Judges 18 – Part 2QUESTION: Spies and False Gods - 2ANSWER:Judges 18 – Part 2
by Pastor Nathan Shepherd (Dive Chapel, Candle Key, Florida)
“The five spies stay at Micah’s house in the hills of Ephraim and see his idols and fake religion and his very own priest. Now, last week we talked about opportunist men of the cloth and how the LORD hates that. The spies ask Micah’s priest to inquire of the LORD for them and he doesn’t even pray, he just tells them that everything is good and cool. In verse 6 the little priest says, ‘Go in peace. The presence of the LORD be with you on your way.’ Note something important here. False prophets usually have a positive message. Even though he was speaking to wayward, out-of-bounds people who were headed in the opposite direction from God’s calling. The spies were encouraged in their evil by this fake message from the LORD.
“The spies go check out the land of Laish. Verse 7 tells us that the people of this region are peaceful, quiet and secure and that they are far from help if they were attacked. So the spies go back to the Danite leaders and tell them it would be a good idea to attack and conquer the people of Laish.
“As they head up to attack these quiet, unsuspecting folk, the army of Dan comes to Ephraim and they decide to steal Micah’s idols, ephod, and teraphim. In the process Micah’s priest asked them what they thought they were doing and apparently tried to stop them. In verse 19, the Danites answer the young Levite priest of Micah by telling him to be quiet and come with them. They say, ‘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 family of Israel?’
“Verse 20 says it all: ‘So the priest’s heart was glad and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image.’ I think we hammered this greedy, self-aggrandizing, bramble of a priest last week. He needs no more hammering.
“Micah gathers his neighbors and tries to take back his idols and stuff. But he ultimately decides the army of Dan is too strong and let’s them go on their way. The army of Dan goes up to the quiet, humble people of Laish and put all of them to the sword and burn their city. Then they rebuild a city of their own, call it Dan, and set up a temple with Micah’s idols and name new non-Levite priests.
“The last verse in chapter 18 is 31 and it says, ‘So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.’ Check this out. The tribe of Dan has gone off-road. And clearly, they are away from the One True God. My question to you is this: Are you worshipping idols? Have you written your own rules for your own private religion? And, all the time, is God eighty miles away in Shiloh?
“Let’s rewind a minute, all the way back to the beginning of chapter 18. The real story here is something that many of us buy into in our lives today. It is an anti-Nehemiah philosophy. Remember back when we studied the book of Nehemiah? I kept pushing the four-part purpose of God: vision, teamwork, perseverance, and finishing with God’s blessing. The Danites are off that track here in Judges 18.
“It happens so many times today. People who perceive themselves as followers of Jesus and ministries who go by Christ’s name are forever turning away at the perseverance stage.
“The tribe of Dan was given a plot of land by the LORD. That land was in the south of Canaan, near the lands of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. In Judges 1:34, the men of Dan could not drive out the Canaanites from their apportioned home. In fact, they freaked out and allowed themselves to be chased into hiding in the mountains by the Amorites.
“Remember when we said that we conquer the Promised Land by faith and we live abundantly in it by obedience? The tribe of Dan couldn’t even get to square one. Their lack of faith apparently kept them from inhabiting their Promised Land inheritance. Now, they are taking matters into their own hands and going off to conquer a peaceful, humble people who north of the territory that God set before Israel. These compound acts of doing what is right in their own eyes will haunt the tribe of Dan throughout their existence.
“But, before we’re too hard on the Danites, how many of us are looking for an easy way out? How many of us are tired, beat down, sick of our circumstances? And, instead of calling on the Almighty LORD of the universe for power, purpose, peace, and perseverance, we go looking for an easier place to hang out. We should always stick with it with God. He calls us to persevere. Only then can we finish the race strongly with Him. We need to fight the fight and become the people God wants us to be. Only by faith and obedience do we conquer sin and live abundantly in the Promised Land of the LORD.
“I dearly love all of you and want us to run God’s race together. Come on back tonight at 6:30 and eat some pizza and talk about Judges and Jesus.”Judges 19 – Go!