attitudes, of Israel in that day and America in this day. Put your finger in Judges 17 and flip over to the right to the book of Malachi. It’s the last book in the Old Testament. In chapter 3, starting in verse 8, God says, ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, If I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’
“Do you catch the parallel? We should consider that Micah’s mom did not joyfully tithe as she amassed the wealth her son stole. Could it be that when a nation is only paying token attention to the LORD, part of the evidence is a lack of giving? And, thus a lack of the LORD’s blessing?
“Back to Judges 17. So what does his mom say when he fesses up? ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!’ What? No tough love? No calling the cops? This is a great commentary on where parenting is in Israel at the time. It’s like they’ve all been following a book written by Dr. Benjamin Spock’s ancestors.
“When Micah brings the cash cache back to his mom, she says the money was consecrated to the LORD. So, to ‘tithe’, she takes two hundred shekels – about 600 hundred thousand dollars in today’s terms – and gives that to the silversmith to make a carved image and a molded image. Idols.
“In Exodus 20:4, the second commandment says, ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image.’ Now, do you see how misguided Micah’s mom is? She thinks she’s worshipping God when, in fact, she is clearly breaking one of His commandments. Can you just feel the confusion and chaos that rules the day when everybody does what is right in their own eyes? Is there any doubt why so many people around us are confused today?
“In verses 4 and 5, Micah brings the idols into his house. He builds a shrine, makes an ephod, and crafted more household idols. These household idols are also called teraphim. They were probably miniatures of the big idols his mom had made. That would make it possible for the members of his family to carry images of the idols around with them.
“Okay, let’s stop right there. Think about the idols we worship in our modern world. Think about it. Consider how we have things which are truthfully more important that God in our lives. It makes me want to start calling cell phones ‘teraphim’. You laugh, but it is pathetically true.
“Anyway, now that Mikey has invented his own religion and built his own cathedral, he needs a priest. So he consecrated one of his sons to be the priest of his idols and shrine.
“In verse 6, as we said, is the pivotal verse for their time and ours, ‘there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes.’ This, of course, includes our man Mikey.
“There’s a great lesson for us here. We’re looking at a man who has created his own private gods, his own private religion, his own private church, and his own private priest, and his own private rules of worship. How many of us have done the same thing today with money or knowledge or sexual immorality or drugs and alcohol?
“As we get into verse 7, it looks like things aren’t going that well for Micah. Clearly, he thought he’d be blessed with all of this religion and worship. But when a young, sojourning Levite comes by the house, he jumps at the chance to get what he believes is a more qualified priest. So he buys the guy.
“Two things here. First, not every Levite was qualified to be a priest before the Lord. Only the direct descendants of Aaron were to be priests. Other Levites were commanded to assist in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Second, if we look at verse 10, Mikey buys this guy for ten shekels a year plus clothes and room and board. The old KJV calls the new clothes ‘a suit of apparel’.
“Now, how many preachers today do you see who seem to care too much about money, the way they look, and their lifestyle? I see a lot. The quickest way to get these worldly riches is to be on the good side of the richest folks in your congregation. So I ask you, how many priests today are bought by rich guys who are, in effect, setting up their own religions?
“We need to sincerely view our worship and study in the twenty-first century and compare it to this guy Micah in ancient Israel. Several months ago on Sunday night, we read the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters five through seven. We were all shocked at how almost no one follows Jesus’ teachings in that passage. Let me tell you all right now, if you are not following the LORD’s commands, His teachings, you are making up your own religion. You are making your own private idols, setting your own private rules for worship, and hiring your own private priests – be they movie stars, rock singers, athletes, people on TV, or big-haired preachers. You know, in the book of Revelation there’s a guy who does all of this same stuff. He sets up a counterfeit world government, religion, and economy. His name is Satan and his priest is the false prophet. Wow.Judges 18 – Go!